Pros and Cons of Antidepressants
Last month, Rachel Griffin started the #imnotashamed hashtag on Twitter for people to talk about and try to destigmatize mental illness. Naturally, there were a handful of people who took this as an invitation to try to undermine that message.
Low libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased genital sensitivity, inorgasmia, blunted emotions. Antidepressants destroy Love. #imnotashamed
— Jayla (@jailina_) January 17, 2016
This is the example I ended up arguing with, which led to me designating a brand new subspecies of internet troll: a genital sensitivity concern troll. She asked if I was still in that relationship, what meds I was on, talked to me about how my medication usually causes emotional numbness and sexual dysfunction, and so on. Gosh, it’s nice to know that whatever else happens, some random stranger is Very Worried about whether or not my genitals are fully functional.
Well, I’ve been on Zoloft for more than three years now, and I’m happy to say that not only has it helped my life immensely, everything (with the exception of my pancreas — and that’s a totally separate issue) remains fully functional.
Too much information? Maybe. But @jailina was just so worried about all of us people on antidepressants, and whether or not our various bits still worked. She also seemed convinced that antidepressants were just a conspiracy by Big Pharma to sell drugs, and we all get depressed sometimes, and so on.
Now, she wasn’t entirely off-base. Mostly, but not entirely.
Most medications have potential side effects. For Zoloft, those side effects can include sexual problems, as well as sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, stomach pain, changes in appetite, dry mouth, and weight loss.
Sounds intimidating, eh? But so far, the only side effect I’ve run into was some dry mouth in the beginning.
Shall we compare that to the “side effects” of my untreated depression? Because those effects included oversleeping, impaired relationships with my children, impaired relationships with my wife, reduced productivity as a writer, and oh yes, a major reduction in my sex life. When I was younger, there were also effects like suicidal tendencies.
Side note: suicide also has a negative effect on your sex life.
I get the fears. What if medication turns me into an emotionally numb zombie? What if it takes away my creativity and spirit as a writer/artist?
Let’s start by busting that last myth: Depression does not make you a better writer!
The myth of the tortured artist is bullshit. Not only do you not have to be tormented and miserable to be creative, you’ll almost always be far more productive if you’re mentally and emotionally stable. I almost doubled my writing output the year after I started getting my depression under control. Every writer I’ve talked to who has a mental illness has told me they do better when that illness is managed.
As for the side effects? Tell your doctor what you’re worried about. Talk about the potential side effects and what to watch for. The first medication you try might not be the right one for you, or the dosage might need to be adjusted. It can take time to find the right treatment. If you encounter side effects, you and your doctor can adjust your medication. You’re not damned to an eternity of dizziness, dry mouth, and numb genitals.
Depression is not just a bad mood. Mental illness is not something you can overcome through stubbornness. I liken it to my diabetes. I can’t tough my way through having a nonfunctional pancreas. Trying to do so would quickly put me into a coma, and then into a grave. Likewise, stubbornness isn’t going to straighten out neurochemical imbalances in your brain.
Don’t let the genital sensitivity concern trolls scare you out of asking for help if you need it. Educate yourself, yes. Ask about side effects and treatment options. In my case, the combination of medication and talking to a therapist is what worked best.
“Antidepressants destroy love?” That’s some Jenny McCarthy-level ignorance there. 100% pure, uneducated ass-talking.
Without exception, my relationships are stronger, healthier, and more loving today than they were before I started antidepressants. (They’re not perfect, mind you. No pill can do that. But they’re so much better than before.)
Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. And getting help isn’t something to be afraid of.
February 11, 2016 @ 7:54 pm
I don’t remember what book it was, but I remember reading a book for writers that outright encouraged them not to try to cure what ails them, because without all that angst they wouldn’t be great writers.
To say the least, I was *floored*. And my review of the book might have contained a bit of a rant.
February 11, 2016 @ 7:57 pm
I’ve been on antidepressants for over half of my life now, and while I have had an up and down ride with my libido, as of right now I have a very fulfilled sex life. You know what really killed my sex drive with my exes who I had almost no sex drive with? Them pushing me into sex, and the sexual assault going on that they were doing to me.
And if your antidepressants having side affects that you can’t handle, you can always try to find a different one that can help with less issues.
It makes me sad that people are trying to talk others out of these medications that can help them. We have enough people too afraid of taking antidepressants for their problems. Let’s not make that worse.
February 11, 2016 @ 7:59 pm
I feel really sorry for your concerntroll if she thinks that sex is the main expression of love.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:01 pm
Some antidepressants, including Welbutrin, have the notable side effects of INCREASING libido.
I was recently diagnosed as bipolar II (previously diagnosed with pervasive clinical depression and anxiety disorder) and my medication is still being adjusted BUT I’m WAY more productive, better able to be a fully involved spouse and parent (and friend), and also have less days where I want to stop existing.
I have a friend who was on a medication that caused anorgasma and it was frustrating, but also kept him from killing himself (he’d been institutionalized twice before that). The side effects were bad enough he switched medications. Another friend of ours took the same medication that caused his sexual dysfunction with no problems.
I know that medication doesn’t work for everyone, but there’s this strong anti-science streak running through a lot of anti-medication stances. IE, they’re often part of the same group that is anti-vaccine & sometimes people who don’t accept germ theory.
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 8:03 pm
Thank you for that review. Because…yeah. What malicious, hurtful BS.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:03 pm
Also, there are newer meds available with far less sexual side effects.
Brintellix (vortioxetine) tends not to have sexual side effects at doses of 10mg, 15mg. Plus it has less cognitive side effects than some older antidepressants (patients in the clinical trial had their driving tested while taking it, and were safe to drive.)
There’s also Wellbutrin (bupropion), an anti-depressant prescribed for treating SSRI/SNRI-induced sexual dysfunction.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:07 pm
This site is a resource that talks about the benefits and side effects of different psych meds. It also has a forum where members encourage each other to keep trying until they find the med(s) that works best for them.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:09 pm
Went back and found my review. I think if I had written it more recently, my rant would have been less polite. (This was back from 2002, apparently. I was less sure of myself when ranting back then.)
The author insisted that ‘bipolar’ was just an unhelpful label. As someone who got the right meds due to that ‘label,’ “unhelpful” is the last thing I’d call it.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:10 pm
So… my take away from this… maybe if we ever have a time machine, someone should go back and slip someone like Poe some pills.
Y’know, see what happens.
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 8:15 pm
There are definitely examples of brilliant writers who had untreated mental illness. I always wonder how much more they might have produced if they’d had help and treatment, you know?
February 11, 2016 @ 8:33 pm
Another post in a week’s time that I’m relating to very strongly. I take four psyche meds in order to function. As a result, I write, instead of sleep or cry, or hide under the covers. Understanding pain is important in writing, but it is not useful to have an active level of it when one is trying to get something done.
Amusingly, I have used the analogy of depression/diabetes for the last 20 years or so — because diabetes is something that needs to be constantly managed and there isn’t a cure.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:34 pm
Someone who equates sex with love is demonstrating that their life is short on love.
February 11, 2016 @ 8:38 pm
How interesting that decreased libido should cause the concern troll so much….well…. Concern. because to be honest when I am depressed sex is the last thing on my mind once the anti-d’s kick in I begin functioning like a normal person who wishes to have sex. Also the side effects of many anti-d’s are very similar to the effects of depression anyway. I’d rather not want to stop the world and get off and take anti-d’s with the niggly side effects I did have, in my case restless legs!
February 11, 2016 @ 8:55 pm
I was on zoloft for a while in high school, and heard the whole range of “this will change who you are” and “what about the side effects” and “big pharma conspiracy” concern trolling. Also, people telling me my doctor should have lost her license for prescribing it to me because mentally ill people are incapable of informed consent? I don’t even.
Fun fact: antidepressants are also used to treat neurological issues that have nothing to do with mood. Like, for example, the neurological condition that has causes me crippling pain, nausea, and dizziness when left untreated. For this, my neurologist put me on double the dose of zoloft that I’d previously taken for depression. Wanna guess how many people concern-trolled me about how it was going to make me a different person, or mess up my sex life, or blunt my creativity?
