The dark side of antidepressants

depressed

This week’s article in my continuing series on depression and antidepressants will examine the physiological, psychological and social consequences of antidepressant use.

Although these drugs are generally considered to be safe by the media and amongst medical professionals and patients, a close look at the evidence suggests otherwise. Antidepressants have serious and potentially fatal adverse effects, cause potentially permanent brain damage, increase the risk of suicide and violent behavior in both children and adults, and increase the frequency and chronicity of depression. Chronic use of antidepressants also promotes dependency on drugs rather than empowering people to make positive life changes, and places a tremendous burden on healthcare systems in the U.S. and abroad – but I will discuss those issues in next week’s article.

Physiological side effects

The adverse effects of antidepressants include movement disorders, agitation, sexual dysfunction, improper bone development, improper brain development, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a variety of other lesser known problems. These are not rare events, but the most significant harm comes only after months or years of use, which leads to the false impression that antidepressants seem quite safe.

More than half of those beginning an antidepressant have one of the more common side effects (Brambilla et al. 2005).

While some side effects may not carry serious health risks, others do. Gastrointestinal bleeding can become a life-threatening condition, and improper bone development in children is a serious problem that can lead to increased skeletal problems and frequent bone fractures as they age. It has been shown that serotonin exposure in young mice impairs their brain’s cerebral development (Esaki et al. 2005), and many researchers believe that the use of SSRI medications in pregnant mothers and young children may predispose children to emotional disorders later in life (Ansorge et al. 2004).

Another problem with the side effects caused by antidepressants that is often not discussed is the likelihood that additional medications will be prescribed to control them. It is well-known that Prozac produces anxiety and agitation, so physicians often prescribe a sedative (typically a benzodiazapene) along with it. Since recent studies have shown that antidepressants cause gastrointestinal bleeding, doctors are starting to prescribe acid-inhibiting drugs such as Nexium to prevent this side effect. These drugs also inevitably cause side effects, which may lead to the prescription of even more drugs. (This is not uncommon, as I pointed out in last week’s article.)

Psychological side effects

Perhaps the best known psychological side effect of SSRIs is “amotivational syndrome”, a condition with symptoms that are clinically similar to those that develop when the frontal lobes of the brain are damaged. The syndrome is characterized by apathy, disinhibited behavior, demotivation and a personality change similar to the effects of lobotomy (Marangell et al. 2001, p.1059). All psychoactive drugs, including antidepressants, are known to blunt our emotional responses to some extent.

Clinical studies of SSRIs report that agitation is a common side effect. When Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry analyzed the admissions to their hospital’s psychiatric unit, they found that 8.1% of the patients were “found to have been admitted owing to antidepressant mania or psychosis” (Preda et al. 2001). Agitation is such a common side effect with SSRIs that the drug companies have consistently sought to hide it during clinical trials by prescribing a tranquilizer or sedative along with the antidepressant. Studies by Eli Lilly employees found that between 21% and 28% of patients taking Prozac experienced insomnia, agitation, anxiety, nervousness and restlessness, with the highest rates among people taking the highest doses (Beasley et al. 2001).

From their inception, antidepressants have been recognized as having a worrisome capacity to incite changes between episodes of depression (characterized by dysphoria, insomnia, low energy, poor concentration, reduced appetite and diminished libido) and episodes of mania (characterized by euphoria, increased activity, rapid speech, racing thoughts, diminished need for sleep, hypersexuality and diminished impulse control).

Several reports suggest that SSRIs are associated with movement disorders such as akathisia, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia (acute rigidity), dyskinesia (abnormal involuntary choreic movements) and tardive dyskiniesia (Gerber & Lynd 1998).

These movement disorders are serious enough on their own. However, what is even more alarming is the potential for akathisia to induce aggression and suicide. Akathisia, a condition of inner restlessness or severe agitation, is the most commonly occurring movement disorder associated with psychoactive drug use. Akathisia-related violence receives specific attention in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Akathisia has been shown to increase violent behavior and suicide, and antidepressants are known to cause akathisia.

Suicide

After years of foot-dragging and thousands of excess suicides, the FDA finally admitted that “two to three children out of every hundred” could be expected to develop suicidal thoughts or actions as a result of antidepressant therapy (Harris 2004). The risk of suicide events for children receiving SSRIs has been three times higher than placebo. (Healy 2005). Amazingly, no bans or restrictions have been placed on their use in children in the U.S.

While the increased risk of suicide in children has become better known, most people are unaware that a similar risk exists for adults. When adult antidepressant trials were re-analyzed to compensate for erroneous methodologies, SSRIs have consistently revealed a risk of suicide (completed or attempted) that is two to four times higher than placebo (Healy 2005).

Turning short-term suffering into long-term misery

A growing body of research supports the hypothesis that antidepressants worsen the chronicity, if not severity, of depressive features in many subjects. Antidepressant therapy is often associated with the poorest outcomes. In a large, retrospective study in the Netherlands of more than 12,000 patients, antidepressant exposure was associated with the worst long term results. 72-79% of the patients who relapsed received antidepressants during their initial episode of depression. In contrast, only one of the patients who did not relapse received no antidepressants during or following the initial episode. (Weel-Baumgarten 2000)

Longitudinal (long-term) follow-up stuides show very poor outcomes for people treated for depression in both hospital and outpatient settings, and the overall prevalence of depression is rising despite increased use of antidepressants (Moncrieff & Kirsch 2006).

Epidemiological observations have long held that most episodes of depression end after three to six months. However, almost half of all Americans treated with antidepressants have remained on medication for more than a year (Antonuccio et al. 2004).

Long-term effects of antidepressants

Antidepressants have been shown to produce long-term, and in some cases, irreversible chemical and structural changes to the body and brain.

The administration of Prozac and Paxil raises cortisol levels in human subjects (Jackson 2005, p.90). Given the fact that elevated cortisol levels are associated with depression, weight gain, immune dysfunction, and memory problems, the possibility that antidepressants may contribute to prolonged elevations in cortisol is alarming to say the least.

In a study designed to investigate the anatomic effects of serotonergenic compounds, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found that high-dose, short-term exposure to SSRIs in rats was sufficient to produce swelling and kinking in the serotonin nerve fibers (Kalia 2000). Research performed by a different group of investigators showed that antidepressants can kill neurons and cause structural changes similar to those observed in Parkinson’s in rodents.

I want to emphasize that what I’ve covered here is only the beginning of the story when it comes to the adverse effects of antidepressants. There are volumes of published research and many books which present this information with much more detail. I recommend Peter Breggin’s landmark “Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry” and Grace Jackson’s “Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs” as resources if you are interested in pursuing this further.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Helen says

    I appreciate all that is written here. Instinctively, I have not liked anti-depressants and the few times in past I went on them for anxiety, they made me panic and I hated the experience. Despite what doctors dismissing my feelings on how they made me feel, my problems didn’t amount to enough to stay on them.

    I wish i could say that was the end of it but it was not. After a major life event (one that includes a life-ending disease), I had a major bout of depression. I tried to avoid anti-depressants and certainly cannot say I was “well” but I went to counselling and I went to a stop-smoking clinic and was trying to get well despite a pretty bad prognosis I would forever have to live with. I spoke with an NHS assessor and he suggested anti-depressants and as I wasn’t well, I thought I’d try them again. Big mistake – I think anyways. I panicked badly, was shaking, not sleeping and with a whole lot of real problems, it was pretty bad. I had to get off of that prescription and move to a lesser one. Which I did but the shock of that experience stayed with me and for an already depressed person, this was an event that put my vulnerable system through h*ll and, I feel, made my journey that much harder. During those first few stages of the 1st meds and getting onto the 2nd, all stop smoking well stopped, in point of fact I went from a 4 a day smoker, who was trying to quit…to someone who cleared about 400 cigarettes in about a month’s time…while I got on one, suffered on it, left it and then “acclimated” to another.

    They say anti-depressants make you worse before better and I certainly experienced that worse. I am not sure if that worse is good for everyone. Sometimes a person cannot take that last dose of really bad.

    Beyond that, I have IBS now (fun effect after taking my ‘medication’), I have smoking related difficulties (which I know is my own fault but certainly the increase in smoking I did when I went on AD compared to an effort right up to going on them to stop smoking might have some impact as well).

    Maybe that is indicative of something really wrong with me, but obviously, I read these articles and feel a kinship with those who have not found it good and who have not seen this as the path of all good things, because my experience was not good. However, in saying that what I feel most people, especially those who are depressed, would like to see is understanding of them and their feelings – not for doctors to see them as non compos mentis as depression makes you unable to assess anything and if you state the meds are making you feel this way, they see it as you probably are stressed and that is the reason, not the meds. This article is helpful in giving that understanding to those who don’t fit the medical box. The second is that they seek hope but that is a really difficult one to get. Most articles state how difficult it is once a major depression hits to not have a relapse. Articles about anti-depressants state going on meds is your best way to not have a relapse. Articles denying that state that anti-depressants will more than likely bring about a relapse.

    So for some meds are great but for those it isn’t so great for, what is the path? I am in agreement with the general sense of the article, I am just not sure for the depressed where it leaves them if they want hope for a future without depression. What alternatives are there? Of course counselling, exercise, nutrition but major depression is some pretty bad chemicals – so I guess I think that articles such as this should give some ideas of how to deal with something this terrible so that readers who feel an affinity with your message can also feel hope and not just a dark idea that because I’ve taken these drugs, I have committed my self to future of more problems than if I hadn’t.

    Also, I think that there should be guidance with counselors to not just promote anti-depressants. Maybe there should be some guides out there that help you through a depression through a series of different methods – like nutrition, like encouraging a little exercise, like vitamins or even herbal remedies before going to the strong stuff. All the first items are, are trials to see if there are good opportunities to get well without taking something that clearly states that it is common for those taking it to become more depressed in the beginning, can be prone to suicide…these are not good for someone who is anxious and depressed.

    So for those in the health field, please read about how a patient might want to be treated and take that into account. Secondly, for the author of this article…I agree with your sentiments that medicine might not work but don’t give the message to depressed people that all venues and roads offered by doctors or ‘the professional medical members’ won’t work without proposing some hopeful and helpful alternatives. Spouting resonating feelings peppered with doom and gloom will not help depressed members reading this.

    Basically a message to all – everyone is so quick to jump on a wagon, ‘it helps me so it is perfect!’ to ‘it is sooooo damaging and may permanently damage your brain and body!’ With two fairly distinct camps, how is a depressed person supposed to sort out what is good information and what is bad? How are they supposed to seek help from polar opposites with such scary possible results? Affecting their very lives on an everyday basis! I kind of feel like there needs to be a lot more meeting in the middle to actually help this group of individuals…to acknowledge that anti-depressants do help some people – people who clearly from the comments above would have died without them. BUT also to educate medical professionals that it doesn’t work for everyone. It can sometimes make things worse. Patients with depression aren’t necessarily mentally incapable – they were capable, confident people the day before, don’t treat them otherwise. Be their advocate and guide, which may mean not going the ‘traditional’ route.

    So get out of the camps and come up with plans and solutions that help a group of individuals who need help, who need an advocate and someone who can guide them through options, pros and cons and actually listen.

  2. says

    is it harmful to take antidepressants in small doses even when you aren’t sick(my folks sort of misdiagnosed me with depression..long story)since i’m taking lamitor 100mg,imipramine 25mg,aripiprazole 15mg(1*1 per day each).What are the side-effects mostly and are they that bad?

    • Kristen says

      Yes of course, it is always harmful to take medication you do not need. You should wean off of them slowly. Taking all that medication is not good for your liver at the very least, who knows how it will affect you long term.

  3. Lo says

    If only it were as easy as clean diet, exercise, good sleep, and therapy. For those of us with complex, chronic mental illness, being told that taking better care of ourselves will fix our problems is insulting at best. To all the “drugs are bad” people — what would you say to someone who has been eating paleo for three years (gluten free for seven), in therapy for three years, has had extensive medical workups with qualified integrative doctors, works out regularly, and STILL suffers from debilitating panic attacks and OCD?

    I’m considering medications because a healthy lifestyle, frankly, is not enough for me. I need a better quality of life. Period.

    Sorry if this comes across as angry, but it’s frustrating to hear people carrying on about how a clean diet etc cures mental illness. It doesn’t. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

    • Louise says

      I really feel for you – there are 2 types of depression, life style/short term and clinical – there is such a lot more understanding these days however it is still such a complex issue and the old ideas are still prominent. Pull yourself together – other sufferers are really the only people who can truly understand . I understand your anger and frustration about attitudes I just wanted you to know that not everyone is judging you some of us are extremely sympathetic and I hope that you can find a way to ease or more hopefully settle your symptoms so that you can enjoy your life

    • tony says

      celexa saved my life. On it for one year and weaned off in two weeks. no problems getting on or off. If i did not have celexa i would have probably died . I was in terrible shape. Could not sleep a wink for months.Depressed and paranoid from the lack of sleep…Finally went to the doctor.. celexa sloved the sleeping problem and i was well in a month. Please don’t listen to what you read on the net. While on celexa I was calm , happy and excited about life and my interests. I did gain 14 pounds and sex drive was not like it was before i started. But it cured me and thankful i had it.

      • Kristen says

        If we shouldn’t listen to people’s experiences on the internet then I guess we should not listen to yours either.

        You have no right to discredit everyone else’s real experiences because yours was different.

  4. Andrew says

    Hey, is the link for this section correct:

    “Research performed by a different team of investigators demonstrated a reduction in dendritic length and dendritic spine density, and in contrast to the previous study, these changes did not reverse even after a prolonged recovery period. The results were interpreted to suggest that chronic exposure to SSRIs may arrest the normal development of neurons.”

    It takes me to this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9093188 which doesn’t seem to be the paper you are talking about.

  5. BARBARA says

    I’ve been going through some very difficult times and also have an auto immune disorder (sarcoidosis). I’ve been frustrated and it appears that I’ve been difficult to work with. I’ve just been trying to figure out what is going on. It almost seems as though the symptoms I’ve been having are ‘made up’ I’ve been asking for someone to look at my medications but it never occured to me that after reading the side affects I seem to fall into the serious adverse affects and its been going on for awhile. When I mentioned extreme fatique I was offered an rx to keep me awake, I’m already on trazadone. When I mentioned something to my pcp, she said talk to my psychiatist. I already feel stereotyped as being mental. It seems to have advanved to affecting my ability to swallow (dyspagia) which my pulminogist referred me to an ENT for my chronic cough. That led to a whole different path of testing, and neurologist. If this is all due to serious side effects that have been going long term I’m not sure how to get out of this nightmare. I’m not making this stuff up, one neurologist pretty much said my multi symptons are pretty much my own doing, or made up. I can’t just stop taking medications because I know the effects of that are not good. Should I follow throgh with a lumbar puncture to rule out neuro sarcoids or wait to see how to get out of the whole I’m in if its rx related?

  6. J.W. says

    Have you ever been so depressed you could barley get out of bed. I assure you would have a different view if you got a taste.

    I know two young adults with a bi-polar diagnosis. They followed alternative treatment for several years. Unfortunately they both took there on life. They got the idea to stop there medications from people like.

    Tell me the numbers on anti-biotics. How many people have died from them since 1950. I almost did from penicillin in 1960. Every doctor I know thinks they are over prescribed yet they keep writing scripts. Should people stop taking anti-botic?

  7. BE says

    I can attest to the dangers of these drugs. I had a bad reaction to antibiotics last year, which made me feel suicidal for the first time ever. I started to recover but made the mistake of going to the doctor who prescribed citalopram. My life is now ruined. I became 24/7 suicidal, couldn’t sleep, cowered under the duvet in terror, had sweats, jerks, twitches, got adrenaline rushes, bruises, jaw locking, nausea, couldn’t keep still. I didn’t know what was happening. I spoke to a doctor who said the drugs could make people more anxious on start up. So I carried on taking them, waiting for them to kick in, which they never did. Things got worse. I night I was almost delirious. I started to develop cognitive impairment and parts of my body were numb. I was on them a total of eight weeks, including 3 weeks titrating off. I was then put on zoloft and seroquel and got worse. My heart was beating out my chest, I got a severe tremor and I was a mess. I attempted suicide. Ended up in hospital where my doses were upped and I got even worse. No one was picking up on my adverse reaction and the psychiatrists said I had severe anxiety. I got out of hospital where I did my own research and discovered I had severe akathisia. I had been completely unable to sit or lie still EVER since starting citalopram and akathisia comes with high suicidal ideation and is a major cause of suicide. I came off the drugs. I was on them for 1-2 months before titrating off. Early march, I was off the zoloft and withdrawal hit me hard. As well as the ongoing suicidal ideation and akathisia which I STILL have, I have frequent brain zaps, severe exhaustion, major crying spells (never had these before), blurred vision, double vision, dizziness, sweats, trouble focusing my eyes, trouble moving my eyes, memory issues, cognitive impairment, loss of feelings and inability to function. I’m mostly bedbound. I tried going back on the zoloft at a low dose to mop up withdrawal which helped a little but made the severe side effects worse so I came off again and got even worse withdrawal. Not a day goes by when I don’t wish I hadn’t gone to the doctor. I know I would have recovered by now without the drugs because I was recovering. This is all because I reacted to antibiotics. Before this, I was really happy and had a great life. Now every minute of every day is complete torture. Every day I wish I was dead. I never wanted to die before. I don’t get any relief at all, EVER, from these feelings. I’ve tried everything to help myself and nothing has worked because my brain is broken. Sorry this is such a strong post but I wanted to highlight the dangers of these mind destroying drugs in sensitive people. Think twice before taking pills and see if there is another way to work through things.

  8. Anna says

    Thank you for this article, dr. Cresser. I would be interested to know your views on how to come off an antidepressant that you have used for over 20 years and how to boost you brain function with natural alternatives.

  9. Esther says

    I believe that communing with God for a wonderful spiritual experience every morning can heal so much. God is so good.

  10. CG says

    ​I’m miserable, and it’s all because I took the drug Celexa; I believe that it did permanent damage to me. After only three days of taking the drug, I was thrown into a panicked crisis that felt like a stroke. I’ve read online that SSRIs can cause brain bleeds and/or permanent brain damage. I immediately lost perception of things, I was thrown off balance as if my equilibrium was damaged because I couldn’t even walk straight for a long time (and still can’t to a point), I had slurred speech, I lost short and long term memory right away (I couldn’t even remember my own phone number), It’s like I had (and still have) amnesia, because I don’t recognize the world as I used to. It’s like I forgot everything that I was ever taught and lost the memory of everything I’ve ever experienced.

