Q: I have suffered from depression from the age of around 15. It has gradually gotten worse within the past two years to the point where i have overdosed in the past, and even ended up in prison for lashing out.

Previously i used alcohol to try and cope and this has started again. I have tried anti depressants and anxiety tablets but neither have worked. I grew up with my dad being an alcoholic and my elder brother being a drug addict.

I was bullied really bad in school to the point were i changed school twice, ran away from home, and ended up getting taken out of school and home-schooled as i suffered from panic attacks quite bad. Since school i have found it increasingly hard to make friends. I’m extremely paranoid to the point where i find it hard going outside and have left  numerous jobs and college courses because of my insecurities.

I seem to cry all the time and i have no idea why. I get extreme bouts of depression where i feel there is no way out and i want to die. The  last time this happened i ended up in prison and i am scared of what will happen next. I have no idea what is wrong with me and i just need some answers. thanks

A: Hi, and thanks for your question. It certainly sounds like you have had a rough life so far and you are still in your teen years. My first question is, who is treating you for this problem? Is it your family doctor, or a psychiatrist? The reason I ask is that a psychiatrist would take a thorough history and prescribe the correct medications.  You said that you have tried antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds, but didn’t say how they were a problem or how long you took them.

Sometimes more than one antidepressant has to be used to help people with severe depression and anti-anxiety medications alone can be depressing. If you are having mood swings and are using alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate, you may very well have bipolar disorder.

Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t the best place to diagnose someone, and I wouldn’t want to try.  Please consider going to a psychiatrist, give him an honest and thorough history and find out if you would be better suited on medications for bipolar disorder, rather than either an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt