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OT: When do you know you need antidepressants?

Old 09-20-2011, 06:42 PM
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OT: When do you know you need antidepressants?

When do you differentiate between going through a "slump", going through a depression tame enough to deal with through counseling, or going through something more that you need medication for?

I've always been opposed to the idea of antidepressants for myself, just because I don't want to deal with the nasty withdrawal symptoms and the idea that depressants aren't necessarily going to change my situation either just make me feel better.

But honestly, the last few weeks there have been a few instances that have been UNBEARABLE. One moment I am alright, and the next it seems like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Even though I am "alright" and share laughs with friends, etc, I don't know if I've been truly happy in a while and it seems like this tunnel is never ending. I have moments of clarity but they are just that- moments.

Any thoughts on at what point one should consider anti-depressants. When I first started going to my therapist, we both agreed that at that point it didn't seem like I needed anything, but now it seems like this animal is getting out of control.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:46 PM
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When the counseling doesn't help, then it's time to consider other options. I read someone's description of depression and it resonated with me...

True depression is when you feel you are dying, and the cure is sitting on a table on the other side of the room, but you're just too tired to get up and get it.

I've been on anti-depressants for years and I honestly believe they saved my life. I'm not telling you what you should do, but just tossing out some food for thought.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:52 PM
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If you think you might need them, you probably do. People think the meds will make them like zombies, not have emotion, always ecstatic, etc. Couldn't be further from the truth.

For me, it was a very subtle thing. I was still me, just better. Medication brought me back to normal - I've heard it described like a light being turned on in a dark room.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:54 PM
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When I spent hours every evening sitting on the floor of the bedroom playing solitaire.....
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:29 PM
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When I couldn't stop crying.
When I couldn't find a single reason that was good enough to get out of bed.
When normal everyday things like taking a shower or unloading the dishwasher felt as overwhelming as if someone had asked me to climb Mount Everest.
I believed, at that point, they saved my life.

That said...
... I do believe, in retrospect, that antidepressants without a competent counselor was disastrous. Because the antidepressants made it possible for me to survive and put up with a situation that I would otherwise have found untenable.

At this point in my life -- post-alcoholic marriage -- I would not go back on antidepressants. Not because the withdrawal symptoms of quitting were difficult (they weren't, not at all) but because I don't ever again want to medicate myself out of realizing something in my life has to change.

And that is just my 25 cents.
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:32 PM
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Not everyone who starts taking an anti-depressant continues to take them for years. They can be helpful in certain times of unique stress, such as after a death or a divorce. I know several people who used them for a period of months and was then able to handle their lives without them.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:31 PM
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For me, antidepressants have helped "rebalance" my mood, so to speak. I knew I needed help after months of having extreme sadness and moodiness that coincided with other symptoms that were atypical for me (sleeping too much, lack of appetite, and essentially withdrawing from my life). I got evaluated by a Psychiatrist that was in my HMO. She then recommended a good therapist, who through a Cognitive Behavioral approach, worked with me to address my personal issues.

Antidepressants are often used to get someone feeling well again (like any medication) and after a period of time many people are able to stop taking them. I have stopped the antidepressants and have never had a problem. If you have a good Psychiatrist or Doctor, they will guide you in how to do this to avoid having issues. While on antidepressants I have never felt "drugged" or not like "myself" on them. Rather I feel "back to normal," but it could be different for every individual or dependent on the drug you take.

Hope this helps and that you feel better soon. Hang in there!
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:43 PM
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OMG I have the same questions.

I was on antidepressants post breakup, I was able to function normally, but I also did not feel much at all either. The thing is that I had no counselor or therapist guiding me, that is essential IMHO!

I do not know the answer either but now that I have to switch therapy I will ask the new therapist. In my case I feel I can be enthusiastic and apparently live a normal life, laugh, etc but very quickly I go back to bad mood, APATHY beyond anything else, start to feel life is not worth it and scary thoughts like that.. going "what for?" as if nothing is worth the effort even if its something I enjoy.

Its as if I have to do much effort to feel great, and I wake up feeling down, even if there is no reason to, as if I am missing some serotonin or whatever...

