I am not knew to HW but have been away for a long time. I don't see many names that I recognize so I will give you my short story. I have dealt with depression on and off for many years. The last time I was on Hw I was taking Lexapro (worked great!, no side effects) and trying to get a handle on anxiety. I was able to get off meds and move on. Now the new stuff-
As many on HW have expressed, I do not want to be medicated for the rest of my life. I do not have emotional stressors in my life that would "cause" depression so for me the depression is purly physiological. I have been frustrated with doctors and pdocs who don't listen, don't understand that having depression does not mean that you are a weak person and/or are just prescription pads with legs and don't invest any time in helping me in other ways than with drugs.
I understand that the rest of what I have to say applies to me only but I wanted to share in case it can help anyone else. I finally went to a naturalpathic doctor and it has changed my life. I believe in alternative methods but have been skeptical of naturalpathic doctors because I was raised in a very traditional medical family. My Naturalpath is a woman who began her medical career as a nurse. She then became a nurse practitioner for about 12 years and then got her naturalpathic license. She is not squarely in the camp of traditional western medicine or squarely in the camp of naturalpathic medicine but rather takes an integrated approach which I sincerely appreciate. The reason that I went to see her is that after a long time of no issues at all I suddenly started having severe anxiety. Here is the amazing part-
1. She ordered all the same blood tests that any doctor would but she looks at the results with different eyes. Most doctors are only looking for one cause but with this doc each and every result was significant to an integrated look at things. I am 47 and squarely in the middle of (sorry guys) peri-menopause. The depth of understanding my doc has about hormones and how they control our brains and moods is phenominal and much more indepth that any "regular" doctor has ever given me. She also understands how diet integrates with brain chemistry.
2. Doc and I both decided that while we were sorting everything else out some meds would be a good idea. I had previously taken Lexapro but my insurance did not cover it so I asked if I could try Welbutarin, she said yes. The Welbutarin worked okay but no where near as well as the Lexapro did.
3. She had me take a quiz called The Braverman Test. It is an assessment to find out what hormones are dominant in your brain chemistry and what deficiencies you have. It assesses for levels of Dopamine, Acetalcoholine, GABA and Seratonine. The questionaire is full of questions like do I like to read romance fiction, am I a very dominant personality, do I feel energetic. I am thinking how on earth can any of this get at what is going on physically for me? Well when we sat down with the results together she nailed my personality and how I approach things and I mean NAILED IT!! The thing that it did for me was confirm what meds were really better for me, not for depression but for me in dealing with depression.
So many times we hear from each other that the meds are working alright but not great just like my experience with Welbutarin. Well, each med has its own specific way that it reacts with specific brain chemistry. The way I am wired Welbutarin doesn't get to the heart of my own personal chemistry but Lexapro does and that is why it is more effective for me. That has changed my life completely. The assessment was so effective because it is used by someone who truly understands brain chemistry and the body chemistry of women.
4. I live in the Pacific Northwest and being so far North we deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is my trigger to depressive episodes that I need support to get out of. We were able to plot it. SAD is a vitamin D deficiency only you can't just take a suppliement for it, you need megadoses to rectify that situation. Vitamine D is stored in the fatty tissue (why I have a deficiency I don't know because Goddess knows that I have enough storage copacity) and takes 3 - 4 months to build back up. Please do not self diagnose yourself with this because even though it would be a huge massive dailey amount, you can od on vitamin D.
5. The anxiety that I have experienced is directly related to the perimenopause. I have never EVER had anxiety before and it was literally a rollercoaster throughout the month. I can pinpoint when it starts in my cycle and when it stops. From there and my blood tests we were able to pinpoint what type of hormone (bio-identical) therapy I needed.
The thing that has been wonderful about all of this is that from the first appointment I no longer considered myself unstable, which I was beginning to wonder about. My doc is so knowlegable and so experienced that she completely got what I was talking about and what I needed. Today I am still on Lexapro because I don't want to take it for less than 6 months. There is research to suggest that if you do it is easier to relapse. I am building my body back up through nutrition (I know this is working because of the followup blood tests), I am rebuilding my vitamin D stores and I am on a hormone replacement that is not overkill for what I need and is appropriate to only the symptoms I need to deal with instead of a broad sweeping replacement program. I am looking forward to this summer when I again get off of Lexapro and then to next Fall to see if all is in place to keep me off Lexapro.
Again I want to say that I am not saying this is a depression cure all or advocating that everyone go and do this. I am just saying that this is my experience and this is what is working for me.