So, I've been in Taiwan (Kaohsiung) for about 20 months now and I've been pretty depressed the whole time. I've been taking Efexor, but that's just been keeping me barely hanging on. I work 20 hours a week and go to the gym, but have no energy and sleep all weekend, every weekend. I haven't talked to anyone outside of work for about 10 months now, mostly due to anxiety and lack of interest.
My questions are, are there any groups in Taiwan (preferrably in South Taiwan) that support people who are depressed/socially isolated? Is it possible to get counseling with a therapist/psychiatrist?
Also, why do all foreigners treat you like sh*t if you're depressed, instead of lending a friendly ear or offering some friendly words? "Everyone avoid the weird, quiet guy. You wouldn't want to show him a little humanity, you might just see that there's someone who is suffering and needs help, and you wouldn't want to help anyone. Not while you're on vacation in Taiwan"
Or maybe I'm just self-absorbed and need a kick in the ass. (Yes, I've heard it before, but let me assure you, I don't enjoy being so depressed that I need to hurt myself just to feel alive).
I can't help you directly as I am not in Taiwan but can I can say good on you for posting your needs on this site. Depression's biggest battle can be seeking help becasue everything inside you can be screaming not to bother.
It sounds like your dosage is not correct, or you may need to change medication. For that you need a good english speaking doctor.
I have worked with alot of depressed people, and you have done a good thing asking for help. Hope someone can help more than me
For what it's worth...... The last few times I've been out I have seen these guys that look so lonely and nervous I could barely look at them. They remind me too much of my past self. I do look at them though and I do talk to them and am usually glad I did because the way out of this hole is, suprisingly enough, compassion. Compassion for "other" people's suffering and imperfections. Accept your common humanity and then settle into it like a warm bath. Be friendly and sociable without placing demands on other people's patience. They likely have problems of their own and really just want some light social interaction. You may be suprised to discover that is all you need as well.
Or to put it another way, yes, you are self absorbed and that is the problem. Focus outside of yourself, on the richness of the human experience, and before long you'll be feeling better.
Prozac works well too but without this fundamental change in attitude your problems will return.
My 2 cents worth. People here(locals) see depression as an sickness(you are crazy), not as a condition. Foreigners generally do not have time or interest for others. Effexor is a Norepinephrine and Serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. There have been a large number of cases of major depression and suicide with SSRI's(e.g.Prozac ) Ever considered changing your medication and Doctor? Brain chemicals are complex, but science is now so far advanced. Remember not so long ago depression was treated with Valium(tranquilisers), and before that amphetamines(you could buy it OTC ? There must be a solution. BTW you did not mention your age.
Get thee to a doctor immediately, with your best bet being the psychiatric department at a major hospital (sorry, but I'm not familiar with Kaohsiung). You can get treatment, both meds and counseling, and probably in English if you can't speak Chinese. As for the meds, different meds work at different times for different people. I've had to go through a number of different ones before I found one that worked (with minimal side-effects). You may need more than one type of medication, too. It probably also has a bit to do with your environment, so TRY your hardest to get out there and do something, make some friends. If the anxiety is too much to handle, try making some friends online first. Views in Taiwan on depression/anxiety disorder are changing/improving. There is help available and it's not expensive (especially if you're covered until the NHI program). PM me if you need any more help (I've been through this myself plenty of times).
BTW, there are quite a few other threads that deal with depression and the various anti-depressant meds here in the Health forum. Check around and do some reading.
I am House Cat's Husband, my wife saw this thread and I am interested to share some my experince with you. I have depression too. I could understand it is no fun to be depressed. It is good that you are seeking help! Very good!
About where to get help? Or conseling? Well, I'm afraid to tell you, I do not know if there is a place for foreigner conseling. I am a Taiwanese, and I am going to this social conseling called "Teacher Chang". Mostly conselors there are social workers or volunteers, though I do not think they are "professional" enough, it is like you said, at least there are ears for you.
I remember listened to ICRT or read English news papers there is an ad about foreigner conseling. So if you look up these few places, maybe you would find something helpful.
Also, my personal advice is : don't isolate yourself when you are depressed. Even just go talk about wheather with co worker or someone on the net is better then being on your own.
I hope you could find help resource and feel better!
I apologise for the double posting. From past advice to me is it preferable to have counseling while your'e taking drugs. Once you stop taking the drugs the 'problem' might persist. You say your'e barely holding on... counseling may lift that load A LOT.
If you can't get help in KHH, maybe you should try coming to TPE once a week, or maybe once every two weeks, for counseling. Sometimes it's just that initial shove out of the black hole one needs.
