I didn’t always used to be this way, but I would say in the last two years I feel like my mental state has diminished quite a bit. At home, I am finding it hard to perform very simple tasks everyday. The same set of dirty dishes have been in the sink for weeks just simply because I cannot find the will to complete them. Laundry gets ignored for weeks. I have no motivation to get things done that I know need to be done. I sleep much more than I should and find it hard everyday just to get out of bed, regardless if I work or I’m off. I do manage to go to work on time everyday, though. But I’m finding it harder everyday to get my work done. I didn’t use to have a terrible memory but now its hard to remember tasks that were assigned to me less than 30 minutes prior; it doesn’t matter if they emailed it to me or told me to my face. I’m always late in completing my work when I have deadlines, and often times I either stay many hours after work to finish something, or just flat don’t finish it at all. But I’m not depressed, at least I wouldn’t think so. I’m a pretty happy person when I am around others. When I am by myself, though, I tend to feel guilty for not completing things, whether that be the dishes or taking the car to the mechanic. It doesn’t matter how big, small, or significant it is, I feel guilty if it did not get completed. I also feel like I must have some sort of anxiety when I’m in a situation that is not part of my everyday routine. I put off taking my car to the mechanic, just because I am too nervous to deal with speaking with the mechanic. I put off grocery shopping because I am freaked out to be in the store with other people. Any responsibility I have for my life, such as paying bills, shopping, etc, if it can be done online, I will do it that way. If I have to call someone or see them in person, I will put it off for weeks or even months just to avoid being in a situation that I am uncomfortable with. I’m just looking for some advice to know if there’s anything I can do to stop feeling so worried about going out to other places besides my house or my job. Is there anything I can do to find the motivation to get simple tasks done? Any thoughts for my increasingly worse memory? I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and any advice would be amazing.

 A: I know you say you don’t think you are depressed, but you have listed many symptoms of depression within your question. Depression doesn’t always include the subjective experience of feeling “depressed,” such as sadness and crying. Some of the symptoms also include the loss of interest in pleasurable activities, fatigue or loss of energy, problems with sleep, poor concentration or memory, feelings of worthlessness, and excessive guilt. Many times this can translate into feeling unmotivated and unproductive. It is also common for people to withdraw socially, possibly because of the energy required to interact with others, or because they have more anxiety than usual. 

Memory problems can be one of the first signs of stress. I look at it like this: if the system is overloaded and you aren’t concentrating well, typical information doesn’t make it to the “memory bank” to be retrieved later. Memory problems can be caused by many things, both psychological and medical.

There are lots of studies that show that a healthy diet and exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood and energy levels, so this is something you can do on your own.  You might also want to consider some vitamins and supplements, if you haven’t already. Finally, I’d suggest seeing your medical doctor to get some lab work completed to rule out medical causes, and if things don’t improve soon, I would also suggest finding a good therapist. Hope you feel better soon.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts