Lonely to despair

 
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Q: I am 35 years old and work as an engineer. My girlfriend recently left me. I’ve been very lonely, can’t sleep, and I’m very irritable. The worst thing is that I’m thinking about driving my car into a bridge or pole and ending it all. My doctor has given me some antidepressants, but they don’t seem to be working. I haven’t been to church much in the past six months and no-one seems to have noticed. I haven’t had a phone call or a visit from anyone. This also makes me angry and sometimes I wonder if anybody cares.

A: It is never an easy experience when people let us down. The thoughts of “ending it all” indicate you’ve reached a level of desperation and despair that is dangerous. If you find yourself thinking such thoughts, seek help immediately.

You need to tell someone how you feel.

It is important you do not ignore these thoughts.

Your symptoms are all signs of depression.

It is good you’ve seen your doctor.

Putting up one’s hand for help is the first step on the road to recovery. Depression is often seen as a sign of weakness but I am glad to see that you seem to have a more realistic view of this common human problem.

It takes time for antidepressants to become fully effective, but if you’ve been on the tablets for more than a month and can’t see improvement, it may be that the dosage is too low or that another kind would be better. Discuss this with your doctor and persist until you find something that works. The value of this type of medication lies in its ability to help you out of that rut of despair by giving you energy to work on the reasons for your depression.

Medication should be part of a holistic treatment package. There is compelling research to suggest that depression is as much a problem of brain chemicals as it is of negative thinking patterns. Find a counsellor who specialises in depression who can help you identify and change those thought patterns that are counterproductive in your life. This process, together with medication, promises the most effective and long-lasting answer to depression.

There are also other things you can do to help yourself and that is to find some form of exercise you enjoy—this raises the levels of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain and will help to lift your mood. This may also help you sleep better.

There is hope for all who suffer from depression and I would encourage you to explore all the avenues of help that you can. Don’t give up on the wonderful gift of life you have been given.