I’ve been on meds for 6-7 years to treat depression/anxiety/panic, and I’m questioning whether I should have been on them, but I’m not sure I should quit either.
I was initially diagnosed with mild to moderate depression. Upon reflection, I realized that I’d probably been depressed for 8-10 years before that (about age 12) but nobody ever realized it. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. After being on meds for awhile, I realized that I’d also been dealing with anxiety for years and didn’t know what it was. I didn’t have what I’d call a panic attack until I’d been on meds for a year or two.
So, the meds. I was on 40mg Paxil most of this time. 50-100mg Trazodone a year or two for sleeping, but it also improved my mood. .25 mg Xanax as needed, anywhere from none for months to three in a week, depending on circumstances. I switched from Paxil to 10mg Lexapro in April, and still have Xanax for emergencies.
Symptoms: In high school, when I had to write a paper, I would cycle between anxiety that kept me from working on the paper and apathy that kept me from caring about doing the paper. Somehow I got the papers done, but I wanted to kill myself because I couldn’t handle the pressure of perfectionism. (the fear of failure type)
In college I barely had to write papers (computer science major) and the perfectionism mellowed out significantly. But by senior year I became overwhelmed with things I needed to do, and felt I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the student counseling service, then the student health service, and got myself on Zoloft. That didn’t work well, so I switched to Paxil. The counselor tested me with that 20-question survey, and I had mild to moderate depression, but I was desperate and got the drugs.
During the next year or so I came to the realizations in paragraph 2. I learned what it was like to feel normal, to not freak out about problems but manage and solve them. But after graduation, I also degenerated to the point where I had no discipline or job-keeping skills. Certain people were pretty much supporting/enabling me. I wasn’t exactly lazy, but I had no motivation and couldn’t seem to accomplish things at the level of other average people, despite being an excellent student and quite intelligent. The real world was somehow too difficult for me.
The psych issue was complicated by pain that started in my hands about 8 months before I got on meds, and spread to everywhere above the hips. I’d been very tense as long as I’d been depressed, and this was the culmination. It was believed to be a repetitive strain injury, until I got the “go away” diagnosis of fibromyalgia. My primary symptoms are severe muscle tension and pain in muscles and tendons. I’d never realized I was incapable of relaxing physically. After this period of being a deadbeat, the symptoms improved and I eventually progessed to where I kept a job for 6 months.
For the past year & 1/2, I’ve been a stay-at-home-mother, gradually improving in discipline and functioning despite a very difficult & stressful family situation. I switched to Lexapro because I’d never had an orgasm in over two years of marriage (virgin before) and I’ve since come close, but haven’t achieved it. I just realized that the very slight decrease in my language skills and mental function loosely correlated with, and may be related to, starting antidepressants. (This decrease is annoying simply because I remember my previous ability.)
I also learned that Lexapro can affect appetite. I’ve had anorexia (not nervosa) for most of this time, and I struggle to maintain 10 lbs less than ideal. Since the switch, my normally poor appetite has often been abysmal. This is even more of a problem considering that when I manage to gain weight, both fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms are slightly decreased. I dream of being 10 lbs overweight.
So I have reason to get off the meds. I think I may be able to handle my life without drugs, but I’m really concerned about handling my life during withdrawal. When I don’t take the meds, I cry about everything. I also still struggle with discipline and wonder what effect quitting will have on that.
Sorry for the long post, but I think all this is relevant to the question of whether I should try to get off meds, or continue until my life is more stable and less of an emotional rollercoaster. Thanks for any advice!
Re: stop taking meds?
What’s going on right now that makes your life an emotional rollercoaster?
Are they feelings or circumstantial?
Coming off meds will more than likely *destabilize* your head.
During the withdrawl, anyway.
I can’t really advise you one way or the other: You really have to be completely sure about your decision yourself.
However, should you decide to quit taking meds. Why not try one at a time? Pick one and wean off, see how you feel. You may find it’s not necessary to get rid of all of them to feel the way you want. Talk to your doc about which one could be causing the bulk of your effects.
Re: stop taking meds?
You need to talk to a psychiatrist and a psychologist TOGETHER. As in, a tag-team affair.
With what you’ve got going on, going off meds by yourself would be like pulling the pin out of a grenade, dropping it at your feet, and wondering when it is going to go off.
Is it possible to go off of meds? Sure. Is it advisable for someone with a history of depression with adolescent onset, what sounds like a wicked case of ADD, and OCD that is manifesting as an eating disorder? Nope. You’d probably self destruct.
Now, if you worked with a competent psychologist on some hard core coping skills through behavioral therapy, you may be able to adjust your cocktail to something infinitely more liveable. Which is always the goal.