As soon as I was taking it for a physical illness, it was suddenly totes a legitimate drug.
As it happens, zoloft didn’t work for me, so I’m on something else now. But whatever the condition they’re being taken for, antidepressants are an assistive device–just like my cane or your insulin pump. Ragging on assistive devices is some seriously ableist horseshit.
February 11, 2016 @ 9:08 pm
When your illness causes you to be nasty to people when you don’t think you are, to arrive when you aren’t supposed to and be absent when you are scheduled or to change your schedule because you are absolutely sure it was that way to begin with..
Or to feel that people are drugging you with illicit substances, tricking you, and going to take you away from your family and your life and you will never see them again…
Or if you go to the FBI office (“How’d you get in here? You’re supposed to have an appointment.”) absolutely sure someone is invading you by taking over your computer…
You get the idea. There’s no fun, there’s no joy, there’s no creating except to create defenses that get out of hand; you’re trapped within your own head, unable to do anything. And sex? How do you know that won’t turn into an experience of rape?
I am very grateful for the medicines I take. They rein in the extremes, allow me to sleep, keep me in perspective, allow me to be truly creative, unlock the jail of my mind, and allow me to love my friends and family again. (And tell better jokes!) And, yes, though one medicine has as a side effect reduced libido, I can tell you I have never been better at sex and libido than now.
Truly, my experience as a bipolar person is better for my medicines. They allow me to take care of myself autonomously.
February 11, 2016 @ 9:11 pm
Thanks for this, Jim. I recently started treatment for my anxiety and depression. I’ve been taking a low dose of Celexa (which has mostly quieted my anxiety) and have begun seeing a therapist. At first, there WERE some minor sexual side effects, but I discussed them with my doctor, and they’ve disappeared as my body adjusted to the medication.
After about six weeks of treatment, I suddenly found myself interested in music for the first time in almost fifteen years! At first I was worried that the medication was changing me, but my therapist assured me this was really dormant creativity emerging, and she encouraged me to buy a guitar and take up playing as a hobby. Since writing has become a career for me and no longer a hobby, I needed one… Badly. Not only that, but my son and I are learning together, giving us some much-needed bonding time.
I still have bad, gloomy days, but the treatment has helped me immensely, and I have no doubt things will continue to improve as I continue seeing my therapist. Nobody should be forced to live with mental illness, nor should they let fear stop them from feeling better.
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 9:28 pm
Framing it as a disease similar to diabetes helped me a lot. My brain clicked into, “Oh, I know how to do this.” Not a perfect analogy, but it helped.
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 9:29 pm
Sex can be an important part of relationships for a lot of people, but yeah. Her focus on sex as a shortcut for love/relationships was one of many things that were rather messed up.
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 9:32 pm
Very glad to hear things have been improving, Adam!
I’ve found that there’s no easy fix, and like you said, there are good days and bad. But suddenly there are good days again, you know? And the downs, at least for me, feel more manageable. Like the mood fluctuations are all within a healthier range, and aren’t as debilitating.
Thanks for sharing this, and I hope things continue to get better!
February 11, 2016 @ 9:37 pm
Yes – to all of this!
Plus, cute typo 🙂 – It can take time to find the write treatment
Jim C. Hines
February 11, 2016 @ 9:40 pm
D’oh! Fixing that now.
February 11, 2016 @ 9:42 pm
Most definitely. I don’t feel the crushing despair I often felt before. I’ll take gloomy over curled up under a blanket and crying any day.
I did forget to mention in my previous comment that the medication DOES make me sleepy. I’m hoping getting more regular exercise will lessen that. Time will tell.
February 11, 2016 @ 10:00 pm
I’m totally with you, Jim. I got on Prozac about one year ago and it’s been night and day. My wife frequently says she feels like she has her husband back and my kids are happier with me than ever. Before medication, I tried everything. Diet changes, exercise, therapy, and more. None of it worked sufficiently. And the only things I could really feel were crushing depression or extreme anger. It wasn’t fun for anyone, especially me.
It took some time to get the dosage right. Sure, there have been some minor side effects, but they can be dealt with. Every aspect of my life has been improved and I find I’m generally a happy person now. And I’ve written some of my best stories of my life over the past year. I was worried about “losing the creative spark” or whatever too, but nothing could be further from the truth.
February 11, 2016 @ 10:17 pm
That makes me so very very very angry.
I’ve suffered from depression, anxiety, and OCD since I was about 16 (probably younger (and the anxiety and OCD weren’t diagnosed until my 30s)). I feel like I’ve been on All The Medications and one time or another, and have settled on Zoloft as the best fit for me.
Yes, some of the earliest medications I’d been on did have many side effects, but the things I did to self-medicate were far worse. And as far as I’m concerned, being a stable and healthy human being is well-worth any amount of side effects; not being a human train wreck is pretty damned awesome.
Like you, I try to be open about my mental health issues, because I know that when I was at my worst I felt so alone–I don’t want anyone else to ever feel that alone if speaking up about what I deal with can reach even one other person. (I adore The Bloggess for this–how open she is and how she touches so many people who discover they aren’t alone.) Because I have known too many (one is too many) people who committed suicide, and if people think the side effects of anti-depressants are bad, they have no idea how long lasting and terrible are the effects of suicide those who loved the sufferer.
What I’m trying to say is that even with the earlier anti-depressants that did have some unpleasant side effects, those things were only temporary. The amount of damage I would have done to those around me had a lost control of my depression would have been permanent.
(Dear Stranger on the Internet who perhaps stumbled upon this while googling depression–please know that you know that you aren’t alone in your pain. Meds do work, and even if it takes years to find the right drug or combination of drugs for you, you can make it through the other side.)
February 11, 2016 @ 10:44 pm
nami.org has a #IAmStigmaFree campaign
Stuff like this is why I blog about my depression.
February 11, 2016 @ 11:42 pm
So nice of a random stranger who doesn’t know you or your symptoms to warn you about potential side effects you would have discussed with your doctor before deciding whether to try a prescription antidepressant. I’m sure she knows far more than your doctor does of the potential risk and benefits of every antidepressant on the market, and far more than you do about what side effects you’re willing to risk in order to lessen your depression (sarcasm here, obviously). It’s also nice (not) when people who have clearly never experienced clinical depression think it’s the same thing as having “the blues.”
February 11, 2016 @ 11:46 pm
My biggest frustration with psychiatric medication is that there’s no silver bullet. If you have a toothache, your doctor can prescribe analgesics in appropriate intensities. If you’ve just been diagnosed as bipolar, you may need to go med-hopping with your doctor in order to find something that’s both effective and has tolerable side-effects. Since they can take days to weeks to reach full efficacy, and sometimes really should be titrated off of slowly, this can take a few good months of frustration.
The thing that’s taken me far too long to realize is that you NEED to keep in touch with your doctor. It can be hard, it can be real hard when it’s hard to give a shit and that little voice is whispering that you’re worthless, but if the docs don’t know you’re still in the same place on Fuckitol as you were before you began, or that the side effects are really disrupting your life, they can’t help you. Celexa wrecked my sexual function for years, until I finally told my doctor that I was fed up with it. We switched me to a different formulation immediately, and things have been much better since.
February 11, 2016 @ 11:46 pm
Your genital sensitivity concern troll may have been a Scientologist. The Church of Scientology has been determinedly anti-psych-medicine since at least when the first SSRIs came out, and maybe before (I just didn’t hear about it before that). I’m not sure why they hate them so much — possibly because stable people are less susceptible to cult recruitment? But whatever their reasons, they have used every tactic in the book to get the things banned; and when they couldn’t do that, to convince people not to use them. I know that has included sending out members online to plant doubt in the minds of people whose social media mentions that they use, or are thinking of using, psych meds. I haven’t heard of this particular tactic from them before, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
February 12, 2016 @ 12:00 am
If only everyone thought that way. Nothing infuriates me more than people who say, “Everyone gets depressed sometimes.”
