My Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
I just finished up my second appointment with my psychiatrist and I received an official diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder - Recurrent and General Anxiety Disorder.
So what does that mean?
Major Depressive Disorder - Recurrent is just a fancy way of saying clinical depression. Depressive episodes that last for at least two week at a time. We narrowed it down to about 4 or 5 major episodes during my first appointment, the most recent one having been in February. My psychiatrist called the state I’m in now “remission,” meaning I’m not currently depressed, but I probably will be again at some point.
General Anxiety Disorder, again, is just a fancy term. It means I have anxiety that is not necessarily triggered by anything in particular, though it can be. Unlike the depression, the anxiety is pretty constant and it affects my day to day life as well as my sleep.
How do you treat it?
My doctor and I came up with a plan together to help me combat these struggles and ultimately live a happier life. The first step is medication. I’ve been put on Lexapro, which is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) that is used to treat both anxiety and depression.
SSRIs are believed to increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by limiting its reabsorption into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor. Wow, that was a mouthful. I stole that directly from Wikipedia, but what does that even mean?
The way my doctor explained it to me is that essentially my nerve cells aren’t absorbing serotonin properly and therefore, causing depression and anxiety. The medication I’m on helps to correct that problem and basically teaches my nerve cells how to absorb serotonin properly.
In addition to medication, I have weekly therapy with my doctor. So far I have had two sessions and they’ve been great. Having someone to talk to where I don’t feel like I’m bothering them has been amazing.
Will I be on meds forever?
No! My doctor specifically said that this is a real treatment, not just a band-aid. After about a year, I should be able to wean off the medication and be okay. It’s not permanent and that’s amazing. I was always a little hesitant about medication because I worried I would be on them for the rest of my life. It’s nice to know that isn’t the case.