Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Comments by betsycam

Showing 14 of 14 comments.

  • I had heard that these screenings were an opportunity for PCPs to identify and treat depression pharmaceutically even when depression wasn’t the primary concern patients were seeking treatment for. I was already on an antidepressant when I sought treatment for an upper respiratory infection caused by the flu which had left me bedridden. Yes, I was depressed by being so run down and unable to get back to life after a month of not being able to sleep prone due to coughing fits, with no energy to do anything. The doctor I saw declared I was generally depressed, not just depressed from being sick, and sent me to a psychiatrist who prescribed Effexor. I was impressionable, and followed his directive, and so took Effexor for 12 years which came with more labile moods, followed by the insanity of trying to come off. Had I never seen that particular doctor, who I think had been encouraged to identify depression and encourage treatment in his patients, I might never have entered this next phase of treatment with a drug that proved to be more damaging to me than helpful. I think there was a health screening questionnaire involved which included questions about depression (this was around 2004).

  • I am glad the author addressed the CYP450 variant connection. While I was tapering psych meds, I tried CBD oil and had a worsening of symptoms that I now realize was akathesia. I learned that CBD blocks CYP450 genes that process Effexor and Mirtazapine, the other med I ended up on after protracted Effexor withdrawal. I experienced akathesia when I first came off Effexor too quickly. During that protracted withdrawal, a p-doc put me on Viibryd and it threw me into akathesia big time! The low entry level dose didn’t do much but then she upped me to the next dosage and that did it – I immediately came off of it. But that wasn’t the end of the toruture, because I was still in withdrawal from Effexor. I was taking 5-htp and Sam-E as substitutes for Effexor and that was causing a low level of serotonin syndrome that kept the akathesia going. It took a very progressive DO p-doc to help me tease apart what was going on, but ultimately he put me on mirtazapine because I couldn’t sleep or eat, and after 6 weeks of that I ended up back on low dose Effexor. Then I began a five year slow taper to get off both meds with the help of I feel fortunate that I didn’t enter the medi-go-round nightmare as so many do, because I’m sure it would have destroyed me. I can fully relate to “not wanting to die but not wanting to live THIS WAY,” and it could have been so much worse! I’m two years out from meds, now, and I can’t say that life is all rosy, with anhedonia having been a major feature of recovery, it is slowly getting better. However, I am cognitively hampered and don’t have the confidence to get a job because I forget things so easily. Yesterday I saw someone out of context that I had met before on a few different occasions, and when she said “Hi Betsy” I said “Have I met you before?” I honestly didn’t recognize her and had forgotten our previous encounters! This is one of the most distressing signs of brain damage for me. I wish I had never popped that first Prozac 26 years ago that got the ball rolling, with the promise of making me “Happy!”

    I truly feel for Marcello and believe in neuroplasticity – it just seems to take a long time to recover.

  • I began with Prozac in the mid ’90’s, which began muting my emotions causing a mental block that kept me from feeling deeply towards others in meaningful relationships. It also began what I now call PSSD since I am off the meds now but have lasting dysfunction.

    When Prozac ultimately didn’t make me feel “happy,” I switched to Wellbutrin, but the sexual side effects didn’t go away. I was then put on Effexor.

    Not only did the sexual side effects persist, but I also became someone in hindsight that I am horrified to have become. I was hanging out with an older woman who was a bad influence on me, who had stollen in her past. Under her guidance, I stole used construction materials, won’t go into the why, but it was something I never would have done prior to the meds, or since. I justified what I was doing and felt no moral compass. I furthermore felt detached from husband and family and entertained dalliances, though I never acted on them, thankfully.

    Coming off Effexor is a separate story culminating in over four years of slow tapering to get off. I am not back to my pre-med self, still suffering from anhedonia, but I am beginning to feel things more deeply now, including the pain and anxiety of transition caused by my husband’s unemployment for nearly a year. I have finally realized that social anxiety was always my problem that led to the depression that caused me to seek The Happy Pill. Over 20 years of being medicated, accepting that I had an “imbalance” that required the meds the way a diabetic requires insulin, and I am no closer to coping with the social anxiety than before starting meds. Peter Breggin calls it “medication spellbinding,” and indeed I was spellbound, not recognizing that the meds weren’t doing what they were supposed to and were causing such serious side effects. I did seek therapy throughout, but the meds put a lock on my brain that prevented me from truly integrating the therapy.

    Half my life lost to the meds. It’s a difficult thing to accept. I shudder to think of who I was while on the them, but I am grateful to be able to see it and that I am not that person.

