I've decided to go on medication

As some of you may already know, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. I was seeing a therapist on Ottawa, and she was great. She really helped me a lot. But after moving out to the Pacific North West, I’ve really struggled to find a good therapist here. The ones I’ve spoken to are either a little too gruff for me, or are into woo woo “Let’s explore your own personal mythology!”* I can’t seem to find anyone who specializes in CBT who I like without taking a 35 minute ferry ride.

So I’ve decided I’m going to ask my GP about anti-depressant medication. I’ve resisted going on meds for a long time now. I wanted to give it my best shot with other methods. And I have. I’m much much better than I used to be. I’m more aware of my anxiety, and I can make myself calm much faster than ever before. I’m driving now. I haven’t gone off the island yet, but at least I can get groceries and doctors appointments for Jackal Jr. But I’m tired. I’m really tired. It feels like I’m constantly swimming upstream. I just wanna swim in a nice calm lake, like everyone else does.

So I’ve decided I’m going on an anti-depressant. I’m not sure which one yet, I’ll ask my doc about that next week. Hopefully I can find one that makes me feel better without too many side effects. Wish me luck.

*No, I’m not making that up. Sigh. :frowning:

Good luck, and remember that there are a number of medications and it might take you a while to find the right one. It’s a shame you can’t find a CBT therapist, do you want to let us know where you are and see if we can find one for you?

Honestly, I feel like, although CBT has taken me about 90% or the way there, I feel like even with it, I can’t quite get all the way there on my own. And also, I’m just sick of everyhting being a struggle all the time. I resisted going on meds for a long long time, and in some way, I feel like I’m kinda giving up. But hopefully I’ll continue to use those techniques and feel less stressed about things all the time.

Congrats on being on-top-of the issue and identifying the problem while you are in a position to act on it. I’m also not big on drugs, but if they help, they help, right? Nothing they do is irreversible and maybe it’s what you need.

My advice, though, is to think it over very carefully if you are prescribed Xanax, and perhaps explore alternatives. Some people can take it with no problems, but when it’s not the right drug for you it can be very unpleasant. It’s a risky move if you haven’t exhausted the other options.

I went through the same thing Clockwork Jackal. When I was younger I dealt with depression and anxiety, I saw a therapist for over a year. Quit smoking, drinking and exercised for 2 years, best pysical shape of my life. Nothing changed, and I still felt like shit. Went the meds route for a period of time to reset the “I want to enjoy living again” button.

Best thing I ever did.

I can’t believe you can’t find a CBT clinician. Given the amount of whoowhoo therapy out there, CBT is one of the only things that actually works. :frowning: A good SSRI should help. Be careful with benzos. Good luck.

A year??? Ugh. That is too long. So few people need therapy that long! I’m sorry. Therapists suck…your wallet dry. :mad:

Do the meds. Let me know which ones. I’ve been struggling with this for years. I can NOT recommend Trazodone.

Oh, I am in no way suggesting that you should do CBT instead of take medication, I think they can work very well together in tandem. (Although I don’t have a cite for that in all honesty.)

People react differently to different drugs so I can only tell you about my experience.

Wellbutrin—has some alarming side effects.
Paxil—good but can put about 50 lbs on you.
Cymbalta—didn’t touch the depression.

The ones that seemed to help I’m not sure whether to vouch for; some I took alone but most were in conjunction with another drug. Here’s my list of “kind of”:


At one time I was taking half a dozen psych meds a day and was basically a zombie. Didn’t read, didn’t write, didn’t care what the house looked like. When Lithium was added, I shook so much I could barely get the fork up to my mouth in order to eat.
The Xanax and sleep meds were “sneaky” and I had to be very careful not to become dependant on them. You know you are when your skin itches from the inside and anxiety peaks until you pop that pill.
Then throw in the variable of changing dosages of any and all of the above drugs, at different times.

