I've been visiting these forums for a few weeks, but haven't posted about my own experience. At this point, I'm feeling unbelievably stuck. I tried and failed to keep this brief, so see end for TL;DR. I would really, really love to hear from you all. For those of you who read this in its entirety, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Starting sometime in March, an episode of depression and anxiety hit me. Hard. In the preceding months, I had noticed some early signs of my depression returning (e.g., I was crying easily), but it was pretty manageable. Although there have been some stressful life events (e.g., family illness) leading up to this episode, I wasn't really ruminating about them. Instead, what seemed to really kick things off is that I was having trouble concentrating on my work (which is very cognitive/critical thinking oriented). Once I noticed that I was having trouble concentrating, I started on a downward spiral thinking "I can't concentrate, how will I work? What if this doesn't go away? This WON'T go away. I won't be able to work, this is it. I'm done." These kinds of thoughts generally lead to panic attacks and feeling unbelievably depressed. I have never experienced feeling so terrible in my life (I'm 27, female. I've had one previous episode of anxiety and depression in my early-mid 20s that was relatively mild and had gone into remission thanks to medication and CBT). This dysfunction spread quickly from my work life into my social life. Every interaction felt impossible. Whereas normally I would relish in complaining about some petty slight with my colleague, I could barely tolerate a conversation (all I could think about was how bad I felt in the moment). Normally I am pretty bubbly and gregarious. I love intellectual conversations. I make jokes. I'm sometimes clever. Everything became an impossible task. I kept asking myself "How am I going to get through today? How am I going to get myself to eat? How am I going to make it through a meeting? How am I going to...how am I going to...".
At this early stage, I became very proactive--I read self-help books ("Feeling Good" by David Burns. I would highly recommend it), I set up an appointment with a psychologist, then with my PCP. I took walks when the anxiety or depression got to be too much (I would often just walk and cry--I'm sure I looked just comically depressed). The feelings of anxiety and depression were so strong, I couldn't imagine how anything would change them; I was convinced that the intensity of the feelings and the amount of dysfunction they caused were a sign that this was the beginning of the end. What else could possibly explain the rapid and severe onset if not some devastating and irreversible neurological condition (think schizophrenia)? This conclusion was reinforced when, despite my best efforts, implementing CBT techniques (like writing out and challenging automatic thoughts) wasn't having any lasting effect on my symptoms (NOTE: I don't believe this is because CBT doesn't work, I believe it's because my depression was/is too severe to be tackled alone).
I was in such pain that I decided to start back on sertraline (Zoloft). I've been on it about 5-6 weeks. The good news: it has mitigated the affective symptoms, though not totally (I am still sensitive about interacting with others. I'm stressed out by the thought of going into my office and dealing with people. I'm sensitive to noise--too much stimulus makes me nervous for some reason. I recently went to visit my family, which normally I LOVE to do, but was so blank-minded and self conscious about it I barely enjoyed myself). The bad news: the cognitive dysfunction is still VERY much there, though it's changed form a bit. Whereas before I couldn't concentrate because I was focused on feeling like a human dumpster fire, now it feels like I have a blank mind, like my internal voice has all but disappeared. I am able to do relatively simple tasks (for which I am grateful), but anything that requires complex thinking--holding multiple lines of thought at once--is impossible. Whereas in the past I could think 3 steps ahead, now I can only see what's in front of me. I thought that when the emotional suffering diminished, I'd be able to return to functioning. Instead, I feel...intellectually diminished. This applies to all aspects of my life. E.g., my ability to reflect on and plan my daily activities is close to none. I just sort of...react to what's happening around me. It's like my brain is asleep.
Weirdly, I don't feel bored. I just feel...unmotivated, spacey, ungrounded (time seems to pass quickly, e.g.), and blunted (though I did laugh once or twice yesterday!). I don't find satisfaction in anything (though I still take care of the basics, like cleaning, exercising, etc. It's just...I do them on autopilot. And don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that I'm able to do these things. I know a lot of us out there struggle to get out of bed).
I don't know how to get unstuck, and I'm feeling really lost. It only dawned on me a few days ago that maybe this blank-mindedness is an effect of the medication. Unfortunately because my memory is kinda trash right now, I can't remember if this blank-mindedness only started after the medication, or if it was there beforehand, too...
TL;DR. I got really depressed & anxious very suddenly in March. The severity and rapidness of the episode really freaked me out, which made me assume that this is the beginning of the something worse/unstoppable. I've been on Zoloft for 5-6 weeks, which helped with some of the emotional symptoms, but not cognitive ones. I am intellectually diminished (can't think complexly about things at work or in my personal life), and now wondering if it's the medication. I've always been high functioning, and the fact that this is ******* with my ability to think is sort of destroying me.
Have others had experience with this blank-mindedness whether on a medication or not? Perhaps this means I should bump up my dose (which is low right now at 50mg. My PCP did approve of upping the dose)? Or try a different medication? If anyone has any thoughts or has experience these symptoms, I would really love to hear it. I'm especially concerned with how hard and fast the depression/anxiety hit me, and the subsequent cognitive difficulties I'm having. Would love to hear if others can relate...