I am a 27 year old male. As far back as I can remember I was always known for my playful nature, jovial attitude and practical thinking. When I was 18 I had to move, a change that I didn’t want, but lived through it. I can’t say if my life has turned for the better or the worse I still blame the people behind the move for “ruining my life”. For the last 3 or 4 years, things have been not so great mentally. I have been having a tough time making decisions, doing things and then regretting about them, making decisions and then regretting about those as well. Progressively the change has hit me hard and now I am not having fun in life. I used to “love” my job but not I am “bored” with it. My routine has been somewhat along the lines of wake up get ready go to work, come back watch TV eat and go to bed. Weekends are worse, spending time in front of the computer and or watching TV. I want to go into higher studies but can’t make up mind from the fear of not being able to “complete the task”, which I have had a history of for a few years now. For the last 4-5 years I pick on a project and never get around to finishing it. I feel like I have accomplished nothing in life.
All this was not the case a few years back but now I don’t feel the mental strength that I had 5 years ago. I am afraid of making big changes, like changing jobs, moving etc. I am thinking this is as close to being depressed as I can be without clearly admitting it but I can’t find a way out either. What can you suggest for me to do?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
p>You are describing many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Using your leisure time to sit in front of the television or the computer are passive activities that are extremely isolating, and unfulfilling. Regretting decisions you made in the past and fear of making any new decisions, leave you feeling “stuck or frozen.” Depression has been described as feeling “helpless and hopeless.” Feelings of helplessness about one’s ability to do anything about their lives creates a mental atmosphere of victimization that then leads to hopelessness about the present and future.
p>You ask what you should do about your situation. There are at least two approaches to help you cope better with your life. One is to go to psychotherapy, particularly a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist. Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy is based on the idea that we engage in automatic or distorted ways of thinking that lead to anxiety and depression. Patient and therapist work together to identify these automatic thoughts. Once identified, the therapy is then aimed at changing these thoughts into ones that are based on reality. For example, you have convinced your self that you cannot go on to higher education because you “will not be able to complete the task.” The latter is an example of an automatic thought. It is distorted because you are preventing your self from returning to school by making predictions about the future. Perhaps your prediction that you will not complete school is based on some example of your having failed to complete tasks in the past. However, if you do an assessment of your life, you will see that, at age 27, you have successfully completed many tasks. In fact, you felt quite good about life until a few years ago. Therefore it is a safe bet to believe that returning to school may be difficult but is something you are capable of doing.
p>Please understand that I do not know the details of your life and cannot say for sure why you are reluctant to return to higher education. However, it is clear that you are not making any decisions at the moment, including looking for a different job. Therefore, you are engaging in many automatic or distorted ways of thinking that leave you unable to change your situation. This is why I suggest Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
p>An additional option for you is to begin a course of anti depressant medication. The combination of psychotherapy and medication has been found to be very effective in overcoming depression and anxiety.
p>Finally, you need to get away from the television and computer after work and begin a program of physical activity. A good cardio vascular work out including running, bicycling, jumping rope and lifting weights, will help you feel better about your self. Studies show that exercise and good nutrition are extremely helpful in dealing with depression and anxiety.