Stupid damned antidepressant side effects

I’ve been on antidepressants since April–first 20mg of Prozac daily, then last month I was switched to 75mg of Effexor. Prozac is a simple SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), while Effexor regulates both serotonin and norepinephrine levels.

Both have insomnia among the side effects, and I’ve had it in spades for months. My sleep has been restless and sporadic, and I find myself exhausted during the day. No big deal, though, since I usually catch up on the weekends. It’s inconvenient, but not life-threatening.

Even worse, though, are the dreams. Serotonin itself doesn’t affect dreaming much, but the balance between serotonin and norepinephrine affects how often and for how long one enters REM sleep. Ever since I’ve been on these things, I’ve had increasingly realistic, vivid (nearly lucid) dreams and recalled them with greater and greater clarity.

The dreams themselves have been . . . not nightmares, so much, but disturbing. Abnormal, with situations and people that really make me question my sanity.

I’m tired of it. They’re making me increasingly cranky and hostile. The antidepressants are supposed to be helping me, and in ways they are. I can’t even imagine going off of them. But I want these dreams to stop. They don’t make any sense, they don’t seem to be connected to anything in my life, they make me nuts, and I want them to stop.

One concern I would have is the fact that the dreams are increasingly realistic etc. This would seem to point to the possiblity that the effects of the drug may be cumulative. I would consult the doctor about the possiblity that you may be building up to some more serious side affects, if you haven’t done so already.

My issue with depression is that besides the normal symptoms I also get extremely hostile.

So I take my happy pills twice a day and besides having some completely bizarre dreams I also get some decent headaches.
Insomnia is an issue for me when I don’t take medication, I often get so wired I can’t sleep and the medication also alleviates my obsessing over events.

I figure this is the price I pay to be as normal as possible and it sure saves on the wear and tear on material items.

I’m been thinking about going back on anti-depressants a lot lately. I was on Prozac for several years. I quit because I wasn’t sure if they were really helping or if they were if I was really me anymore. Well apparently the real me is a depressing morbid bastard so that’s not much of a concern anymore. But your post is of great concern to me. Part of my current problem is that I am tired all the time. I want my energy levels to go up, not down because I spent half the night dreaming that Mr. Grey was most displeased with my handling of the Pink Bunny incident.

(No, I have no idea what that means either. Just imagining how weird my dreams might get.)

Hey, it could be worse. One of the known side effects of the nicotine patch is insomnia and nightmares. I used the patch, and when I could manage to get to sleep, I had persistent nightmares, vivid dreams of demons ripping open my stomach and tearing my guts from my body bit by bit. It went on like that for weeks, I was constantly tired and my nerves were shot, but at least I didn’t have nicotine withdrawl symptoms.

I took Celexa for 2 months – it gave me absolutely horrendous diarrhea & stomach cramps. I hardly had time to be depressed.

NP: The Clash - London Calling

Effexor is a pretty good antidepressant with a minimum of side effects, especially in the sexual area, though most will give you weird dreams for a period of time ranging from a month to 4 months. They do get exhausting, don’t they? Weird stuff, not real scary but not exactly tame either.

Are you on a combination of antidepressants or just Effexor? Almost all antidepressants will give you weird dreams until your brain gets used to them. Try sleeping with a radio or TV on softly because the programs or music will filter into your subconscious and can help form your dreams. Sometimes, you might dream right along with a program on the tube, and that’s kind of fun.

The dreams should settle down after a time and go back to being normal but if they creep you out, your being tense when going to bed can encourage them to appear and your fears will feed into them. I used to have dreams of being in this huge apartment with like apartments within apartments and apparently at college. It started out with me there alone in this great place, trying to get girl room mates and winding up with girls and guys taking over and me being pushed out to seek some cheap place in a run down area. One place, a row of cheap, efficiency apartments, was on a beach and so close to the water that the sidewalk was within feet of the waves!! Weird dream and it kept coming back for a time in variations. Like one time my huge apartment dream trailed off with me wandering down these connecting rooms and winding up in my grandparents living room as it was 30 years ago!!

You can, with an effort, control what goes on in your dreams if you try. Once you learn how to do that, like I did, it can be interesting, though you never have complete control.

Tell your doctor about the uncomfortable dreams and he might change your dosage. Seratone is a medicine similar to Effexor that you can be placed on or you can have other medications added to help dispel the side affect. Try sleeping with a soft light on, change your pillow cases frequently – the ‘fresh scent’ of clean linen on your pillows can affect dreams, especially if you like the scent. Try hanging freshly laundered pillow cases out in the sun for 6 hours or so, and then putting them on the pillows so they have that ‘olde tyme’ fresh air scent.

Make your bed as comfortable as you can by putting on your favorite sheets and blankets. I have a hanging candle in a lantern, that I leave going all night at times with a scented, small candle burning in it. The candles are bought in a department store in a small glass holder and will last around 24 hours and are scented. Some scents trigger pleasant dreams and fond memories. Try the small ‘mood scented’ candles.

