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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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I've had a lot of trouble with anxiety and depression over

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I've had a lot of trouble with anxiety and depression over the years. And I know that I have some triggers that seem to have a lot in common with the symptoms of complex-PTSD (Although I've never been diagnosed/my current therapist is not an expert on PTSD)

A few years back when I was 24 I was evaluated and was told that I have severe anxiety, and they ruled out ADD or ADHD even though there was an overlap of symptoms. After this initial exam, I went in to therapy, and eventually ended up on medication for a while. I was on a low dosage of Lexapro. I noticed that in pictures from the time I was on the meds, I looked happier, and remember feeling like I was a "passenger on my life." My days were set up for me, I just had to go through them. . . I wish there was a better way for me to describe that. At the time I started the medication I was wrapping up with college, dating a girl, working, and setting up a trip to Europe for a summer abroad. I was still anxious at times, and had a lot of issues from when I was younger to deal with. The relationship fizzled out and I started to struggle with depression and anxiety again. I eventually got off the meds when I lost my job, and lost my health insurance.

I eventually continued therapy again when I started to feel like my life was on hold and have flirted with the idea of medication on and off for a while. I don't know why I've been putting it off. . . I've been struggling my whole life.

Here's where I'm at now:

I have a difficult time dealing with stress, and I seem to get things mixed up pretty easily. I seem to be more sensitive to what goes in my body than before, and I feel disoriented, and slightly confused often. I think I hide these symptoms a lot, but they come out more in anxiety, and low self-esteem. Maybe that's the cause? I don't know. I've been trying to convince myself (I'm not sure why) that this is something that I can think myself out of, focusing a lot on positive thinking, and trying to get in a routine. I've done a ton of reading of self help books, and have started exercising more, and trying to eat more healthy. But find that dealing with my stress still takes a lot of my energy and time even though I'm not currently working full time. I am finally going to see a psychiatrist for a second eval, and possible medication this week.

I worked full time over this past summer, and was doing pretty good. Two jobs, one full time, one weekend, a band, a monthly event, and a girlfriend. Although, I was very stressed, and in new job ventures, I had A LOT of difficulty feeling confident, even though bosses were often encouraging and complimentary of my ability.

From the beginning of the summer to the end of the year, I became very depressed, and work slowed down after summer. I had great difficulty getting my priorities straight, and found it very easy to move through my days in a sort of avoidant fog. (I remember doing this when I was younger, but it was more severe then than now. . .) Staying in bed for several hours, and taking it “easy.” I think I was in denial about how depressed I really was. I'm not sure.

I still tried, but felt very hesitant. I also was dating a girl for the second half of the year, and frequently had trouble remembering her friends names, and things that we did together. It often felt like we were going on first dates often when we hung out. I don't know if that's just the tone of our relationship, or if there was something that was keeping her from becoming more familiar to me even after six months. I also had a lot of trouble remembering my schedule, piecing together my days in the correct order, and feeling oriented in my week. I often felt like I was moving in a small bubble of uncertainty that really made me feel uneasy, added to the anxiety, and made me feel even more depressed, and stuck. I would try to journal my days sometimes. Often it would take me a very long time to piece my day together in a detailed fashion. Even if it was just the previous day. Maybe I was over reacting, or worrying too much about small details, the amount of effort it took to reconstruct an organized recap of the previous day was tough, and made me worry. I will note here that despite all my complaints many other people in my life tell me that I appear to be “doing fine,” and am just being too hard on myself a lot of the time. .

I've read that when you are depressed, or under a lot of stress that can affect memory. I've felt this way for a lot of my life, and maybe the symptoms have always been there and I'm just more aware of them now, especially when I get things mixed up, or completely forget appointments, or plans. Historically I've had a hard time remembering large groups of people like family, and I have a difficult time remembering old teacher's names. Strangely, I notice that when I'm less stressed out, or more relaxed, a lot of this seems to vanish, but since I'm often stressed out and anxious, I'm not sure what's up. I know there's a lot in here, and I wish I had organized this better. But any help?

Thanks for your question.

You are correct that depression and stress can have a direct effect on your memory. If you have struggled with these issues and anxiety throughout your life, that is likely the reason behind your difficulties with your memory. It also explains why this seems to vanish when you are less stressed out. Memory difficulties can be a very alarming symptom but it is actually fairly common, especially if you have depressed and/or anxious for an extended period of time now.

The good news is that based on what you've described, it would seem that once your depression and anxiety is more manageable, you should find your memory is much improved. You've been on the right track and have been putting a lot of effort into figuring out the best way of approaching this, and that will continue to benefit you if it hasn't already. At this point it seems like you are right to see a psychiatrist, and you may see a drastic improvement in your ability to manage if you were to consider taking a medication. Considering that this has been going on for such a long time, a medication may help you to get this under control as well as improve in some of these area of confidence and positive thinking once you are in a better frame of mind in general.

If you're not still currently in therapy it may be worth continuing, just to see if you can get to the root of this depression and anxiety. At some point there are no amount of self help books that can replace some professional feedback about your specific situation. Studies have shown that the combination of therapy and medication is the most effective way of overcoming these types of issues, so ideally that would be the best way to approach this.

If people generally feel like you are doing fine and holding it together well, then you're obviously doing something right. However, that doesn't change what's going on inside of your mind, and it's important that you feel good even if you are able to hold it together for everyone else. There's obviously a difference between being a passenger in your life and living it, and as long as you are motivated to work on this, there are many reasons to be optimistic that you will be able to continue to make progress. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there's anything else I can do to help please let me know.

Ryan LCSW and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. I'm currently in therapy. Man, I hope that your right. I feel as if I am running in to a brick wall with life right now.

I know what you mean. It gets frustrating and tiring, but sometimes it takes a few brick walls to figure out what works and what doesn't work, and then you can start putting the whole picture together. Don't be afraid to ask your therapist questions, express your concerns and keep pushing forward. Hang in there,