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Old 07-08-2009, 02:27 PM   #1
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Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

Hi everyone, I'm new here. I'm pretty new to psychology and psychiatry in general (I've mostly read Wackypedia entries until now).
So I find still hard to differentiate between personality or mood disorders and between psychological complexes/"bad habits" or clearly defined mental illnesses. Especially in my case.
The fact that a lot of similar symptoms apply to very different disorders or illnesses is of little help.

Not that I'm trying a self-diagnosis, it's just that I find very hard to describe how I feel to my psychologist, and I realized how some kind of self-analysis "homework" really helps in the process.

I'm not joking when I say it took months to reach the level of understanding I've got now about my issues, and I'm still far from getting a coherent picture.
My best guess is Clinical Depression at the moment, that's why I'm posting here.

Anhedonia: I rarely experience pleasure in what I do. So when I do something, it's because I think I need to do that, or because I'm forced to. The main drive behind me doing things, even if I don't particularly like them, seems to be a need to compensate for feelings of inferiority and guilt (can't feel them very much though, I only can act in response to them or to prevent them).
What I find unclear is if those feelings are a symptom of depression, or if my low mood is only a consequence of being "not free" as I'm forced to act moved by those feelings. Simple example: I'd like to spend most of my time playing videogames, but I won't because it'll make me feel guilty toward my parents who expect me to graduate soon and then get a job.

Attention: I find almost impossible to sustain attention when I'm not incredibly motivated or challenged. Yet when I can finally focus on something, I can't think about anything else for long periods of time (may be hours or months), at the point of feeling irritated and annoyed when I'm interrupted. Yet after some time of intense dedication I simply lose all interest (probably because there's not much new to learn or experience) and need to find a new thing to focus on.
I used to think about those "episodes" as some kind of hypomania, but my mood is not affected much by those episodes, nor my energy levels, and even less my social behavior as I tend to become even more asocial than I am normally.
Could it be some kind of mix of between obsessive-compulsive and attention deficit disorder? Or is it a symptom of depression? How can you differentiate between comorbid attention deficit with depression, or depression-induced attention problems?

Memory: It is undoubtely linked to attention, so it's no surprise I have a hard time remembering things. What I find odd (and obviously annoying) is how fast I can forget stuff I was sure to know very well (we're talking about weeks, not years) and was supposed to be stored in long-term memory. So I can't find how attention can link to a fast decay in long-term memory. This seems to be a problem I've always had, like the ones regarding attention, but I really can't remember well (obviously ). Just imagine how it would be to have almost no memory of your childhood or teenage (and I'm 24!). And no, those weren't bad times, so there was no need to forget about them.
Depression seems like a possible cause for this one too.

Well this is long enough, but it's not over... I have sleep problems (sleep a lot, find difficult to fall asleep), digestive problems (very slow digestion) and feel generally to be lacking both mental and physical energy.
Seems very much like Clinical Depression you might say.

But I still can't convince myself of that: my mood, even if generally low, is rarely that low. Most of the time I feel apathetic, not depressed... Am I just too good at coping with it? :P

I'd like to know what you may think about this, I look forward to expand my knowledge on these subjects. Thanks in advance.

Last edited by notlazy; 07-08-2009 at 02:29 PM.

 
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Old 07-08-2009, 07:24 PM   #2
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

To me, that doesn't sound like depression. Anhedonia is not finding pleasure in anything, especially in the things (like videogames) that you would usually like. It sounds rather as if feel guilty about enjoying playing games.

Also, if you are able to focus on anything for long period of times, that's would be very unusual for a depressed person who have trouble concentrating on anything.

The memory and sleep issues sound more like depressive symptoms, but there are also many other possible causes for those things.

So, you don't sound depressed to me, though you do sound like you have some issues that counseling might help with.

As for when apathy becomes depression, I would say never. Apathy is a state of mind whereas depression is a mental illness. Apathy could be one sign of depression, but you're not going to become depressed just b/c you're apathetic, though you could easily become apathetic due to depression.

Last edited by fossilapostle; 07-08-2009 at 07:27 PM.

 
Old 07-09-2009, 04:20 AM   #3
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fossilapostle View Post
To me, that doesn't sound like depression. Anhedonia is not finding pleasure in anything, especially in the things (like videogames) that you would usually like. It sounds rather as if feel guilty about enjoying playing games.
I cannot say for sure I enjoy them, they're mostly a powerful distraction that can make me forget about anything, including my feelings. I can surely say though, that they boost my self-esteem and make me feel rewarded for the time I spend playing them. And that explain why I'm still addicted to them.

Quote:
Also, if you are able to focus on anything for long period of times, that's would be very unusual for a depressed person who have trouble concentrating on anything.
That's what I was supposing too about depression-induced attention deficits. I guess everyone has trouble concentrating on things they don't really care about...

Quote:
The memory and sleep issues sound more like depressive symptoms, but there are also many other possible causes for those things.
Do you have some idea about other causes? I've been through a esophagogastroduodenoscopy and been screened for thyroid hormone blood levels, and nothing seem wrong with me.

Quote:
So, you don't sound depressed to me, though you do sound like you have some issues that counseling might help with.
Sure, I'm already working on that. We're still in the process of understanding what bugs me, but I'm starting to lose hope we'll ever find any clue .

Quote:
As for when apathy becomes depression, I would say never. Apathy is a state of mind whereas depression is a mental illness. Apathy could be one sign of depression, but you're not going to become depressed just b/c you're apathetic, though you could easily become apathetic due to depression.
What if I put into the balance the apparent need from my brain to be constantly stimulated by new and interesting stuff, and when that doesn't happens for a long time I get caught in depression?
Up to now I was able to cope with that just by listening to music or playing guitar or watching stuff on my PC, but I get the feeling my brain is starting to get tired about that too. Don't know what I'll do when that'll happen honestly... I guess videogames might be my last resort before getting into alcohol or drugs...
This is negative thinking, I know. Possibly another point scored by depression?