I believe only a therapist good be able to tell what´s convenient for you, personally...
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:55 AM
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I took them for about a year as part of my own recovery.

I was working hard with a therapist, she encouraged their use and encouraged me to be without them later.

For me it actually allowed me to get over the hump of feeling bad and actually allowed me to sink deeper into myself and in my case allow me to deal with the underlying anxiety that I had been living with for so long. I had to get through that depression layer to get at what was driving the depression.

With the nuttiness of the last year I have talked with her again about anti-depressants and we have a deal, that she will let me know if she is concerned and I will do the same. My MD is on board with that and it works for me.

Just an FYI. I found out I was very Vit D deficient when everything was hitting the fan. Being low can put you at higher risk for depression and I think finding that out and getting treatment for it was really helpful. That is part of why I make sure my therapist and MD are working in conjunction for my wellbeing.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:09 AM
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I feel that antidepressents keep me out of the slumps enough to keep me out of my own despair. I can think more clearly, and not react so violently/extremely to my situations. I feel that taking my little pill every day is ME taking responsibility for MYSELF in one area that will ultimately effect the rest of my life. I've gone through periods that I have not taken them, and looking back, I can clearly see how differently I reacted to life's stressors and now wish I had stayed on them through some particularly rough times. I ended up making some decisions that I most definitely regret.

I just feel that my "happy pill" keeps me from getting confused by my "feelings" and allows me to follow my "knowing" better. Does that make sense?
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by suki44883 View Post

True depression is when you feel you are dying, and the cure is sitting on a table on the other side of the room, but you're just too tired to get up and get it.
I love that.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:52 AM
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When I was sober for 6 months, exercising 5x/week, eating healthfully, and actively working on my Recovery....but anxiety & sadness continued to weigh me down every day.

I was deeply miserable and scared on the inside, even while productive on the outside.

I've been on a medicine for 4 weeks tomorrow. I can't believe the difference already. I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

For me, my life has been like riding a bicycle with flat tires and now I have air in the tires. I'm ME minus the crushing fear.

I think I quality as a high-functioning person, just as I was a high-functioning drinker....that's my coping mechanism from an alcoholic childhood. IMO, no one should walk around as miserable and sad as I was, even if they are "getting things done."

Thank you SR and Recovery for the clarity for me to go talk to my doctor.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by frances2011 View Post
Thank you SR and Recovery for the clarity for me to go talk to my doctor.
This is so important, talking to your doctor, or getting a thorough evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

I know for me, life without antidepressants has been unbearable. I toughed it out once for 5 years without meds, and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone suffering from clinical depression.

As has already been said, many times antidepressants can be used successfully for a period of time, and then be tapered off because it was more a situational depression.

Please do talk to your doctor, hon.

Sending you hugs of support!
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:08 AM
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I actually just started them last week, for the first time.

I felt emotionally stuck, drained, obsessed with negative thoughts, lost my desire to be social (though thats been gone for a while), lack of energy, sad, etc etc.
This is how I knew that I needed a little more help. I am just so tired of feeling sad.

I am taking Zoloft. They say it takes a couple of weeks to feel the effects, but i've had no negative side effects so far, I feel more focused, I don't feel like dwelling on things so much, if I do have a sad thought, I don't lay in bed and cry about it. I don't know if this is the effect so far, but I am liking where I am headed emotionally.
I still have much work to do. But I just felt like a happy pill would help me start to get up and go a little quicker. Life can take it's toll sometimes, and we need a little help sometimes.

Either way, I did research on different anti depressants, and obviously talked to a professional and got a prescription.

Sending hugs!
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by hydrogirl View Post
When I spent hours every evening sitting on the floor of the bedroom playing solitaire.....
Wow. I did that too!
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:50 PM
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This is all really good insight! I can definitely relate to a lot of the things that have been said.

