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Old 06-06-2017, 07:25 PM
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Antidepressants

Hi Everyone,

The post is intended for anyone who has had an alcohol or substance abuse problem, and subsequently went on antidepressants after becoming sober.

After deciding to stop using and abusing several different substances (alcohol as well), the thought has slowly begin to occur to me that I might have had been living with a low to moderate depression for a long time. I have wondered to myself whether my substance abuse has at least partially been due to self medicating, (although I know I cannot completely blame it on this). I am not trying to self-diagnose here, and I do have an appointment to see a p-doc in a couple of weeks to get a professional and objective opinion. The depression over the past month or so has often been pretty intense at times, partially due to normal post acute withdrawal, and also partially due to some external circumstances in my life.

My question is this: For those of you who ended up using antidepressants after sobering up (and assuming they helped with the depression/anxiety), do you feel that having less depression and anxiety reduced your cravings for alcohol and or drugs? I understand that ADs are not drugs used to reduce cravings in the way that Campral or naloxone might, but I am still curious if they helped at all. I don't really want to replace one pill with another, but am seriously starting to wonder if this might be in my best interest. Thanks for reading!
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:03 PM
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When I was newly sober, a bunch of us used to gather in the rooms for coffee, and we often talked about feeling depressed. "How are you?" "Oh I'm feeling a bit depressed today" was how the conversation went.

Then I met someone with real depression, and I realised I was confusing depression with self pity, and the bad feeling that comes after making selfish decisions. I came to see that my self pity was self inflicted, and I was shown how to get away from living that way. For me to medicate the effects of my behaviour, would be no different to drinking. There was no medical condition present, though I am sure I could easily have convinced a doctor of today anyway, that there was.

It is self evident that for someone with real depression, there are medical solutions, which may include medication and/or therapy, and these will treat the depression, but not the alcoholism.

The crucial thing in dealing with both alcoholism and depression is absolute honesty with the people that are helping you.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:19 PM
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I've been on sertraline (zoloft) for at least 20 yrs now and it really makes a difference in my mood, keeps me level. When I was drinking, the antiD didn't work cause the alcohol was negating the effect of the drug.

I had to be sober for a while to notice the antiD working again. I wouldn't say it helped with my cravings, but I was much less inclined to drink as I had no depression or anxiety to numb out from.

I didn't start drinking because I was depressed, I started small, then became addicted. But once I was addicted, I drank to mask the alcohol-induced depression. It was a vicious cycle.

Now I'm sober over seven yrs and still take sertraline every day. My depression is much better, and by living sober, I am not creating despair.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Gottalife View Post
When I was newly sober, a bunch of us used to gather in the rooms for coffee, and we often talked about feeling depressed. "How are you?" "Oh I'm feeling a bit depressed today" was how the conversation went.

Then I met someone with real depression, and I realised I was confusing depression with self pity, and the bad feeling that comes after making selfish decisions. I came to see that my self pity was self inflicted, and I was shown how to get away from living that way. For me to medicate the effects of my behaviour, would be no different to drinking. There was no medical condition present, though I am sure I could easily have convinced a doctor of today anyway, that there was.

It is self evident that for someone with real depression, there are medical solutions, which may include medication and/or therapy, and these will treat the depression, but not the alcoholism.

The crucial thing in dealing with both alcoholism and depression is absolute honesty with the people that are helping you.
Thanks for the reply, Gottalife.

Believe me, this is something that I struggle with. I'm referring to the thought of whether I'm just trying to fix something I've created myself by taking another pill, or whether I just need to walk through the proverbial fire, and deal with what I have to deal with on my own. I guess the thing is, when you're depressed, it is hard to be objective and to know whether you are truly experiencing clinical depression. There are certain times of the day where I do feel 'ok', but other time the thoughts and despair are pretty deep, where it's hard to get out of my own head. I would easily qualify as depressed based on some of those online questioners.. but who knows? I'd like to give it a little time to see if things begin to level out first. And I don't want to take something if I truly don't need it, but I don't want to be so stubborn as avoid taking something for years, and then one day realize I should have got on something much earlier, something that could have greatly improved my quality of life.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by least View Post
I've been on sertraline (zoloft) for at least 20 yrs now and it really makes a difference in my mood, keeps me level. When I was drinking, the antiD didn't work cause the alcohol was negating the effect of the drug.

