Here is my advice as random internet stranger No. #41:
You know those miracle tonics that were sold in the late 1800’s? They could supposedly cure everything and anything, and of course they were a scam. Well I’ve found that there is one thing that cures 99% of physical and mental problems: Physical Activity. It truly is the miracle cure for all ailments. But please, find something you enjoy. Walking a treadmill while staring at a screen will probably not be engaging enough to make you want to do it routinely. It is better to do something like a sport, dance, or weightlifting. In any of these you can see your skill (or strength in case of weightlifting) increase. This gives you added motivation that you are learning a skill or becoming stronger. Personal growth comes from learning new things. Depression in many cases arises from the opposite, that is, a feeling of being stuck. Therefore your physical activity should be TRAINING, not EXERCISING. The activity should be individual, but on a group setting. So for example you plan to go (by yourself) three times a week to play hoops at the same time/place. The group setting is good because you will meet like-minded people whom you can learn from and be inspired by. But you arrive there by yourself so you are never dependant on an “exercise buddy” (which are invariably fleeting). You are doing this for yourself, but you are not alone. You are in the company of many other people who are also doing it for themselves. Indoors is much better than outdoors because weather can never be an excuse. Once you have made physical activity part of your life, many of the “safeguards” like groups and exercising indoors can be disregarded. Willpower and faith will be required, but only at first. Once you manage to make it past a 3-4 month threshold your body will begin to “ask for” physical activity. By then you will start to notice subtle changes in your body that will motivate you even further and willpower and faith will longer be needed. It will all be downhill from there. And that’s just the physical benefits. The mental benefits of exercise are almost instantaneous. Mentally you will feel better after every session, as if you took a magic pill, only you didn’t. I say hold off on the meds. A year ago you weren’t depressed and you weren’t taking meds. So you know you don’t need ‘em. Instead, sample some physical activities and find the one that sparks your interest. This will hold you off until you get a job which is the real source of the problem, not the lack of medications.
I'm coming late to this, having been away on vacation but I'm going to weigh in on this because I know what you're talking about. I've been there.
I was recently unemployed after I gave up a highly stressful job in television news on doctor's instructions due to a mild heart attack. It was a bad time to do it because there weren't a lot of television news jobs when I got back on my feet.
In fact, I'm still working part time, but that's ok because my mortgage is paid and I can afford to do that since my wife also works.
But I went through the same thing. Don't take Paxil. It won't solve the problem and could make it worse. You're just treating the symptoms. When you lose your job, you kind of lose your identity. But the real killer is the lack of a routine in your life. So...make one.
Get out of bed in the morning. Get dressed. And then go for an hour long walk.Get on the computer and do some job searching. Make yourself a list of employers and people and phone them. Try to network. You often get jobs by talking to other people.
Go out again in the afternoon. Hang in the coffee shop, flirt with the girls (if you're not married). Talk to people).
Don't waste your time. Look into retraining if need be. Often, the government will pay to retrain you so they don't have to support you on public assistance.
The important thing is to do something with your days AND get exercise. Exercise is the BEST cure for depression. Believe me I know. It worked for me. And adding some routine back in your life will give you a measure of control over it. This shit is easier said than done, but guess what? It works.
Good luck QP. Don't take drugs. Get ahold of yourself and DO something about your situation. If that doesn't work, see a therapist. But the best therapy in your case I think is establishing a routine and landing a job. You didn't have this problem before you lost it did you?
I don't agree with no drugs sentiments. As I mentioned earlier any given drug will work on 60-80% population, it takes a long time to kick in and is best at treating severe depression. You need to work out what works for yourself but don't write off anything that might help. Drugs have side effects, they make you kind of numb but still there's a reason some people take them and it's not big-pharma conspiracy. If you can avoid them great, if they help then why not?
That is quite unusual. SSRI will usually knock your drive way down. Hope you got over this slight misfortune.
I agree with Mike about that...getting up in the AM early, getting showered and dressed...that's important to retaining your identity. When you stop giving a shit about the little things the bigger things fall off the radar easier.
I went on some meds a few years ago. Had a really stressful job in first level tech support for a company that was collapsing. So basically I got yelled at on the phone all day. Unfortunately I don't remember what I was taking, really low dose and no side effects that I could see. But I fought the therapist for a while about taking anything. First three therapy sessions were basically me saying "No, I don't want to take any drugs." and the therapist saying "I understand that but you're not in the right headspace to make things better."
IMHO, if you're just regular depressed with real world causes and that goes on long enough, it will trigger chemical changes in your brain that will cause the depression to persist and get worse. And when you're in that headspace, it's really fucking hard to take those steps to get better. I agree 100% about exercise, staying busy, time with kids and busting a nut on a regular basis with another person in the room. But none of that is realistic if you're laying in her staring at the ceiling style depressed.
To finish my story, I got laid off eventually, about four months after I started therapy and meds. By that point, the meds had removed the fog and I was able to actually take steps to make things better and stay positive. Health insurance was gone so I stopped the meds and therapy. But thanks to my network, I was lucky enough to get a new job before my severance ran out. Doesn't pay as much but it's waaaay less stressful and more secure. I don't take any meds any more, I'm able to control it with all the tools mentions by everybody else. But therapy is still helpful to take care of the deeper issues and to actually make things better instead of just staving off the depression. At least now I know what that deep depression feels like and when I'm not able to help myself if it ever occurs again.
What is done cannot be undone. Enter the Thunderdome.