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Dealing with Depression/I might be suffering from depression


Hi Dr. Schafer,
You can call me Dee. I'm 23 years old and I think I might be suffering from depression. I have been feeling down most of the time for the past several years. A year ago (June 29, 2015 to be exact), I took a test on PsychologyToday and the result said I responded in a way that indicated severe depression symptoms. Yesterday I got a copy of the BDI test online ( I'm not sure if it's the legitimate BDI, but I took it anyway and I scored 51.
Several days ago we had a quiz in class and only scored 1 out of 25. I felt extremely devastated because I studied hard for that class. I felt so devastated that I had to skip my next class and go somewhere private to cry. I cried for at least an hour. Then I realized it was the first day of my period, and a month ago during my first day of menstruation I also cried nonstop. I also remember in some of the previous months I cried so hard or felt extremely sad and realized it was the first day of my period. I googled and read about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, but my symptoms are usually the worst during the first day. Also, my period ended 3 days ago and I still feel really down.
There are very few moments that I think I can do it and just "get over it", but most of the time I don't think I can. During those moments, if I had with me a pill that could kill me in an instant I would take it without second thoughts.

I want to seek help but I can't really afford to go to go to a psychologist, and I don't want my parents to know because I don't want to add more burden to them. Also, I'm still not sure if I really have depression. Maybe I'm just overreacting or acting out. I would probably ask help from my Psychology professors (I'm in my first year studying AB Psychology) after I'm 110% sure I have depression.

If there's any advice you could give, I'd appreciate it so much. Or maybe are there legitimate depression tests you know (that are free) and that I can take to be sure?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Hi Dee:

I am sorry to hear how down you become right at your period.  Believed it of not, that happens to many women. I am one of them.  I cried a lot.   I no longer have periods - it is wonderful!!  The one advantage of getting old as a woman.

Since you are in school, don't you have free access to counseling?  If so, ask if you can see a medical doctor.  They may have one available for students.  Also, if you feel you can talk to your mom - just tell her you want to see a doctor because you are having period problems.  If you don't want her to worry, tell her you are just so "uncomfortable and/or too bloated" - you can then avoid the crying if you think that that is what worries her.  Uncomfortable and bloated is partly true anyway.

Another option, you may try over the counter pills if you are not on any other meds.  For example,
St. John's Wort has helped some of my clients with the crying and they state they feel more relaxed.  You can buy St. John's Wort at any drugstore. Start to take it about a week before your period. See if that helps.  Next, if that does not help, try 5-HTP - start that about a week before your period and see how that works.  If they do not work, seriously see a doctor for an Rx.   Make sure you are not on any other meds because these to OTCs are precursors to Serotonin - so if you have any other Rx antidepressants in your body - you may get a serotonin overload

The BDI you took should have been authentic - did it also say: Beck Depression Inventory?  YOu may want
to take it on a good day, and then on a bad day.  Also, type in your browser Dr. Ivan Goldberg.  He has a website referred to as "Depression Centra"  and also he started which he started.

Sadly, he passed away a couple of years ago.  But, I feel he knew everything possible about depression. scroll around the site and look for his depression test.   I have correspondence from him from around 2011.  I asked him how his depression inventory compares with the BDI.  He sent me the comparison statistics and it is just as "reliable" and "valid" as the Beck.  So, take that inventory on a good day, and then on a bad day. Compare.

It is hard to concentrate and retain information when you are depressed. So, if your depression tests you are taking online are pretty consistent with severe depression, I advise seeing a psychiatrist who is more experienced in depression than a regular MD.

Really think over about tell your mom about it if you are on her inurance because you do need the help if this is severe depression.

Hope my thoughts help you out.

Dr. Pat

Dealing with Depression

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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.


I received my Ph.D. from Kent State,in Ohio in Counseling.I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and forms of addictions such as substance abuse,eating disorders and gambling. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) My experience includes counseling substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I accept insurance and EAP programs.


Twelve years experience as a professional clinical counselor; 30 years member of Al-Anon.


Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Ph.D. in Counseling - Kent State MS in Counseling - John Carroll University BS in Psychology - University of Pittsburgh

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients

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