    Every day is horrible, I’m suicidally depressed to say the least, but I sure as hell don’t function normally, mentally or physically. I don’t have any kind of emotional responses to anything or anyone anymore; in other words I cannot feel emotion of any kind; if I feel anything at all, it’s obsessive misery and paranoia; I can’t feel any kind of good emotion, nothing ever feels good anymore; and it’s been this way ever since I took Celexa.​ ​ ​​When I try to move my body or exercise, it’s like lifting a three hundred​ ​ pound gorilla; I can’t walk up stairs or even walk around the block without my legs getting extremely tired and painful.

    ​​I’ve had therapy and been on every kind of medication available with no relief. I’ve been deteriorating ever since I took Celexa, and haven’t made any progress naturally or chemically since, so I don’t see myself ever making any kind of progress in the future. Nothing seems to work, and I just can’t take it anymore

  11. Dee says

    Hi there
    This is a very interesting topic and one that drug companies will not be happy with. Side effects of anti-depressants are not being researched. Why? Who funds research? Hmmmmm…. the ones who make money on drugs perhaps? Don’t get me started. :)
    Anyway, 12 years ago, I was put on an anti-depressant which I came to know afterwards was nicknamed “The suicide drug” by some friends in Ireland. I persevered through 9 months on this medication feeling a lot more suicidal than the depression was offering and also struggling with continuous sweating… perspiration is not a strong enough word so forgive my direct speech. Being an avid gardener and never having issues with really bad sweating in cooler Ireland, after I started these drugs, I began to have perspiration soaking my head and even dripping off my nose with the lightest of tasks. I was feeling so low at one point that I made my way to casualty to have an African psychiatrist tell me “Pick yourself up, you have a Masters degree. A lot of people are worse off than you.” My doctor at the time suggested I come off this medication but refused to acknowledge that loss of so much fluid in the body was a side effect. It was not in his MIMS so therefore not possible. I decided to check the pamphlet in the package (more detailed than the doctor’s MIMS I discovered) and there it was listed as a possible side effect. Coming off was hard and I could hardly make it down the stairs with dizziness. I phoned my doctor who told me the dizziness was all “in my head” and that “if you think you will be dizzy, you will feel dizzy.” This was BS and the last thing a doctor should say to a depressed person. Especially a doctor who didn’t know me and who had only seen me twice in one year. I boldly stood up to this “drug company pimp” and told him “Doctor, I am not anticipating this dizziness, I AM DIZZY and nearly falling down the stairs.” He then told me about an inner ear infection that was going around. Where? 150km away from where I was living and I told him so. That was the last encounter with that doctor and I decided to push through.
    A friend recommended a fantastic doctor to me and on our first consultancy he kept me in the office for an hour.. not a quick 5 minutes for €50. He listened and heard me. He realised I was closer than ever to ending things and got me started on another anti-depressant. This helped pull me back from the edge but also too having a member of the medical profession treat me with respect and dignity, giving me his mobile number in case the drug initially heightened suicidal ideation, was immense. The drug did help at that time but within a few months, I could hardly drive or walk with knee pain. I did not read the leaflet inside the box as there are so many side effects, to me, ignorance was bliss. I persevered through this medication for a year but noticing a sharpness in my personality and a lessening anger filter than what was naturally me. I was noticing a change in my personality that I didn’t like and said things to people that I deeply regretted after, which then heightened self-loathing and depression. I didn’t link the joint pain with the meds at the time but now, 7 years on, I am almost debilitated with arthritic pain in knees, hands, ankle and back. This has probably not been researched as it would affect the colossal sale of SSRIs but I am almost sure that this early onset of arthritis is linked with a number of years of too little moisture in my body, which when you think about it affects synovial fluid in the joints, cartilage, and joint health??? I am not a medical person but does this not make sense?? Anyone out there understand what I am going through. 35 years old and too young to have the body of a 70 year old. None of my siblings, my twin sister included have this problem.
    Really seeking help for this. Reluctant to consult a doctor and would rather try natural, nutritional remedies. Dee

    • CG says

      It’s all in your head, right? I hate it when they say that. No it’s not purely psychological, it’s a real problem that is actually happening. Of course, no doctor can actually know what you’re experiencing unless they went through the same thing… there’s a major lack of doctors who can actually help people with these kinds of problems, we just don’t have the technology or know-how to deal with this shit, It’s fucking sad.

  12. Dewayne says

    I want to jump in here. 2 stories. First, my now ex wife’s. June 19, 2012 she started taking 20mg of Citalopram for CHEST PAINS! Dr. didn’t even order any tests, she said “I think it’s work anxiety, take these for a few months and see if it subsides” Wife of 11 years, best friend, lover, mother of my 2 yo daughter. Most beautiful, kind and sincere person in the world…. changed inside of 3 months of this medication. She was now lying, cheating, drinking and doing the “party life”. Midlife crisis? No, don’t think so. Drinking and partying came after her personality changed. Before the divorce she tells me “Baby, I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I’ve done these things or why I continue to do them. It’s like I have a split personality… I’m so scared, baby. I don’t want to lose you or my family” .. literally 5 min’s later, she retracted that conversation and was back to being a cold hearted monster. I literally saw the brain struggling with the personality.

    You nay-sayer’s will NEVER.. and I mean NEVER convince me that it wasn’t the medicine!

    During my divorce. I was struggling hard to deal with this sudden change in my wife / life… I’d started taking Citalopram myself, unaware at this time it was the meds. one night, I decided to drive my boss’ truck into a guard railing and into a ditch, trying to “end my suffering” I remembered feeling immediately afterwards “WTF am I doing?” I had a 2yo daughter at the time, and I’d never have considered suicide before, even during this mess.

    So please, spare me all your b/s some of you are spewing about the AD’s being great. It’s called medication spellbinding. And they work differently on each person. So many people THINK they’re doing so much better but if you were to ask their friends and family, they’d say otherwise! No, not on all cases, but too many for it to still be in use!!

  13. verjon says

    I’ve been reading the article AND the comments. Every person is different! Chemicals affect different people in different ways. Some of us benefit from the use of drugs. I believe we would all be better off without them, IF that were possible. Who wants to take a med if they don’t need it, except a drug addict? I think drugs are over prescribed, especially anti-depressants. It seems to be the “cure all,” even prescribed for pain treatment. WOW! I’ve been taking anti-depressants most of my life, every kind out there. That’s a long time. I know I now have MANY side affects from using them!!! IF you feel they are helping you, that’s great. IF you are not sure, that’s another story. Proceed with caution and TRY to keep informed. AND REMEMBER-drug companies, hospitals, and even doctors are in business to make $$$. In life, there are NO INSTANT FIXES. Be careful what you put in your body, you can’t get in there and walk around to see what it’s doing to you.

  14. Cat says

    I am a long, long term user of psych meds – mostly antidepressants and I am sure one of the reasons I ended up on SSDI was not due to depression, but the longer term effects of being shuffled off of one drug and on to the next, being led to believe I needed this treatment for the rest of my life. At age 46, I finally hit the end of the road with it all. None of them worked and ones I had tried before now caused raging mania and suicidal feelings that were intensified beyond the usual. I had a very stupid psychiatrist who had me on Cymbalta, Adderall, Tramadol (because I have a chronic pain condition), and filled out the form so I could be legal medical marijuana user. My life went from bad to worse about three years after the cymbalta and adderall especially. I took a year to get off all of these things, except for a low dose of Tramadol for chronic pain and I know I have a long way to go, but I am already starting to feel like I can handle the depression better now. I am still having some bad days where my brain just goes numb and I can’t take in anymore input or think through anything. I also developed more severe depression and more severe SAD as a result of the meds especially. The cannabis came later, but that was another bad idea looking back on it all and I began overusing it to make up for the lack of mental energy I had on these medications. I don’t know if I will ever be the same, but I am working on a good yoga and meditation program and supplements such as Niacin, in particular. I don’t know if I will ever be a fully functioning adult, but I am doing my best and it’s still not good enough after a year of getting off these things, but I have heard from others that it often took two full years before some neruplacticity really kicked in.

  15. am blore says

    Its amazing to know that 1 out of 10 above the age of 12 in the US is on some anti-depressants. goes to show how pharmas are ruling. how can you vote them down when they are part of you?

  16. Sean says

    Never ever ever take sertraline. It is a dangerous medication that nearly cost me my life. In me, it induced a psychotic episode that cost thousands in losses to college. It cost me family, friends, and nearly my freedom. After patiently suffering through the consequences of my poor decision to seek help from quacks, I’m doing well. Everyday things get a little better. Some days I even feel like the strong confident person that I’ve known most of my life.

    If you feel like garbage for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and take a break from whatever is causing you grief. Say no to ZOLOFT……. IT S-U-C-K-S

  17. Jax says

    Hi everyone,

    I was put on 75 mg of Dothiepin 5 years ago for migraines, I never had depression. Before Xmas I decided to come off the medication because of the weight I have gained and I had started a new epilepsy drug for migraines which seemed to be doing more than the Dothep. I am also on tamoxifen which does help with losing weight, so I told my Neurologist this who did not seemed pleased or even understand but he gave me a script for the 25mg so I could taper the medication. Well I thought I was doing really well with the tapering started at Xmas got to this last of two 37.5 and rest 25mg and then it started last weekend. At first I was happy because I could feel the sugar kick need had gone, and then it was down hill. I’ve had terrible crying sessions, insomnia, lack of appetite, agitation and am always having paranoid thoughts. My family are worried, I’ve scared my best friend off who’s got her emotional stresses and can’t deal with me. I’ve upped my dosage the last 2 days back to 75 because I’m can’t cope with being like this, I will try see my GP but by time I get an appointment I will be fixed. I am a Nurse and this has scared the s#⃣#⃣#⃣ out of me, I truly do have a new empathy for people who have depression now which I never understood before.

  18. Northern_Guy says

    I was on Celexa (Citalopram) for about 4 years then was switched to Cipralex (Escitalopram) for about 3 more years. I think this drug caused me to be less motivated over-all, and blunted out a lot of emotions. I found that I craved sweets a lot, and it was very hard not to overeat at mealtime. As a male, sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction was a problem, and the worse it got the more I tried to overcome it. This lead to me having sex more frequently with more partners while using condoms less often because of the perceived lack of sensitivity and sexual response. Thankfully, I did not get any STDs or get anyone pregnant.

    When I quit, I had a pretty significant withdrawal but it was managable because I tapered over a period of MONTHS (not weeks) and I gradually reduced the dosage. First thing I noticed is weight fell off (about 25 pounds without diet changes or exercise). I got my sex performance back – hooray! I also regained the ability to feel full after a reasonable amount of food was ingested. I think this, combined with restoration of my metabolic rate, was the reason for the weight loss.

    I got off this drug on the advice of a psychiatrist, who then diagnosed me as not “clinically depressed” per se, but cyclothymic with an underlying anxiety disorder (and some OCD/OCPD stuff going on too…). He gave me lamotrigine as a mood stabilizer and imipramine for anxiety. I am on a much more even keel on these medications and my anxiety attacks rarely, if ever, happen and when they do happen they are not the end of the world.

    I wonder sometimes: how many people who go on anti-depressants are doing the basics first? Basics like eating right, getting enough rest, exercising regularly and abstaining from street drugs and/or alcohol? Add to that talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy or support groups?

    How many times do people go to a family MD and he says “Check, check, check, check” down the depression checklist and then hand out a prescription without any additional knowledge of the patients history or lifestyle?

    Someone who abuses drugs/alcohol, smokes, stays inside with the curtains drawn, has no sleep schedule, has a bad diet… this person WILL become depressed. Someone who is going through a divorce, or a major loss, or job change or relationships change or change in health… this too can cause “depression”.

    The first person needs a major lifestyle change and possibly therapy to figure out what is motivating such poor self treatment. The second person needs support in the form of reaching out to friends and groups and mental health professionals.

    Until these methods are tried, why put either person on a drug that will cause lethargy, restlnessness/anxiety, weight gain, metabolic changes, cholesterol increase, sexual dysfunction… the list goes on.

    Poison was the cure?

    Let’s rethink this.

    • Kristen says

      No offense dude but all you did was swap medications…and diagnoses…the point is that the drugs are not good for you period. Any of them.

  19. Laura Parker says

    On the surface of it this is an interesting article. However… lots of problems and a lack of evidence underpinning it.

    1) Many of the side effects you mention (akathisia, increased anxiety) are known short term commencement effects which typically diminish after around 3 weeks of treatment. You imply they are common permanent side-effects.

    2) You mention that people who have been treated with antidepressant medications have poorer prognoses long-term. What is your control group?? Of course people with depression have poorer prognoses than people without depression. Did it not occur to you that people with the most severe depression (and poorer prognoses on account of their illness) are the most likely to have been prescribed antidepressants? Correlation is not causation.

    3) you say that antidepressants can cause rapid swings between depressed and manic states. It is true that SSRIs can worsen bipolar or cause rapid cycling. Consequently they are not usually recommended for bipolar patients. Mood stabilisers are usually used instead.

    5) What evidence do you have of mass, long-term concurrent prescribing of benzodiazepines with antidepressants? Short-term to help people over the initial commencement effects, maybe, but not long-term. Certainly not in the UK in any case.

    6) Increased suicidality. It is true that drug companies acted criminally when they hid the increased risk of suicidality in the early weeks of taking SSRI and other antidepressant drugs. However, please show us the evidence that long-term treatment with antidepressants actively causes more suicidality. Surely long-term treatment is more likely in cases that were initially severe to start with and inherently carried a higher risk of suicidal behaviour? Again, there is a massive failure to differentiate in your article between correlation and causality. And poor outcomes for those treated in inpatient settings you say? Well, is that really a surprise?! How can you imply this is anything necessarily to do with the drugs? It could just as well be because they are the most severely ill cohort.

  20. JH says

    I type this from my bed on a day when I feel like I can go on no more. Having been put on paroxetine in 98 at the age of 24 (diagnosed panic attacks/disorder) I thought it was a wonder drug, purely benevolent, that would simply end my panic and let me get on with me life. To a certain extent it did. I started on a new career and for a while things went well. However after a period of time I started to notice the bad sides. Weight gain, apathy, lack of interest in sex. These issues started to affect my already battered and bruised self esteem and so I tried to come off the drugs and see if I was “better”. Obviously the tapered withdrawal each time was hellish. I did it all on my home with no help or guidance from docs and suffered in silence whilst my friends and family most probably thought I was just moody and anti social. Every time however the panic symptoms would return and I’d accept defeat and go back on. I should point out my dose was 20mg a day, reduced to 10mg over the long term. In 2004, after 10 year on the drug I was offered Citalopram as it was supposed to be easier to come off. I switched over and things were pretty similar with no huge differences. However, after around 6 months on the drug I started to notice a need to twitch my fingers and toes. It wasn’t much at first but it soon became quite uncomfortable and awkward. It also started to hit my self confidence even more. I went to see the doctor about this and the first thing she suggested was Tardive Dyskenisia from being on SSRIs for so long. She suggested I try a different one again. I did and it made me feel even worse so back to citalopram I went. I saw a Neurologist and he seemed to think, despite my protestations, that it was “just me'” and I should deal with it. I knew it wasn’t “just me”. The tics slowly became worse and now are all over my body including my shoulders, face, tongue and eyes. I spend my life trying to hide them and am in constant distress and pain. I have spent a small fortune (talking thousands of pounds) on supplements and alternative treatments as well as other psychiatrists and psychologists. I suffer from severe headaches and crippling muscle aches. I am now off the ssris and drug free (apart from constant pain killers) and have been for 18 months now but the symptoms are as bad as ever and show no sign of easing. I went to see the same neuro that I saw all those years ago recently and he said with a jolly face “oh yes I remember you “. I reminded him about the tics that were “just me” and how they had now ravaged my entire body. He rather nonchalantly said they were in all likelihood down to the Ssri use. So now I’m stuck. Doctors can’t help, I also seem to have developed OCD symptoms where I worry I will harm others ( I wouldn’t have a flea!) so it feels like my life is in freefall. My wife doesn’t want to know, my family don’t know, my friends don’t know and obviously I shield my two young daughters from it. In fact if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I’d still be here. The pain and distress is just too much and has been for far too long. I don’t know what to expect from writing this but I honestly don’t think I can get up today and go to work as normal, it feels like I’ve reached the end, so for some reason I thought it might help to write it down.

    • Sarah L says

      JH,
      I don’t know if you profess any faith, but I’m glad you wrote what you did. I don’t know what my prayers for you are worth to you, but I have to believe they’ll make a difference somehow. Only God knows perfectly all that you’ve been going through, and I know from my own experience that doctors (including neurologists) are little or no help when it comes to withdrawing from and recovering from SSRIs. I’ve never had to deal with tardive dyskinesia, though I did have akathisia, especially during the tapering periods that were even just a little too fast-paced. I took Celexa (citalopram) only for a few weeks, before my doctor switched me to Lexapro (escitalopram), because the former made me nauseated all the time. Before Celexa, I had tried Effexor XR (venlafaxine; first) and Zoloft (sertraline; second). I took Lexapro for only two and a half years, though, and while I thought at first it was helping some, the side-effects nullified any perceived benefit to taking them.
      I wish I could say with certainty that your physical symptoms will fade with time, but I don’t know that they will. All I can say is that my heart aches for you and for your family, and I’ll be praying for you. I have four kids here at home, and while under the influence of Lexapro, I actually attacked my oldest, who remembers and understandably resents me for it. He also remembers knocking on our bedroom door and calling for me but only hearing my screams. I don’t remember that, though it was probably during one of my unsuccessful tapering periods.
      Please don’t give up. I remember finding it easy to believe that my husband and my kids would be better off with me dead. I didn’t really want to die, though, and I didn’t want to leave my kids without their mom.
      The only One who helped me out of that hell, and Who continues to help me one day at a time even now, is Jesus. I hope you will draw nearer to Him and entrust yourself to Him. No guarantees that life will get easier, but He won’t allow you to suffer more than He can help you handle. May God help, bless and protect you, your wife and your precious kids.
      May God help us all.

    • zoe says

      JH
      I’m praying for you in this difficult time. Know that you have a Creator/Higher Power that loves you immensely and only wants the best for you ultimately in life. I’ve learned that when I came to points when I said “Okay, that’s it! Are you kidding me God! I’m out of here.”. The response to me (from God through many means/methods if one is really “listening”) was “your life is not your own, but a gift for learning and growing”. So, I reconciled that I would not go where I was not invited yet, if you know what I mean. If you can hold on through the pain and be comforted knowing that God/HigherPower/Universe/Your Creator is all loving and loves you deeply, like no earthly being can. Praying for you, CSC

      • JH says

        Zoe, Sarah

        Thanks so much for your response. It means a lot to know other people are somewhere out there thinking of me. I don’t have any faith but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the sentiment and maybe somehow it will help keep me strong. Happy to share personal emails, if there is a secure way of doing this on this site, if anybody would like a personal email confidante that both parties can lean on for support. I made it through today in the end so will keep going….

        • Sarah L says

          Hang in there, JH. It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing, and I’ll keep praying for you–soul, mind and body–and for all your family. God bless and help you today and each day after.

        • zoe says

          Hi JH, Ditto Sarah’s comment and I’ll keep you in my prayers for God to bring extra blessings into your life and peace of mind. Understood as to having “no faith” as I was there at one time as well..but just to share my experience (as I have in earlier posts), my spiritual journey was the key that unlocked the door to healing my mental pain. Years of psychology/therapy were helpful but at the end I thought, okay is that it…because that is NOT enough for me….eventually starting on a spiritual quest. Once I started investigating spiritual paths and actually experimenting with prayer I was amazed to see unbelievable “coincidences” and serendipitous events and as my faith in a Higher Power increased I have seen more amazing “signs” over the years. When we cannot love ourselves and can find no human help I discovered that God/Universe/Source/Higher Power is there if you seek to find. My motto now is Pain equals Spiritual Gain(or Knowledge). I’ve learned that Love is the most important thing in this life: love of self/others/Higher Power. Keep striving and focus on positive thoughts as others are praying for you. CSC

    • Northern_Guy says

      I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my adult life… and I’ve been down the road a few times with the wrong drugs. Here are some harmless lifestyle things you can try that will definately not hurt and probably only help.

      1. Drink more water. Sounds silly because it’s so easy, but my brain does seem to get quirky when I am dehydrated. Carry a water bottle to work and when you go out.
      2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants, including drugs containing pseudoephedrine.
      3. Exercise as often and as regularly as you can. Brisk walks are great – if you can add some weight training even better.
      4. Cut back as much as you can on salt. Watch all package labels for sodium content. Prepared soups, instant noodles – anything that is processed – can have insane amounts of salt.
      5. Increase intake of fresh vegetables – especially green leafy stuff. If you like spinach, have a spinach salad with every meal.
      6. Eat less fatty food, burgers, fried foods, and red meat. Eat more chicken, fish and pork. Steamed or broiled fish is the healthiest protein source for me that I also happen to love.
      7. Sleep as consistently as you can. Get to know your circadian rhythm. My best sleep (for me) is when I sleep in 90 minute chunks – so 6, 7.5 or 9 hours. Not 7 or 8. If I get up in the wrong part of my cleep cycle, I am wrecked for the whole day.
      8. Snore? Get a sleep study done. If you have sleep apnea it’s a big stressor on your mind and body.
      9. Find something that you enjoy doing that is soothing or relaxing and set a time to do that once or twice per week. Reading something inspiring or light hearted, meditation, listen to music, journalling – anything that helps you get a sense of peace or wellbeing.
      10. Reach out as much as you can. Play with your kids, be playful with your spouse… try as much as you can to not brood and make a decision to say something funny, or ask for a hug, or start a sentence with “Hey, why don’t we all…..” (get in the car and go for iced cream, go to that great pizza place, go watch the fireworks display…) A big part of the battle is you get depressed which makes you want to do less which makes you more depressed. Then you depress the people around you and they can start avoiding you. (They might be ‘giving you your space’ or they’re avoiding you for their own self preservation!)

      There. Ten things that are simple. They won’t hurt, but they might make you feel better. They may not alleviate all of your symptoms – maybe some. In any case, if you do all that you WILL be stronger and feel better and that will also change how you are able to deal with (and tolerate) any remaining symptoms.

      Sometimes if we can’t “fix” what the main culprit is, we have to strengthen ourselves in other areas. We need to treat “the entire human” better and not just try and find “medicine for a sickness”.

      That’s my current view – taking a more wholistic approach to life and health.

  21. Pamela says

    Finding this blog post has been so helpful for me – and the comments as well – thank you. I have been on Luvox for about a month and have severe stomach pain, muscle rigidity, insomnia, headaches, and nausea. Most side affects i can live with, but i feel awful and the pain in my stomach and esophagus is so bad that I can hardly get through the day and the nights are worse. I think physicians and psychiatrists prescribe ssri’s too quickly, without enough evidence. I need to get off of these and get my life back. Wait- my life was covered by a dark veil of depression….crap. Can we say “rock and a hard place”? I don’t know what to do anymore and feel like I’m losing my sanity. :-(

    • Sarah L says

      Doctors and psychiatrists definitely prescribe SSRIs (among other psycho-active drugs) too quickly, but then most of them are paid to do so. And most of them really have no clue what it’s like to live under the influence of these drugs.
      I hope your doctor will at least help you taper off Luvox as slowly as necessary. These drugs take hold even when you’ve only been taking them for a few weeks, though many doctors seem surprised by that.
      It sounds as though your life would be better without Luvox or any drug that supposedly deals with a “chemical imbalance”–but that actually causes one, instead.
      I wish I could say withdrawal will be easy and that you’ll feel better afterward, but I honestly don’t know what you’re dealing with on top of what the drug has been doing to your body. I’ve never been suicidal, but the psychiatrist I was talking to told me, after a few vague questionnaires, that my depression and anxiety were “off the charts” and needed to be dealt with.
      But they really had no clue what was going on in my head or in my heart, and the drugs only made it harder to get to the bottom of what was bothering me. It made it harder to care about what was the real reason for my anxiety and social withdrawal. It made it hard to care about anything–other than my growing fears about being a danger to my kids when I was alone with them.
      I hope you can be free of Luvox before anything worse happens and before it lands you in the hospital with damage to your stomach and esophagus. May God bless and help you and your family. You are in my prayers.

    • JH says

      Hi Pam. Just wanted to say I completely empathise with your “rock and a hard place”. It’s just unbearable. I hope you find the strength and support that you need and deserve.

      JH

  22. zoe says

    Chris, et al.,
    I thought this was interesting in light of the subject of this article. Did you know that in 2010 the FAA changed their long-held policy of banning commercial airline pilots who take antidepressants from flying? Pilots suffering from depression are allowed to fly commercial jets if they take one of only four antidepressants; Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac (the most activating/stimulating of this drug class as opposed to the more tranquilizing). This is an accident in the making in my opinion. See article below
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/04/02/pilots.depression/
    CSC

  23. Jane says

    Hi,

    I identify with so much of what has been said.

    I wondered if anyone could offer any hope, or advice for me. I went on Strattera for a mere year but the effects since coming off it have been devastating. I stopped taking it 5 months ago, suddenly on the psychiatrist’s advice after I suffered memory impairment akin to Alzheimer’s (very severe- couldn’t remember best friends name or would see a film and an hour later not have a clue what I’d seen). It has been 5 months since then. Some problems have ameliorated to an extent while others painfully persist.

    What I want to know, is if other people have experienced this and got better. People often post on sites like this when things are terrible and don’t return with good news when things heal. Has anyone been on these terrible medicines, had terrible cognitive problems which the brain has amazingly managed to heal?

    Where I am-

    -Word Recall: initially expressing myself was almost impossible but I’d say, though I often forget words, I’m about 80% normal now.

    -Names and short term memory- terrible. About 40% what it was. Possibly seen a 5% improvement in 5 months.

    – Logic and general cognitive function- extremely bad. I make many mistakes at work because I’m so illogical and chaotic in my thinking. I also forget crucial elements of a task or events that have happened. I’ll be holding something and have no idea of how I got it for example. I’m functioning generally at half the level I used to.
    Decision making- terrible because I’m only ever furnished with half the facts by my brain. I struggle to cognitively prioritise information in an ordinary way.

    In some ways I would honestly say I’m mentally retarded. It’s terrifying as I was a straight A, Oxbridge student and now, in my 30s, as a result of a year on a medication, I’m almost retarded in areas of my thinking and function.

    I have had an MRI and the Neurologist suggested I had neurotoxicity (again something which the internet provides conflicting information as to the potential outcome) but had no experience of the medicine and they didn’t know if it would be permanent or not. Big Pharma are at such pains to conceal and hide all this sort of thing that unless the causal link is unavoidable, I feel alone and without access to anything but anecdotal stories found online. I want to do anything I can to get better. I’m getting plenty of sleep, meditating, have radically changed my diet and am trying to be positive. Is there anything more I can do that has helped other people? Is there any hope/or just some one’s story of their battle with this that can help. Even if some one else is in the same situation and we could ‘buddy-up’ a bit. I just feel utterly at sea and devastated by this.

    Chris, I would very much appreciate some advice but I know how busy you are.

    Thank you for reading all this.

