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Can't concentrate...

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Old 09-23-2008, 05:33 AM   #1
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sweet_chic HB Usersweet_chic HB User
Can't concentrate... this a symptom of depression??

Just a little background info:
About a year ago, I got quite depressed due to an emotional heartbreak over a guy friend that I liked. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, could barely function at work, cried almost everyday, and just felt sad all the time.

Late last year, I started counseling due to the heartbreak, and issues in childhood w/my father, and that helped a lot. But I ended the counseling in April of this year thinking that I was "healed". Don't get me wrong, I STILL feel better than I did last year, but lately I've been starting to get the same feelings.

Just today I got in trouble with my boss because of something I forgot to do while she was away. It's like, I KNEW what I was supposed to do, but I didn't do it!! I was too consumed with my own thoughts!! I'm so scared...I tihnk I'm going to get fired one day! And it's all because I can't concentrate at work! I do my work, but I'm not doing it effectively. I keep going over the emotional turmoil and feelings of rejection with this guy friend who's not interested in me. I still have to see him every WEEK! It's like a constant reminder of rejection.

Don't get me wrong, some days I'm perfectly normal...other days (like around that "time") I'm an emotional wreck. Can't eat, can't concentrate...etc. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I have add or something! I dont' know....all I know is that there HAS to be a way to get better at concentrating WITHOUT taking prescription meds.

Does anyone go through this??? Anyone else here find it hard to concentrate or stay on a task for long? I just feel sooo out of it sometimes. I know people must think I'm dumb...but I know I'm NOT dumb! I just feel like this stupid depression is keeping me from performing at my FULL potential (both emotionally, and mentally), and it's making me furious!

How do you get rid of this?? What makes concentration easier? Help...please!!

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Old 09-23-2008, 12:38 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Wales, UK
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Therag HB User
Re: Can't concentrate...

I have a similar problem. I don't know if i have ocd o'r possibly add but i spend almost every minute of the day lost in my thoughts, it's terrible because i have had this problem of obsessive thinking for 11 years. Someone will be talking to me and i sometimes can't catch what they are saying because my mind drifts to my thoughts. I'm currently having therapy which seems to help a bit.

Old 09-23-2008, 03:25 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2008
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lucylucy HB User
Re: Can't concentrate...

EVERYONE forgets things sometimes, so don't beat yourself up over it.

But you asked a great question. Low Concentration IS a major symptom of depression. So is berating yourself every time you make a mistake. And worrying that you'll lose your job and die alone in a ditch. LOL. Depression makes it harder for you to deal with stressful situations. And stress makes you more susceptible to depression. It's a vicious cycle. If you're afraid to make another mistake at work, the stress makes you worry, and that makes your concentration worse, etc.

BUT YOU CAN GET OUT OF IT. There are several things that you can do to improve your concentration and reduce your depression without resorting to drugs.

First, exercise is PROVEN to help with cognitive functioning and concentration. I just read that Exercise with MUSIC helps cognitive functioning even more. 20+ minutes a day of aerobic activity is recommended, but even a 5 minute walk at lunchtime can help a lot. I used to work in a big bulding, and I noticed that my energy and concentration increased in the afternoon whenever I had to walk to the other end of the building.

Second, find ways to accomodate your poor concentration or memory. Almost everyone can benefit from learning some time management and organization techniques. List making, goal setting, consistent habits (e.g. putting the keys in the same exact place every night) etc. can all help. Read some tips for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. Even if you don't have ADD, most of the tips for managing life really help with poor concentration no matter what the cause.

Third, learn how to control your thinking to prevent depression or stressful situations from getting the best of you. Some cognitive therapists can teach you some techniques to reduce negative thoughts, refocus your mind, and avoid common mental mistakes. I would urge you to go back to therapy, with a different goal and focus (and perhaps a different therapist). There are also many books that might help you a lot. There are good books on Happiness, reducing depression, stress management, memory and concentration, optimism, and positive thinking. Some books on Emotional Intelligence might help to improve emotional control and increase optimism and the way you relate to people on the job.

If you still need help, you might try a very low dose of an ADD stimulant like Adderall. There are many different antidepressants too. I would try natural methods first, because sometimes the side effects of medications make your life worse. For instance Effexor gave me terrible diarrhea, Prozac made my concentration and lethargy worse, and the sexual side effects (imagine not being able to have an orgasm) caused me to feel even more depressed. I've lost at least half my hair in 10 years on antidepressants (maybe it's a coincidence, but I don't know). Wellbutrin is one of the best known for helping with concentration (and preventing sexual side effects), but most insurance companies won't let a doctor prescribe Wellbutrin unless you failed to improve with an SSRI. (That might no longer be true though, now that they make a cheaper generic version of Wellbutrin XL.) I've tried them all, and Wellbutrin is the best for me. BUT I WISH I NEVER STARTED. I think there is too much they don't know about the long term effects of these medications on the brain.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have tried harder to improve my depression with natural means, especially exercise and talk therapy, before resorting to medication.

Old 09-26-2008, 06:46 AM   #4
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sweet_chic HB Usersweet_chic HB User
Re: Can't concentrate...

Thanks so much for the great advice and tips Lucy!

I already feel better. I always hear that exercise helps a lot. I used to be really fit and used to hit the gym at least 3 times a week years back before my deep depression set in. Now days I could care less. I just haven't found the motivation yet. BUT...I'm going to try harder to get back to the gym, because when I DO workout I have to admit that I DO feel a lot better. Plus my body looks better...more toned.

I dont' want to resort to depression meds, even though some days I feel so bad that I'm willing to take ANYTHING just so that I can feel happy, care-free, and "normal" again. I took ritalin a few years back due to what I thought was ADD while I was in college. Now that I look back on it, my low concentration in college was probably more so due to depression than it was to suffering from ADD. But anyway, my experience with Ritalin wasn't too great. Don't get me helped me to concentrate and I could read chapters of books WITH comprehension in a breeze (something I couldn't while not on the drug), but after the drug would wear off I would get terrible anxiety. One day I felt like I was about to die of a heart attack!

So...needless to say....I will try more natural approaches to healing or coping with depression! lol*

Thanks again for the tips. This helps give me a good start.

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