Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Sup doc

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I've been going through what I would describe as phases for the last few years. For anywhere from a couple of weeks to some months I will suffer from horrendous sadness and hopelessness, and I've noticed it always happens at the beginning of spring almost like some reverse seasonal affective disorder. Then, all of a sudden I'll snap out of it and life will be beautiful and amazing until i get back into my sad phase. I am currently 17 and I think this has been happening since I was 13. My mom has revealed to me that she has thought that I have had depression and some school-induced panic attacks last year led her to believe I had anxiety. When I was having the panic attacks she was going to get me a counselor but never went through with it. I've recently been trying to convince her that what is happening isn't normal and that maybe something is wrong and that maybe, just maybe, I should consider getting checked out. Except she's been saying that I've been sad because I lack motivation and that going to the doctor will only get me labeled a nut job the rest of my life and the no one will want to employ me except for McDonalds. Is she right? Or should I be worried? Sorry this is so long I had a lot to say.

Answer
Not much but sorry about whasup with you.

Your mother is correct -- for the situation as of when she was 17.  Should you be worried?  No, because you have a good handle on it and sound perfectly, well, sound.

That doesn't mean your life couldn't be made much better with some help. It's not a matter so much of getting checked out (you actually seem quite normal) but of (a) trying some anti-depressant medication, and (b) learning some strategies for coping with all the down-phases.

(a) Sometimes your kind of symptoms are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, for which there are now a number of pharmaceuticals that restore normality. One way to find out if that's you is by trying different doses of different ones and decide for yourself. They have to be prescribed by a physician, and the best practitioner for this would be a psychiatrist. They deal with depression perhaps in every other patient. They're costly and hard to access, but a single visit might well suffice. Your family doctor can doubtless recommend and refer.

(b) Here I'd suggest a clinical psychologist. The school guidance office might be able to arrange this, or a physician might have a name, or try the Internet. They are well trained to help deal with this. I promise it won't hurt.

The combination is usually more effective than either alone. Any physician can prescribe anything and can talk with you about anything, but who you see is up to you and your mom.


I hope the above will get you on the way, but if you have a follow-up, please feel free. Meanwhile, thanks for asking us, and all the best to you.

Alan

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach

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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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