Yeah, try being depressed ALL the time. Except when you’re not. .. and you feel like your brain is going to explode and you want to crawl out of your skin. And then BAM, depressed again and you just don’t want to *be* anymore.
Let them feel that way for a few years and then they’ll know what it’s like to have an untreated mental disorder.
February 12, 2016 @ 12:03 am
“Ragging on assistive devices is some seriously ableist horseshit.”
OMG, THIS!! Thank you for this. 🙂
February 12, 2016 @ 12:05 am
All of this, yes. And the sarcasm is perfectly expressed. 😉
February 12, 2016 @ 12:38 am
Or even just what they might have produced, yeah.
Although I have the suspicion that ‘treatment’ in their time could have done as much harm as good, since things like cocaine and laudanum were considered more or less medicinal at one point or another. And alcohol in general…
Then there was something I remember hearing… which I think was attributed to Hemingway, but don’t quote me on that… but the gist was that writers are naturally sensitive souls, but men (yeah, it’s sexist) aren’t supposed to be sensitive, so that’s why writers drink…
If anyone can verify that, that would be cool. Kinda sounds like an excuse to me… at least, I hope it’s not prescriptive, because I can’t stand alcohol.
February 12, 2016 @ 1:42 am
This is it exactly, and it’s part of the kicker for me. I have monopolar depression, and part of the disease is I have absolutely zero tolerance for hassles, disappointments, and setbacks, and getting to repeated doctor’s appointments before and after work, or on my precious free days, takes soo much energy and means other things I need to do don’t get done. And I do have a very frustrating (in a manner of speaking) and embarrassing-to-discuss side effect with SSRI’s like prozac that’s a big deal to me, but doctors don’t seem to think I should mind (because I’m female, I guess).
February 12, 2016 @ 1:43 am
I work as a pharmacy tech, and I wanted to say that you can talk to your pharmacist about questions/concerns as well. It’s pretty common for a patient to mention that the doctor didn’t tell them something the pharmacist has. Doesn’t hurt to ask both!
And as others have mentioned, there are so many different antidepressants. So many. And plenty that aren’t SSRIs, either. It can be a challenge to find the right med(s), but there are options.
February 12, 2016 @ 1:49 am
Oooh, you have a good point. They’re the “psychiatry kills” people, aren’t they? I think it’s something to do with the fact that Hubbard hated the professions of psychiatry and psychology for various reasons.
February 12, 2016 @ 6:49 am
I’d bet the concerntroll is obsessed with the lyrics to “Bored in the USA” by Father John Misty: “… I can’t get off, but I can kind of deal.” Your piece here helped me to understand why that song made me so angry! For some people, being able to “kind of deal” means staying ALIVE.
February 12, 2016 @ 9:54 am
It would really help if more doctors would discuss things online. Yeah, HIPAA privacy blah blah paranoiacakes, but a) I cannot afford either the time or money to actually go into the doctor’s office, and b) talking about the problem on a cell phone in the hallway at work *is actually less private*, uh duh.
February 12, 2016 @ 9:59 am
Mostly because they refused to validate his inflated perception of himself, is what I picked up from reading Going Clear/Inside Scientology.
Craig Laurance Gidney
February 12, 2016 @ 10:37 am
1. I agree that your concerntroll might have been a Scientologist. They hate hate HATE psychiatry in general. (My father used to get ton of their info for some reason).
2. That said, everyone reacts differently to drugs and the “zombie effect” your particular side effect and not another persons’. You do have to be proactive and manage your care
3. When I addressed my own issues, I went from not writing at all for years to writing (and publishing) lots. My ability to imagine and empathize in no way diminished with SSRIs. Without them, I just had no interest in creating. I was a “zombie” *before* I went on them.
February 12, 2016 @ 10:41 am
As a medicated autistic, I go through a lot of the same things. Other autistics who think that I’m not ‘proud’ of who I am, or people who say the meds will ‘change’ me. Of course they will! That’s the point! Without the meds, I am hazy, distracted, find conversation difficult, and can’t handle people for any length of time. On the meds, I can talk, think, and stay up talking past ten p.m. without feeling traumatized by it. I can think! Why would anyone not want to be able to think clearly? Yet, so many of my friends, who are also autistic, are anti-meds. They think they won’t be the same person anymore. This confuses me greatly.