    • zoe says

      Hi Jane,
      At the expense of over-posting on this website, I would like to offer my encouragement to you. I have a lot of extra time on my hands right now and this is an issue with which I am intimately familiar and it breaks my heart to hear of other people who are experiencing what I have lived through, so the following would be my response to your query (see my other posts above under Zoe/csczoe). I too work in an extremely demanding profession which requires full mental functioning/cognition/memory (architecture). My story is extreme and in my naivety I remained on SSRI’s (Paxil mostly) at very high doses for 16-17 years before realizing that when I reduced the dose, my cognition seemed to return to my pre-medicated state, which greatly improved my performance at work (and in multitude other areas of my life). I am not as familiar with Strattera (an SNRI, which targets norepinephrine rather than serotonin), but it seems that the effects on cognition may be similiar if not the same? I learned (by experience) that cold turkey withdrawal is NOT the best way to proceed when coming off of these drugs, however you are now at 5 months “clean” and seem to be at least functional in your job (?). When I started weaning I learned that it took months if not years for the brain to heal. 5 months is still early, so perhaps you should be patient but determined, but don’t exhaust yourself…only you know your limits. Also, I have heard of many people who were on these meds for far less than the amount of time I was on them and they seem to be able to recover fully. I think the extent of recovery depends on how long you ingested the drugs and at what dose (i.e very high, average, or low doses) as well as your physiological sensitivity to the drug. You were only on meds for one year so to my mind, you have an excellent chance of full recovery, however that does not diminish the fact that the initial months of weaning is absolutely horrible/painful/surreal. Perhaps you could see how you feel(along with cognition improvements) in a few more months and then make a judgement if you will go a few more months, etc., but there is no shame in going back on the med and trying the wean more slowly (using pill-cutters/liquid version/compounding pharmacy). I hope that my “two-cents” is helpful to you. I would be happy to communicate further with you, if interested. Prayers and positive energy/thoughts I send to you for a full recovery! CSC

      • Jane says

        Zoe,
        Thank you so so much. That is so kind of you. I am extremely grateful. I read your above posts and so know a bit of what you’ve gone through. Are you fully recovered now, it seems cognitively you are. That’s amazing. They are such bad medicines and as you say, consumers/patients aren’t given the facts so they can’t make an informed decision about taking them. I wouldn’t have touched them for my ADHD if I’d had any idea of the long term effects. Like you, I also pushed on regardless of the side effects, not trusting what my body and heart was saying, and listening to pressure from people who didn’t, in hindsight, always have my best interests at heart, or did, but didn’t know all the facts. I wish I’d listened to myself. I’d say to anyone reading this website and still on the medicines- if you’ve had enough doubts to seek out this site, listen to them and come off the drugs. There are so many better ways to deal with mental illness than drugs. I wish I’d believed that before.
        Thank you for the positive encouragement. 5 months feels like an eternity, especially as it’s been so extreme and painful, but in brain/body healing terms, it’s probably a blink of an eye. I’ll be patient. I just wanted to know that for some people who’d gone through this, it wasn’t permanent and I’m very relieved to know that that is the case. Thank you so SO much.
        Take care, Janex

        • zoe says

          Jane
          I’m so glad my experience can benefit someone else- it makes it more meaningful for me to have had to go through it- to help others. I have recovered a great deal by weaning from years of very high dosages of Paxil to a very low dose of Paxil/Prozac mix. I did go below this dose for almost two years and it turned out to be weaning too fast- during that time I did see incredible cognitive improvements (that part was wonderful!) but emotionally; i.e. serotonin levels did not return to my pre-med. state. I found that my body was not able to produce serotonin naturally- definitely NOT my pre-medicated self-i.e. quick-thinking, good-natured, highly sensitive. At the current dose I have a “sustainable” brain for my work and life, but still vastly lacking in the areas of cognition/memory/emotions compared to the “original” me. I have to work extremely hard to compensate for my “handicaps”, but I have been determined not to lose my livelihood. I’ve learned that “bad things (can) happen to good people” and you should learn from them, press on to higher insights and “profit” from you losses…make the best of it ALWAYS. It seems that my story is pretty extreme in comparison to most, so you definitely should know about all the testimonies of people who HAVE fully recovered and no longer take ANY of these meds. As I said, IMO you have a great chance for full recovery and I wish you the very best! I pray for your perseverence/positive energy and thoughts and continued healing! CSC

          • Sarah L says

            Zoe,
            I was just wondering how you realized–when you dropped to a lower dose for two years–that you were tapering too quickly. I’m asking because, while it’s been five years since I stopped taking Lexapro (after finally stumbling upon a tapering schedule that was slow enough to avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms), some of the weirdness remains. I still get weird lightning sensations in my head, followed by an intense need to cry for no apparent reason. I still get weird neurological symptoms that flare up especially after a mild fever (even from a piddly head cold). Just wondering if you’ve experienced the same.
            I only took Lexapro for two and a half years, and I took Effexor XR, Zoloft and Celexa before that, but I only took those drugs for a few weeks each because of horrible side-effects or, in the case of the Effexor XR, I became pregnant and was told I should get off the drug–especially before the 3rd trimester. The nurse then told me it would be perfectly safe to just quit cold-turkey, since I’d only taken it for a little over two weeks. Turned out, she was wrong. Worst first trimester ever! My husband practically begged me to try something that would make me less of a nightmare to live with (my words, not his).
            So, I guess I’m wondering if it sounds to you like I still tapered too quickly, or if there’s just some permanent brain damage, which, at this point, I have no problem believing.
            Thanks for your time, and God bless you.

            • zoe says

              Hi Sarah,
              First of all congratulations on successfully tapering! The speed of the taper, from what I’ve experienced, should be based upon your tolerance for the withdrawal symptoms but has no bearing on any potential permanent phsyiological damage. Any permanent damage would come from the amount of time on the offending drug, the dose, and one’s sensitiviy/tolerance physiologically (metabolism, etc.) for the drug (which varies per person). Sounds like you were on them for a relatively short amount of time and have been off for 5 years now so it would seem to me that your brain/body would be well on it’s way to being fully recovered- in my opinion. I recently read an article which stated, and this is line with my experience, that those people who seem to have permanent injuries and do not fully recover are those who’ve been medicated for over 15 years- of course there’s no hard science yet for this number. But I would say it is unique to the individual’s physiology as to how/if they fully recover. I did experience the symptoms you mentioned during my taper(s) but now I’ve been at this low dose (about 12mgs) for 3 years and do not have the “brain zaps” anymore- things seem to have normalized mostly as far as that symptom goes. I hope this is helpful…again this is MY experience. I found that if I wanted to live drug-free (or come close to it), I would not be forever grieved about permanent damage because frankly, this will not be psychologically helpful to me in living a happy, productive life. No matter what I now go by the mantra that I WILL “profit”(not financially) from my loss and learn from this and tell others because I believe this is what is expected of me (from above) and this is for my best. To my mind it sounds like you’ve dodged a bullet and found out early enough to recover. Hope this helps and prayers for total healing go out to you. CSC

              • Sarah L says

                Thanks, Zoe, for your quick and thoughtful reply. I would agree that it’s counterproductive to grieve over what I may see as possible permanent damage from SSRIs. I’m not losing sleep over the idea, really, but I think if someone can suffer long-term or even permanent brain damage from taking these drugs even as (comparatively) briefly as I did, then more people (those thinking of starting these drugs, especially) need to know that.
                On the other hand, when I was starting Effexor XR and then Zoloft and then Celexa and even by the time I started Lexapro, I wasn’t looking for personal testimonies on the internet from people who’d taken those drugs. So, even if lurid stories about what people have suffered as a result of these drugs had been abundant on the internet when I started (and I’m sure they were by 2006), I probably would never have read any of them unless a friend or family member had e-mailed me a link with “Please read this!”
                I also agree that, for God’s reasons (which I’ll know someday), I did dodge a bullet and haven’t suffered nearly as much as many others have. I’m grateful for that, and my heart goes out to those who’ve suffered worse.
                Life is good, in spite of the weirdness that lingers–whether because of the SSRIs or because of something that was in my make-up beforehand.
                Thank you again for your response, and may God bless you and your continued efforts to help others.

                • zoe says

                  Hi Sarah,
                  Agreed…to all of your points. I don’t want to diminish others experiences but I also want to point out that “at the end of the day” we need to balance our activism/grief/anger with “moving on”. Sounds like you’re doing that and that you are also reaching out to others to educate. I think that is all that is expected of us…to make the best of the stupid things that happen in this life, knowing that a higher power grieves with us and wishes only for our health! Prayers/blessings to you! CSC

  24. says

    Oops sorry. My 3sons where developed on antidepressants.their birthing doctors said it will not harm any of my children. That I KNOW that’s a crock.all I’m wanting to say is these articles are true.. and does having a higher power cure like Christianity..compassionate love??

    • zoe says

      Hi Teilor,
      I am so sorry to hear you are struggling. My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you should for sure be seeking counseling/therapy and do not make any sudden moves regarding medication. I went through years of therapy/study and eventually came to a faith community (Christianity) and started on a spiritual journey that has evolved/changed over the years. This was definitely helpful for me-focusing on the Love of God. To be clear, I advocate against these medications, however I was on them so long that I found that it was impossible to wean off of them totally (and I tried for a couple of years) and return to my “original” self, so I felt that I had no choice but to keep taking a very small dose after taking a very high dose for around 16 years. Every person has a different journey and is unique. It sounds like you need to stabilize your emotions and only then think about weaning off of meds if that is your goal. It takes hard work and determination and, for me, faith in a higher power. It is my belief, actually I know this now, that God is real and God has an immense love for you and wants for you to grow and learn and love in this life. And I feel compelled to tell you that God loves YOU. It sounds so simple but Love cures a multitude of ills in this life. At the end of the day, it’s all about love…for yourself, for others, for God. Please be safe and if you need to take meds for a while do not feel ashamed to do so, above all remember you are loved. Slow and steady wins the race.
      Love and Prayers for you,
      CSC

  25. says

    Physical pain lately.my wrist,ankles,legs,back hurt as if it was on fire.I forget things about thirty 30 after inquiries.my children suffer from childhood illnesses,making me feel like I’m not a good parent.these alone are mentally harmful.and staying in therapy for the rest of my life..who really can you trust?I think about suicide everyday..how much can a human mind take..oh and we are all in therapy. Tired and hopeful…wanting peace.however,I have also been forcing myself to ignore imagined things..like my voices”borderline personality disorders”…shadows as if there is someone there.light sensitivity..lost.

