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Why did you start taking meds?


alexjuice

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So, here we are, years later, living in the aftermath. Let's hop in the time machine.

 

Why did you decide to take psychiatric medication in the first place? Did you have hesitation? Did you ever think... "Medication is for 'crazy' people, not for me, I can handle my problems?" If so, what made you change your mind, decide medications were for you?

 

In my case, I had problems with anxiety. I had no close relationships and was young, 18 years old. I was very unhappy at that time. My parents had been through a divorce that left me to fend for myself and I wasn't successful at doing that.

 

Still, I had been perfectly normal, within range at least, my entire life. I tested into a gifted track in a top public school outside of Boston as a youngster. I had friends in elementary, middle and high school, though no girl friends.

 

My anxiety worsened as the remnants of my hs school friend group dissolved after everyone went off to college. I did smoke pot fairly heavily for a bit, but this phase lasted not a year. But I also started an internet business as an 18 year old and made enough money to move into my own apartment and to take a 2 month road trip through the United States.

 

I was quiet and uncertain -- a teenage boy without a guide into adulthood, but I didn't think of myself as 'mentally ill'. So when I found myself in the shrink's office, I resisted taking drugs for a bit. However, I trusted a therapist and a doctor who encouraged me to abandon my prejudices. They said I was sabotaging my happiness out of some stubborn belief that "I don't need drugs". Of course, I relented and started on SSRIs. Everything gets hazy thereafter.

 

Now, I have been off all medications except benzodiazepines since Febuary of 2010 after being on over twenty medications between 1997 and 2009.

 

I look back, and it all seems so surreal.

 

So I put this question to our wonderful group on the forum: how did it start for you? What made you decide to take medication, decide that you had a medical problem best treated by maintenance doses of prescription medication? Did you require convincing or did the ambient social/media environment groom you to accept the idea of the efficacy and safety or pharmaceutical treatment of depression, anxiety and the related 'disorders'?

 

Alex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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Though I had some long-term psychological issues (rejection, bullying) the immediate and in fact only reason to be put on PAxil was secondary stuttering. A pretty complex problem were on cannot articulate specific words without getting a panic attack. This condition is not very well known but is described. And the udnerlying cause is anxiety. I have had the problem already at younger age but it had also be gone for a long time. It suddenly popped up again in 2002, after losing my job 3 times in 2 years. After trying Xanax to no avail, PAxil almost immedately took away the panic attacks and the secondary stuttering so for me it was highly effective. Only the life-threatening w/d which rendered me effectively disabled makes me looking back at it as the worst thing I ever did...

10 mg Paxil/Seroxat since 2002
several attempts to quit since 2004
Quit c/t again Oktober 2007, in protracted w/d since then
after 3.5 years slight improvement but still on the road

after 6 years pretty much recovered but still some nasty residual sypmtons
after 8.5 years working again on a 90% base and basically functioning normally again!

 

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I was only the drugs for a short period of time so I may be a bit of an exception.

 

I also don't know if my experience is any different because I live in the UK.

 

I kept saying no to anti-depressants and other medication when I was offered them for years and until recently the GPs who offered them to me didn't seem that keen on me taking them really; I'd ask about availabilty of talk therapy, they'd tell me it was really hard to get, there were very long waiting lists - sometimes they put me on the waiting lists for talk therapy - sometimtes they didn't. They'd then say - 'or i could offer you drugs' not very enthuastically - and I'd say no thanks and that was an end to it. This happened at leat 4 times between the ages of 27 and 39.

 

I first took an SSRI in April 2010 I tried the first tablet because the GP suggested it might help since I was still experiencing depression despite having had counselling. I took 1 tablet, then I read up on various informatino on the web about side effects, risks etc (I had read this before but was checking again) and then rang the doctor back up and said look I've read about the side effects, and I really don't want to take these just now, and he said that it was absolutley fine it was my choice and absolutley fine about it. By the time I went back to see him two weeks later I was feeling better and that was an end to it.

 

Why did I eventually end up on them in November 2010, well it was because I couldn't access emergency talk therapy but I could access emergency drugs. Well you see, I was feeling pretty desperate at the time, I was on a waiting list for talk therapy again and had been for 6 months by then. I had been to an assessment by a psychiatrist (this was a hoop I had to go through to access the taking therapy) I was due another appointment and I didn't know how long it would be before the counselling was approved. The appointment with the psychiatrist, was then cancelled, I had began to feel very low - suicidal on a daily basis, and I got very scared and panicked.

 

I went to see my GP as an emergency appointment and said to her do you think going on drugs would be a good idea now I feel so bad, she did a 5 minute on-screen medical assessment form that said I scored as very depressed and that the drugs might help and promised that she would monitor me closely to check if I felt more suicidal - o was very worried the drugs might make me feel worse - (I had another appointment made to see her in a week) and she gave me a prescription for anti-depressants and encouraged me to take them.

 

She also packed me off to an emergency medical assessment by the local community mental health team (if you never had one of these that's another story in itself...nurse - 'do you hear voices' me - 'what do you mean - do I hear voices - I have thoughts in my head that sought of sound like voices' nurse - 'no I mean voice coming out of the wall or the TV' me - 'no I don't hear voices then' and that was one of the less surprising questions). The nurse was however very sympathetic, very kind and told me to 'take the drugs they would help' and that if I felt desparate at any point I could ring them or go see them on a 24 hour basis (first I'd learnt of this service).