I guess I would qualify as "high functioning" too and that's where I really wonder whether or not I need the medication. Because I can do school and be around people and do things, but on the inside there is so much more turmoil and I'm finding that even though I may be laughing and smiling I don't really feel fulfilled or happy with my life. There is nothing I feel like I can sit down to at the end of the day and feel like the day was worth it for. I do the things I need to do (probably because I'm so type A that if I didn't then my world would really start falling apart), but I don't really have any motivation to do any of them. I wonder though, is this the difference between a person that needs medication + counseling and someone that just needs counseling? At this point even though I make it to each session I feel like I just barely make it there; like I can't handle all of the negative thinking and anxiety until the next one. I'm still fighting the good fight to be happy and trying to take "baby steps" but I just feel really fed up and tired of feeling like I am constantly in battle and still not having experienced any positive emotional change.

Even though I've been able to keep up with my responsibilities and social life I also have found myself sleeping a lot and CONSTANTLY feeling fatigued even after getting a full nights worth rest and eating properly. I know this was mentioned by lilamy a little bit but is this something that a lot of you have experienced as a symptom of your depression?
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:05 PM
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Just curious, but have you talked with your counselor?

I had a hard time knowing how I felt for so long that I did not realize I needed them. I was so busy "doing" that I did not know what was "normal" in terms of sleep especially.

For me extra sleep on a daily basis, struggling with self care, at times isolating, lack of motivation, and lack of focus can indicate I am feeling low.

If it goes on for a period of time I know I might be in trouble.

What is depression for me has changed over time though. I made myself pretty crazy with the back and forth in my head for a long time on if I was depressed or not, or depressed enough to need drugs.

It feels better for me to place this is more objective and capable hands (or at least get their input). My therapist has known me a long time though so I don't know how comfortable you feel yet with yours.

I do know you will figure it out.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:48 PM
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Thank you so much for posting this question.
I have been wondering myself if I should get antidepressants and reading everyone's responses is really helpful.

I'm also typically still "functioning" when I get depressed, but it tends to get worse. I first notice that I socialize less and less, then I completely isolate and only go to work/school (do what I have to), .... the problem I'm having right now is that I'm feeling so overwhelmed right now that even the things I have or should do start to be too much. College seems to be the only thing I can handle (and even that I can't really handle all that well right now) and picking up a few hrs of work here or there seems impossible right now. The other thing I noticed is that I've been having a really hard time concentrating (like I can't seem to process what I read or hear very well) and that really got me thinking that maybe it's time to do something. BUT like LifeRecovery wrote I keep going back and forth in my head on whether I am depressed or not, or if I'm depressed enough to need drugs.

I think it's similar to A's, who know they may have a problem, can see some of the consequences that result from their drinking, but still can't yet fully accept that they are A's. I remember my RAH telling me once "yes maybe I have a problem with Alcohol, but I'm not an alcoholic - I'm working, I've got an apartment, I'm not one of those people on the street thus I'm not an A and don't need treatment". I feel like I'm giving a similar response... "I may experience neg. things due to the way I feel, but it's not that bad, I'm still going to school, I'm not hospitalized, I've been worse, thus I'm not sure I'm depressed enough".

Anyways, sorry if this wasn't too helpful. I guess I just wanted to share and let you know that others out here are thinking about the same things you are thinking about.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:37 PM
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I'm finding that even though I may be laughing and smiling I don't really feel fulfilled or happy with my life.

Me too, 100%.

But I have found this to be a motivator to seek what gives me the deep experience of joy I yearn. I am starting to tap into the arts. Meditation, great books.

I mean, an antidepressant can make the bad thoughts and bad feelings go away, but it won´t give me the spiritual experience I am thirsty for, either. All I am saying (and because I took them and first they were wonderful, then I just felt like a lifeless zombie) is that there is no "One Grand Solution", perhaps you are not taking advantage of a talent you know you have, or doing what REALLY interests you.... I hope you find the answers within.. (at least that would be cheaper, LOL)

We are on the same boat.
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:06 AM
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Maybe I shouldn't post yet since I don't have time to read the whole thread. I wanted to chime in though and say that there are not typically withdrawal symptoms associated with antidepressants. Perhaps you are thinking anti-anxiety/benzos?
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