All of these meds can bite you in the ass if not taken correctly, but some of them do “calm the waters.” My psychiatrist was prescribing too many, tho. (I’ve been clinically depressed forever tho, so in his defense he was trying to find a combo, over several years time, that would work.) When circumstances made me quit them all, at the same time, (not recommended,) it took about six months for the fog to begin to lift. It’s been over two years now that I haven’t taken anything at all. There are times when I think, “God, I wish I had a Xanax!” But mainly I accept that I need to try to make myself happy while not adversly affecting others (feelings) if I can help it. Now my basic philosophy about life is, “It’s only rock & roll.” And when I fail, “If they can’t take a joke, fuck it.”

I suggest giving something a try after researching their side-effects and what exactly they are supposed to accomplish. When you find the right one, the relief makes you realize how much you’ve been “white-knuckling it.” You are your own best advocate so don’t allow yourself to be lead by the nose like I did.

I hope this isn’t too lengthy but since you don’t have a history of drug use I thought I’d share mine for what it’s worth.

And about the talk therapy? That I wish I still had. I think it helped more than anything else. If I could I would keep that up indefinately.

I take Prozac, just a small dose (20 mg / day) and it’s done wonders for my anxiety and depression. I have been on and off the med’s since I was a teenager and I notice a big difference when I’m off. I’m angry, I argue with people, I cry often, I’m not motivated.

YMMV, of course, but Prozac works for me, and I see nothing wrong with using a medication, especially if you are combining it with therapy (which I am).

ETA: I chose Prozac because it’s older and more well researched. And it’s the safest drug should I get pregnant.

Moved MPSIMS --> IMHO, home of threads on medical and psychological anecdotes and advice.

Good for you. I found that drugs (paxil in my case) helped with the feelings and physical symptoms, but I had to learn how to live not being depressed and anxious*. Hopefully the CBT has already helped with that.

  • That doesn’t sound quite right. I still expected to flop-sweat when I went into a new place, or not feel like doing anything all week long. The drugs took care of the anxiety and lack of energy. But I still expected them to happen, so I had to work through that. Still do sometimes.

I’m of the school of thought that half the people need to be on anti-depressants.

The other half SHOULD be.

I’ve taken them for years. To my way of thinking, they are something that many people need, like BP meds or diabetes pills. Your body is physically LACKING something–in this case, it’s the chemical soup in your brain that is missing an ingredient.

I personally found that Elavil (amitryptaline) packed on the pounds. I had exceedingly good results with Paxil, but it and other SSRIs can cause bad side effects when you need to stop taking them. Does the good outweigh the bad? In many cases, Hell yes.

Antidepressants (and Xanax is NOT an antidepressant, it’s an anti-anxiety medication) can take two weeks or more to work. They are not a “happy” pill that you take and in twenty minutes the sun comes out, the birds chirp, and children laugh.

IMHO, the NAME “antidepressant” is a misnomer. You don’t take the medication because you sit in the corner and cry all the time. Your perception of the world is outta whack, and the medication is an adjustment to the neurotransmitters in your brain.

In my case, about two and a half weeks after I began the Paxil, I was sitting at my desk at work, and I felt like I suddenly “woke up.” The weight of the world had lifted from me, and I felt ALIVE again. My boss even noticed the difference, and said, “Look, she’s SMILING again!”

The stigma to antidepressant drugs must be eliminated. Far too many people are avoiding the help that can change their very lives, because they think that taking such medication means they are crazy.

Do it. Now.

FWIW, I started taking Zoloft and Wellbutrin, for OCD and depression, around January of this year. I feel 100x better with pretty much no negative side effects (although part of that is the fact that I’ve started eating much healthier as well).

I was on a few for a period of almost 10 years, with varying levels of success and side effects. Been “clean” for six or seven years now.

I say this in all honesty: if you aren’t opposed to being on one indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of your life, then there’s probably nothing to lose by trying them. But if you take them for a while and then stop, you’re likely in for some very, very unpleasant withdrawal effects that may take months to subside. I’ve seen anecdotal reports suggesting that for some people, side effects like loss of libido may continue long term, and perhaps even be permanent, after discontinuing. (I don’t know if there are published studies to that effect, so take it with a grain of salt but there’s certainly a lot of people in online forums online complaining about it and other long-term discontinuation effects.)

So whatever you decide, don’t rush into it without serious consideration.

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. It’s a difficult decision and I’ve been really struggling with it.

