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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I’m sure I have something like major depression (it can be

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I’m sure I have something like major depression (it can be clinical but it often exaggerates the magnitude of real-world problems) and it’s getting in the way of uni life, both the social and academic aspects, (more so the social, that’s what I’m concerned about right now). I feel as if I’ll never be able to “fit in” and seeing others around me laughing partying in large groups and having healthy relationships, and that makes it much worse. It’s a horrible disturbing feeling especially when I see pictures of others on Facebook and other such places. I literally have no friends and I’m certain I have some sort of social anxiety or social phobia. I’ve tried very hard in the past to get rid of it just by changing way I think… trying to be more positive and using my subconscious mind and all that... It actually worked quite well however this depression is extremely persistent and no matter how hard I try it always comes back to haunt me. I feel I can’t make friends unless I get over depression first, and when I actually do have these bursts of positive thinking there’s always an underlying sadness that I have no one to share it with. I feel extremely anxious while eating in public (usually because I’m alone in the uni’s cafeteria), I always feel the need to have a buddy with me wherever I go, and I can never make friends during lectures since I can’t get past small talk or “chit chat”, they just don’t seem interested or I always feel that I’m not good enough for them, and as a result I question my worth quite a bit. Not a week has gone by in my life where I haven’t contemplated suicide. I’m 18 and I also often suffer from “relationship envy”. I’ve also been told that I think too much and that I have a very “intellectual” or “mechanical” mind, and I try to sort out everything logically, which doesn’t work all the time. I was also extremely shy as a child. Another thing is that I can’t cry anymore, no matter how much I want to. I used to cry myself to sleep every night but now I can’t seem to shed a tear. Anyway, how do I get rid of this permanently, so I can start enjoying life? I do not want ANY drugs or medication at all, because I like to exercise heavily, not only for the mental health bensefits but I’m trying to lose weight so I can be more confident in social situations (I’m extremely obsessed with my looks, far too much for a guy) and I’ve heard these medications cause weight-gain.

Part of the problem is that you are probably suffering from mixed anxiety and depression - depression is causing you to feel bad, and the other part is that your negative thinking about your life situation is just adding to that.

Both these things can be dealt with by a combination of proper medication and a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a form of therapy that addresses problems in a direct and targeted way and is brief compared with most other therapies.

Now I understand that you do not want to take medication. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – see below – will be effective, however, it will be much more so and much quicker if used in conjunction with medication. If you maintain your exercise levels –indeed you may be able to increase them – there is no reason to think that you will suffer weight gain.

The medication itself does NOT cause weight gain, it is more the changes in appetite and lifestyle that do. Therefore, keep your exercise up, and weight gain need not be an issue.

Remember too that depression will interfere with your social life – destroying your self confidence and leading to withdrawal. It IS a serious illness, not to be ta***** *****ghtly.

The first thing you need to do is to see your Doctor – he will give you a full diagnosis and if appropriate, start your on a suitable anti-depressant medication. He will also want to rule out any physical cause of what you is experiencing.

Depression is seen as a chemical imbalance in the brain, just as diabetes is a chemical imbalance in the body. Diabetics take medication to stay well, why shouldn’t you?

Don’t be afraid of taking medication – it could really help turn your whole life around

Two important issues about this - when you is on medication, you must take it at the correct dose and as prescribed. It is no use missing doses or messing around with the dose.

Secondly, you should know that anti-depressants can take up to 8 weeks from the start of therapy before they begin to show beneficial effects, so it's no use quitting after two weeks.

I mentioned CBT - is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also cause the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Make the first step NOW – get an appointment with your Doc, and you can start to get better.

You’ll also find some very good help here:

Best wishes,
Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you