Anxiety and Depression Support
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Update and Question

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am trying some natural medicine to help with anxiety, and I will be reading some books about anxiety, panic, and stress. I think these things will help a lot. I've also got better sleeping habits than I used to. I still can't seem to see how or when I will get out of the stress I'm going through, but I have hopes that someday I will. :)

I also have a question: for some reason I get this feeling a lot that nothing exists and nothing matters, almost like an out-of-body experience. This especially happens with other people. I feel like they aren't real and they don't matter, and this concerns me a little as I am usually looking out for others. With this feeling I usually get feelings of apathy, discouragement, low libido (rather odd for my age, I think), and solitude. I've read that this is a somewhat common side effect of anxiety, so I was wondering if anyone else deals with this, and if they have any good coping mechanisms? It gets better or worse depending on my stress levels. Also, has anyone else had experience with low libido due to stress? I know that's kind of a weird question, but it's been going on for a bit now and I want to know if it's normal or if I need to see a doctor. Recently my stress has been really bad. I got a small cold recently, and for some reason, having clogged sinuses really adds to my stress. I don't know if it's pressure, not being able to breathe through my nose, mild hypochondria, minor PTSD, exhaustion, or what. But I've pretty much been under constant high stress levels all day. I don't want to say that the anxiety is getting worse overall, but it's been pretty bad over the last few days. Hopefully the things I'm trying will be beneficial. I would be very thankful if someone who has experience with the "nothing is real" feeling could help. By the way, I hope you all have a happy new year. :)

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Hi JPhilip,

Good to hear from you and thanks for staying connected with the community! No matter what, it's good for whatever you are going through to stay connected... whether it's people in your immediate life, or with us here! ;-)

Some thoughts and comments. Some of what I'll say here might be "controversial" based on the experiences of others, so you will have to weigh all of the advice you get and ultimately make a choice for yourself.

Meds: This is something you will want to think about carefully. "Self Prescribing" meds is actually not the best idea... "natural" or otherwise. There are a number of different types of meds that affect different parts of your brain chemistry in different ways. There is no such thing as "anxiety" meds, because anxiety is not a generic thing. It can have many causes. In the end, these "natural" meds are just compounds which affect serotonin or dopamine levels in your brain just as the prescription meds do (sometimes they have similar compounds even). The difference is that in the case of prescribed meds, you have someone working with you who has some experience.

You probably know (as "someone your age") that alcohol or weed can affect people differently. Same "stuff" but people have very different feelings from it. Relaxed, paranoid, productive, etc... same goes for these psychoactive drugs used for treating depression and anxiety. You have to experiment with them a bit. I'll tell you a personal story to illustrate...

When I finally realized that I was in a place where I needed more that talking to help get me out of my anxiety/depression, I saw a doctor who specializes in this stuff. We talked a few times, he asked me lots of questions, took lots of notes, and after a couple sessions, we agreed on a medication. I'd never tried anything like this before, but I very much needed help to get back to a place where I could manage (wrestling with a combo of depression and anxiety).

I started taking the meds, and found I could not sleep. This lasted for days, and if you have read anything about sleep deprivation, you will know a couple days with no sleep can start to make you a bit psychotic. After some days, I realized this was not gonna work for me... I stopped, and then was able to sleep. OK, that was not the one!

Then I tried another. I was able to sleep, and it helped me a bit, but then something else strange happened... I had lost my libido completely, and what's more, I was not able to even "get it up". Wow... talk about weird. In the end after a couple months of this, and it not having a meaningful positive effect, we decided to stop this one as well.

Third try, some time later, I used a different one. Lowest dose. It had a palpable positive effect in about a week. I woke up and "felt like myself again". In fact, felt more like myself than I can remember feeling in a long time. All the equipment operated normally too, etc... :-)

So the point of the story is that it takes trial and error to get it right sometimes... having the help of someone else who has a lot of experience can be critical in helping you get it right. (don't just go to your normal doctor for this... go to an expert in this specific thing... a psychiatrist who can prescribe meds) When you self-prescribe, no matter how much research you do, you don't have the breadth of experience of someone who does this all day every day. They see hundreds of people and see patterns in how the various meds work and can prepare you for the side effects (on the second one he told me this stuff might happen).

All of this goes back to what I've said in previous replies to you... don't try to do this alone.