Your brain can’t function because it’s missing some chemicals, so like balancing the Ph in a pool, you add some chemicals in to fix that. Yes, that’s an oversimplification, but why is getting help bad? Why is it so hard for people to say “I can’t do everything alone’? No one expects you to redo your kitchen without a contractor, but redo your brain, well, no doctors or meds needed, it’s DIY. Nope. Sorry. I like consulting people who went to school for years and have researched the question and will listen to them over some shlump in a chatgroup.
D. D. Webb
February 12, 2016 @ 10:49 am
I’m extremely fortunate that my bipolar disorder is a mild enough manifestation of the condition that I could learn to manage it without medication. Mind you, that took me a good ten years in which I managed to accomplish nothing else but working out how to function as a mentally ill person.
Antidepressants would probably have been very good for me–probably still would–but I like in America and occupy an economic stratus whose medical options are “try to die somewhere that nobody important has to see your corpse.”
D. D. Webb
February 12, 2016 @ 10:57 am
That’s a rather terse way of putting it, but yes. When Hubbard first published Dianetics, he submitted it to the American Psychological Association for review, and they quite correctly replied that he was nonsense. That was the start of his obsessive hatred of psychologists, which has become Scientologist doctrine.
D. D. Webb
February 12, 2016 @ 11:01 am
*it was nonsense. The book, not the author. That may have been a Freudian typo.
Why I Blog, Reason #165 | Dragon Droppings
February 12, 2016 @ 11:02 am
[…] his blog, speculative fiction writer Jim Hines who also suffers from depression, talks about a concern troll he picked up recently. This random […]
February 12, 2016 @ 11:12 am
Random Michelle — I also have depression, anxiety, and OCD, which is the most disabling of my about six psyche disorders (I have the “alphabet soup” problem of having a little bit of everything, which is why I take a cocktail of medications, rather than a single one). Luckily, my self-medication beforehand was on cold remedies, of which some are related to some antidepressants, not on street drugs or alcohol. I might not be alive if I had not gone on medications. I was borderline suicidal, but probably more at risk from dangerous behavior such as trying to get out of a moving car because I was angry. Being dead is good for neither one’s creativity, nor one’s sex drive.
My doctor and I spent years getting my med balance right. I’m not great, but I’m semi-stable, and I can write and parent, and those are the two most important things to me. I ran into side-effects from various medications, which is why I’m on _different_ medications now. I think back to before I was medicated, and I don’t know how on earth I even managed to get out of bed in the morning (though there was a period of time when I didn’t). Mental illness cost me my marriage and my ability to work normally.
I have also been told that if I’m not in the hospital that there can’t be anything too wrong with me. Many people think of mental illness as the far extreme, and don’t realize that millions of people deal with it as an everyday fact, not something that requires a straightjacket.
February 12, 2016 @ 2:04 pm
People who try to tell you that you don’t *really* have a mental illness are jerks who are not worth your time. Sometimes reminding yourself of that is all you can do. I look at these people the same way I do faith healers and others who claim that magical thinking will cure whatever ails them. (I do NOT mean alternative therapies, I mean “Pray and god will help you!” or “Keep this crystal in your pocket” or Tom-Cruise-insulting-Brooke-Shields kind of crap.)
We’re NOT in the hospital (or morgue) BECAUSE we have access to medications (and therapy, and good doctors). The problem is that we can’t walk with our brains on crutches as an outward sign of something being wrong that people can see and understand.
And for many of us, talking about what is wrong is harder than pulling teeth, because we ourselves think that we should just be able to “get over it” that if we were “stronger” we wouldn’t have these problems. We don’t need strangers telling us this–our brains do a good enough job on their own. Which, of course, leads us to further silence…
So screw ’em. We’re not alone, and we don’t need their validation. 🙂
February 12, 2016 @ 5:21 pm
Even analgesics are a crap shoot, frankly. Everyone reacts differently to different meds. What knocks one person out, makes a second feel normal, isn’t even noticed by a third. Medicine isn’t an exact science; psych drugs are just messier than most. I guess because brains is complicated?
