frustrationFrustration seems to be the name of my game this week. I wrote here Tuesday about how physically tired I’ve been lately, and I even threw in a little poetry to try to express how annoying this has become for me. I became irritated enough with the situation last night that I decided to take to the internet to try to find some answers for how I’ve been feeling. Of course, consulting the World Wide Web for medical advice is sometimes like … well, let’s just say it’s not always the best idea.

I’ve written in the past about the complicated relationship I have with antidepressants. On the one hand, I believe antidepressants have done a lot of good for a lot of people, and I believe they have the power to greatly improve one’s quality of life. On the other hand, I’m never exactly sure if they’re working for me, and I often feel conflicted about even taking them. After all, these are mind-altering drugs, not cough drops. I’m not sure if tinkering with my brain is such a good idea, especially considering how the effectiveness of an antidepressant is often so very difficult to measure.

In the post I wrote Tuesday, I explained how my doctor had discovered recently that I have a low level of testosterone. I also mentioned how I have been receiving shots after two weeks to try to bring that level back up to where it should be. As I sifted through links to articles on the thyroid, Hashimoto’s disease (which I’m pretty sure I do not have), night sweats (which I actually do have), and sleep myoclonus, I began to wonder if the medication I am taking could have anything to do with my low testosterone level. Of course, with the internet being the internet, I almost immediately found evidence to support that theory.

Being a former newspaper reporter, I loathe when writers use phrases such as “It has been shown…” or “Studies report…” or “Many people believe…” without including an official source, and most of what I found on how SSRIs (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can cause a drop in testosterone levels used these phrases extensively. Still, there was enough information there to make me wonder: Does my low level of testosterone contribute to my depression or is the medicine I’m taking to combat that depression actually causing my testosterone to dip and make things worse?

Before anyone attempts to be helpful and says “You should ask your doctor about that,” believe me when I say I am most certainly going to. This type of “chicken or the egg” scenario is typical of my thoughts on antidepressants, though. Maybe they’re doing me good, maybe they’re not. It’s not like taking antibiotics to clear up a sinus infection; you can tell when the infection is gone. Is depression ever really gone, though? When you have a bad day, is it back? Should the medicine have held it at bay? What exactly am I supposed to feel like anyway?

What does all this have to do with me being tired? Well, quite a bit, actually. One of the symptoms of depression is physical exhaustion. Low testosterone can cause this as well. How closely are the two intertwined then? Then there is the issue of those little pills I take. Are they the cure or are they part of the problem? Antidepressants can cause drowsiness as well. Take them at night or in the morning? Or should I even be taken them at all?

Frustration. It apparently comes in pill form now. Take at your own risk.

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