Three point five cats.

Catching up (part 2).

Januari 17, 2018 burnout
About the side effects of medication, and masked depression.

Back to the doctor. She insisted I'd try another type of medication. This time, she wanted to try something that had originally been on the market for depression, but didn't really work well, so it was now being prescribed as a sleeping pill. (To be honest, that didn't exactly improve my faith in Big Pharma.)
I took this medication in the lowest possible dose, and ... all seemed to be well. It only took me about an hour to fall asleep. And when I woke up, I couldn't remember having had nightmares. The non-stop headache that I had been having for months, was also gone.
Life was wonderful !

Just a couple of days later, I was watching tv, and suddenly I felt awful. Lightheaded, sweaty, and with a weird feeling in my chest. I decided to go to bed, and hoped that I would feel better in the morning.
But then the same thing happened again. I felt all panicky and was convinced I was having a mild heart attack. This was on a Saturday evening, one week before the end of 2017. I called my doctor and told her about the symptoms I was having, and what I feared was happening.
Her reply : "I don't think so. It's probably just an upset stomach."

???
What kind of a brush off is that ???
Ok. Maybe there wasn't anything seriously wrong with me, but I was obviously feeling scared enough to call her on a Saturday evening !
I don't know what to say ... Except that I think that there's something seriously wrong with a society where caregivers feel that that is a justified response.

Anyway.
Life continued. Everyone was getting ready to celebrate the end of 2017. And I was trying to muster up enough courage to finally update my blog.

The last Saturday of 2017 arrived ... and I dragged myself to the emergency room (fortunately, there's a hospital at walking distance from where I live). I was in the middle of another one of those horribly scary 'episodes'.

The nurses where very friendly, and after a series of tests they reassured me that everything was alright. I wasn't having a heart attack.
When I asked the doctor why I was having these horrible physical feelings, he told me I was suffering from a 'masked depression'. He didn't care to explain any further, but I felt incredibly relieved, and walked back home.

I had to look up what a 'masked depression' is.
This is what Wikipedia had to say :

Masked depression was a proposed form of atypical depression in which somatic symptoms(*) or behavioral disturbances dominate the clinical picture and disguise the underlying affective disorder(**). The concept is not currently supported by the mental health profession.


I'm sorry, but that last sentence just made me chuckle.
The article goes on :

Making the diagnosis and the management of masked depression (MD) in clinical practice are complicated by the fact that he who has got MD is unaware of his mental illness. Patients with MD are reluctant to associate their physical symptoms with an affective disorder and refuse mental health care.
As a rule, these patients attribute their disturbances to physical illness, seek medical care for them, and report only somatic complaints to their physicians, with the consequence that many of such depressions are not recognized or are misdiagnosed and mistreated.


Mmm ... There may be some truth to that ...
On the other hand, I don't think people 'refuse' to believe their mind is playing tricks with them. Rather, it's the other way around. Just think about it : if you had back pain and a stomach ache (which appear to be common symptoms), would you go to your doctor and tell him you think there may be something wrong with your brain ?

Anyway. If I'm digging -really- deep inside myself, then I have to admit that there are ... feelings there. Feelings of aloneness, of being insignificant, of being a failure. And I'm feeling scared. Scared of what the future might hold.
But these feelings are so well hidden that most of the time I'm not even aware they exist.
And I think that the mind is something exquisitely powerful. And by 'mind' I actually mean to say 'unconscious mind'. And mine is trying to tell me through all kinds of aches and pains that something isn't right.

What that 'something' might be, and how I should go about fixing it is still very much unclear to me ...


(*) somatic symptoms :

Somatic symptom disorder involves having a significant focus on physical symptoms - such as pain or fatigue - to the point that it causes major emotional distress and problems functioning.
...
You often think the worst about your symptoms and continue to search for an explanation, even when other serious conditions have been excluded.
...
Symptoms cause very real distress for the person and reassurance isn't always helpful.


(**) affective disorder :

Affective disorders are a set of psychiatric diseases, also called mood disorders. The main types of affective disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder. Symptoms vary by individual, and can range from mild to severe.



Fortunately, in my case, it turned out those horrible symptoms were caused by the medication.
I can't help but think that that's typical of our current 'health care' system. People have to take drugs to mitigate side-effects of the medication they have been prescribed ...
Cha-ching $$$ !