Hello, I'm a 27 year old male living in Brisbane, Australia. My life is falling to pieces because I am always out of energy, constantly aching all over and exhausted. Admittedly I have not exercised much in the past and along with mostly working in office jobs I spend most of my time sitting in front of the computer.
I have suffered from severe depression for around eight years now and have been taking anti-depressants (Zoloft) for a year or two which I have found to work in giving me more motivation to do things. However lately even though my mind has the motivation my body is a cage, just sitting here writing this, moving my fingers is making me tired. It feels like every muscle in my body is aching, especially my feet, legs and hands and back. I have seen a masseuse before who told me that a large majority of my muscles are very tight which could be contributing to my exhaustion.
It has been really hot here lately, but I see people getting about fine but to me this heat (around 30 degree celcius, high humidity) is like a blanket smothering me. I'm sweating all the time and out of energy. I've been trying to walk daily but in this heat and with no energy and constant pain to start with it is very difficult.
I need help. I've seen doctors about it but they just run blood tests (which always return fine) and tell me it is linked to depression and to see a Psychologist (which I have on a number of occasions). This does not help my physical conditions at all. The sessions are just conversations about feelings and while they have provided me tools and methods on how to approach overcoming my depression, I still feel like I am dying physically.
I cannot afford to get massages or fancy medications anymore as I've recently lost my job. I'm most likely going to lose my 7 year relationship because being in constant pain has made me cynical and generally unpleasant to be around. I struggle to help around the house due to the way I feel - in my mind there is so much I wish I could do but everything is so exhausting. I'm at the end of my rope feeling this way. Any advice at all would be appreciated.
Let me preface this by saying I have not suffered from the things you're dealing with, so can't say that I really know how you feel. However, my wife was on zoloft and generally lethargic for a while, so I can tell you what worked for her.
First, be aware that stiff muscles, weakness, and drowsiness are known side-effects of zoloft.
For my wife, diet was the key. I have been a life long athlete, so I have always been mindful (if not always strict enough) about what I put in my body. My wife, not so much. She was a pasta/frozen food/potato chip kind of eater. After the doctor ruled out medical conditions, I convinced her to eat like I do for a while. Real food, very light on the grains. The diet change gave her just enough energy to start exercising regularly. We started her with a 4 minute a day workout. The regular workouts gave her a little more energy each day, which translated into her being a little more strict with her diet, and basically caused a cycle of energy and motivation building on each other.
Check with your doctor to make sure it's not the zoloft.
Examine your diet regardless of whether or not it's the zoloft, because being healthier never hurt anyone.
I recommend seeing a therapist who charges on a sliding scale, based on current income, and specializes in trauma. Something deeper, psychologically may be underneath your challenges.
It might be the heat. I lived for awhile in Southern Ontario, Canada and we'd get a few days a year like that (not as constant as you guys) and I swear on those days all I wanted to do if I would let myself was sit on the couch and not vomit.
But, that aside, your lack of energy sounds more like a component of your depression. As you well know, depression is not like fighting a cold but more like fighting one everyday for the rest of your life. The pills are only going to be able to do so much. I think need to accept that and try everything. I can see at least four things in this post that if you could change might help a little bit I think.
One, your photo. Your photo is a description of this discussion. You look warm, down, and tired. I know its probably because that's exactly how you feel but if I were you I'd replace it with a photo of you at a time when you were feeling how you want to feel. You'll be looking at that more than any of us (we all seek our own photos first) and if you are looking at a tired version yourself, you are going to feel exactly like him.
Two, zoloft (sertraline) is but one of dozens of antidepressants. There is no one-drug-fits-all in depression. Some help with mood but mess with libido, some give you energy but make some people nervous, etc. Now, before you go and ask your doctor to change your meds, first question. Are you taking them? And are you taking them everyday as directed? Antidepressants take 4-6 weeks of constant use before they reach their peak effect and you would be amazed how many people quit before hand, convinced that the drug didn't work. Now if you are taking it as directed and its been over 6 weeks then tell your doctor and ask him what are your options. Now if his knowledge of them is limited to who the last drug rep was that walked into his office then find yourself another GP.
Three. Forget the masseuse. If your healthcare doesn't cover it, forget it since there is no use moaning about what we can't have, and anyway he's just feeding your illusion that your problem is physical in origin. You are tense and tired and achy because you are depressed. Now I realize feeling tired and achy can worsen your depression but a back rub is not going to cure you. All he is doing is treating a symptom, not the cause.
Four, and probably the hardest thing to do. Change your mind. Maybe the psychologist can help you do this with those methods you mentioned and probably has a nicer way to put it than I do. Just noting what you wrote here. You mention that the heat kills you but others seem fine. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. But comparing yourself to them or wishing you had what they appear to have is pointless. You find the heat tough, accept it as a challenge, not a crutch. You don't 'need' help. A baby stuck in a well needs help. You 'want' help. Accept the difference between the two. Knowing that we can do something, even though we really wish someone would help us, makes it a lot easier than accepting that we can't do it without help. You can't afford fancy meds or massages. Ok. So what will you do? Bitch about it to nobody? You got this far in life without the massages and there are cheaper generic meds out there. They are just as good. Likewise, you are cynical because you are acting cynical. Pain got nothing to do with it. Accept that you are cynical, recognise that it sucks, and work at changing it. As for the relationship, if she's been there for 7 years, I doubt a low bit here or there is gonna end it. But if you go on thinking it will end, you'll make that a self-fulfilling prophesy. Stop that.
My advice in short form. Your pain, tiredness, weakness, etc is not due to a physical aliment. Your problem is depression and just like a fatman needs to get off his butt and work his body to lose weight, you need to do the same and work your mind and body. Go back to the psychologist and put those methods into practice.
As far as the zoloft, I agree with the others. I am starting to ween off of it, but it has played hell with my muscles. Always extra tense, which then made me not want to work out and so forth. Then the not working out added to the muscles turning to crap while they were constantly tense. Slowly starting to use an elliptical that a friend gave us, barely able to get a fraction of the time I was used to back in the day, but each time(3 a week, on week 2), I am adding one minute to the work out. Will still be a long while until I am doing long, super hard work outs, but the little I am doing makes my mind feel so much better.
Sounds like you need a change of medication. There are plenty of antidepressants; one is bound to lack that side effect.
The way I got out of depression was to a) recognize what it was about my life that I simply could not accept, and b) turn it over to God (give up control). Took me about a decade. If that's at the root of your depression -- and if you'd asked me at the time, I would have said, "No, I just feel awful and don't know why" -- here's hoping you'll take less time than I did.
YOU ARE IN THE WRONG JOB. THAT IS WHAT IS CAUSING YOUR DEPRESSION.
QUIT AND FIND AN ENERGIZING CAREER.
What's your diet consist of? To you exercise regularly?
You're getting good advice. I'm just going to add some information. I won't call it advice, because I know that acting on this information might be the hardest to do of the posts here.
The popular press (as opposed to the medical journals) is awash in articles right now saying that exercise is as good a treatment for depression as talk therapy. It sounds like your depression is severe enough that you're going to need all the treatments - medication, talk therapy, exercise, probably a good diet too to help with the exercise and energy levels.
Try some B vitamins while you're waiting for bigger changes to kick in. I thought the B vitamins and energy talk was hogwash until I went off them for about 4 weeks after taking them for years for something unrelated. I was tired and miserable until my pills arrived 3 weeks late.
Oh, and your partner should find a support group for partners of people with depression. A support group would help you, too.