  • Very sad what happened to your dad, Roberta, but I am glad that you and your family took the bull by the horns and got him off all those meds! We are trained to trust doctors and be compliant, but anymore I don’t trust doctors! I was one to take ADs for over 20 years with GPs renewing my scripts. And they never did the wonderful things they were supposed to do. I’m angry at myself for continuing to take them despite that, yet I bought the “chemical imbalance” explanation and so it went.

    When Robin Williams committed suicide, I KNEW it was about the meds, treatment resistant depression or worse. No one wanted to look at his mental health history and history of meds. It HAD to be about Parkinson’s or Lewey Body, with a passing acknowledgement that he had antidepressants in his system. Well, all the good THEY did! How is it that so many who suicide have antidepressants and/or other psych meds in their systems? And no one gives it any consideration. Well, we know the answers thanks to folks like Robert Whitaker.

  • When you see the number of members on that are poly-drugged and miserable, trying to come off their cocktails, you KNOW adding more doesn’t work! When it is discovered that two antidepressants still isn’t working, now you’ve got two to come off of, no easy fete. Of course, a bunch of other drugs will be added along the way, z-pills, anti-anxiety, antipsychotics, to treat all the side effects of the previous meds, and then add another antidepressant to deal with the depression caused by all the other drugs. The Medi-Go-Round, as they say. But look at all the money Big Pharma is making in the meantime!

  • Thank you for your encouragement, Cathy. Can I ask one more thing? Given yours and my similar upbringing and the issues of lacking confidence, etc., what type of therapy has worked the best for you to overcome the inner dialogue that goes with that? I have yet to find anything that sticks. Intellectually I know I am not worthless, yet I am having trouble rewiring my brain to accept more positive thinking. Maybe it is because I am still on a small amount of meds, still tapering. Thoughts?

  • Cathy, there’s a lot of similarities in our stories! I also struggled with lack of confidence, “educated but not prepared for life” striking a cord! Funny, I have a farm and have had periods of feeling completely overwhelmed with it, too! I have been on antidepressants from 1994 and after a very bad attempt at coming off Effexor, ended up on it plus another and have been tapering those ever since.

    Your story of reclaiming your emotions gives me hope. As Peter Breggin says, I was spellbound by the meds, not realizing how much of a vice grip they had on my human experience. I have been stuck in anhedonia since the bad Effexor withdrawal, and fear I will never recover. Having been medicated since I was 30 (now 53), I fear I will ever truly feel and live again.

    I wonder if it was difficult for you to meditate initially? I have been unsuccessful at being able to practice. I know it is something that would be good to do, but long stretches of time go by where I forget to even think about doing it! I am cognitively damaged.

    I am trying EMDR to see if that might jostle my neurons into life.

    Thank you for this story of hope. I am glad for you that you have come out the other side.

  • I stopped listening when he said his “original complaints” came back four months after he ended his taper and so he is back on antidepressants and quite happy with it. I appreciate that he is on the right path with providing people with a sane way to come off their meds, but he falls short in understanding withdrawal. People who were put on these meds for reasons unrelated to depression and anxiety have developed depression and anxiety in that time frame after coming off, so not the “original complaints.” Just because people feel ok coming off with 25% cuts doesn’t mean they still won’t get hit with withdrawal months out. How many of those people who seemed ok with faster tapers ended up back on meds because their original complaint came back in four or so months? I wager that they were hit with delayed withdrawal.

    I know people who did small cuts off mirtazapine with home-made liquids but at a more rapid pace than the recommended three to four weeks, and were fine during the taper; yet, they have been hit with withdrawal months out. Windows and waves.

    It is not helpful to have Groot promoting the relapse scenario and “ADs are helpful for some people” after the good work of developing a tapering system!

  • Agreed. I think it goes beyond the sexual and affects all aspects of the life experience: Anhedonia. SSRIs/SNRIs have ruined my life along with trying to come off. It is amazing that my marriage has survived, but I can honestly say that I have never been completely honest with my husband as to the extent to which the anhedonia these drugs have caused impacts. I have not felt a deep connection to him or anyone else for years, and lovemaking is something to be endured, for the fact that I have no libido, lack of sensation or response to touch, very poor quality orgasms etc. It isn’t just about him; I have no fantasies and don’t get turned on looking at other men or thinking about being with anyone else. I find little pleasure in life generally speaking. It is really a rather tedious existence. No sense of satisfaction in life, joy to be alive. We only have one life to live, and it is unbearable to think of all the years I allowed these drugs to ruin me, that I don’t get back. I lost the prime of my life. I continued taking them because I believed the lie. If only I’d known in advance…