I agree with patti ... drugs + therapy is the best combination. I've had good results with Effexor, perhaps your dose is too low? You also mentioned anxiety ... your doctor might want to consider adding an additional anti-anxiety drug to that, something like Buspar. There are other options as well ... if you don't speak Chinese, try learning ... you'd have a much larger circle of friends available than if you're only limited to foreigners. Also, you might want to consider a change in scenery. Perhaps Kaohsiung isn't the place for you. I've driven through once and been to the airport, and I bet I'd be a mess if I actually had to live there ...
Wow, thanks for all the replies folks. You've partially restored my faith in humanity.
I've been on Anti-Depressants for about 6 years now (on and off) and I'm convinced that I'll be on them for the rest of my life. My biggest problem has been finding counseling or even someone to talk to. Whenever I've tried to talk to someone about life, they just get this blank look on their face and look like they want to get out of the conversation/situation as quickly as possible, so I've stopped trying.
I had my meds increased 2 weeks ago, but still no real improvement, maybe I should get them increased again, but I think I'm nearly topped out with the Effexor...
Still no word on if there's counseling available in Kaohsiung... anyone heard of a good therapist down here?
Cyberguerilla, I don't know which meds you've tried, but like I said, it often takes a few changes before you find the right one for you. I believe the maximum recommended dose for Efexor is 300mg, so if you're already at that dose and it isn't doing much for you, try switching. Other choices would be Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, although there are some side-effects with those. Wellbutrin is another choice, but that doesn't work on anxiety, so if you take Wellbutrin, you'll need to take something else in conjunction with it for anxiety problems (Buspar, as I mentioned before, is pretty effective at treating anxiety disorder). Or, you could take relatively low doses of Klonopin (Clonazepam) or Xanex periodically throughout the day, although those can be highly addictive.
As for counseling, if you can't find a therapist in KHH, PM me and I'll give you my phone # if you need someone to talk to. As someone who has been through the same thing (and survived), it's better than nothing! Good luck!
LittleBuddhaTW is giving good advice here. Be sure to follow it. It's tempting to lay back and not do anything about it, when you're down, but going straight to the doc is the best thing.
Go to a major hospital. Gaoxiong has Chang2geng1 yi1yuan4 (Chang Geng Hospital) and Gaoxiong Yi1xue2yuan4 (Medical School Hospital). Both should be very good. Here are the phone numbers for the mental health clinics there:
Chang Geng (07) 733-0961 Medical (07) 320-8221.
If you have any trouble communicating with them, PM me and I'll call to make an appointment for you and PM you the results.
Just remember, it doesn't mean anything is wrong with you, or that you're somehow not "strong" enough, or some kind of BS like that. Think of it just like having a cold - when you've got a cold, you take cold meds; when you've got the blues, you take blues meds. No stigma, is my point. Of course, other therapies combined with medications will help you the most.
How long you have to wait varies with each drug; if you're topped out, talk to your doc, and see whether you're really topped out, because they don't always properly inform patients what the max recommended dosage is, or what the time period is before improvement. And as LBTW suggests, if you're topped out and have waited long enough (I'm guessing 4 weeks, not 2, but the doc and others will know better than me), then yes, ask your doc to switch meds for you. If you ever feel suicidal, don't wait the 2 or 4 weeks!!! Go straight to the hospital immediately, and be sure to tell them your suicidal feelings. They will help you, don't worry!
Note that they list a 24-hour hotline, but you could call it from where you are, too! 02-2346-6662. I'm guessing they might be able to help talk you through rough spots, and might be able to help refer you to someone where you are for face-to-face consulting, too.
Cyberguerilla, the average person doesn't know how to talk to someone who's depressed, nor do they have the answers about life. Focusing on one's life is actually one of the problems for people who are depressed, and most people don't want to help you down that road.
What works, I know, is getting out and forcing yourself to get involved in some kind of volunteer work, helping disadvantaged people, animals, anything. It works. Takes your mind off your own feelings for a while.
I'm inviting you to join us in Miaoli in a couple of weeks time. There'll be a handful of us helping build a much-needed fence around a privately run dog sanctuary in the countryside, to enlarge the area they have. It'll be a bit of hard work, dirty, smelly, you name it, but I guarantee you'll feel a lot better when you leave. It'll be over a couple of days, so we'll be camping and bbq'ing. When you see what an ugly bunch we are, you'll stop focusing on your problems and start feeling sorry for us instead!
PM me or e-mail me at sean at animalstaiwan dot org and I'll fill you in on more details. There'll also be another thread about it later.
Oh, and by the way, when we're depressed, we always think there's no end in sight - it's the depression talking. When you come out of it, you won't imagine getting depressed again, either. Remember that.