Week of:
Apr 27, 2018

What's going on? Am I depressed?

(1) Dear Alice,

How can you tell if you are psychologically depressed? How do you ask? What if you are only depressed sometimes? I am a first-year psychology student, I live in college, and I seem to be having plenty of mood swings lately. I used to be very bubbly and enthusiastic and happy and relaxed all the time, but lately, I've just been edgy and sad, and I cry a lot. What's going on? I've been at university now for nine months. I'm only seventeen, and I live away from home (and I'm happy about that). I still have fun sometimes, and I get involved a lot, but then something will happen and I just bomb. I feel helpless and useless and angry because I am unappreciated. It annoys my friends and that makes me feel even worse. What's going on?

(2) Dear Alice,

How do I know if I am depressed and need help? For about a year now, I have been easily irritated, angry, I cry when something sad or happy happens, I have lost seven pounds (last year), sometimes I have a hard time sleeping at night. I go over everything I did wrong in a day, and I have a hard time trying to concentrate on reading. I have wanted to mention this to my doctor, but I am very shy about it. He says I am physically healthy. I have tried exercising, and taking warm baths to help me feel better. What is wrong with me?



Friend is depressed — How to help?

Dear Alice,

I am actually asking for a friend of mine since this situation is getting worse, and I don't know how to help. The problem is that my friend is very depressed, and has very, very low self-esteem. While sometimes able to be cheerful and "happy," he claims to rarely feel that way and mostly just hates himself. He has mentioned suicide, although I think this is more an expression of the extreme self-hatred he feels than anything. I comfort him and often tell him how wonderful he is — what a good person, good qualities, etc., but I suspect he does not believe me at all. This has been going on for a long time now, and I think it stems from a somewhat unhappy childhood and adolescence. I don't know how to help him and I don't know what to do. I feel like being strong for him is just not enough, and I can't quite convince him that counseling may do some good. It seems to me that, recently, he has been feeling even worse about himself, to the point where nothing will comfort him. He cannot afford counseling, and he has no health insurance. Is there anything you can suggest for me to tell him or suggest to him? Any help will be greatly appreciated, because I just don't how to help him. Thank you so much.

— A friend on-the-line

Depression after one night stand

Dear Alice,

Recently I had my first one night stand. It happened with a guy at a club and it happened very fast without us getting to know each other too much first. The problem is, the next day I felt extremely sad and depressed. I felt like I've been used and felt cheap. I was also sad that he didn't ask me for my phone number even though I wasn't interested in him. I felt unattractive and worthless. Is it normal to feel this way? Do guys ever feel this way too? How can I get over this post-one-night-stand depression?

Depressed friends helping friends with depression?

Hi Alice,

I know that when a friend is depressed, it's important to reach out, discuss the issue, and be there for the person as much as possible. But that's quite hard to do when I myself have a history with depression — I feel as if her emotions are taking me back to a place that I don't want to go. I really empathize with my friend and feel her pain, but at the same time know that I'd be useless to both of us if I'm in the troughs too. How can I help without sacrificing my always precarious emotional equilibrium?

Thanks, Blind Leading the Blind

Antidepressant withdrawal

Dear Alice,

I have been taking Lexapro for about a year now, but I really want to wean myself off. I have been feeling some withdrawal effects (nervousness, etc.), but I really want to try to fight through them. How long does a typical SSRI withdrawal last? Should I just put myself back on the medication again?