I had to be sober for a while to notice the antiD working again. I wouldn't say it helped with my cravings, but I was much less inclined to drink as I had no depression or anxiety to numb out from.

I didn't start drinking because I was depressed, I started small, then became addicted. But once I was addicted, I drank to mask the alcohol-induced depression. It was a vicious cycle.

Now I'm sober over seven yrs and still take sertraline every day. My depression is much better, and by living sober, I am not creating despair.
Thank you for providing your experience and perspective, Least.

The way you described it is sort of what I had imagined. That is to say that there are certain times of the day where the temptation to use is greater, primarily due to me knowing it would kill some of the depression and anxiety. But I also fear that even if I was relieved of some of this depression and anxiety, there might still be that little AV in the back of my mind that would be telling me I could use just for fun. But who knows? I suppose this is something that a psychiatrist would be better equipped to address, and something I will specifically bring up at my upcoming appointment. Thanks!
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:46 PM
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When I look back I had two very definite problems - a long history of depression, and a concurrent but separate problem of alcoholism.

My experience of anti-ds when I was drinking is, not surprisingly, they didn't work that well, but I do credit them with saving my life at that period.

Prozac didn't curb my desire for booze or make me want to drink less, I'm afraid.

When I got sober I did a lot of 'work' on myself - some counselling patience and time was involved but gradually my depression resolved itself without medication.

I started on anti depressants again a few years back for nerve pain. I was 7 years or more sober then so there were no cravings to speak of anyway.

not sure my experience is that helpful, but there it is

D
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:19 AM
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I knew I had SAD before I got sober. I treated it poorly with a full spectrum light. Recently I have had news that halted my spring/summer rise out of my fug. I'm now on Sertraline and am kicking myself for not asking for a AD before.
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Old 06-07-2017, 03:08 AM
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I was drinking with using Prozak. I had so many side effects.
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Old 06-07-2017, 03:46 AM
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I have been on Wellbutrin since I got sober. I don't really notice it when I am taking it but when I lapsed it is hard to describe the flatness I would feel. I also would grapple with not being able to concentrate and having no motivation.

I was fortunate enough to work with a p-doc before and after I got sober who came from a well know rehab. I had blood work tested for neurotransmitter levels. These tests are not considered foolproof, but deficiencies combined with analysis of my daily struggles helped to understand where my deficiencies were. I am truly confident that my current protocol fits my issues. She also discovered that i have a genetic mutation, the MTHFR gene that hinders my ability to process B9 and has been linked to depression. I take a supplement that helps to correct that issue.


I consider my anti-D simply a maintenance med. I have a host of issues (auto-immune, sleep and asthma) that I tried to manage for years. I also worked with my doctor regarding supplements, including turmeric, evening primrose, magnesium, etc. I am still amazed that i am able to sleep so soundly and wake feeling so refreshed.

The way I view anti-D's is that in a perfect world we would be born with all the letters of the alphabet and I am simply missing a letter. The anti-D simply brings me back to level. I did not struggle with physical cravings in early sobriety, my biggest struggle was feeling flat. And yes, i do believe attempting to self-medicate to sleep and alleviate the pain from my auto-immune condition were contributing factors in my descent into addiction

I think depression is a very individual issue. We all have different levels of dopamine, serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine, etc, so working with a doctor is crucial. . I believe that judgement that is placed on this family of medications prevents many people from seeking help. There is a difference between situational short term and chronic depression, and the latter is often linked to anxiety as well. I am not endorsing the widespread use of any medication but I do believe that seeking help when you are suffering is important. Could I survive without it? Absolutely. But I am opposed to needlessly struggling with a diminished quality of life when help is available.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:10 AM
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I am on a drug regimen that works well for me; it is closely monitored by my psych and our honest communication is critical.

