Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Antidepressants - my experience so far

We have to talk about antidepressants and such. We have to. This is the stuff they give you when they want you to feel better because you're suddenly, or perhaps not so suddenly, suffer from some sort of brain fail or what is generally referred to as mental health issue.

Last year I started out on Endep after the breakdown (in March) and while it helped me sleep it also gave me the most vicious headaches. My doctor who is a lovely lady was very understanding but was a little perplexed because as I'm a migraine sufferer she thought she was killing two birds with one stone since antidepressants are often prescribed for migraine sufferers as a means of preventing migraines.

I was put on Mirtazapine. It worked well although I did have some side effects like my vision got a lot worse and I had a tendency not to "see" things. I would see things but it was as if the brain didn't register them. This proved to be a little dangerous when crossing streets etc.

I eased of Mirtazapine over six weeks in October and November and thought that was the last of it but then I had problems with my manager's behavior towards me, got all hopeless and depressed and went back on Mirtazapine.

Not good.

I ended up with all the common side-effects plus all the not so common and all the rare. Suddenly I was in hell. Sure the deep desperate hopelessness that depression brings was broken into shorter bouts of sadness, and it was such a relief because when the black dog really decides to accompany you it's like your essence has been drained out of you. But the side-effects!

I took the 45mg at first and the side-effects hit after about two weeks so I cut down to 30mg. I was better, cruising along and then two weeks later the side-effects hit. I cut down to 22.5mg which is where I was at when I had very bad day on Saturday.

Saturday morning I woke up and I could barely move. It was like I was coming out of anesthesia and I couldn't even lift my arms. I had two cups of coffee before I could really move and ask a friend to go with me to the doctor.

Somewhere in the middle of getting to the doctor I experienced a severe panic attack with visual distortions, cramping, heart palpitations and a range of other rather unpleasant things. I couldn't even get the Xanax out of my bag because suddenly my bag was a complete mystery to me. I didn't see the zipper, then I did see the zipper but couldn't work out how it works and then I just burst out in tears. You get the picture. The Xanax kicked in, we got on the bus and we headed for the doctor. Severely "xanaxed" I was still unable to get off the bus because I couldn't understand if I could fir through the door or not even though I have done that hundreds of times. I lost all sense of myself in relation to the world around me.

The doctor was worried, of course, and so it was decided that I go off Mirtazapine as soon as possible. I'm doing a really quick dose down over four days and it's bound to have a bad effect but probably not as bad as if I'm continuing to take this medication. The trade off for all this is that I have to start taking Prozac instead.

I'm not putting too much hope in Prozac as being the all saving solution but I don't fear it half as much as I fear Mirtazapine. I can't possibly be as bad. The other good thing with Prozac is that it reduces appetite and that's nice since Mirtazapine does the opposite (and is used to treat anorexia and I certainly don't have that unless I have the fat version of it) so perhaps it will do some good at least.

I'm over being depressed. It's a horrible condition. It ruins everything. It can't be reasoned with. It's like having your candy taking away from you being told you can never ever have candy again.

Drugs that change your brain chemistry are not to be taken lightly. I think there needs to be much better monitoring of people who take them and much better support. We're just not doing enough.

Please note these are my experiences and mine alone. There seems to be a lot of variation and what works for some doesn't work for others.

One things I am sure of is that support is so important when you're depressed. If you are living with a depressed person and you wonder what you can do for them any random act of kindness is good. Take care of you though too, it's taxing to be around depressed people.

1 comment:

  1. Your experiences are awful, I'd like to give you a huge hug

    When I was first prescribed Prozac I had an episode such as you describe. It was while I was alone, started in the afternoon and by 7pm I was in bed, holding onto the edge of the mattress for fear of falling off, and screaming silently. I think I may have looked like that picture by Munch!

    I take Citalopram now. No psychotic episodes so far but I do get very anxious and afraid at times and the slightest negative comment/look/response from someone can send me falling down a paranoid tunnel

    And, oddly, I feel more suicidal now than I ever did before, but I don't think that's the fault of the meds, it's just life's shit piling up at my door and me thinking "What really is the point?"

    Yes, support is a lifeline
    as are the small kindnesses of strangers
    and gentle folk who understand how very frightening it can be when one's mind turns on one

    I'll be thinking of you....
    Stay strong, you are not alone


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