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SongBird
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So my father's side of the family is overrun with depression--his mother, two sisters, and himself have all struggled with depession, and I know it's genetic. I've never been diagnosed, but I believe I have it too.

I'm an insomiac, my mood ranges from good to dismal, and, once settling in on dismal, sets there for a good amount of time. I'm usually antisocial, have struggled with thoughts of suicide before, and also have to really concentrate on not injuring myself sometimes. I recently found out one of my really really good friends has been given two years to live, and that's started all of it up again. My happiness is usually shaky at best, and most of the time my faith is the only reason I haven't given up on humanity yet.

I find a temperary comfort in reading, writing, and drawing, but there are days when nothing helps and I just lay there, praying and trying not to cry.

I already know that, even if I am 'officially' diagnosed, I won't want to take any medication, so I don't really see the point of paying money to take a test. I've taken a few online, but they all warn that a real doctor is the way to go. I've been like this for five years now, on and off. Is there a good chance I am, in fact, depressed?

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Hi SongBird,

I would guess that yes, there's a good chance you're depressed.

Not so much from the genetics, but from your description of it.

The thing is, a real doctor is the way to go, because all I can give you is my guess. Some of them might prescribe medications, but they can't force them down your throat. You could simply tell them you won't take them, and ask about alternatives. There are many alternatives, you know.

I'm not sure, though: there may be no point to taking a test, for a variety of reasons. One is if you don't plan to do anything about the depression, at all. Another would be if you're already convinced you're depressed, and are ready to do something about it on your own. The third might be the result of a mistaken assumption, that if you take a real test and they find out you're depressed, that your choices will be gone.

I've been depressed, I've been medicated, at times, I've been suicidal, I've checked myself into a hospital, once. I'm none of those things, now. My path was what I needed, at the time. Your path is yours, though; you just have to decide where it leads.

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Thank you for answering--it's just something that has been bothering me for a while. I've been able to get past it all right with God's help, and my friends have been amazing. A large part about why I'm hesitant to take a test or see a doctor is because I really don't want my family to know--my mother is overbearing as it is, and this would make it worse, even though I've been okay so far. I really just don't want people to worry.

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As a sophomore in college, your parents no longer need to know your medical issues. Most schools have counselors you can see on your own, with no one needing to know.

I've heard that the Lord helps those who help themselves; is there anything you can do, for your part, now that you know that you won't be worrying anyone else?

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Even though I am a sophmore in college, I still live at home, and I was worried about seeing a regular doctor because I'm under my parent's insurance policy. That's a good idea though, to look into my college's counselors.

I have a small support group of amazing friends that I know I can call whenever I feel like I need to--the hard part is actually picking up the phone. For a really long time, one of my best friends was a girl who continually shut me down whenever I tried to talk about how I was feeling--she always had a worse story to share. It's only recently that I've come to realize that just because my 'issues' aren't as big as hers doesn't mean they hurt any less. She and I have broken off our relationship, and I'm working on calling one of my friends whenever I feel hopeless. They're all happy to listen, and that has been a huge encouragement. I think I'm on the right track with that--I have people I can trust, and that's HUGE. My hope is that I'll be able to someday tell my mom and dad about what I was going through, so they know to look out for depression in my younger siblings; they never noticed anything was wrong with me because they didn't know/think to look for it. I hope that once they do know, they'll keep a closer eye on the rest of us.

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It sounds as if you may very well be clinically depressed. There are official diagnostic criteria, e.g., at

http://stason.org/TULARC/health/mind/depression-faq/11-What-are-the-diagnostic-criteria-for-depression.html

IMHO it would be best to see a real doctor. My primary care physician was the most help for me and prescribed the right antidepressants. If you're dead set against seeing a doctor for it, there are "natural" treatments for depression, available at the Mayo clinic site or other Web sites e.g.,

· Increase your physical activity. Though exercise is difficult when you can barely get out of bed or drag yourself to work, start slow. Go for short walks, swims, yoga classes or bike rides. Quit when you need to.

· Listen to uplifting, upbeat music. It may not be a long-term natural treatment for depression, but it might make you feel good for a little while!

· "Investigate other factors that may contribute to depression, such as anemia, blood sugar imbalances, candida overgrowth, chromium, zinc and/or magnesium deficiencies, adrenal weakness, or toxic overload," says Cook.

· Focus on what you love to do. Paint, garden, read, write, daydream to lift sad moods without antidepressant medications.

· Watch funny movies, go to live comedy shows, tune in to your favorite funny tv sitcoms.

· Drink plenty of water and get some sunshine. Natural treatments for depression can include the basics of life: air, water, and the sun.

· Increase your Omega-3's, B-complex vitamins, fish oil supplements, multivitamins and minerals, and S-Adenosylmethionines (SAMe's). Find out if these natural remedies can interfere with antidepressants, other prescription medications, or other natural treatments for depression.

They may or may not be enough to help depending on your depression. I would be careful about who you mentioned you had depression or suicidal thoughts. You can be involuntarily committed to a psych ward for several weeks (and charged for it!) as a danger to yourself. And in spite of all the talk about removing the stigma of mental illness, the fact is that there is still a lot of official discrimination against persons who have been treated for mental illness.

So my father's side of the family is overrun with depression--his mother, two sisters, and himself have all struggled with depession, and I know it's genetic. I've never been diagnosed, but I believe I have it too.

I'm an insomiac, my mood ranges from good to dismal, and, once settling in on dismal, sets there for a good amount of time. I'm usually antisocial, have struggled with thoughts of suicide before, and also have to really concentrate on not injuring myself sometimes. I recently found out one of my really really good friends has been given two years to live, and that's started all of it up again. My happiness is usually shaky at best, and most of the time my faith is the only reason I haven't given up on humanity yet.

I find a temperary comfort in reading, writing, and drawing, but there are days when nothing helps and I just lay there, praying and trying not to cry.

I already know that, even if I am 'officially' diagnosed, I won't want to take any medication, so I don't really see the point of paying money to take a test. I've taken a few online, but they all warn that a real doctor is the way to go. I've been like this for five years now, on and off. Is there a good chance I am, in fact, depressed?

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