    M

  26. Alison says

    I have suffered from severe bouts of depressions since having my twins and have been on Sertraline and although I am now only on a very low dosage I have been on them for nearly 9 years now on and off. I have extremely short-term memory loss and am 3 stone heavier than I should be. If I stop taking the tablets what can I do to help repair my memory loss not to mention will my weight gain reduce? Should I seek some other medication. I have been told that if I were to go on the pill it would be better than keep taking Sertraline?

    • Sarah L says

      I had the same issues with memory and with weight gain, and I still have problems with my memory. There are things I should remember–that my husband remembers clearly–but of which I have no memory. That’s part of the whole feeling about being erased by the drug–remade into someone or something else. I hated it. The weight gain was just an added insult. After finally tapering off Lexapro (successfully after many failed attempts; the doctor really didn’t know how to help with that, but he agreed to prescribe progressively lower doses, and my husband bought me a pill-cutter), I managed to lose weight pretty easily, and life began to improve after those years spent in a numbing fog.
      I wish I could help with the physical pain you’re going through. I’ll keep you in my prayers–that you can safely be rid of Sertraline and begin to heal. I tried Zoloft (sertraline) but was switched because it made my heart race/pound (worse than it usually does; I inherited a heart that is easily agitated). Then I was switched to Celexa, which caused unremitting nausea. Then to Lexapro, which I took for two and a half years, though that last six months were for my successful tapering period.
      I know a lot of people (including myself) had to taper very slowly with these drugs. When I tried tapering off just a bit too quickly, the worst withdrawal symptoms would hit with the same force they hit me when I first quit cold-turkey.
      Most doctors truly have no clue. All they’re told about are the “flu-like” symptoms that “might” hit some people during withdrawal.
      There’s hope, though. And there’s a reason you’ve gone through all that you’ve suffered. If anyone can turn it all to good, somehow, God can. Trust Him, and take it one day at a time.

    • Sarah L says

      Oops. I’m getting comments mixed up. I meant to respond to another commenter about the physical symptoms she’s been suffering. Sorry for any confusion.

  27. Kristen says

    It has been two years since I stopped taking SSRIs/SNRIs. I still have not had a full night sleep in all that time, average five hours. As a result in the past year I have now developed a dependency on benzos and the withdrawal is hell, and it will take me one full year to go off them if i even can. As a result of going off antidepressants I had a manic episode and was wrongly diagnosed bipolar. I’ve been suicidal for over a year now because of the torture my body and mind has been under thanks to psychiatrists tossing me around on different meds. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover. I can’t feel happiness anymore, everything is just flat. My body is in shambles. Here is the kicker. I was prescribed them in middle school because I was having trouble making new friends.

    Antidepressants do not fix chemical imbalances, they cause chemical imbalances.

    • Sarah L says

      I would agree that anti-depressants cause chemical imbalances. I won’t go into all the details of my own history with them, but I ended with Lexapro, which I took for two and a half years, though the last six months I spent tapering off slowly, once I’d found a tapering schedule slow enough to avoid the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.
      That was a little over five years ago. In December of 2008, I thought I was finally free of Lexapro and of all the antidepressants I’d taken (however briefly), which include Effexor XR, Zoloft and Celexa, as well as the aforementioned Lexapro.
      Five years later, though, I still get strange sensations in my head followed by an intense and overwhelming need to cry–about nothing, or at least nothing specific. Strange neurological symptoms come and go every time I come down with a fever.
      My husband thinks I’m depressed, and the neurologist chalked everything up to that, too, though I’m not suicidal and never have been. I don’t want to die. What helped me to get off anti-depressants for good was anger, which, for me, was stronger than the apathy caused by the Lexapro.
      I can understand why some get suicidal, though, while taking these drugs. They made it a lot easier to believe things that might have pushed me over the edge, if I hadn’t been angry enough to fight back.
      Anger has a dark side, too, of course. But not one that any drug can treat. I believe the same is true of genuine depression and anxiety. Drugs only make it hard to get to the bottom of what’s causing the depression. It’s like a fireman who goes into a burning building with people trapped in it, turns off the fire alarm and then walks away, saying, “Problem solved.”
      I don’t know if you experienced the same thing while taking anti-depressants, but I felt as though I were being slowly erased, and that the drug itself was saying, “What I’m erasing–what I’m taking away from you–isn’t worth saving, anyway. You aren’t worth saving.” Maybe I’m just projecting messages from other sources, but those words were never easier to believe than when I was taking Lexapro.
      I knew even then, though, that it was a lie. Someone knows we’re worth saving.

  28. Trevor Grant says

    SSRI medicine is trouble. Before you take it get a written guarantee from the Doctor you won’t do anything stupid.
    These bloody things are trouble.

  29. Craig says

    Momster and Defiaz,

    I can completely empathize with both of your stories as my experience has been much the same. Im a 51 year old American male, long-time, happily married father of two wonderful, healthy teens (boy and girl). Was first prescribed anti D’s 30 years ago to help remedy a paralyzing, incapacitating depression resulting from the ending of a long-term (6 years) relationship, my first “real” love, although as I subsequently have realized, a deeply dependent, ultimately quite unhealthy encounter. Alas, I was very young; we live, grow, and learn, and hopefully actualize and improve with age and experience.

    Unfortunately today, after 30 years on and off numerous psych meds (anti D’s, mostly Effexor and some SSRIs, several “mood stabilizers”, stimulants, and some others), I find myself cognitively very diminished, disabled from working, with horrifically poor recall memory spanning the entire three decades I was “medicated” for what has been a rather chronic, recurring series of depressions, brief recoveries and relapses. I feel I was duped by the largely uninformed psych MD community. I’m neither bitter nor angry, just extraordinarily challenged simply trying to function somewhat productively in my current role as father and house husband. I too was once a very sharp, highly educated, motivated and articulate professional (banking and finance) with a rewarding career where I felt valuable, productive, and was a caring colleague and mentor to many. Sadly, over the past eight years, my mental abilities, judgement, reliable motivation and energy, and recall memory have all rather steadily and sharply diminished leaving me frustrated, increasingly apathetic, definitely un-employable, with a virtual inability to experience or feel any real joy.

    Finally awakening to the developing truth that it has been the drugs, and not some underlying illness or “chemical imbalance” that perpetuated and worsened my mood instability and cognitive decline, I began slowly weaning myself from all psychotropic agents about six months ago (four drugs at the time), and am now only taking a small (25 mg) dose of Effexor. I desperately hope to be off this last remnant within a couple of weeks. As everyone here who has withdrawn from these chemicals can attest, my withdrawal over the preceding six months or so has been horrific: wild mood swings, extreme lethargy, periods of irrational anger, debilitating depression, chronic insomnia and/or sleep interruptions, apathy, days spent unshowered, incapacitated in bed, occasional suicidal ruminations, etc. Essentially, symptoms that resemble extreme depression, yet this time, I finally understand, this isnt the re-emergence of illness – it’s simply my brain and body’s trying to recover and heal itself from the damage brought on by chronic administration of virtually toxic chemicals over many years.

    As we are all “seekers” and pursuers of knowlege regarding our mental health, I now spend time researching what, if anything, I might do to try to heal my brain and salvage what remains or enhance what I might restore.

    Best to everyone who has taken time to post here.

    • Momster says

      Thanks for your comment, Craig. I hope you can recover your former self. I am continuing my quest to understand and resist the effects of sugar and I am finding some interesting things. I suspect yeast overgrowth has played a role in all of the things I’ve experienced. You might find it interesting to read about this — there are lots of useful websites that summarize the medical literature pretty well and Chris K has some other posts on it too. If the pharmacological industry has something to answer for, it seems likely it’ll be minor in comparison to what the food industry has known — and suppressed — for 40 years. I see more and more in the mainstream media about the effects on human physiology of increasing sugar consumption in a single generation by 3 or 4 fold and these effects were foretold in 1971 to industry insiders! CBC did a great mini-documetary on this that you can find on the web. It’s shocking, but also inspiring. It’s heartening how quickly one’s body responds to reduced sugar consumption. I don’t think it’s too late to turn things around even with years of ‘abuse,’ and it’s certainly not too late to help our kids. Good luck!

  30. Amanda Fields says

    Hello, I very much enjoyed this post. What was the date it was posted? I would like to quote you in research assignment I am doing but I cannot find the date this was posted.

  31. Matt H says

    I have been suffering from anxiety and depression for the past six years. My first experience came out of nowhere in the middle of an April, but now it occurs every time I go back to work after summer and winter break. (I am a teacher). It first starts with anxiety which causes me to wake up early in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep. It soon gets so frustrating that it turns into full on depression/helplessness. I was orginally on citalopram and it kept reoccurring s then I switched to venlafaxine. I was on 75mg and now I’m on 150mg. Currently the anxiety/depression after returning from winter break is worse than it has ever been and I don’t know what to do. I have done counseling and all that, but it keeps coming back year after year. I have even considered changing careers, but I really don’t want to do that. Any advice would be great! Thanks!!