However, this waste of oxygen Jim’s highlighted can just go F right off (Both figuratively and literally, since I presume their libido is great).
February 12, 2016 @ 5:26 pm
And also b/c he was diagnosed by military shrinks as being mentally ill. Grandiose, narcissistic, paranoid, all that. People with those illnesses don’t take kindly to having those things pointed out. Didn’t stop him from popping pills endlessly himself, of course. Rules are for other people.
February 12, 2016 @ 5:26 pm
Well, yes; of course it was nonsense. He was nonsense also, though. 😉
February 12, 2016 @ 5:31 pm
I’d say the meds make you MORE you. When people are impaired by booze or illness, we say “He’s not himself”. You now can think more clearly and are happier, and you’re out there in the world. You’re able to express your core personality instead of having it repressed by other things. You’re New Improved Barrie!
I like your DIY analogy. When you consider the results of most people’s DIY attempts, they look like the concrete form of the psyche of someone who’s trying to go it alone. All messy and non-functional, whereas a pro could have gotten it right quickly.
February 12, 2016 @ 6:25 pm
^ this; I have a fairly high tolerance to certain types of analgesics which can make having a cavity worked on excruciating because it’s been known to take 3-4 shots to get me sufficiently numbed up.
All bodies are different, and all bodies react differently to medications. There is no “one size fits all” for certain things.
Hobbits! The Musical
February 12, 2016 @ 11:16 pm
Um… yeah. In NZ here – I have depression following and related to a car smash, covered under Govt. accident insurance. Rang local office re: renewed therapy, pain management, review of ADs. Her pushback was “everyone gets depressed”. Yeah, but not “everyone” needs regular self-harm checkups.
Hobbits! The Musical
February 12, 2016 @ 11:20 pm
Me again. My husband and I each worry we’re letting the other down – my zero libido is my ADs, his is a cocktail of heart disease drugs. But we love each other, we talk about it, we both think the other is a sexy hotbeast, and so what if we haven’t had sex for 2-3 years? Lots of hugs.
Hobbits! The Musical
February 12, 2016 @ 11:31 pm
I joke a lot about my depression and my meds (the chemical happy) when I’m in a good place; when I’m not, I feel stupid and worthless and I don’t treat my family well; after all, how smart can they be if they like someone like me?
my family know the difference between me OK and me not OK and always check I’ve had my meds regularly and at the right dosage.
February 13, 2016 @ 1:33 pm
I’m reminded of this commercial I just saw: https://youtu.be/cGJzPBjK67w “Hope for Depression” I started fist pumping as I watched it the first time and then I dragged my spouse over to watch it again. I’m on a combination of Zoloft and Wellbutrin since the Zoloft alone didn’t do the trick and within a month of starting, I kept realizing how much I felt like me again. It also always amuses me how so many anti-depressants seem to have side effects that could go either way: weight loss or gain, decreased sex drive or increased sex drive…. Turns out our brains are unique and react to drugs quite variably, huh!
February 13, 2016 @ 6:40 pm
If you are super depressed, not having a libido is the least of your problems. Although when I was on meds, I was a little depressed at how similar the side effects for anti depressants were to the side effects of being depressed – weight gain, loss of appetite, loss of sex drive, sleeplessness, sleepiness…
I also think that just taking antidepressants with no other interventions isn’t optimum. At least in my case, the antidepressants helped, but it was therapy and really changing how I thought about and dealt with things that got me out of a really dark place when I was in my late twenties. It also took a few rounds to find the right drug. Wellbrutin didn’t help much, but didn’t hurt my libido. Effexor made me sleep for three days straight. Prozac made me feel a little crumby, but helped me not feel like the world was collapsing on me. That and years of work with a good therapist to help me look at my problems from another angle. I’ve been off meds for eight years, and when I get depressed I find that doing on work on my thinking (through a combination of cognitive based therapy and buddhist philosophy) is what helps me not sink into depression. But the minute things get to heavy, I will happily get back on meds, libido or no.