But two more things:
Fibromyalgia exists. A depression diagnosis, however, complicates it. This is because the very nature of fibro deals with nerve endings and how your brain interprets pain signals. Since depression at its core, ‘alters’ in a sense the signals your brain is receiving about emotions (and pain is an emotion) — you can see how depression, when it gets really bad could be confused for fibro, and vice versa.
Second, theoretically, you have about 8 seconds before a grenade goes off. You get more warning (usually) when you go off of meds. But CM is a pro-meds site. We don’t advocate going off without medical supervison. Especially when a person has a longstanding diagnosis. Go see your doc and work something out.
Re: stop taking meds?
What about Trazadone? You say your mood improved, why give it up? If it works…….
Re: stop taking meds?
Thanks so much for replying! I was beginning to wonder if people were ignoring me because the post was too long. I should have mentioned that I would be stopping with a doctor’s supervision; I just want advice from people who actually know how all this feels. The reason my life is emotional right now is because of circumstances, but they’ve been difficult for a few years and goodness knows when they’ll improve, so if I can be alright after withdrawal, I’d prefer it. As I said, the Xanax is only as needed and rare, so the only one I’d have to withdraw from is Lexapro.
I read a bunch of the site, and the guy who runs it says something to the effect of “Unless you’re feeling like whale dung at the bottom of the ocean, don’t do meds.” Looking back, I know I’ve never been half as screwed up emotionally as even my husband (PTSD). And I pretty much got on Paxil in the first place because *I* naively wanted to. I knew nothing about side effects or other concerns, and before I met my Beloved I had very little to compare my state to.
I was once tested for ADD by a psychologist, and she said I wasn’t high enough in enough of the categories. I believe that was several months after starting Paxil. But recently I did an ADD inventory questionnaire on the internet, at http://amenclinics.com/ac/tests/add_test1.php, and my score was really high. Is it likely that an undiagnosed ADD kid could get As from kindergarten through college? I barely had to study, so maybe that made it possible.
I reached 130 lbs at age 20 and went down to 120 around the time I started meds. Since then, I’ve hovered between. No doctor has ever really taken this seriously, probably because I’m just within what’s supposedly healthy, but the muscle tension and anxiety are better when I gain 10 lbs. The anorexia is really strange; I’ve never encountered anybody else like this. As I see it, my lack of appetite is related to two factors: gastrointestinal distress and gagging. I’ve had gastrointestinal trouble my whole life; I once made a list of about 8 different things that give me a stomachache or nausea at different times. A whole bunch of tests when I was 18 turned up nothing except maybe IBS, but I just knew how to cope with it. Eventually, I think I got the pavlovian effect of knowing that eating often causes stomach trouble, so I don’t want to eat. Also, I have a severe gag reflex, caused by being forced to eat vegetables as a kid. I didn’t just have to eat a certain amount before leaving the table, it depended on my dad’s mood, and if I complained, made faces, or smothered it with cheese, the whole family laughed and teased, and my dad often yelled, ridiculed, added more, denied the cheese, etc. His temper scared the crap out of me, but I physically had trouble choking the veggies down. I still gag if I try to eat most foods I don’t like or even new foods. When I was about 16 I figured out that if I claimed not to be hungry when there was broccoli for dinner, I could get out of this whole traumatic scene, and that may have also triggered these problems.
I distrust the diagnosis of fibro partly because supposedly I didn’t have the requisite trigger points. And everybody I talk to who’s been diagnosed with it has different symptoms. I believe there’s something wrong with all of us, but I’m betting in 20 years this will turn out to be about 5 different disorders.
The reason I got off Trazodone is because I’d start at 50, get used to it, go to 100, then 150 sometimes, then have to scale back and start over to get the effectiveness back. My mood was comparable with or without, except for during withdrawal. And I didn’t want to take anything for sleeping once I was able to sleep on my own again.
As for talking to both a psychiatrist and a psychologist, I have no insurance at the moment, so I’m limited to a free clinic. I’ll get what I can. The general doctor I saw last time was pretty good, and later I learned he was the guy who started it and is highly recommended.
Re: stop taking meds?
I should have elaborated: I wonder if the meds may be exacerbating the ADD symptoms. When I had the first test, I was looking back at my life unmedicated. The second test, I was looking back at being medicated during 1/4 of my life, and obviously when asked any question about my general state, I’d answer based on recent history.
And mania, I forgot to ask why you think I have OCD? I’ve read descriptions, and they don’t seem to apply to me. Although I am kinda perfectionist/anal-retentive, it’s not what I’d call a compulsion. I can choose not to be that way in a particular situation, like if I’m getting on somebody’s nerves.
Again, thanks for all your advice!