I feel empty

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m a 34 year old housewife. I’ve been married 8 years and have 2 children. I’m not too sure how long I’ve been feeling empty. I do remember having a terrible time in December 2008. I spent a lot of time in bed. I only got out of bed to take my child to school and feed my other child throughout the day. I cried a lot and slept even more. I thought of running away all the time. Somehow I got over it and moved on. I still feel sad and empty. I don’t have any friends I hang out with. I visit with my husbands family sometimes but I am usually home, on the computer. I’m tired all the time. My energy level is so low. My family has a history of Thyroid issues and I thought that was my problem but the tests come back negative. I don’t enjoy sex anymore. I only do it when my husband stresses the issue that we haven’t had sex in a long time. I don’t enjoy him touching me anymore either. I tried to explain that I’m going through something I can’t really describe and if he could just take his time maybe I can warm up and want it again. It doesn’t work. I sometimes hope he has an affair so I don’t have to be bothered. I want to stay with him but I don’t feel its fair to make him go through this. Can this be a medical condition? What can I do to fix this?

A: My goodness. This sounds awful. Yes. It could be a medical condition. It could even be a problem with your thyroid. Sometimes the tests for thyroid problems produce false negatives. I hope you saw an endocrinologist, not just your primary care physician, to have this checked out. If a more sophisticated test still comes back negative for thyroid, there are a number of other physical conditions that can produce the symptoms you describe. Among the possibilities are anemia, vitamin deficiency, eletrolyte imbalance, urinary tract infections, chronic fatique syndrome, Lyme disease, and even a brain tumor. This list isn’t intended to be inclusive or to scare you but merely to point out that there are many medical conditions that can look like depression. The first step, then, is to get a complete medical workup.

If you find you are medically fine, then please get yourself to a psychiatrist or psychologist for an evaluation. The symptoms you describe are also consistent with a diagnosis of depression. Depression often makes people withdraw from the people and activities they love. Fortunately, it can be treated. A combination of medicine and talk therapy can get you back to your usual self.

Please don’t wait to make these appointments. You’ve been feeling miserable for far too long. You, and your family, deserve to have a happier life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). I feel empty. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/15/i-feel-empty/