So, I’ve finally given up and admitted to myself that I might not have to live with a gaping maw of unhappiness in my life anymore. Being in therapy for four years hasn’t helped. I’ve been told that Wellbutrin works wonders. Does anyone else have success stories for certain medications?
I’ve tried most everything on the market, but I think you’ll find that individual response to medication varies widely. I’m not sure a recommendation would be meaningful from someone who is not a psychiatrist or physician.
Every antidepressant has potential for side effects. Whether they are bothersome to you depends on your situation. For example, causing drowsiness may be of great concern to someone who is exhausted all the time, but to someone suffering from insomnia, not so much.
As well, some antidepressants have more than one application. For instance, they may also treat anxiety disorders or assist with smoking cessation.
I’m sure your doctor will have suggestions about medications. Just make sure to ask about potential side-effects and research thoroughly. It may take 6 - 8 weeks to notice any positive changes, and during that time, side effects may slowly diminish as well. Don’t give up.
Remember, there are many options available to you, both pharmaceutical and otherwise. If one is not a good fit, speak up.
I wish you the very best of luck!
Cyros is right on. I tried Paxil, but the side effects were awful. I tried Serzone, but it didn’t do a lot for me. I went for years without medication, just talk therapy and exercise to keep it all in check, and then I hit a bad patch and tried Zoloft because it’s preferred for nursing moms. It’s fan-freakin-tastic! It seems I’ve never really known what normal felt like, and now I do. I’m less miserable, but more noticeably I’m better able to do what needs to get done, and much better at controlling my overeating, which has always been a feature of my depression.
So go and chat with the doc, and try some stuff. If it doesn’t work, keep on trying. It’s easy to get down and assume nothing will work for you, but I’ve learned that’s far from the truth.
Also, don’t forget to start and stop gradually, with your doctor’s supervision. Stopping SSRIs and such abruptly can ruin your week in a serious way. Also also, realize that some side effects (including sexual ones) will often fade over time.
If there’s a chasm, it’s not going to be bridged by tablets alone. There’s all sorts of obvious things you can do to help yourself, exercise & diet being two oft-cited ones which are out of reach of many people (they certainly were for me at my worst times).
The side effects of drugs vary dramatically from one person to another. I had nightmares with drugs that other people say help them sleep - I had endless hunger on drugs that made other people lose weight. You have no choice other than trust the FDA to not endanger you, and to keep your clinician informed of all side effects.
If the tablets do what they’re supposed to, they (probably) won’t cure you, but will put you in a position where you will hopefully find a way out of all this.
If you want pointers towards useful message boards, email me via my profile
Yep to all above. Anti Depressant drugs and non-drugs (like exercise, getting outside,…) work differently for different people. One thing to note is that sometimes drugs have a bad effect for some people, so make sure your prescribing doctor can see you soon after starting taking the medicine. Also most drugs take at least two weeks (and often more) to start working if they are going to work for you, so if you get no immediate bad effects you may have to keep up the drug use for many weeks even if no good effect is noticable before you can tell if that drug works for you or not.
Broken record (remember those? It’s so sad to see a metaphor on its way out). What everyone else has said. There are several different classes of drugs, some increase your production of seratonin, others might increase the uptake of your natural production, etc. Subtle differences. Oddly enough, very different reactions depending on the individual. It’s hard to explain, but get on board the drug train if you think you need to.
First, start a journal. Map your moods without the drugs. What’s the weather like? What day of the week is it, what have you eaten? What have you done in a day…see if you can find a pattern. I did this and was able to identify pretty quickly some of the troublesome things in my life and address them directly. But treat this as a disease.
Hold on there for a second. I highly suggest seeing a psychiatrist, not your PCP or OB/Gyn for meds, especially since you haven’t taken them before. Certain meds work well for some, poorly for others. There are a lot of factors involved in choosing the correct med for someone, including medical history, psych history, and the specific type of depression you have (atypical, melancholic, post-partum, etc). Certain types of antidepressants are more promising than others for such conditions. This goes double if you have anything else going on, such as an anxiety disorder.
