I can understand your concern about being off of anti-depressants, and I can appreciate your desire to avoid medication. Some studies have shown that St. John's wort can have a beneficial impact on mild forms of depression (you might want to refer to this fact sheet for more information, if you're interested:
Based on what you're saying, and this is only for informational purposes since we cannot provide a diagnosis on this website, it sounds like you might be suffering from mild depression, also known as dysthymic disorder. This information may help to clarify the difference:
According to the DSM-IV, mild-to-moderate depression—termed dysthymic disorder—is marked by milder symptoms than major depression, but the symptoms are prolonged and protracted.Dysthymia
is characterized by depressed mood for most of the day, on more days than not, for at least two years. Additionally, a diagnosis of dysthymia requires the presence of at least two of these symptoms while depressed:
poor appetite or overeating
or sleeping too much
fatigue, loss of energy, or tired all the time
impaired concentration and difficulty making decisions
feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
To be considered as indicative of dysthymia, the first two years of depressed mood cannot include any episodes of major depression. Furthermore, diagnosis of dysthymia precludes a history of manic episodes and requires that depressed mood occur not during the course of some other psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia
. In addition, no underlying cause of depressed mood, such as a general (i.e., other than psychiatric) medical condition or substance abuse
, must be present.
The symptoms of dysthymia cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning.
I say that it sounds like mild depression because you are able to function in your regular life (even if it's a struggle at times), you're socializing, eating right, keeping busy and staying active. If you had severe depression, you wouldn't be able to engage in these activities. There's nothing wrong with feeling like you want time alone - you don't have to force yourself to be social if you don't feel like it.
You are doing a good job, from what I can see. It is a process and it's a matter of taking it day by day. One step at a time. You will be happy again and over time, you will feel better - you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.