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Depression

Can I ever become better?

05/22/2009

Question:

I apologize for the length of this question. Feel free to skip to the last question if that helps! :o)

I am currently a sophomore going into my junior year and I am doing extremely terrible in school. I have my last final exam tomorrow and even if I got a 100% on the exam, I would still only have a C in the class. This is a cause for serious discouragement for me because I feel like a complete idiot.

I have been having a terrible semester and I have had a hard time concentrating on studying and I feel like the only way I would study is if I was held up at gun point and my life was dependent upon studying and getting an A. It is a laboring task for me to try and study and I have no idea why it is like this! Studying, in my opinion, should be something of enjoyment and my chance to relax but as I begin to study I begin to think of terrible things like how I am stupid and how I have no way of remembering what I am reading, and how no matter what I do I will probably only get a C or D on the exam. The more I study the more my negative thoughts arise.

I am able to start tasks and I can "study" but as soon as I take my test, I "think" I know everything but I end up failing and getting between 40-70% on my exams. When I get my scores I cry as if the world has come to an end and I become very discouraged. I have noticed after taking my exams that I have no idea what I am saying when I start answering a question. My thoughts are jumbled and I just blurt out whatever comes to mind and jot it down on paper. I have read some of my responses after taking the exam and I feel like its a whole different person answering these questions!

As a result of my inability to do well in school and my increase in negative emotions I have been diagnosed with depression and ADHD but I feel like a piece of this problem is missing! My doctor increased my Zoloft prescription from 50mg to 75mg and my depression became worse. I have also had more problems concentrating but the only thing it has solved is that I no longer cry as often as I used to. However, I am sleeping ALL THE TIME, I am forgetting everything, I am extremely tired and the first thing I do when I come home from classes is sleep for 5 hours--5 hours that could have been devoted to studying if I was normal! I am continually late for everything and I lost my job as a result of that! If there was a second runner up for queen of procrastination, that would definitely be me!

It is difficult for me to wake up because my sleep is so heavy. I sit in class and I can barely concentrate on the task at hand. I used to be very excited about class but now I go and I think about how stupid everything is and how I am a complete idiot for thinking I could even do well in any class.

I just recently stopped taking my medication (yesterday) because I was sleeping too much and I felt very lazy. I really want to request if I could take my depression medication and a stimulant to help me with my concentration but then I feel like I will be using medication to "get ahead". However, I feel like if I had the ability to concentrate on the task at hand I would be able to feel better about myself and thus ridding myself of the depression I have from failing miserably in school.

I have ZERO motivation and I need to pick up the slack if I want to get into medical school (which is my ultimate goal) I have tried explaining my situation to a psychiatrist but she talks to me for 10 minutes and increases my prescription and that has NOT solved the problem. I am thinking I should go about a holistic route or I need to figure out how to voice my concerns better to solve this problem! If you have any tips that would be extremely appreciated!

Do you have any tips on how to handle the inability to concentrate, depression, or study tips? Or any ways to become more energized to get things done?

Answer:

You make a persuasive case for having a severe depression that has not responded to several reasonable initial efforts at treatment. But don't lose heart. You've got a good picture of the problem. Now you need to broaden your view of the options for treatment and get some additional help. Here are 3 steps:

1) Try reading Getting Your Life Back, Jesse Wright and Monica Basco, for a look at the range of approaches that work.

2) Try a course of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression; if you can't find that, try weekly individual therapy for 3-6 months.

3) Ask your doctor to help you seek a second opinion on best options for antidepressant medication treatment.

You might also see if you can find a support group through the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) website (www.dbsa.org). Stick with it. You will find your way through.

For more information:

Go to the Depression health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati