Will antidepressants work if you aren't depressed?

Maybe a simple question…

Will antidepressants have a noticeable effect if you aren’t depressed?


I still take Wellbutrin even though I haven’t been depressed for years, because I like how it makes me feel. My life is pretty amazing but when I tried dropping the anti-depressant, I found it harder to appreciate how great I have it. I was still happy and satisfied with my life, and if that was my baseline I’d never consider seeing a doctor about it. But when I take Wellbutrin I walk around all day elated, feeling grateful for all the good in my life.

In short, it’s a noticeable effect for me, even though I’m not depressed with or without it.

As I understand it, generally speaking taking antidepressants when you’re not depressed will make you depressed. Or at least certain classes of antidepressants, I won’t pretend to be a doctor or pharmacist, but I understand that there’s something weird with serotonin where it sort of has a “wraparound” value (or something similar, like the same things that would cause normal people to stop making serotonin happens to cause people who don’t make enough to make more).

I’d say it’s pretty noticeable when you are having sex and you are unable to reach climax.

Bupropion is one of the rare antidepressants that does not cause sexual dysfunction. So I guess you end up fucking happy.

I just started taking pamelor ( not sure of the generic name for it) a couple weeks ago to help fight daily migraines. It is sort of a last resort before trying botox…

Anyway, I was led to understand it is also an antidepressant with antihistamine effects… It has helped my migraines so far - knock on wood- . I’ve only had about 3 which is highly unusual for me. I was wondering to myself HOW an antidepressant could suppress migraines.

I have had some events over the years that could have led to depression ( dealing with my son who passed away this past April of '13 due to drugs and having chronic kidney disease myself) … but I always felt I had those under control. Maybe I was wrong? I’m really curious about this, but I know if I ask my doctors they will probably be as clueless as me as to the why part.

I’m just grateful something is helping at this point…

All meds have side effects. If you’re sick, hopefully the med’s improvement of your symptoms offsets the side effects.

So if you’re well and you’re just looking for a “boost”, you’re gonna want that boost to be worth the side effects. Side effects ike weight gain, sexual dysfunction, body odor (looking at you Wellbutrin), fatigue, insomnia, tinnitus, nosebleeds, urination problems, and blurry vision. And yes, suicide. You better hope you get a good buzz, because you’re gonna need it to put up with all of that.

Once I popped some Wellbutrin for a week just to control my out-of-control appetite (I was on another drug that was making me eat like a horse). Worse. Mistake. Ever. I got as SICK as a horse. I will never do something that stupid ever again.

Well, I’m jealous. Wellbutrin gives me just enough buzz to shower every day.


To answer the OP’s question, probably. My three antidepressants don’t do much for my depression, they just fixed everything else, so surely they’d alter the average brain in some way.

Why would you want to take antidepressants if you aren’t depressed?

Most of them have serious side effects.

IIRC, no drugs are “antidepressants” per se in that they only and specifically fix depression. What they do is influence the production or slow the breakdown or whatever of various neurotransmitters, and neurotransmitters do lots of different things. Pamelor (nortriptyline) and other tricyclic antidepressants mostly keep the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine higher than it would be otherwise, and have some other neurotransmitter effects as well.

So it may well be that many antidepressant medications may have no effect on someone with ‘normal’ levels of neurotransmitters, but on the other hand, the drug concentration may be high enough to have some effect, or that you may have something else going on affected by them.

Or, conversely, its pretty noticeable when youre having sex and you able to withhold ejaculation to the point of it being pleasurable again.

Out of curiosity, what is your dosage?

150 mg.

Recognizing depression can be a problem. I was wondering if going on antidepressants could be a diagnostic tool. If you started taking antidepressants and you felt considerably better, then you were depressed and you didn’t know it.


This is pretty dumb. Anyone who has tried out medication will tell you that it often takes a long time for you to realize a drug is working. Several weeks to a month, sometimes. And until then, you may have to endure a buttload of unpleasant side effects. At least when you’re sick, you’ve got an incentive to hold out awhile. Like the hope that THIS one will do the trick and keep you from killing yourself, etc. If you don’t have this as a motivation, then it’s going to be hard to keep going. We aren’t talking about drugs that give you an instant high.

And you need to realize all meds work the same. Wellbutrin works for some depressives, while SSRI’s work for others. Are you prepared to try out a bunch until you find the one that gives you a buzz? Talk about a rather expensive and stupid hobby.

You’d be better off seeking counseling. Maybe a professional can give you advice on how to have a more interesting life.

