Dear Dr. Archer,
I could really use some psychological advice. I have been experiencing depression and/or anxiety symptoms for about a year and I feel they are worsening. I also think I may have social anxiety disorder, which I only recently learned about but this explains so many of my issues.
I have significant fear and near panic situations, especially with my second part time job. It would take much too long to put everything in this message, but the past 6 months or so I have no appetite and often go one or two days without eating. I know I should eat, but I just don't have the urge.
Also, I have developed insomnia. I can usually fall asleep but cannot stay asleep. I wake up inappropriately, sometimes in a panicked state, as if I can't breathe. I have never had sleep issues before, and I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I feel like things are bad, no one understands, and so I try to hide it from my family.
I am surrounded by people who believe these things are "in my head" and that I can change my feelings if only I'd try harder. It is becoming overwhelming and I feel worn out. I do not feel suicidal, but just wish I could get better and start over.
A common perception of depression is what you're hearing from the folks around you, that it's all in your head and you just need to pull yourself out of it. I'm here to tell you, Ohio, this is possible in mild to moderate cases but in more severe cases sometimes you can't just pull yourself out of it.
It takes treatment and often medication. Based on your physical symptoms which include poor sleep and appetite and high levels of panic, this sounds to be on the more severe side.
If you were diagnosed with cancer, do you think you could just pull yourself out of it? Of course not, and clinical depression is no different. Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and there are medications available to return these chemicals to their normal levels.
As for anxiety, it is often seen in conjunction with depression and it sounds like these are occurring concurrently with you.
The key here, is that I have no way of knowing how severe your depression is without doing a full evaluation. So, the easiest thing to do is to get a psychiatric exam and see exactly what’s going on. This is clearly causing a problem with your daily life, and you need to have it checked out. I urge you to do so before it gets worse, as it sounds like it is indeed progressing.
You can implement these activities into your daily life which will naturally combat the effects of both depression and anxiety. If symptoms persists, you may need medication. Good luck.