Saturday, April 17, 2010

thinking about drugs for depression

Emma and one of my best friends both do drugs to treat depression—effexor for Emma, ativan for the friend. I've always been a bit leery of using drugs for psychological issues, but I'm a pragmatist. In both cases, the results have been good. Emma says she had her brain back after three days of doing effexor. The friend is writing again.

So I'll be calling our doctor on Monday to find out what I can do. I feel a bit like a fraud or a failure, since the world is sufficiently unjust that some depression seems like no more than a sane* response, but I've been having trouble focusing on doing anything meaningful, and that must change.

* A comment I made recently: "I'm giving up on sane. I'm joining the rest of the human race." That isn't actually true. I'd like a drug that'll help me focus so I can be more effective in my attempts to do my bit within this madly greedy world.


  1. I've read that effexor is one that is very difficult to switch off of, that it's sort of a lifetime commitment. But it's a good idea to talk to the doctor. There are so many medications out there today.

  2. Mickbic, that's true--but the fear of medication misused has kept a lot of people, me included, from seeking treatment for conditions that are best addressed with the right medication. Non-medication therapies are wonderful for addressing patterns of behavior, but brain chemistry responds most quickly to medication.

    Deciding on medication for emotional and cognitive issues calls for common sense. Determine the root of the problem. Based on that, choose the best and safest way of addressing it. Start small. Pay attention to the results and report them to your doctor. If the results aren't good, demand another approach.

    Pretty much like treatment for any other illness or injury.

  3. I'll raise my hand here as someone who was able to brain again after beginning medication.

  4. It's REALLY hard to get off Effexor. I did it slowly and under the care of a physician, and it was still hell. Having said that,however, while I was on it, it did what it was supposed to do and it was a good choice for me. Just be careful.

  5. Citalopram here, (though I wasn't 100% until my hypothyroidism was diagnosed and medicated too). Yeah, mental illnesses are still seen as something you should just "snap out of", as though as they're character flaws or bad habits, instead of medical problems that can be treated. If you saw someone coughing, sneezing, and red-eyed, you wouldn't tell hir "Hey, if you just decided you aren't sick, you wouldn't BE sick."*, you'd get out the Kleenax and cold medicine. Depression is the common cold of the mental health world.

    It's often linked to serotonin levels, which are like oil levels in a car (to switch metaphors for a second). You can run moderately well on a medium level of serotonin, but the lower the level gets, the worse you're going to function. I've been there on all three levels, and none of them are fun. Fortunately, I had a great doctor who worked with me to find the right medication.

    It may be a little frustrating and embarrassing at first, but believe me, it's worth it. Your friends, your family, your boss, etc. everyone will notice your change for the better. Good luck!

    *Well, my brother would, but that's a different story.

  6. Not generally on its own, but it is sometimes used for anxiety associated with depression.

  7. Bruce, it is.

    In Emma's case, Dialectical behavior therapy was also very helpful. While I know how much I'd hate to have anything added to my list of things to do (grin), you might ask your doctor if there's some kind of therapy that could also be useful.

    And lest that sound depressing, meeting with folks regularly shows up on lists of things that make people happy.

    Also, everyone says you shouldn't assume the first drug or drug combination that you try will be the right one, so consulting again with the doc is right.

    I suspect less browsing is a good step, even if it doesn't feel that way now. I'm struggling toward that.

    Oh! And a spiritual group can be helpful. Which includes atheists, pagans, UUs....