Depression, anxiety…what is it? How do you know if you have it? LET ME SAY RIGHT NOW THAT I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and have suffered with it my entire life. I did not realize it, though, until I was 48. After a very emotional and traumatic year, the depression and anxiety manifested itself into physical and unexplainable vertigo.

After extensive testing by several specialists, the ear doctor sat me down and told me I was doing it to myself, I needed to be on medication and advised me to talk to my primary physician. I was devastated! I was convinced I was “crazy”, “weak”, ashamed and embarrassed. I was reluctant to tell anyone, especially my family! They had been worried about me because I looked so bad. I truly looked physically ill!

I made my appointment with my primary physician, and DREADED what she might say, however, it was a turning point in my life. She explained to me that I had a chemical imbalance, and have had it all my life, and probably was hereditary. My doctor prescribed a low dose of antidepressant that is also used to treat anxiety. She explained it could take a couple of weeks to feel improvement and up to six weeks for the full benefits to take effect.

Then it happened. After just a week, one evening after work while watching tv with my husband, the dark clouds opened up and sunshine came flooding in! That is exactly how it happened! For the first time in my life I was not INVISIBLE! And as the weeks went by, it got better and better. I no longer cried all the time, worried about little things, and feared what every day would bring.

I am not saying I went into this state of euphoria. I was excited, relieved, amazed, and shocked! When I told my doctor about my experience, she explained the dramatic change was proof that I had a chemical imbalance and would need these drugs for the rest of my life. NO SACRIFICE for the relief!

Not that the process has been without small bumps in the road. Each drug has side effects, such as weight gain and muscle spasms, but, after several trials, and counseling with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, I have found the right combination that allows me to live without the fears I experienced my whole life.

Please remember that everyone is different and the depression/anxiety symptoms may not be the same as I experienced. If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety, talk to your primary care physician.

Below are links to resources for more information.

www.webmd.com/depression/article-player-undg-dep-symptoms

psych central.com/quizzes/depquiz.htm

http://m.wikihow.com/Know-if-You-Have-Depression

http://depression.about.com/od/diagnosis/a/depressed.htm

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