Not all depression involves serotonin, for example. Sometimes a person needs more norepinepherine, or has a different type of chemical imbalance. I’m one of those people. Give me an SSRI, even a tiny dose, and I will seize and show symptoms of having too much. However, give me desipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant than triggers norepinephrine uptake, and I’m happy as a clam.
I would not solicit recommendations online and go in asking for a specific med (say paxil or zoloft or whatever), because it may not work out so well for you. That’s also why I’d see a psychiatrist specifically, since they have the training and practice in selecting the right med for you, whereas regular primary care docs tend to have little training.
Good luck though, and I hope you start feeling better soon.
I notice you are in western MA. I used to live there and have quite a few friends who are therapists in the area. Let me know if you need a recommendation or want help finding someone. I know a great guy in Brookline (which is east MA, I know), and another in Northampton.
Medication made the difference between life and death for me. I see my therapist only once every four weeks for about a twenty to thirty minute session.
Another word of caution. Whatever medication you take, don’t stop taking it suddenly. It is very important to be under a doctor’s supervision.
I hope that you find the relief that you seek. Just give it time to work and don’t be afraid to change meds or to change therapists for that matter.
I’ve been seeing a licensed psychologist for four years. I had a stroke four years ago which permanently altered my brain chemistry. I was offered anti-depressants in rehab and I refused. I handled my depression for a couple years through diet and exercise. Yet something broke down this year. This might sound stupid but I’ve been having the hardest time buying cereal for the past couple weeks.
I have a huge family history of depression. My mom is bipolar. Most of my aunts and uncles are medicated for depression. I think a couple cousins too. Alcoholism runs in my family and since I believe alcoholics self-medicate, I wouldn’t be surprised if depression runs for several generations.
This topic isn’t my sole basis on seeking medication but I do realize my understanding is a bit limited. My mom has given me a couple recommendations and warnings. Since I’m not bipolar, I don’t know how I should weight her advice.
BTW Metrowest MA is the area around Boston.
Doesn’t sound stupid. Depression effects our cognitions, not just how we think of things, but the ability to think itself. You end up feeling like you are thinking through oatmeal. Memory can get impaired too, both long and short term.
I’m sorry you are going through such a tough time right now. I’m glad you are taking steps to get the right meds- and hopefully you will find one that works quickly.
Have you asked your therapist about a recommendation? S/he may have someone she likes or works with already. I’ve emailed you off-board with who I know offhand.
Huh. Lived in Worcester, Monterrey, and Northampton for years, never heard it referred to like that. I’d assume you meant the fabulous Springfield area.
Just keep in mind that even if you had exactly the same condition, medication reacts differently in different individuals.
If you’re looking for a little background information on different medications, you may want to check out Internet Mental Health. Just keep in mind that just because a medication has the possibility of a side effect doesn’t mean it will necessarily affect you. After all, even Aspirin can be detrimental to certain individuals, but most of us find it helpful.
As to warnings, the most critical are simple to follow the psychiatrist’s instructions as to dosage, realize it can take quite a while for the drug to start working (and further still to reach an ideal dosage for you), and never stop taking them without seeking medical attention. Side effects are usually noticeable far before the positive effects of taking the medication. Fortunately, they are often temporary. If, after a couple of months you find the side effects are intolerable, absolutely ask to try something else.
As well, I agree with inkleberry that it’s best to see a psychiatrist if possible. My family doctor is great at giving refills, but not up to date on the latest research on depression or treatment. Of course, I realize there is often no choice.
Depression is draining. It saps your resources and muddies thinking. Every action seems like a huge undertaking and every decision monumental. Sometimes it’s a very big deal to pick the cereal or to have a shower or to just get out of bed.
You’re taking positive action and looking for more solutions after years of diet and exercise and talk therapy. That’s true strength. You should be very proud of yourself.
Nutritional therapy worked really well for me. Getting in my essential fatty acids & methyl donors worked really well to alleviate my depression. There are other antidepressants like B-vitamins or DL-phenylalanine, but I don’t really need those.
One thing you have to be concerned about is if you try one family of meds (say SSRIs) and then have to switch to another (say MAOIs), because you must allow the first drugs to be out of your system or you can die.
Also, make sure that people around you know that you’re taking anti-depressants, because you may not spot some of the problems with the meds that they might.
