Starting to believe my diagnosed depression could be CFS

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I was diagnosed with depression in 2012 and have been on antidepressants since. But the one thing I have always emphasised to people are the PHYSICAL symptoms rather than the mental ones.

When I notice a drop in energy levels along with other symptoms including brain fog, joint pains and the urgent need to nap in the early evenings then I know it's time to change my antidepressants. Coincidentally, SSRI's are used to treat CFS!

So, should I mention this to my doctor? 

Thanks in advance!

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15 Replies

  • Posted

    Depression is very different from ME/CFS. For instance, if you're depressed, you typically don't feel like doing anything. If you have ME/CFS, you want to do stuff but physically can't. Sometimes, people get depressed because of this illness, so depression can be secondary to ME/CFS, just as it can be secondary to any other illness, like cancer. One red flag indicating ME/CFS is post-exertional fatigue. Do you have this? If not, it's pretty unlikely that you have ME/CFS. Go the the website "the solve ME/CFS initiative" and see if the symptoms resonate with you. And if they do, then, sure, discuss this with your doctor.
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    • Posted

      Yes, when I was really bad I WANTED to do things and the thought of, say, wanting to play video games was very pleasurable but I just couldn't because I felt that I didn't have the "brain power." 

      I don't know about the post-exertion, however. I read on one website that CFS and depression symptoms can often overlap, hence why I am now here.

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  • Posted

    I cannot find a way to edit my post so just quickly.....

    I had blood tests on everything before I was diagnosed with depression because I was so convinced that something physically was wrong with me. All came back negative.

    I tried B-complex vitamins before reporting my symptoms to my doc and they were wonderful for my energy levels until they bottomed out after just 3 months. The only thing that I have that I would say correlates to depression is that I do have anxiety and I can be very irritable when feeling very low. But might this be due to my physical symptoms? 

     

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    • Posted

      Go to that website I mentioned and see if the ME/CFS symptoms resonate with you. Also, if you have post-exertional fatigue, that is a red flag for the illness. I'm not talking about the normal fatigue one might feel after doing something, but a deep-down fatigue that doesn't correlate with the level of exertion. For me, for instance, after I take a shower, I get exhausted and have to lie down for a 1/2 hour. But I do have a severe case.
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    • Posted

      I have had a look and I don't believe I have PEM. But I do have a fair number of the other symptoms that are listed. It was unfortunate to read that doctors do not really understand or normally diagnose this condition so I guess I will have to self diagnose, not that it will matter much as treatment is more or less the same as treating depression.

      Thanks for your help, Jackie.

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    • Posted

      OK, I'll just say one last thing here. Maybe two last things. First, there are definitely doctors who can diagnose ME/CFS. A knowledgeabe infectious disease doctor or rheumatologist can diagnose the illness. They first do a complete blood workup to rule out other illnesses. Then they ask a series of questions. It's true that many doctors, especially GP's, don't know about ME/CFS. Second, treatment for depression is very different from  treatment for ME/CFS. For ME/CFS, it's important to stay calm, get plenty of rest, pace yourself, and stay inside of your energy envelope, or you can get very ill and lessen chances for a recovery. For depression, it's typically advised to get out and be active, to engage with others. This activity does not result in a worsening of symptoms. Yes, sometimes people with ME/CFS take antidepressants, but usually only very low doses are tolerated. Sometimes tricyclic antidepressants are used in very low doses as immunomodulators, not for depression.
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    • Posted

      I'm with you there, Jackie, over the difference in treatment between ME/CFS and depression. I've had ME for many years, to varying degrees ranging from virtually unable to walk, to being able to work part-time for a few years. I have also had recurrent depression, possibly related to hormone changes. One time I was really down and phoned the GPs surgery, I was booked in with the nurse practitioner who said all I needed was more exercise. I was in such a low state that I just did what she said, I was desperate to believe her. Of course, that precipitated an ME relapse, and then I had double trouble to contend with. I now take antidepressants for the depression, and usually manage to cope with the ME by staying within my energy limits and pacing my activities.
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  • Posted

    Hi Lee,

    A few questions here:

    Was there a triggger for your symptoms? Do you live in the uk? Have you had the physical symptoms all the time up to and past diagnosis of depression?

    In relation to the PEM, it can take a few days in some cases for payback symptoms to appear so, not necessarily something to rule out cfs/me when you say you're not sure about it.

    In relation to antidepressants and cfs/me, I don't take them but was offered them by my doctor who said they help some people with It so, not exactly a treatment per se.

    In regards mentoring to your doctor, ask if you can be referred to cfs/me clinic If in the UK and go down the path Jackie mentions if in the US.

    Hope that's helpful

    Beverley

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    • Posted

      Hi Beverley,

      I don't believe there was/is a trigger. My CBT therapist asked me to go away and think about a trigger for my depression and I could not think of one. I have just been coping with SSRI's ever since, which have done a rather decent job.

      Yes, I live in the UK. The physical symptoms have mostly been at their minimum since taking medication. 

      I will ask my doctor to be referred to what you recommend.

      Thank you for your help!

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Lee,

      No worries : )

      There is someone else on this forum recently that cant think of a trigger either. It's good that the the anti depressants are helpful for you. Cfs/me seems to hit everything in a person and getting a balance back, however the means, is good to hear.

      Good luck with the referral, btw, they do a blood test 1st to exclude other things.

      Let us know how you get along? Funnily enough, I got my cfs/me in 2012. I did have a trigger but, didn't know it was cfs/me till 2014. I asked my doctor to be referred to the clinic because my symptoms hadn't gone In 18 months.

      Best wishes

      Beverley

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    • Posted

      Hi Lee, I have just been diagnosed with CFS/ME in the UK. Like you, I had been diagnosed with depression and have been on antidepressants for years. I've had numerous different physical symptoms over past 3-4 yrs but put them down to being under a lot of stress at work and with family illness. My last "breakdown" was very different to my depressive episodes in that I literally could not do anything except drag myself out of bed in the morning and my brain just didn't seem to work anymore! Thankfully, I did begin to improve after a few weeks and my GP didn't laugh at me when I asked her if it was possible that I have CFS/ME, she referred me to local service (which I wasn't aware existed) and now I have diagnosis.

      Good luck with your doctor and if you have problems getting referred do point your GP in the direction of the NICE Clinical Guidelines for diagnosis and management of CFS/ME (https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg53)

      :-)

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  • Posted

    There is not always an obvious trigger for CFS.  Another red flag for it is orthostatic intolerance, i.e. Difficulty in standing for any length of time (as opposed to walking).
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  • Posted

    i have been diagnosed in November 2013 for me/cfs i hate this illness don't seem to have much fun any more gets me down which is a form of build up in depression. I have learnt that no matter what is going on in me people on the outside are oblivious to the extent and why your tired and get called lazy..... i used to be a qualified sparky not anymore memory loss aches and pains mind fog sleepless and sleeping too much always so drained. A little gardening can set me back a week put me on my back. a sniffle of a cold and can be bed ridden immune system shot. i find it very hard when family don't understand i drive 2 and a half hrs away to see a family member and she wonders why i am so dysfunctional when i am there and just want to go to bed i don't need to go to bed i have to. its very hard to live with this illness because there is no magic pill very very bad

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