Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Depression


Hello Mr. Auerbach,

I'm having a problem with depression. I'm a 24 year old female, well educated with a nice paying job that is somewhat dull and repetitive. I have a loving boyfriend who has been my best friend for two years. My family is stable (at the moment) and supportive. I'm telling you these things because I shouldn't feel depressed. And I feel like an ungrateful horrible person for feeling this way all the time. I failed at my life long dream of becoming a veterinarian and I've sort of lost any drive to accomplish anything since then. This was over a year ago. My relationship is falling apart because I'm too overcritical of my partner. He has gained some weight and I feel no sexual attraction to him whatsoever. And I know it's a strain on him, not having a good sex life, which in turn makes me feel like a failure. But I do love him, but I'm not sure if it's enough anymore.  

I feel trapped in my life. A life so full of routine and monotony. I try and focus on the small things; my animals, nice weather, good food. But I can't stop this ache in my heart and a sense of foreboding. I've told my boyfriend about my depression, but it didn't really help. Nothing has changed and I'm afraid that it won't.

Hello Kate

Yes, maybe you do have clinical depression --  a common neurotransmitter imbalance that is best treated by anti-depression medication plus psychotherapy.

But -- and I have nothing to go on other than a couple of paragraphs -- it's possible that you don't have that at all but are a perfectly normal person who finds herself in a "bad place." That is, maybe you're having a problem with having a problem. A problem with your self worth. With your expectations and thwarted ambitions. With your realization that work, relationships, sex, and life itself is predictable, less charming than hoped for, and somewhat threatening. Worse, it's all your fault. As you see it.

So if all you have is "situational depression" (feeling lousy from seeing yourself in a lousy situation), one solution is to raise your chin, count your considerable blessings, focus on the good bits, and get on with it. Sure, things could be better. But they could be way worse. So buck up.

Another is to talk with a mental-health professional. If you want to try a bit of medication ("try" because responses do vary between people and over time), the best would be a psychiatrist, as that's what they do. But to refresh your outlook, to find and try strategies to counter the angst, to measure and report, to explore and revisit, I'd suggest a clinical psychologist, preferably versed in cognitive behavior modification. (I wish it were simpler, but if you want to discuss some nuts and bolts of finding the right helper, send me a follow-up.)

Hope the comments help a bit. Thanks for asking us, and the best of luck with this.


Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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