Wondering if I Have Depression?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Since I have been 10 years old I have not felt right. I am lethargic, I am an introvert and spend a lot of time alone and have for the last 15 years. I never have any energy so I do not socialize very much. I feel this draining feeling in my head that makes me not want to make the effort to talk with people.

Because of all this I personal relationships have suffered. Every woman I have ever dated has left me because they get tired of me not wanting to do anything, I get irritable and snap at people close to me. My school and work career have been average because I only do what I need to do to get by. I have a lot of potential that I have never used and this applies to every part of my life, relationships, school, work, my athletic career, none of which I have come close to being what I could have been.

I wake up dreading that I have to go to work and deal with people. I would rather stay by myself and watch TV. I have been told all my life that I am lazy and it is all my fault but I know other people do not feel the way I do. I need to feel like the rest of the world. I had blood test starting when I was 10 but nothing was ever found and no treatment was ever tried. I recently was diagnosed with sleep apnea and that has helped but not cured me.

I just want to wake up and be ready to be involved in life. I feel the chemicals in my brain are not balanced. Any idea what my problem may be? Could it be depression? Can you recommend to me what I should do next? Thank you for your time.

A. Depression is one possibility. It is also possible that you have an underlying medical condition. You mentioned having blood tests at the age of 10. How thorough were those blood tests? Have you had blood tests since that time? Also, you may need more than one blood test to determine if there is an underlying medical condition. It is important to rule out a medical condition. I would suggest discussing your symptoms with a doctor.

One condition to explore further may be chronic fatigue syndrome. The hallmark of this disorder is fatigue, to the point of restricting one’s activities as well as feeling unrested, even after sleeping for an adequate amount of time. Other symptoms may include muscle aches and soreness, forgetfulness, headaches, fever and sore throat. Another related medical condition to explore is the Epstein-Barr virus. Both disorders affect the body’s immune system. The New York Times recently published an informative article about chronic fatigue syndrome. The article discusses a virus called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, or XMRV, that has been recently discovered in relation to chronic fatigue syndrome. If you want to read more about this please click here to be taken to the New York Times website.

It’s best to approach this problem in a two-pronged way. One, as I mentioned above, is to explore the possibility of an underlying medical condition. This you could do by researching possible disorders as well as being evaluated by a physician. The second thing you might consider is being evaluated by a mental health professional. There are several advantages to this. One is that he or she could evaluate you and determine whether you have depression. The second advantage is that he or she may be able to advise you about how to deal with your symptoms. The counselor may have suggestions about how to overcome the issues you have written about.

At this time, it is unclear whether you have depression or an underlying medical condition, but one thing is certain: you are not enjoying life as much as you should. Yes, you are alive and are going through the motions on a daily basis but you are not living up to your life’s potential. You referenced this in your letter. There’s much more you could be doing that you’re not and this can be corrected. Please consider my advice. Please believe me there is help out there that can give you the quality of life that you desire and deserve.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Oct 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Wondering if I Have Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/10/30/wondering-if-i-have-depression/

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