 

So I eventually ended up on SSRIs as I was feeling very vulnerable. For about 2-3 months they may have been helpful although the side effects for the first 8 weeks (especially the first 4-6) made me feel pretty ill (like I had bad flu) and the insomnia (light sleeping) remained a fairly constant problem. However the suicidal thoughts did stop completely as soon as I went onto the SSRI (this may well have been placebo as suddenly lots of people were offering to help me so I felt a lot less isolated and initally I saw my GP once a week) and this was a great relief.

 

Fortunately I had been told I had to stay on the drugs for 6 months and at 6 months I was feeling better enough (I had finally got the talk therapy by then and it was really helping) I was able to clearly ask to come off them - again I had no problems with the GP over this. I just calmly explained the side effects were outweighting the benefits and that was fine so then I started tpaering off.

 

If I'd been able to access emergency talk therapy, rather than emergency drugs (SSRIs) woudl I have taken them - proabbly not, although I can't be sure.

Citalopram for 6 months

Since then tapering off over last 4 months

20mg -> 15mg -> 10mg -> 5mg (roughly every 3-4 weeks)

Stayed at 2.5mg for approx 6 weeks

As of 9 Sept 2011 off citalopram

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  • 10 years later...

Reason for starting AD

 

As we try to get off these drugs, it got me thinking and wondering why they needed to be started in the first place. Share if you’re comfortable but I was diagnosed ADD inattentive type and an Anti-depressant was prescribed for helping with commorbid Social Anxiety Disorder..in hindsight I wish I would have just continued getting by without the help of these meds because it just ended up wiping out ALL the anxious feelings, and gave me the icky feeling like I didn’t have to care about anything at all. 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added topic title before merging with existing topic

2017- Ritalin 20mg RitalinXR

Sitched to Adderall IR 10 Mg after 6 months

2018 - Started Lexapro 10 mg

2018 - increase in Adderall to 10mg x 2/day

12/20/2022 Tried to quit Lexapro and Adderall cold turkey 🤔 due to financial and insurance reasons. 

Hospitalized after 4 months. 

4/8/2022 Had to be put back on Lexapro with an increase to 20mg. (per doctor) Vitamin D. As well as reinstating the Adderall 10mg x/day 

8/2/2022 I cut back my Lexapro to 15 mg.

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Why did you start taking meds?
  • 1 month later...

So, the long story behind this is mostly covered in my intro, but to make it short(er?), I've had mental health issues for most of my life but was pretty resistant to the idea of starting antidepressants until I felt that I had no other resources available and had messed up my life so badly that I could either try medication or give up. I consider myself a "lost cause" in talk therapy because I don't seem to benefit from it and at times it made my existing problems worse, and I had several therapists who did not want to continue working with me unless I started medication. In retrospect, I think I just had it repeatedly reinforced that medication was the only way I was going to "get better" (or at least prove my willingness to work with the therapist and get better, that I was a "good" patient and being proactive about my treatment instead of being seen as non-compliant/evasive) and that no one would bother helping me if I kept irrationally refusing the thing they were prescribing that was supposed to help. The marketing was pretty relentless, starting when I was a teenager. (I recall one occasion during my first year in college when I went to the campus health center for an unrelated issue and one of the providers noticed that I had cracked skin on my knuckles and asked me if I had bulimia. I had to explain that it was just dry skin that got worse during the winter because of compulsive hand washing, and I think that was the first time I had someone recommend an SSRI for OCD, on the basis of that one random visit for something completely unrelated!) I was given a prescription in 2008 but didn't get it filled at the time; it wasn't until I was having anxiety attacks at work every day in 2012 that I felt cornered and decided I might as well.

 

It also occurred to me recently that the rationale I kept hearing for starting antidepressants follows the same logic as the lie they used to tell kids in my generation about going to college--you know, "It doesn't matter what you major in, you'll be more likely to get hired if the boss sees that you have any degree at all!" vs. therapists being more amenable to working with me if I was medicated. Well, I graduated college in the middle of a recession and went right back to working the same crummy retail jobs I had in school, and the sertraline did absolutely nothing in the long term, with or without therapy. I didn't really even have noticeable side effects (which I guess was incredibly fortunate since I'd heard so many bad things about side effects from SSRIs, and that was a big reason why I didn't want to take anything for so long). It just felt like taking a placebo for the most part, and I only really noticed anything when I missed or skipped a dose, because then I felt horrible. It was just easier to stay on it for 10 years despite still being as depressed/anxious/obsessive-compulsive as I was before the medication. But then you get the psychiatric version of someone saying "what were thinking, why did you choose to major in something useless and get a worthless degree when you could have learned a trade or learned to code or or or" ... and if I'd known that there were other options beside the one being relentlessly pushed by pretty much everyone influential in my life up to that point, then yeah, maybe I would have made better choices? Maybe not. We don't really give people a lot of guidance when they're younger. I feel like I managed to fall through every single crack in the system and people just stared at me disapprovingly on the way down, and blamed me for being stupid and clumsy and bad at following instructions.

 

Honestly, looking at the posts on here from 10+ years ago makes me wish I'd found my way to this site back in 2012 when I was thinking of starting antidepressants; it might have helped me to reconsider. Hindsight in 2022, I guess.

sertraline history

2012, May: first prescribed, 50 mg

2017, summer-fall: increased to 75 mg, then 100 mg

2021: tapered to 75 mg, tried to go lower but had too many adverse effects

2022, September 8: 50 mg

2022, October 3: 25 mg

additional drugs: Adderall, 10-15 mg, between November 2020 and October 2022; hydroxyzine, 10-20 mg PRN, since 2017; Vyvanse, 20 mg, started October 9, 2022; fexofenadine (for allergies)

supplements: B6, 100 mg; B-complex; E, 268 mg; fish oil (750 mg EPA, 250 mg DHA); lysine, 500 mg

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