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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have been recently diagnosed with Major Depression and since 6 weeks I have been prescri

Customer Question

I have been recently diagnosed with Major Depression and since 6 weeks I have been prescribed 150mg Sertraline mornings and 7.5mg Mirtazapine evenings, to help me sleep. My mood has definitely improved and the anxiety that I was also suffering from has disappeared. I have been suffering from Dysthymia and reoccurring episodes of Major Depression since my adolescence, but it has never been treated before. The reason I have been recently undergoing psychiatric treatment is that I had several nervous breakdowns. After the last one, my friend took me into a psych ward. I had too little sleep for months because of my insomnia and then my senses were overstimulated when I watched a musical with flashing lights and loud music. Moreover, I’m still very sensitive to sensory overstimulation. What does that have to do with depression? And how can I deal with it?
My doctor thinks I also have PTSD from being emotionally abused as a child, with my hypervigilance and emotional numbing.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like you may have something else going on besides the depression. It could be the PTSD as your doctor suggested, but besides the insomnia, the other symptoms you describe do not fit PTSD. Being overly sensitive to lights could be more of a physical issue. For this reason, it may be a good idea to see your family doctor to rule out any possible physical problems first before you consider a mental health issue. They should be able to perform an MRI or other scan to see if there is a cause for what you are experiencing.

If there is no physical cause found, you may want to explore the possibility of Bipolar disorder. That might explain the depression and mood changes including the insomnia. In the meanwhile, you can learn more about Bipolar to see if you might fit some of the symptoms. Here is a resource to help:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/bipolar_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

You can also ask your doctor if there are medications that can help you sleep that you could take if you do experience the insomnia again. That way, you stop the progression of symptoms before you get to the point of not being able to cope. Here are some other ways you can reduce your stress and help yourself manage your symptoms until you can get some further testing:

Relaxation- progressive relaxation of your muscles can help you learn to relax again. Lay down on your back. Start at your feet and tighten then let go of each muscle group. Do this slowly up your body until you reach your head. Do this each night and when you have time during the day. It teaches you how to relax and is useful when you find yourself feeling tense.

Deep breathing- people under stress often do not realize that they are breathing shallow which can cause you to feel lightheaded and tired. Practice taking deep breaths throughout the day to relax and center yourself.

Find time to relax- give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to do something mindless. Take a warm bath, listen to music, watch a favorite show, or take a walk for example.

Share your stress- talk to someone. Find support through family and friends. Do something with a faith group. Sharing your stress can help you feel less burdened and therefore less upset.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX your answer. I had an all-round physical health check done beginning of last December. My thyroid is fine, but I have Vit. B12 deficiency. Since then I'm taking B12 in capsules that get absorbed in the intestines and not in the stomach. But taking the capsules all Dec. didn't improve my mood. I don't remember ever having a manic or hypomanic phase. Could a hypomanic phase be so subtle that I didn't notice it? How can I compare my mood in the non-depressed phases to a normal person's mood? I can't read peoples' mind. I do an hour of yoga almost every day and also meditation at least half an hour a day. But that still doesn't take away the tension. Yoga helped improve my mood, but it wasn't enough. I'll try the muscle relaxation and doing smth mindless for half an hour a day. I do deep breathing as part of the yoga practice. Thanks again so much!

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
It is possible that you are experiencing symptoms that are hard to measure against what is normal because you haven't felt normal for a while. When you are consistently dealing with symptoms, it can be difficult to judge whether or not something is significant. That is why an evaluation is so important. A therapist can measure your symptoms against what is baseline functioning and determine what exactly you are dealing with. And I mentioned considering Bipolar just to rule out the possibility since you mentioned long periods of time without sleep and feeling overstimulated. This could indicate an issue or it could be something else. Without an thorough evaluation it is too vague to tell exactly what it is. YOu also have to consider that everyone presents with symptoms differently. Some people experience the full range of symptoms with a disorder while others only have a few symptoms. The level of intensity also varies person to person. Much like you might experience a mild version of a flu while someone else gets really sick and can't get out of bed, mental health symptoms can be the same way.

It's good you take such wonderful care of yourself. Yoga is a healthy way to reduce stress and help yourself relax. It's also very positive that you have seen a doctor. Many people can't go or refuse, making it harder for them to feel better since they don't know what might be causing what they feel. But it sounds like you are on top of things and because of that, I have no doubt what you are experiencing now will be resolved soon.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 4 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear Kate,


Thank you for your answer. I'm trying to reduce stress and relax. In your experience, how long does it take after a mental breakdown and after starting treatment, to work normal hours again? How much time do I need to adjust to a normal daily routine again? At the moment, I feel I need more sleep and more rest during the day. How many hours of sleep would you recommend?

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
It depends very much on your personal situation and how you cope with daily life as to when you are ready to work normal hours again or to adjust to a normal daily routine. It is different for everyone. How much sleep you need also varies but the standard is 7 to 8 hours. If you feel you need more, naps may help or turning in at an earlier hour each night.

You will know when you feel ready to resume regular activities and work. You may feel a little tired, but your energy will be there and the desire to move forward will as well. Go slowly at first. Overwhelming yourself will only make it harder. Try a few hours at a time then back off until you are used to a full day.

Kate




I would be more than happy to continue working with you on any new questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to rate my answers for each new/different question you ask. Thanks!
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 4 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the positive ratings and the bonus! I appreciate it very much.

My best to you,
Kate

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  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
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  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
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