Last edited by notlazy; 07-09-2009 at 04:23 AM.

 
Old 07-09-2009, 08:12 AM   #4
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

You have listed a bunch of depressive symptoms....Perhaps your depression is relatively mild now. The danger sign is the asocial behavior. Humans are social animals. Deprived, psychological problems develop....Consider interpersonal therapy. In brief there are four areas, most depressed folks can relate to at least one. 1. Interpersonal disputes 2. Interpersonal deficits and loneliness 3. Role transitions 4. Unresolved grief. Oh, and volunteering is wonderful for mental health.

 
Old 07-09-2009, 09:51 AM   #5
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

I've never been much of a social animal. But I'm not alone, I have a few friends I trust, but don't feel the urge to make new acquaintances. Should be pretty normal for an introvert person like me. And I've always been like that.

But I have also social anxiety, so most of time I'd rather stay by myself than go out with my friends, but I rarely regret my decision even if I go out. I know it is easier to avoid interacting with other people, but it's hardly a solution, as you say, Seymour93.

Those four areas are interesting, what do they mean exactly?

Last edited by notlazy; 07-09-2009 at 10:20 AM.

 
Old 07-09-2009, 04:20 PM   #6
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

I'm not going to address all those points. Not because they're not valid, but just b/c if you are really seriously concerned that you might have depression, going to see a doctor is really the only thing to do.

Then you can get diagnosed and find out for sure. I wouldn't go in and say "I'm depressed" though. Tell him/her your symptoms and let them make the diagnoses. And see a psychiatrist. Too many regular medical doctors are ready to prescribe anti-depressants at the drop of a hat and to just take the patients word that they're depressed.

Not that I think many people would lie about that, it's just that until you've had depression, it's hard to know what it feels like. When I was disgnosed w/it, I was shocked. I thought I had some kind of anxiety/panic disorder. I think a lot of people think it's just a more severe version of feeling down, not being happy, etc., whereas it's not at all. It's a mental illness and really feels like one too (one of the things I was panicking about was that I thought I was literally going crazy). It's not same as unhapiness, though you are deeply unhappy when you have it.

Anyway, good luck.

Last edited by fossilapostle; 07-09-2009 at 04:25 PM.

 
Old 07-09-2009, 05:48 PM   #7
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fossilapostle View Post
I'm not going to address all those points. Not because they're not valid, but just b/c if you are really seriously concerned that you might have depression, going to see a doctor is really the only thing to do.

Then you can get diagnosed and find out for sure. I wouldn't go in and say "I'm depressed" though. Tell him/her your symptoms and let them make the diagnoses. And see a psychiatrist. Too many regular medical doctors are ready to prescribe anti-depressants at the drop of a hat and to just take the patients word that they're depressed.

Not that I think many people would lie about that, it's just that until you've had depression, it's hard to know what it feels like. When I was disgnosed w/it, I was shocked. I thought I had some kind of anxiety/panic disorder. I think a lot of people think it's just a more severe version of feeling down, not being happy, etc., whereas it's not at all. It's a mental illness and really feels like one too (one of the things I was panicking about was that I thought I was literally going crazy). It's not same as unhapiness, though you are deeply unhappy when you have it.

Anyway, good luck.
Sure, I know that. As I said I'm currently seeing a psychologist because probably my depression is not that severe to need medication.
It's curious how you associate panic and craziness with depression. I tend to associate it more with lethargy and apathy...

 
Old 07-09-2009, 07:33 PM   #8
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

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Originally Posted by notlazy View Post
Sure, I know that. As I said I'm currently seeing a psychologist because probably my depression is not that severe to need medication.
It's curious how you associate panic and craziness with depression. I tend to associate it more with lethargy and apathy...
Right, lots of people don't realize that anxiety is actually one of the most common symptoms of depression. As I said, that's what I thought I had when I was diagnosed. I actually was never lethargic. I had tons of nervous energy and could never sleep.

Last edited by fossilapostle; 07-09-2009 at 07:33 PM.

 
Old 07-10-2009, 04:39 AM   #9
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

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Originally Posted by fossilapostle View Post
Right, lots of people don't realize that anxiety is actually one of the most common symptoms of depression. As I said, that's what I thought I had when I was diagnosed. I actually was never lethargic. I had tons of nervous energy and could never sleep.
Yes, I guess anxiety is some sort of reaction from the body to counteract depression.
I say that because I think it's the only thing that allow me to actually do something instead of just stay on bed the whole day...
But unlike you, I can feel very well the energy drained during periods of anxiety, and that's probably why I need to sleep so much.

 
Old 07-10-2009, 04:56 AM   #10
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Re: Just when apathy becomes depression? (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by notlazy View Post
Yes, I guess anxiety is some sort of reaction from the body to counteract depression.
I say that because I think it's the only thing that allow me to actually do something instead of just stay on bed the whole day...
But unlike you, I can feel very well the energy drained during periods of anxiety, and that's probably why I need to sleep so much.
I don't know if I'd say it counteracted the depression. IN fact, it was the main symptom of the depression. Nervous energy is not very pleasant, especially when you're exhausted from lack of sleep and want to sleep, but can't.

Depression can cause many types of sleeping disorders from extreme insomnia like I had, or it can make people sleep basically all the time, have terrible nightmares, etc.

Last edited by fossilapostle; 07-10-2009 at 04:58 AM.

 
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