Go to bed early, leave the candle burning (metal and glass lantern at Walmart for $7, candle for $2 – hang it 12 inches below the ceiling on a metal chain or coat-hanger ‘hook.’ Candle drippings stay in the candle’s glass container and it looks cool!) and read a book until you fall asleep. Lay in bed and watch TV until you doze off and if you awake later, don’t get worried and watch more TV until you go back to sleep.

Things will settle down after a while. :slight_smile:

What about Zoloft pld? Have you tried it? Also maybe get some melatonin(sp) to help you sleep. There is another drug called “G”(supposably it’s not even illegal at least not yet) I haven’t tried it but I heard if you don’t drink alcohol it is a very effective sleep aid and maybe it will may you sleep hard enough not to have bad dreams.

I’ve went through that depression crap too. It sux. I feel for ya bro.

My sympathies. I’ve been an insomniac for 15 years, and I’ve always noticed that the longer the period without sleep, the stranger the dreams and the increased lucidity, and I used to sleepwalk.

I can’t really guess how antidepressents effect the mix, but I deal with it by exercising vigorously (which seems to help the insomnia.)

When I go to sleep at night, I usually lie on my back, and do some focussed relaxation while I count backwards slowly from 200 (doing both at once seems to distract my mind.) I don’t know if it’s really meditation, but I’ll go over the days events, resolve in my head what issues I can.

When I’m done, sometimes I’ll set up a problem in my head for my subconscious to work on, or else I’ll simply focus on something pleasant, usually a setting.

When I think I’m ready, I’ll just roll over and go to sleep. More often than not, my dreams will focus on the problem or the setting I’ve put in mind.

It helps with the sleepwalking, too.

Also, doing some creative writing seems to help keep my noodle happy and balanced.

When I was on Prozac I got all of the side effects with little to no benefit. I didn’t have insomnia, but I was tired all the time. And I was still depressive and still reacting to things inappropriately. So I took myself off it and feel no different except I’m less tired and have more money in my wallet.

Another thing to check for tiredness is caffeine. I eventually took myself off caffeine (I allow myself two cups of coffee before 11:00 am and the occasional coke in a restaurant). The result was that I became a LOT less tired. Many people drink it to feel more alert, but my experience is that it just makes the situation worse.

That’s an interesting observation. My little son had been waking up screaming in the middle of the night with (apparent) nightmares for several weeks. We decided that we had been letting him stay up too late and go to sleep too tired (due to the summer). When we put him to bed earlier, he stopped waking up.

So maybe that’s all it is.

I would not suggest melatonin as a sleep aid in this case; in many cases melatonin makes dreams more vivid as well. I’ve gotten some pretty effed up dreams under the influence of melatonin (Lesson #1: Melatonin and Neil Gaiman comics do NOT mix).

I am on paxil, wellbutrin, and a generic form of ritalin.
I know from the time that I ran out of paxil and had no prescription for more, that it causes withdrawal. I knew from the warning label that comes with the pills that it can be habit forming. However, until the recent class action suit, I did not know that it could cause anorexia. At five feet and ten inches my weight hovers between 200 and 210. Now I find out that if I had won the neurochemical lottery, I could lose weight without trying. Ah well.

 I have also noticed that the length, realism and complexity of my dreams varies with my meds. Some pills have caused epic dreams that last for hours. In some I start as person A, then replay the scene as person B, then again as A and B simultaneously, then A again but with the knowldege that I am an actor following a script, then A as an actor and the role being acted following a script that cannot be deviated from and is prediction of an unchangable future.

How about Trazadone? It’s an anti-depressant that is also used to treat insomnia. I just started taking it for chronic insomnia (almost 25 years of insomnia) a couple of weeks ago, and it takes a while to start working, so I’m not sure if it’s having any effect yet.

I’ve been on Effexor, Zoloft and Luvox. Not many huge side effects while on them, except the main reason I went off them, the sexual side effects (although they did make me a little wacky on moods, which I thought they were supposed to stop). The fact that I basically couldn’t feel sex, made me more depressed than the actual depression did. But the withdrawal symptoms from all three of these were hell. “brain shakes” dizzieness, headaches, effects on my sleep, etc. I have always been divided on using drugs to for mental disorders, but I gave it a try. I may have just been on the wrong ones, but I’m still not sure they’re worth the side effects.

Even just seeing the word “Zoloft” makes me feel nausiated…

I suffer from Fibromyalgia Syndrome, a condition where you experience sleeping problems and chronic pain. Fixing the sleeping problems helps reduce the pain. To do this, they put you on a low dosage of an antidepressant like Zoloft, which has the fortunate side effect of helping you sleep. Your doctor will warn you that for the first two weeks you take it, you will probably feel like death warmed up, but after that the side effects will go away.

Four days into Zoloft, I am a bedridden zombie. I have never been able to take it for more than four days, because at that point I’m vomiting every time I try to consume anything. It made me feel numb, physically and mentally, it made me feel like I wasn’t human anymore. It was the worst feeling ever.