We added a mild dose of Paxil in Dec when I was definitely dealing with an encroaching depression. I am still on it and I know that it helps with mood and "evenness" based on the scary and awful experience I had when there was an accidental lapse in meds for five days. Getting back and righted took me about a week.

IMO and IME, there are lots of drugs that can help us. Finding the right one(s) is important to my recovery and I am A-OK with taking whatever I need to as long as I need to take it (them).

Take care of yourself.
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by cellardoor77 View Post

My question is this: For those of you who ended up using antidepressants after sobering up (and assuming they helped with the depression/anxiety), do you feel that having less depression and anxiety reduced your cravings for alcohol and or drugs? I understand that ADs are not drugs used to reduce cravings in the way that Campral or naloxone might, but I am still curious if they helped at all. I don't really want to replace one pill with another, but am seriously starting to wonder if this might be in my best interest. Thanks for reading!

no, the AD i was put on didnt help with the mental obsession or alcoholism . they helped with the depression.

depression is quite common amongst alcoholics and addicts. but i dont think lookin for an AD to stop the mental obsession is a good idea.
there is going to be some discomfort in early recovery- thats why its called recovery- we are recovering from thinking thats been in place for years. discomfort is a part of healing
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:33 AM
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Cellardoor,

I never was a big drinker in my younger days, but drank increasingly and problematically in midlife. I never thought I was self-medicating, but now I've come to think that's exactly what it was, for depression and anxiety. I finally reached a breaking point last fall -- breaking into tears just driving down the road -- and spoke to my doctor, who prescribed an antidepressant, not knowing about the exent of my alcohol use. Thankfully, I quit drinking -- because you are not supposed to mix the two -- and tried the medication.

It did wonders for me, and the effect on my wish to drink was almost miraculous. I had no interest in it. I stopped drinking completely for over 3 months. It was as if the antidepressant took over the role of the alcohol.. it eased my anxiety, so I didn't need the wine. I felt wonderful. The cloud started to lift and the crippling anxiety eased. I found myself laughing again.

But then, after the initial benefit of the medication, a few months in, it seemed to be working less, and -- coincidentally, how about that -- I started thinking about wine. I did a bit of mixing both, but was worried about what I was doing to myself and my liver, so I stopped taking the antidepressant and picked up the wine. I replaced a successful antidepressant with a depressant again, and went right back down the drain.

Now I realize I should instead have spoken to my doctor about increasing the dose or another option. Obviously, either way, choosing wine was not the answer. I lost another 4 or 5 months, drinking almost a bottle a day, gaining weight, losing sleep, making myself miserable.

I don't know if my decreased interest in alcohol during those few months was completely related to the antidepressant, or if it was just one part of it, but for whatever reason, it was the easiest time I had had -- up until now -- in trying to quit. It seems clear to me that I had been "self medicating" with wine for all those years.

I know this isn't the case for everybody, but sharing it for what it's worth. It might be worth a discussion with your doctor.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cellardoor77 View Post
For those of you who ended up using antidepressants after sobering up (and assuming they helped with the depression/anxiety), do you feel that having less depression and anxiety reduced your cravings for alcohol and or drugs? I understand that ADs are not drugs used to reduce cravings in the way
My depression began in my teen years but I wasn't able to get it properly diagnosed or treated until my forties. My drinking was definitely self-medication to deal with depression. Getting onto antidepressants levelled the playing field for me. I didn't care enough or have the motivation to recover before I began antidepressants. The medication gave me a fighting chance, emotionally, to recover. It didn't reduce my cravings for alcohol at all, but emotionally, I was in a much better place to manage things.
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:48 AM
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Someone mentioned earlier about using a sun lamp for SAD.

