Antidepressant in non depressed people

I realize that on TV antidepressants are shown as “happy pills” or “uppers” so to speak. I was always told that antidepressants are not really happy pills because if you give an antidepressant to a person not suffering from depression they won’t have any effect on that person (other than the side effects associated with the pills).

Is this accurate? Or do antidepressants elevate your mood even if you’re not depressed.

Again I am not talking about side effects like dry mouth or such.

Many years ago I was perscribed Prozac to see if it would help with my headaches. I was not depressed. The Prozac did not seem to affect my moods at all. Nor did it help my headaches.

Antidepressants can have a range of effects in different people, including anti-anxiety effects. I know someone who is taking a very straight-ahead antidepressant (Lexapro) for symptoms which are largely anxiety-related, and she is doing quite well.

As with any other medication, different people will have different experiences. I was prescribed Prozac once for hormonal migraines. It helped keep me from having migraines, but at the cost of literally being a “party drug.” In my system, Prozac doesn’t need to build up for me to have any effects and will actually get me “high.” Think ecstasy high, minus hallucinations.

FWIW, my system is pretty whacked out, though. Valium makes me giddy as all get out and cocaine puts me to sleep.

SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. There is good evidence to suggest that depressive symptoms are caused by unusually low levels of serotonin in the brain. The upshoot of the SSRI is that it increases the level of serotonin in the brain.

So if you give the drug to person with normal levels of serotonin, I would guess that it would increase the level of serotonin just the same, but not to dangerous levels (some studies have indicated schizophrenics have unsually HIGH levels of serotonin.) Last I checked, no non-depressed individual ever experienced psychosis from taking Prozac.

I don’t know if that’s an actual answer to your question, bit it might lead to an answer somewhere down the line.

I thought Schizophrenics had abnormaly high levels of Dopamine.

The category “schizophrenia” probably includes a number of disorders and syndromes that have similar-looking signs and symptoms but are functionally unrelated. Hence, it’s hard to find either a marker for “schizophrenia” or a chemical treatment that is effective for everyone with that diagnostic label.

They are reuptake inhibitors they help prevent reuptake which prevents serotonin from traveling through the brain normally. They are not meant to add serotonin. Though same may. The levels in most people is already sufficient it just isn’t moving correctly.

Drugs that would cause an increase in serotonin could easily cause a manic episode in a person that has an otherwise normal level.

Well, serotonin isn’t meant to travel very far, just across the gap between neurons, SSRI’s (as well as cocaine, ecstacy, meth and TCA’s) cause it to hang in that space longer rather than being reabsorbed by the presnaptic neuron.

I just wanted to mention, from personal experience, that it’s not just one neurotransmitter one symptom. SSRI’s made me horribly depressed, I’m the person they put the manditory suicide warning label on those puppies for. And yeah, I had real depression, wellbutrin, which works on the norepinephrine/dopamine pathway worked great, YMMV.

In another thread concerning insomnia, I and several others have reported that taking trazodone (an older, atypical antidepressant) helps their symptoms. I’m assuming that at least some of them do not suffer from depression (although I do, and 600mg trazodone daily acts as both a reasonably successful anti-depressant and as a sleep agent.

<slight hijack> Trazadone is often prescibed “off-label” for insomnia. It does work for a lot of people, but again, in my system, it acted like speed when I was given it for sleep problems.</hijack>

A lot of antidepressants are prescribed to non-depressed people for other, non-depression issues. This is usually due to things noticed in the depressed patients’ use of the product. Some examples:
[li]Wellbutrin – found to lessen the need for smoking, prescribed to help smokers quit[/li][li]Prozac – found to help hormonal shifts that cause a multitude of symptoms – often prescribed for treatment of mesntrual-cycle migraines[/li][li]trazadone – as mentioned above, used as a sleep aid for many people[/li][li]Klonopin (sp??) – although, I think this isn’t actually an antidepressant, it is used as one a lot, but also prescribed off-label for chronic pain[/li][/ul]

Of course, that is a short list – since I don’t use antidepressants and finally weaned my husband off of them, I can’t think of anymore off the top of my head. Funny thing, though, I can think of a crapload of other types of meds that are prescribed off-label.

I had a doctor who told me he tried Prozac for a week, just to see what he was prescribing. He said it was the best week of his life. But he also said that he lost interest in sex.

I was under the impression that Prozac and similar antidepressants took several weeks to take effect.

(And no, that’ not just because that’s what Dr. Melfi told Tony. I’ve been through 2 different antidepressants in the past, and that was what I was led to believe on both.)

You may be right. It wasn’t my experience, but one that a doctor conveyed to me. Perhaps he was only trying to make me comfortable with the idea of taking prozac, which he recommended during a difficult time in my life.

I’ll be sure to call him a dirty liar if ever I see him again.

That matches exactly what I was told by my doctor, and FWIW, my experience. Also the experiences described to me by another person who has bipolar. It’s one of the several reasons why it’s so difficult to get the meds right. Any symptoms or improvements a person has today may be related to an adjustment in meds 2 or even 3 weeks ago.

Lexapro is prescribed for both depression, and generalized anxiety disorder.


Ah, I was (obviously) unaware of that. When I was on it briefly several years ago, it was described to me as merely another arrow in the antidepressant quiver. Ignorance fought!

The Serotonin Hypothesis of Schizophrenia

I’m not an expert or anything, I just have a schizophrenic (paranoid schizoaffective) family member, so I try to pay attention. But I’m not really capable of judging which of the studies have the most weight and which don’t. I was just throwing that out there in an attempt to hypothesize what might happen in a normal person who took an SSRI.

Slightly OT, but I have heard that there is also some kind of neurochemical link between schizophrenia and PTSD and biploar, but am utterly clueless in that regard, except to say that of 13 different meds I tried to treat my PTSD, the ones that worked most effectively were atypical antipsychotics. Perhaps another Doper in this field could explain more.

I knew this, conceptually, but lacked enough expertise in neuropsychology to explain it accurately. I’m glad you came along to do so!

A real pain in the ass when you’re depressed and your doctor is trying to help you find the right meds, and you have to try a month on each one before you have an idea if it’s any good.

They can take up to several weeks. An important distinction.

I’ve found - after trying almost the entire anti-depressant sampler platter - that when one works, it works within days. My positive response to Celexa and Lexapro was strong and immediate (well, within 48 hours).