Once I’d recovered, I returned to my doctor and told her about the terrible time I’d been through, and she clicked her tounge and told me that one more week and the side effects would have gone away. I told her that I actually couldn’t take the tablets anymore, and got a look that said “Sure. Wimp”. I crept away, and found a new doctor.

Sometime after that, I came across a newspaper article about a girl who was on Zoloft. She’d had terrible side effects going on the drug, but managed to get through the two weeks, though she said it nearly killed her. It cured her depression, and she was ready to be weened off when she discovered that the side effects you get going on the drug come back when you go off the drug, but hit you twice as hard. She says it was so bad, she couldn’t do it, and now she will have to take Zoloft for the rest of her life to prevent the withdrawl symptoms. I consider myself to have had a lucky escape.

I’ve got a new doctor now. I love him because he hates Zoloft and refuses to prescribe it to anyone. He says that it’s not true that Zoloft is generally well tolerated, and that it turns people into mindless zombies.

Hey, some people do well on Zoloft, but I wanted to share my tale for anyone who might be considering it. It’s not the benign drug that your doctor will probaby describe - it’s nasty, and for me, it was so bad that I would die rather than go back on it. Life on Zoloft isn’t a life.

Thanks for the support and observations, folks.

Screengazer, I’m just on the Effexor. There was no lapse between the Prozac and Effexor prescriptions to “wean” me, as it were, and I actually noticed the dreams prior to switching. I would guess that just starting an SSRI modified the serotonin/norepinephrine balance enough to cause increased REM sleep.

Lately, I’ve been trying to listen to music while falling asleep. Music has always been a big help for me when it comes to sleep problems. I try not to listen to anything with lyrics, so I don’t get caught up in it and exacerbate the insomnia. Usually some Mozart or Tchaikovsky, or some good jazz. (The other night I listened to Brubeck’s Jazz at Oberlin, which has a version of “These Foolish Things” that will knock your socks off.)

But cripes, these dreams are a bear. The recall of them does tend to fade as the day goes on, but when I’m having them and when I first wake up, they’re positively unnerving. Like I said, they aren’t even nightmares, but they put me in situations I don’t want to be in, or with people (real people, from my life) that I don’t want to be with. And they happen almost every single night. So it’s like the world’s dumbest tradeoff: Either I have insomnia and can’t sleep, or I fall asleep and get the Freak Parade of Dreams.

Scylla, the sad part is, a year ago, I was getting up at 5:00 a.m. every day to go to the gym. 20-30 minutes of warmup on the treadmill, then an alternating upper- and lower-body workout. These days, I can barely get up after hitting the snooze a couple of times when the alarm goes off at 6:00.

I probably need to go have my head shrunk in addition to the antidepressants, but I’m not ready to travel down that road quite yet. I’m not too fond of people digging around in my psyche.

I want to echo what Screengazer said; you might want to look into controlling your dreams. I mean heck, if you’re already almost-lucid in them, it might be a great opportunity to become fully lucid, and explore.

A good resource is the lucid dreaming FAQ. It has an overview of some of the more popular methods of inducing lucidity.

Wow! I guess I was lucky. I was on Prozac for a few years, then switched to Effexor.

I had weird vivid dreams but nothing frightening. Mine were usually so weird I ended up laughing about them when I recalled them.

I stopped taking the medications due to the side effect of constipation. It was really really really bad!!

Luckily, I had no sexual side effects (Though sometimes I wonder if that was a good thing! :slight_smile: )

I will say that when I was on Effexor XR (as opposed to the twice daily Effexor) I had the worst side effects when being weaned off! I was sick for about 6 weeks and I weaned slowly! The brain shakes were incredible and I was nauseated for probably a good month!

That alone makes me not want to go back on them.

I discovered, quite by accident, that my vitamins were helping me with the medications. I forgot to take my medication for a WEEK and didn’t feel the effects! (I put my vitamins and medicine in a 7 day pill organizer and was yapping to my sister and just forgot to put my med in)

Both my psychiatrist and myself were over the moon at this development. I was able to go off the medication due to this.

I still have depressive episodes, but I just don’t feel that the medication is worth the trouble anymore.

Maybe if they come up with something that I can tolerate and won’t cause such terrible withdrawl symptoms, I’ll go back.

pld, I feel for you. I’ve been through the whole pill routine myself. Currently, I take Celexa, which really seems to be doing a good job- the only side effect being heartburn. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than the alternative.

If you’re not satisfied with the meds you’re taking, make sure your doctor knows your concerns. I know that, for myself, there is a certain amount of apprehension that goes along with making these complaints known, because the invariable answer is to mess with the prescription or the dosage.

However, these meds just affect different people in different ways. My doctor once put me on Paxil. Three days in, I was waking up at 3am all breathless. The breathlessness would continue throughout the day, until it got to the point where I was growing so panicked and out of sorts that I would have jumped out of my apartment window, not taking into account that my apartment is on ground level! :wink:

All I’m saying is, hang in there- it’ll get better. But you’ll need to make sure that you’re representing yourself to the doctor- make yourself heard.

-j