Monday, September 28, 2009

Med management

So a friend asked me recently about my experience with medication, based on what I have written, and I thought it might be helpful to share my response to them here. There may be other folks wondering the same thing and not wanting to ask outright... and also I want to talk about this stuff, publicly.

Because of what I wrote before, I've actually had several people share their own experience with depression and medication, and that's been great. I think that talking is a big part of eliminating the shame around depression and anxiety... and for me, talking has helped ease some of my own disappointment that this is not something that I can treat without medication. There is such a thing as a chemical imbalance. I don't like taking a pill every day, but I can't deny that doing so makes me feel like I can exist--unlike my own untreated feelings, which sometimes make me feel like I can't exist.

I don't think that medication is a permanent solution for me, but it's a tool that I'm using (along with really active therapy, exercise, and better communications in my personal relationships) to reroute the old thought patterns that got me into trouble.

So anyway, here's what I wrote to someone asking more specifically about my experience with meds. I edited the name of the medication out because I am uncomfortable sharing my current prescriptions publicly, but if you want to know leave I'll leave my email in the comments so you can contact me and I'll tell you:
The medication I take (an SSRI) was prescribed primarily for anxiety, with the added benefit of treating my depression. I'm not sure I made that clear in the blog post... But I think that my out of control anxiety made me depressed, so treating one actually was treating the other. And for some reason it's harder to talk about anxiety than depression.

What the medication did was kind of narrow the range of my mood, but not in a bad way. So I still get anxious or depressed sometimes, as people do, but it's like the volume got turned down and the feelings/moods are manageable. The other thing that I think the medication did is to make therapy more helpful, because once the volume was down on the feelings--once I wasn't in crisis all the time any more--I was able to talk about some of the things which *cause* the feelings, and that reduced the anxiety & depression even more.

I started with ****, which is almost exactly the same thing as the thing I'm currently taking (and a lot cheaper), but the pills have lactose in them, and apparently I am extremely sensitive to it.

I have taken other medications in the past (Paxil, Wellbutrin, and imipramine), but those were only for depression, and they didn't work well enough to endure the side effects--things like difficulty being creative, sexual dysfunction, weird body sensations, and increased anxiety. I also wasn't in good therapy while I was taking them, so that makes a big difference. I don't personally believe in medication without therapy.

But while there I have had some side effects (a bit of weight gain, some forgetfulness, a change in the way my body reacts to alcohol, and some stomach sensitivity to coffee), the benefits FAR FAR outweigh them.

So, basically, it's unfortunately a bit of trial and error with medications to see what you'll tolerate best. But I would recommend talking to the doc or psychiatrist who you want to go to about what side effects you're worried about and choosing one that doesn't have many of those. I like the site at, where you can look up medications and basically get the same info they give you in those printout things you get in the prescription bag at the drug store.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Oops... forgot this part: jennyjeez[at]gmail[dot]com


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