I’ve struggled with depression for the past 5 years. I’ve been prescribed various anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and even ones for psychosis. -None of which have brought relief. I’ve tried engaging in hobbies, exercising, I’ve tried a healthier diet, but nothing seems to help. I feel the extent of my depression has increased, in severity, over time. I’m unsure as to whether or not this is related to the depression, but I, along with my environment, seem notably unreal. I have no idea what to do. I’ve felt this way since I was about 14. I’m approaching 20, and find my thoughts often touching on suicide. I’ve been committed to a crisis stabilization unit 5 times. Any avenue I can think of pursuing, in life, seems to be of immense futility. I can’t help but feel life is entirely meaningless. I’d undergone 2 MRI’s a few years ago. There were no abnormalities, so this is not due to some neurological discrepancy. I’ve tried various medications, counseling, and even holistic approaches. I’m bereft of options. I feel increasingly miserable. I cannot make the distinction of any circumstantial root to my feelings, yet I’ve had no success with medication. I don’t expect my involvement on this website to result in any resolve, but I just figured I’d give it a try.
A: You pose an interesting situation because you report that you have already tried most of the suggestions I would make in this case. I would definitely suggest looking into possible medical causes. You stated that you have had MRI’s and have been hospitalized so I can only assume you’ve also had blood work done. Adding counseling, a healthy diet and exercise to your treatment plan also usually helps, but again, you state you’ve tried all this. However, have you tried these techniques consistently for a long enough period (at least 6 months) to note improvements?
Have you sought out medical and psychological providers who specialize in treatment resistant depression? If not, I would suggest that you do, because those providers may have strategies that other providers haven’t tried.
In my practice, I have specialized training in trauma as well as holistic/alternative therapeutic techniques. I’ve had great success in getting results with some clients who have not improved in prior treatment. I attribute this to what I call the “shotgun approach.” I’ll throw all my “tricks” at these folks and hope that some of them work. I’ve combined traditional talk therapy with EMDR, guided imagery, hypnosis, mindfulness, relaxation, and EFT. I also typically refer out to massage therapists, energy workers (such as Reiki) and/or acupuncturists, in addition to traditional medical providers.
Given your long standing history of depression, depersonalization and derealization, I wonder if you have any trauma in your history. Keep I mind that some trauma and neglect can occur at such a young age that you may not have memory of it and you might need to ask family members if you experienced anything particularly difficult or traumatic. Also, keep in mind that what one person finds traumatic, another may not.
Bottom line: don’t give up. You are worth it and some day you will find the right combination of techniques and medications to reach consistent improvement. In the meantime, try your best to focus on the good moments.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts