Depression and anxiety go together like birds of a feather. When I was first diagnosed with depression, my family doctor administered a Beck Test. The test is available online and is the best predictor of depression. There are no clinical tests that you can take to determine if you suffer. Actually, there are brain scans that will indicate the serotonin levels in your brain.
My doctor prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant. I also began seeing a therapist and these are the two most common steps taken when someone is diagnosed with depression.
Unfortunately the Paxil worked but it worked so well that it punched me into a hypomanic state. My psychologist, Dr. Lorrie Merriot called it ” medication induced mania “. Some people are manic depressive and others are simply depressed.
Mania is divided into three stages: hypomania, or stage I; acute mania, or stage II; and delirious mania (delirium), or stage III. This “staging” of a manic episode is very useful from a descriptive and differential diagnostic point of view.
How common is depression?
- By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
- Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
- Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
- Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired
- Increased activity, energy or agitation
- Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
- Poor decision-making — for example, going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks or making foolish investments
The 3 things that indicated that I was hypomanic were that I was in the home of an Australian couple in Florida talking about multimillion dollar investments when I had no money. Second, I bought a pair of Nike’s for $250 and when I left the store they got sculpted on the sidewalk, threw them out and bought another pair. And there was the $10, Amex bill that my father had to pay.
So the next step was Lithium which is a simple sea salt which is prescribed to cut out the highs and compliment the antidepressants. It worked and so oddly enough the Paxil lifted me and the Lithium brought me down. The combination proved to be successful and to this day, I continue to take both.
From time to time I cycle through depressive times, especially during the winter and manic times sporadically. But the balance is the key and for the most part, I am balanced.
When I got through my major depression when I was 40ish, my psychologist asked me what helped me get through. I said her, my MD, my parents and friends and the medication. But she said that I failed to mention the main reason; that is, me.