Our expert says:
Hi, and thanks for an interesting question. As I stated reading I began wondering about the possibility of Depression, but you've seen a moment psychologist who has ruled this out. It's a pity that you two didn't discuss whether there were other diagnostic possibilities, but as you say these current concentration issues weren't troubling you then.
Where possible, I don't like suggesting particular medications before there's been a proper effort to work out the diagnosis. It's best to select a drug for a specific condition, to achieve a specific aim.
From your description, and especially where you eventually talk about wanting "something I could use if and when I feel the need to calm myself down", it sounds as though your main problem currently might be anxiety.
Personally, I would usually see this as best handled by CBT type counselling ( because I see better quality and quantity of research showing this to be cost-effective than other available methods, though I remain open to changing this recommendation here I can find more and better data favouring an alternative ) rather than drugs alone.
As for drugs, I see the evidence as favouring using drugs also used to treat depression, as these also help anxiety. Too often doctors prescribe sedative tranquillizers of the Valium family, which, like a stiff gin, provide a rather quick feeling of often enjoyable relaxation, and with some of the disadvantages of gin, too. They impair your concentration, sometimes significantly, and also reduce reaction times, so they can, for instance, demonstrably impair driving skills. And when used for more than a couple of months, they can cause dependency.
So, overall ? I don't know what sort of psychologist you were seeing, but they could probably offer a session focused on assessing you and identifying the diagnosis and nature of your primary problem(s) and suggesting what therapy would be most likely to help. In my experience, psychologists are more likely to recognize when medication could also help and refer someone for a psychiatrist or GP to assess that; than for a psychiatrist to recognize that psychotherapy would be needed, and refer someone to a psychologist.
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