I wasn’t planning on going on any benzodiazapines. Those meds are used mostly as “rescue medication” for when you feel a panic attack coming on or in progress. Although I do have panic attacks, I don’t have them that often. And hopefully going on an anti-depressant will reduce my anxiety overall, so I don’t have any panic attacks. And I don’t think they’re really helpful long term anyways.

Good to hear it works for some people. I’m hoping it’ll work like that for me too.

Yeah, it’s been hard for me to believe too. There’s a lot of woo woo hippy stuff out here. There was one doc, I was surprised she didn’t try to align my chakras with magic crystals! I’ll keep looking though, I have a few good leads.

I plan on updating the thread next week when I find out which one my doctor will put me on. And then I’ll update it again and tell you if I’m feeling better, or not.

Wow, that’s um…a lot of drugs. I’m really hoping something works right off the bat. Maybe that’s too much to hope for.

You know what, I didn’t even think of that! What happens if my birth control fails, or even if I want to have another baby in a year or three? Switching would be a royal PITA.

The lack of energy sucks. And I’m sick of it. I don’t need to feel happy all the time, I just want to feel normal, you know? I honestly expected more people to say “NOOOO!!! DON’T DO EET!” So…I’m kinda pleasantly surprised. :slight_smile:

Best of luck to ya, Jackal. I went on an SSRI last year (citalopram) and it’s done wonders, including knocking my chronic insomnia from “incapacitating” into “totally manageable.” The bad side effects VOW mentioned when going off them can be mitigated by sloooowly tapering. (Do not stop SSRIs cold turkey.)

In fact, that’s how I fixed my dosage. My initial Rx was, in retrospect, too much for me. I thought I wanted to go back off it - I was developing memory problems and felt shaky a lot - and then, once I’d tapered off to a half-dosage, discovered that I liked that particular setting.

For me, the main improvement is this: things that are legitimately irritating can still irritate me, but they don’t set me off into OMGBITCH mode, plus, things that are really NOT legitimately irritating slide off me much more easily. It also stops what the Hyperbole And A Half blogger so aptly refers to as the Sneaky Hate Spiral, which is a huge relief to both me and my poor husband.

I have GAD and take Lexapro (10 mg). It has been good for me. I tried Celexa before that, and it worked for me but not quite as well.

From my experience (and my doctors all warned me about this, so it’s not uncommon), the benefits of the SSRIs took about 2 weeks to fully kick in, although I did feel a bit better after one week. It’s kind of gradual. If they work for you like they did for me, you’ll feel slightly better as time goes on until one day you realize you haven’t even thought of your anxiety all day. And that’s a great feeling.

The bummer? The side effects hit right away. Fortunately, for me, the side effects lessened over time. The most I get now is occasional dry mouth, which I can handle by chewing a stick of gum.

I did CBT, and it helped. However, like you, I could never really get to 100%. CBT got me to the point I could function with my anxiety, but I wanted to be better than “functional.”

As mentioned, SSRIs aren’t “happy pills” and they shouldn’t change your basic personality. Instead, I was myself with much less anxiety. I still worry about things that deserve worry, still get nervous before a big presentation, etc. I just don’t stress all day about nothing nor feel that pit of the stomach anxious gnawing for no reason whatsoever. If they do change your personality or make you apathetic, then that drug (or dosage) probably isn’t right for you.

Final piece of advice: don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about needing medication. I consider myself to be a fairly grounded and sane person. Overall, I do pretty well. I just have this slightly off brain chemistry that can be managed through medication. There are much worse things out there!

If you plan a pregnancy, I’d say, in the next five years or so, do NOT, repeat NOT take an SSRI.

Even if you do a careful step-down process to stop taking it, you can still get side effects.

And there are instances of documented birth defects if the mother is taking an SSRI.

Make SURE you tell your doctor any family plans.

My daughter was taking Paxil and planned a pregnancy. Even with a step-down process, she was UNBEARABLE once she was off the medication. Her anxiety level increased, and it was a tough couple of months there for a while.

That being said…

I thank God every day I live in the modern age with such wonderful drugs, everything from antibiotics to antidepressants. If you need help, GET IT.

The example I use with people is this: you wouldn’t walk around on a broken leg, would you?