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Please help this woman suffering from depression as well as swollen and sore legs

By Expert HERWriter March 26, 2009 - 12:43am
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Hello everyone,

I got the post below from a reader who really needs our help. She is suffering from depression and is also having a lot of leg pain. I sent her some information and links and ideas on the pain but I wanted to post it here too because I just know the awesome EmpowHer community will have additional suggestions for her. Thank you! M

"im 43 and sufering from depression.imean i want to cry and dont want to talk to anyone,feel like dying.i m a working woman and having a very hectic schedule.my legs are always paining an swollening.also i m feeling like gaining but i m not.please help me to get rid of this problem.thanks."

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Anon, I'm so sorry that you're in pain. Are you on your feet a lot during the day?

Depression can be really scary, especially the feeling of being out of control, like all you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry. I really feel for you, as I've been there myself. Are you under more stress than usual lately? Have there been any sad events that have happened in your life recently? Please know that we're here to help lift you up.

March 26, 2009 - 9:01pm

Anon, here is some more information that may be of help to you.

About the depression:

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a physical condition where the brain chemistry is off and our perceptions, emotions and ability to think and reason are all affected. Depression sends us inside ourselves and doesn't want to let us out.

Sometimes we think, "I need to be able to just start feeling better. I should be able to do all this stuff. I used to do it, why is it so hard now?" Or people tell us to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps," or we think we are whiners, or self-pitying. But none of that is the truth.

The truth is that depression is a condition that affects us in all those ways, and to break out of it we need a combination of things. It's different for each person. Some benefit by therapy. Others benefit by taking medications. Things like exercise and nutritious food help a lot, but are difficult at the beginning because you may not have the motivation.

Have you considered going to see a therapist or a doctor about how you are feeling? Studies show that people get better from depression by using either therapy or meds, but that if they do both they actually recover even faster.

I'm sure you've looked at Empowher's page on depression. Please note that it says that people with depression rarely recover without treatment:


And here is a page on it by the Mayo Clinic. There are links along the side that discuss symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatments and drugs, among other things:


Here is an excerpt:

"Depression is one of the most common health conditions in the world. Depression isn't a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply "snap out of." Depression ... is a medical illness that involves the mind and body. It affects how you think and behave and can cause a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may not be able to go about your usual daily activities, and depression may make you feel as if life just isn't worth living anymore."


"Effective diagnosis and treatment can help reduce even severe depression symptoms. And with effective treatment, most people with depression feel better, often within weeks, and can return to the daily activities they previously enjoyed."

Also, it often helps if you just feel like you're not alone. Here's a good, moderated depression chat room where you can join anonymously and either share what's going on with you or just read about things others are going through:


About your pain:

There are a lot of things that could cause pain and swelling in your legs, from simple water retention to an infection, from arthritis to a pinched nerve or disc. If you were a very active person before your depression but have become more sedentary now, it is possible that your weight is redistributing itself somewhat (which is why you would feel like you are gaining weight when you are not). The fact that your pain and swelling is in both legs (correct?) would seem to indicate something systemic (instead of something that might affect one leg only, like a blood clot). Here's a page on leg swelling with links to many possible causes:


Do any of them sound pertinent to you? Do you have high blood pressure or diabetes? Are there conditions that we can research more for you here?

About your age:

It's very common for women going through perimenopause and menopause to suffer from symptoms of depression, along with other conditions. Here is a link to Empowher's perimenopause page:


In perimenopause, our hormones can go all out of whack. Dr. Christiane Northrup, an author and expert on the topic, explained it once in a way that made complete sense to me: It's the reverse of adolescence. Remember when our hormones first went nuts, when we were 12, 13, 14, 15? We went a bit crazy for a while (and they called it "being a teenager"). But then we settled down and got into our adult hormonal rhythm. Perimenopause is the ending of that same process, and we often feel just as crazy while the process shuts itself down as we did when it was starting itself up. It does stabilize, but we often want or need help with our hormones, lifestyles and symptoms.

Here's another detailed page on perimenopause:


Anon, it sounds like you are dealing with more than you can handle by yourself. I know the feeling, and it isn't any fun. I hope you will see a doctor about your leg pain and swelling, and to consider telling that doctor about your depression, talking with her about possible therapy and medication.

You shouldn't have to feel this way. Part of you is dealing with a physical issue and part of you is dealing with the emotional fallout of the depression, and if you at least make an appointment or two, you will have them on your calendar. They will represent a point in time at which things can start to turn around for you.

March 26, 2009 - 9:25am

Dear Anon,

I'm soooo glad you found Empowher. I also have suffered from depression and I know what it feels like to be so low that you can cry at the drop of a pin, you lose interest in the world around you, and that you just want to curl up in a little ball and escape. I absolutely understand. I'm so sorry you're feeling so bad. Let's see if we can help you with it.

May I ask you a few questions?

About the depression:

How long have you felt that you've been depressed? Have you been dealing with it for a long time or has it come on relatively recently?

Have you recently had any major changes in your life? A loss, a move, anxiety over work, a problem in the family, a change in your medicines, anything like that?

Are you being treated for any ongoing physical conditions?

About your pain:

How long have you been dealing with the leg pain and swelling?

Is it sharp pain? Or is it more of an ache? Is it in both legs? Does it happen all the time?

In your job, do you sit most of the time, or stand?

When you say that you feel like you are gaining (weight, I presume) but you're not, does this mean that perhaps your clothes aren't fitting right because of the swelling?

About your age:

You are at an age where perimenopausal symptoms are very common. Have you noticed whether your periods have gotten irregular? Do you have hot flashes or night sweats?

I'm sorry to ask so many questions, but they will help us find information that may help you the most. I'll post this and I'll be back in a bit with some more info for you.

March 26, 2009 - 8:20am
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