My own experience with Wellbutrin was that I couldn’t eat while taking it. Zoloft made me feel like my skin was on backwards. Effexor worked great for me, in fact, the first time I took it, I could feel the dose kicking in within hours.
Best of luck to you.
Thank you all for your insight and support. This has been a very difficult, sometimes shameful, decision for me. Yesterday was the turning point. I was so low that I became convinced that I would be happier hospitalized, away from the world, people, and decisions. Considering my experince being hospitalized for my stroke haunted me for years, the very notion of happy = hospitalized threw up a red flag for me. I also have been taking aspirin daily for three years to prevent blood clots and potential pulmonary embolism. I stopped taking aspirin this month. When I told my mom, she started crying. Now that I’ve made this decision, a lot of my behavior this past year has a thread of an underlying condition. The weight gain and impulsive shopping. Bursting into tears in random situations. The irrational urge to just quit my job with no new job lined up. This year, I’ve tried to “cure” this behavior through psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and then moved onto drinking.
Since I was able to handle this through diet and exercise, doesn’t that management technique effect seratonin? But does it boost or suppress seratonin? If I’m correct about seratonin, wouldn’t the SSRI family effect me? Since I have gaping holes in my brain, it would make sense that my seratonin isn’t able to jump the holes from nerve ending to nerve ending.
I’ve contacted my psychologist (who I am very happy with inkleberry) and primary care physician. My mom has been my main support through this God love her. She told me two helpful things.
Imagine depression as a sore elbow. You can either walk around with the pain or take something that eases the pain.
There’s no blood test for depression. Anti-depressants only work on the depressed.
Thanks for the warnings about going off meds. Several members of my family have gone off meds and I know that I’m very lucky that they’re still with us.
If you’re not sure where to find a psychiatrist, I highly recommend Mass General. Good luck!
Not sure what the US name for it is (Paxil, maybe?), but Seroxat (paroxotine) does the trick for me.
A few uncomfortable side-effects coming on and off, but nothing too bad (tingly fingers, feeling a bit “spaced” for a day or two).
I had / have a pretty mild case of depression though, so it may not be as good for deeper cases.
Echo the advice about exercise / diet etc.
Honey, you are not the only person who gets depressed at the prices and gimmickry in the Cereal Aisle. Is a reasonably good tasting without the sugar and not overpriced colon blow cereal too much to ask for? HUH?!
As a resident of Springfield, I can definitely say that “Metrowest” doesn’t refer to the Springfield area. “Metrowest” is applied to a fan of communities in between I-95 and I-495, centering on Framingham and Natick, and even occasionally including Worcester. Framingham’s newspaper is called the MetroWest Daily News.
Anyway, to get back on topic:
I agree that different drugs have different effects on the same person. My sister was taking an antidepressant several years ago, and, after a hiatus, she’s on a different one now. She’s apparently gained a lot of weight on her current drug (I haven’t seen her in half a year, but I hear all about it from our mother). Both drugs affected her personality differently.
The OP’s very lucky to have a supportive mother. My own mother refuses to acknowledge the reality of mental illness (despite being a nurse) and is constantly trying to get my sister to stop going to the therapist and quit her meds. I fear that she’ll sabotage my sister’s recovery. She doesn’t comprehend that while weight gain is a cause for concern, my sister has bigger problems to deal with right now–such as finishing school and the need to get out of the house and away from our parents.
But, yeah, medication did help my sister. She used to be housebound; now she’s able to function in society somewhat and attend school on a regular basis.
I would first advise that you really consider your decision to go on antidepressants. Their side effects can make you feel awful physically, which can be pretty depressing in itself, especially when you realize that docs recommend staying on them at least a year.
If you decide to go ahead, be ready to go through a long trial-and-error process. The more severe your depression, the more likely it is that it will take awhile to find a med that works optimally for you. It took two years and over a dozen med changes for me, and in the end, my doctors figured out I didn’t need antidepressants after all, but a different kind of psychoactive medication instead. All this can be very depressing too.
I say these things to give you an idea of what the road ahead will probably be like. Trust me, you don’t want to be surprised by these things.
I also highly recommend therapy in combination with medication. Statistics show that depression is more likely to remit in cases where both medication and therapy is used.
Best of luck.