February 13, 2016 @ 10:31 pm
Being able to joke about depression makes it *so* much easier.
When I’ve been particularly bad, I’ve joked with my friends, “I’m off the to the happy doctor. If they don’t let me out, I’ll send you secret message in morose code.”
Random political link post | Fraser Sherman's Blog
February 15, 2016 @ 6:01 pm
[…] aren’t perfect, but they do help people with serious […]
Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 7-13, 2016 | Writerly Goodness
February 16, 2016 @ 11:23 pm
[…] Jim C. Hines explores the pros and cons of antidepressants. […]
February 18, 2016 @ 11:37 am
I’ve had to stop taking a bunch of different meds because I couldn’t tolerate the side effects, and you know a cool thing about medications? If the side effects are too much, you can *stop taking them*.
It’s ridiculous that overly “concerned” people seem to think that deciding to try medication means you’re having pills forcefully shoved down your throat forever.
March 6, 2016 @ 10:20 am
I’m part of the 40% of depressed people who have what’s termed “medication resistant depression”. Now, this doesn’t mean psych meds don’t work on me – they do. I took cipramil for a while, and the rush of energy I got back at the start was wonderful – it really made me aware of how much of my energy I’d been putting into fighting through depression to appear “normal”. (I went off cipramil because it had the slight side effect of shortening the fuse on my temper… never a positive thing in a female person). I was on Zoloft for about three years, and by and large it worked… up to a point. Problem is, my brain figured out how to be depressed despite the Zoloft, and I wound up having to increase the dose (to the point where if I was taking enough Zoloft to avoid feeling depressed, I was also taking enough zoloft to negatively affect my cognitive function; or as I described it, I felt as though my whole brain was being wrapped in cotton wool).
Now, according to the biochemists, that wasn’t supposed to happen. I wasn’t supposed to become adapted to the medication, because the medication is supposed to be supplying something which is missing. But this points to the other little thing about psych meds: the method of prescription is rather hit-and-miss. There are no diagnostic tests which can be taken to determine which neurotransmitters you’re low on. All that can be done is to try you on one medication after another after another, in the hope that you’re going to find the one which fixes your problems. Given it’s a six-week period of titrating levels up in the beginning, and another six weeks of titrating levels down at the end of each trial, you’re looking at a minimum of three months between changes.
I’m glad there are so many people out there who have found the right combination of medications for them. I made the decision to come off the medication about five years ago, after yet another breakdown which wasn’t helped by the meds. I’m doing therapy, and learning how to cope with my jerk!brain in all its unmedicated glory. It seems to be working for me.
(As for sexual side effects, the medication which had the single biggest sexual side effect for me within a short time of trying it was the contraceptive pill. I took it for a week, and it killed my libido stone dead. Which, I suppose, definitely added to the contraceptive effects, but I couldn’t help but think that wasn’t meant to be the way they went about it…)
March 6, 2016 @ 12:29 pm
Megpie71 — it’s a very frustrating thing that depression is not curable. It took me I don’t know how many years to get a mix of medications that makes me partially functional. That said, I’d never dream of saying that your decision to go med free was the wrong one.
Which is, of course, Jim’s point — someone who doesn’t know you from Adam isn’t in a position to give you medical advice, especially when they probably get their information on a few things they read on the Internet and a Facebook meme or two.
Since brains differ so much, it _is_ a crapshoot, and I know others who top out on medications, making it difficult for them to get relief in that way. I’m lucky I don’t.
My best friend and I have some very similar psyche problems, and we’re both on multiple medications — different ones. We seem to have such different brain chemistry that we cannot get good out of the same medications (there is only one out of about 20 we’ve tried between the two of us that worked for us both).
Obviously, the important thing is that one not get railroaded into taking something that they’re not comfortable with, and trying to improve their conditions in whatever way does work. And unless you’re forcibly committed, or given a court order, you have the driver’s (engineer’s? keeping the metaphor going) seat, and can decide not to take something.
Which is my wordy way of agreeing with you.