Anyone else have any experience with it (good/bad/otherwise)?
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:59 PM
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Wow, thank you to everyone for sharing! Lots of good insight here.

I realize that everyone is different, and that this is a very personal decision to be made between myself and a psychiatrist. I also understand that finding the right AD (if one is even needed), can be tricky and often take months, if not years. I will say that ideally, I would prefer to not go on one, or would at least like wait it out and see if things begin to improve on their own as I slowly get my life back together, and begin addressing the issues in my life that need to be addressed. I certainly understand that getting on an AD is not a substitute for working thorough my problems. I am not looking for a happy pill, but maybe I need assistance getting myself back on the right track. I realize that it is not going to solve my problems, or change who I am at the core. I've got to work on me, regardless.

Dee: Your answer WAS helpful. Everyone is different, and it sounds like the AD served it's purpose in your life at the time. It's nice that you were able to move on without it after doing some 'self work' and counseling.

Treerat66: Thanks for sharing. When you mention 'kicking yourself for not asking for an AD before', that is exactly what has been going through my mind. Should I try and tough it out, wait to see if things improve trough self work and the great healer of time? Or just bite the bullet and give it a shot? This is where I am going to have to leave it up to the opinion of a professional (because I don't really know right now)

Jaynie04: Flatness, lack of motivation and focus are all things that I have been experiencing, along with the typical despair or doom and gloom that many experience in post acute wd. I know wellbutrin works differently than the other SSRIs, so maybe I will bring this up to the p-doc. I had also recently been doing some research on the MTHFR mutation, and will ask the doc about possibly getting tested. I don't know much about it, but know that you are supposed to supplement with a different type of b-9 if you have the mutation. I currently take b12 in methylcobalamin form, and a multi with b-complex that has regular folic acid. I agree with what you said about not having to necessarily struggle with a diminished quality of life if their are treatment options.

August252015: I'm glad to hear that the paxil is working for you. Yes, finding the right one (or combination) is critical and sometimes tricky. I do agree that being COMPLETELY honest with your therapist/p-doc (otherwise.. what's the point?) is critical. I plan to tell them my complete history, what I've been feeling, and type of thought's that I've been having.

Tomsteve: Thanks for the reply. I wholeheartedly agree that discomfort is part of healing, and I am fully prepared (or as ready as I possibly can be right now) to go through the growing pains. I realize that an AD is not going to fix my problems, or other character issues that I need to work on. I just wonder if it will put me in a better mindset to begin dealing with those issues..

Tealily: Thanks for sharing your experience. I certainly feel like I can relate to your situation to at least some degree. For me, I'd say it was at least partially due to self medicating for reasons such as anxiety/depression, lack of motivation or self-confidence. But I'm not trying to put the blame on those issues. I realize it was also born out of carelessness, poor decision making, a general disregard for rules, selfishness, and sort of thinking I was above it all or something.. always had to do things 'my way'. I should have learned to listen to someone other than myself a long time ago. I guess what I AM saying is that I can see how an AD could help to alleviate part of the problem, but fully acknowledge that there are many other issues that need addressing.

Anna: Like several others here, I also feel (or at least wonder) if my situation is somewhat like yours. I pivot back and forth between not really caring, and lacking motivation, to feeling kind of hopeless. It's not like I am bed-ridden or can't leave the house, but I feel like much of the time I walk around in a sort of hopeless/apathetic fog, interspersed with a few good hours here or there. At the same time, it has allowed for a lot of serious introspection, and what I can only hope will evolve into change and personnel growth.