Libido: Yeah the symptoms you are describing are potentially manifestations of depression. This can go hand in hand with anxiety (I'm raising my own hand here) and there is no question that depression can cause the kinds of symptoms and mind states you are describing.

It's good you are here, and talking about this stuff! Really, I am impressed by your openness and bravery to be honest about what you are feeling both physically and emotionally. This is often tough stuff for people to talk about, so people often suffer it completely alone, not realizing that other ppl out there are experiencing the same, and they are not alone in all of this.

Back to my mantra... and you can thwap me if you are getting tired of hearing this... :-)

Isolation, etc...: Find someone to help you. Depression can start to have an effect on you in ways beyond the anxiety attacks. By isolating yourself more, feeling less motivated, it'll affect school, your friendships which you need, and other parts of your life. You are recognizing it and talking about it now and can see objectively that something is not quite adding up. Recognizing this is good, admitting it is better, and seeking help from someone(s) is even better!

I'll be honest with you... I felt these things when I was your age, and I even tried to do something about it, but people around me (even parents) didn't really give me credit for realizing it was a problem... so I lived a long time before I was in a position to finally help myself. It messed up my schooling (could not study effectively or take tests effectively) and even my social life. When you let it ride, it can become a habit and a lifestyle (depression, isolation, etc...) and as time goes on it is more work to get back to the "real you", minus the depression/anxiety.

Behavioral Strategies: This is awesome stuff, and as neuroscientists have done more research using brain imaging studies, they have found that we can think our way out of a lot of things. Here is a quick thing you can try... not a substitute for deeper research into strategies, but one that has worked for me.

When I am feeling anxious about something, I have learned to understand that this is often my Amygdala (part of the brain) acting up. This is an emotional center responsible for protecting you from danger. When this happens, I do a couple things. First I try to describe what I'm feeling or why, with a couple words. Second, and most important, I ACCEPT the feeling. I don't try to make it go away, I accept that I feel afraid, anxious, etc... This is how I'm feeling right now... The effect this has can be almost immediate in that the feeling of anxiety reduces. When I stop fighting it, it dissolves and goes away.

Why does this work? Our brain is lousy at doing multiple things at once as it turns out... so when you start giving your feelings words, and when you start to "accept" the feeling, you are using a different part of your brain. It robs your Amygdala of the center stage spotlight, and it loses its power over you and your emotions.

Please do keep us up to date and please keep checking in. It's good to know you are trying, and that you are thinking and talking about this stuff at least here. I hope you also have at least one real human friend you can also talk to about some of this. Someone who you can look in the eye and discuss this with as well. Hopefully as honestly as you are here.

Summary:

1. Meds... careful about self-prescribing, get some professional specialist help

2. Libido... Deeper manifestation of depression... find doc or counselor to talk to and help

3. Isolation & other feelings... Also, depression... you know :-)

4. Behavioral strategies... Awesome! Read a lot about "Mindfulness" This you can work on yourself!

Keep in touch and let us know how things are going. I hope this didn't sound too preachy, was not meant to be... just genuine concern for your well being and desire to help you to get back to being the real you. :-)

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Thanks! This is very helpful. The natural medicine I was talking about just contains natural vitamins and nutrients that help the body manage stress, and it was recommended to me by someone I trust that is pretty knowledgable in medicine. I started taking it a couple of days ago, and I can already see a positive effect in my mood. I'm not sure yet if it is the medicine, or other causes. The past few days have been really hard, but I'm feeling a lot more like myself today, for the first time in a while.

I'll try your suggestions and your behavioral strategy. I've heard of stuff like that before, and it seems to help a lot of people. I'm sure it will help me. Through trial and error, I'm finding good techniques that help me with fear, anxiety, stress, and panic. Now I also have some good books about countering anxiety and depression, so I'll dig into those.

I'm glad to hear what you had to say about isolation and libido as well. I have hopes that these things will fade away as I deal with depression. And yes, I do have a person that I talk about this to regularly, and since they dealt with this when they were my age, they are really guiding me through some of the "unknown" of it all.

I'm glad there's always people here to answer my questions. That's part of the reason I'm open about it, I know someone has probably gone through the same thing. And no, your reply wasn't preachy. It was very helpful. :)

I hope you have a great day. Thanks again.

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