Sorry, just gonna go off-topic for a bit:

Of course. Because antidepressants don’t cure depression. I don’t know if your depression was situational or clinical. But if you have clinical depression, the right medication, if you can find it, will (hopefully) alleviate the symptoms–it’ll clear your head, things that seemed impossible will seem possible again, you’ll get to enjoy things you couldn’t before, etc. But if you stop taking them, once the meds are out of your system, you’re back where you started: the basic depression is still there. Just like someone who’s diabetic and is helped by, say, Metfornin, shouldn’t expect to go off the meds and suddenly not be a diabetic anymore.

(This is more true for clinical depression; for situational depression–i.e., depression that’s a direct reaction to some trauma in your life–is a different story. Situational depression has an external cause, such as a major life change like a death, a stressful job situation, a break-up, etc. It’s very possible to work through this sort of depression with both meds and talk therapy and be ‘cured.’)

So if you’re clinically depressed, when you say you haven’t been depressed for years, it’s likely because of the medication. Stopping the meds may bring you back to baseline (eventually). Don’t do it!

Unfortunately, a lot of people w/depression will take meds, start feeling better, and decide they don’t need the meds anymore. So they stop taking them, and boom, they’re depressed again. The danger here is that going back on the same medication may not have the same success as before. This happened to me with Prozac back in 19noneofyourbusiness. :smiley: Went on it, felt better, went off it, felt worse, went back on it, not a damn thing happened. I’ve been searching for something that’d help me ever since, without much luck.

To hurl myself somewhere in the realm of the OP. There are certainly many off-label uses for antidepressants. Wellbutrin (generic name: Bupropion) is known to be helpful in quitting smoking, for example (it’s marketed as such under the name Zyban). Nortriptyline (Pamelor), one of the older forms of antidepressants as mentioned above (and the one I’m on, though hopefully not for very much longer because it’s doing Jack shit for me), can be used to help insomniacs. Topiramate (Topomax) is used for bipolar disorder but also used off-label for weight loss.

But a non-depressed person isn’t going to get “high” or filled with elation by taking Paxil or Pristiq or whatever. They’re not happy pills. Mind you, a benzo like Xanax or Klonopin or Valium or Ativan will certainly have an affect–Xanax can calm down a freakin’ horse. But those aren’t usually prescribed as antidepressants, they’re primarily anti-anxiety meds.

I am not a doctor, just a nutcase with depression/anxiety.

No, that’s actually a pretty common way to do it. Is it the best way to do it? I don’t know. I’d be more comfortable if we had a sure fire method of diagnosis, not just of Clinical Depression, but of the precise neurotransmitter lacking or excess, but we don’t. And so the majority of the time when a primary care provider is faced with a patient who appears to be suffering from depression, they pick an SSRI and try it. And if it doesn’t work, they try another, or another category. It is essentially “diagnosing” through trying the medication and seeing if it works.

You, personally, see a lot more specific neuro and psych doctors than most people do.More than half of antidepressants prescribed are prescribed without a psych diagnosis and by non-psychiatrists.

No, not necessarily true. For a single episode of Depression, it’s suggested that drug therapy be continued for six months to a year after the symptoms have gone away. For a second episode, at least a full year. Only if you’ve had Depressive episodes more often that that or have a very strong family history, then they do suggest you remain on them indefinitely. http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/antidepressants?page=3

Yes. First off, they don’t replace an otherwise-missing enzyme that depressed people lack or anything of the sort. They change how neurotransmitter activity takes place in ways that some depressed people find advantageous.

Hence, they are going to change how neurotransmitter activity takes place for non-depressed people in the same fashion.

They aren’t “happy pills” and will not necessarily improve your mood. (Also true, unfortunately, for depressed people; they aren’t a magic bullet for anyone).

Would you notice anything? Yeah, most likely. After all, you’re messing around with your brain chemistry. How you think and feel are likely to seem a bit different.

That’s more or less how the psychiatric system came up with the notion that depression was caused by a “chemical imbalance”. Same kind of questionable logic. If our patients take this pill and they seem better, then whatever’s in the pill must be what’s lacking in their brains and that is causing their mental problems.

Anyway, no. If you don’t know that something is badly wrong with how things are with you (or for you, if you prefer), then don’t go around taking psychiatric pharmaceuticals. They’re biologically habit-forming and aren’t very good for you if you can do without them.

They could, but that’s going to depend on your genetics/biology and the type of antidepressant, since we have many drug classes capable of acting to combat depression, as well as what “effect” you are asking about (I presume increased happiness over your baseline).