Columbus: Never tried the sun lamp, but sunshine and vitamin d definitely make a difference. I take D3, and if I miss a couple of doses or don't get any sun, I feel significantly more depressed.
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Old 06-07-2017, 03:08 PM
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I did not comment on this earlier, but I started an anti depressant about 13 years ago and it changed my life. I was not depressed but I had anger issues and it really helped.
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by thomas11 View Post
I did not comment on this earlier, but I started an anti depressant about 13 years ago and it changed my life. I was not depressed but I had anger issues and it really helped.
Thanks for mentioning this, Thomas11. Since I've stopped using, I've been prone to getting angry for pretty much no reason. And although I've definitely had some temper issues in the past, I haven't really ever considered myself an angry person. It's weird.. these days I'm almost afraid to let myself become too happy or excited, because then it's like I somehow open myself up to other more intense emotional swings. It somehow opens the door for things like anger or a deeper depression. So I end up just feeling sort of flat a lot of the time. I feel like all of the neurotransmitters are a bit out of wack right now, and it take a while before they get settled back down to baseline.
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cellardoor77 View Post
Thanks for mentioning this, Thomas11. Since I've stopped using, I've been prone to getting angry for pretty much no reason. And although I've definitely had some temper issues in the past, I haven't really ever considered myself an angry person. It's weird.. these days I'm almost afraid to let myself become too happy or excited, because then it's like I somehow open myself up to other more intense emotional swings. It somehow opens the door for things like anger or a deeper depression. So I end up just feeling sort of flat a lot of the time. I feel like all of the neurotransmitters are a bit out of wack right now, and it take a while before they get settled back down to baseline.
I can relate to what your saying (I think). It sounds like you are consciously keeping a lid on your emotions because if you allow yourself to get too happy or sad/mad things spiral out of control. I was similar. With the medication I'm on, I don't consciously keep a lid on my emotions at all, its done for me with the medication. Pretty even keel all the time and its nice knowing you can trust yourself.
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by thomas11 View Post
I can relate to what your saying (I think). It sounds like you are consciously keeping a lid on your emotions because if you allow yourself to get too happy or sad/mad things spiral out of control. I was similar. With the medication I'm on, I don't consciously keep a lid on my emotions at all, its done for me with the medication. Pretty even keel all the time and its nice knowing you can trust yourself.
Yeah, that describes it pretty well (putting a lid on emotions). I don't remember things being this way while on, or prior to using, but ever since stopping, the highs and lows have been a bit more extreme. It's like I started to notice that if I got really excited, happy or into something, I would later be more prone to more intense frustration, anger or depression. It was like jeez.. enough of this, so maybe I subconsciously made a decision to flatten myself out. Hopefully it begins to level out more with time. Good to hear the Antidepressant has been effective for you!
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cellardoor77 View Post
Thanks for the reply, Gottalife.

Believe me, this is something that I struggle with. I'm referring to the thought of whether I'm just trying to fix something I've created myself by taking another pill, or whether I just need to walk through the proverbial fire, and deal with what I have to deal with on my own. I guess the thing is, when you're depressed, it is hard to be objective and to know whether you are truly experiencing clinical depression. There are certain times of the day where I do feel 'ok', but other time the thoughts and despair are pretty deep, where it's hard to get out of my own head. I would easily qualify as depressed based on some of those online questioners.. but who knows? I'd like to give it a little time to see if things begin to level out first. And I don't want to take something if I truly don't need it, but I don't want to be so stubborn as avoid taking something for years, and then one day realize I should have got on something much earlier, something that could have greatly improved my quality of life.
HI! First of all, it's awesome that you're asking and discussing before jumping in and trying another way to numb feelings... there is actually a great way to be able to figure this out. There is something called neurotransmitter testing that doctors don't really offer or suggest for who knows Owsley what reason except probably some pharmaceutical business ****. But, if you request it, they will have to either give you the test or refer you to where it can be taken. It's saliva or urine and tests to see if your GABBA, seratonin, dopamine and Noradrenaline and a couple of others are off balance. By determining what is off balance, it's much more accurate to determine what the chemical reason is for depression, anxiety, paranoia and other things are as well as the correct kind of medication to regulate it. If your test comes back that there are no imbalances, well, you know that you have some self discovery to work on... also of the balance is off, you can get it regulated to make it easier to do the self discovery.
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