    • csczoe says

      Hi Matt,
      I try to be cautious about offering specific advice other than telling my personal story, however I would offer this to you to consider for yourself. In my weaning off Paxil/Prozac, after very long-term use I found that high doses of fish oil is very helpful in alleviating anxiety symptoms. There are also many more natural supplements/herbs that you could try: melatonin and others. Some people try 5-HTP when trying to wean off SSRI’s and seems to help them somewhat. I also found out through much therapy and study of psychology that the human psyche is immensely complex and perhaps the depression is your deeper psyche trying to tell you something related to your deepest thoughts; i.e. needs, fears, often related to childhood experiences. Personally, I have had to radically rethink many choices I’ve made in my life that led up to my depression. Additionally, and I know this is foreign to many western minds, for me by far the greatest impact (for the positive) on my mental health has been my spiritual pursuit and coming to an understanding/knowledge of a “higher power” and the great love available to me if I seek it; a journey which I would not have endeavored upon but for my struggle with depression/anxiety. Prayers and positive thoughts for you and your journey friend. CSC

      • Anne says

        A word of warning. It is dangerous to mix 5-HTP with any residual SSRI in your system. I accidentally sent myself into a (thankfully mild) case of serotonin syndrome, which if more powerful can be deadly.

  32. Lee-Anne says

    Hi Chris, I would love your thoughts on this…
    I developed hypothyroidism a few months post partum and since have never had relief from symptoms. I believe I was becoming toxic on levothyroxine and now cant even seem to take 1/2 grain nature thyroid or 5mcg T3 on its own! I am now wondering if sertraline caused my thyroid disease!? I started Sertraline in March 2012 and was on it for around 8 weeks. This is when my thryoid tests showed I had SHOT into hypothyroidism. I think there is a connection!? 20/12/11 results – TSH 0.2 and FT4 18, 06/03/13 – TSH 1.2 FT4 20.9, 10/05/12 – TSH 123, FT4 5.0, I hadn’t started any thryoid medication prior to these blood tests! Please tell me your thoughts. Many Thanks, LA

    • Antonia says

      Lee-Anne, or anyone else in this situation…Low-thyroid function (hypothyroidism) can and does definitely induce depression. It slows down all of the body’s biochemical activities, including the production and release of serotonin. If a small dose of T3 or of natural desiccated thyroid (NDT, of which your Nature-Throid is an example) doesn’t help but rather, makes things worse, try checking your ferritin level, your vitamin D level, and your cortisol level. Any or all of these, if low in the range, can hamper the effectiveness of even the best thyrod medications. Alhough I’m not wild about the attitude of the website, “Stop the Thyroid Madness” website (and book, avail. through Amazon or the website) offers a great deal of useful and true information on thyroid diagnosis and treatment, including for what to do if it’s not working. Make sure to check your adrenal glands, which often “tank” along with the thyroid especially with a stressful situation. There is info there on adrenals.

      All the best to you!

  33. Defiaz says

    I was on a variety of anti depressents and anti psychotics for about six years, in hindsight I realise now that I probably never needed them to begin with.. they’ve pretty much ruined my life. They were all heavily sedating as I suffer from anxiety, they would knock me out at night… and my body seemed to rely on them to put me to sleep instead of sleeping naturally.. because now I’ve lost the ability to sleep naturally, my sleep when off drugs is all over the place and has remained that way for the three years since I stopped my meds, I’m so tired all the time I can’t function properly. I’ve also lost most of my emotions, it’s like my serotonin receptors were fried (much like someone who abuses ecstasy) and they no longer absorb the chemical, I’ve seemingly lost the ability to feel happiness.. I don’t bother going out or doing much anymore because I simply don’t get anything from doing much anymore.. It’s also had a horrible effect on my stomach & bowels, (ibs type symptoms)… the worst part about all of it is it did NOTHING to change or help my anxiety.

    I’m hoping some of the damage can be undone in time but it’s looking less and less likely. I don’t doubt that there are people who genuinely need these drugs, people with legit chemical imbalances in the brain.. as I’ve seen some people get a lot better with them but I do think they are WAY over prescribed.. medication was the very first thing given to me when I sought treatment for my anxiety, really it should’ve been the LAST thing they gave to me if everything else didn’t work, it should be the LAST resort not the FIRST… ahh well :(.

  34. Momster says

    It’s very thought-provoking to read the entire series of posts here and it seems to me that all of the perspectives offered could be correct simultaneously. For some people, particularly with heritable bipolar disorder, psychoactive drugs offer their only opportunity for a fulfilling life. But for many others who were prescribed with SSRI’s to cope with what might have been short-term and adaptive depression following life stressors, it seems they actually risked –or are now risking — long-term damage by taking these drugs.

    I believe I am on the cusp of that effect myself. I was prescribed with Zoloft following the end of my first marriage. If I had pushed through that era with therapy, more careful attention to diet and exercise, and reduced work expectations, I believe I would have emerged on the other side as the same person with a few more life skills.

    But instead, I emerged with a heightened tendency to feeling anxious and stressed, wondering why in a new, happy marriage with thriving kids, a nice home, and a good job I still felt kind of numb much of the time. My GP prescribed a return to Zoloft and a psychologist discovered underlying ADD. I was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed Adderall based on the same short, ,self-reporting questionnaire by the WHO I’d found on the web. Even for this young (so recently-trained) psychiatrist, that is the extent of the diagnostic expertise.

    I’ve been on them both for about 5 years and I am gradually realizing some uncomfortable truths. Mainly, I am not the same person I was. I do not think as clearly, I do not feel as much empathy as i once did for others or enjoy anything (including sex) as much as i used to. My poor memory is worsening steadily, I am much quicker to anger, and I am prone to sugar binges in the evening, something i did not used to do. Together, These lessen the enjoyment I used to derive from exercise, creating cascading feedback loops that probably involve every physiological system in my body. I have the first signs of liver disease (probably from long-term use of allergy medication) and heart problems. I am not yet 50.

    I am not a medical professional, but I do have access to and read the primary medical iterature. I know quite a bit about behavior and I use multi-variate statistics regularly. I know how hard it is to demonstrate causation, even correlation, when there are many interacting variables at play, especially if some go unmeasured. I have witnessed the powerful influences of industry on government in issues of public policy. I also know the extent to which all western doctors are rewarded for memorizing and asserting as undergrads to get into medical school. I have realized that most clinical doctors of every sort have virtually no training in hypothesis testing and have something approaching disdain for alternative explanations. I see the way conventional medical treatments atomize the body into seemingly-independent parts and how little communication there is among the professions treating a single individual. And I see how resistant we all are to complexity and change as human traits that are almost universal.

    When I put all these things together, it seems inevitable that much of what is already clear will take decades to synthesize and communicate to GP’s, let alone the public. Zoe is quite right about that. Meanwhile, I will be weaning myself off the drugs — all of them — and learning as much as i can about nutrition and lifestyle changes that might treat the actual underlying causes my increasing tendency to depression, despite having had what others considered to be an extremely happy and positive disposition. Sugar is my first topic of intense research. I will do more to resist the chronic, but largely unnecessary, work stressors and extra hours. And I will try to help others do the same, especially my kids.

    Like other things that were once promoted for their widespread benefits, such as tobacco, asbestos, DDT, and aspartame, many lives will likely be lost before the skeptics are quieted. What a pity is is that society must relearn that precautionary principle again and again.

    Thank you, Chris, for initiating this blog and everyone else for your additions. It was over this breakfast read and in the writing of my own response that I came to this decision. I wish you all health and happiness.

  35. Anon says

    Well having been depressed.
    Having taken all sorts of anti depressants and personally felt their changes.
    I would say for the most part they do not work.
    If they did the severity of my depression would not have increased while taking prescribed medication.
    So I saw no benefits at all.

    I also read recently a study involving mice and rats showing the long term effects of a certain anti depressant had both a positive and negative effect when taken for a long time during adolescence
    Making the rats and mice more resilient towards depression but more vulnerable toward stress and fear.

    My personal experience obviously may not translate to the whole human population.

  36. Chris G. says

    Hey Chris, maybe you can point me in the right direction. Five months ago, I took Celexa for three days straight, and immediately had a major crisis, something went terribly wrong. My PA told me to stop taking the pills right away, but maybe I should have gone to the emergency room instead. My life has seriously been hell ever since I took Celexa—I never knew what real depression was until I had this experience—I am now horribly depressed, but even worse, I’ve experienced severe memory loss (immediately and ever since), along with a wide range of other problems needless to say. Actually it now seems as though I’m mentally challenged… for real, it’s very upsetting… I have become antisocial and frightened with continuous suicidal thinking. I used to be smart and sharp, energetic and passionate. Now there is nothing, no emotion. I can’t laugh or cry anymore. And I have headaches and a constant sharp pain in my head. What happened? I have always been a stressed and anxious person, with what I thought was slight depression; but I’ve always been positive, and never a poor-me type of person, which is why I’m so scared now, I’m totally desperate; I guess my mind is not as strong as I thought. Should I see a neurologist and have an MRI, EEG or some other test done? Will they think I’m crazy? lol… I saw a counselor for two months but it didn’t help. I have seen psychiatrists who want me to take SSRIs, but I’m hesitant because I don’t think they know what the fuck they are doing, and I don’t want to make this worse… it’s obvious that the medical world doesn’t have the right standards in place to deal with this kind of thing, so I’m very scared that my personality has been permanently altered in such a negative way. Is there anything that I can do? Does modern medicine know how to handle these situations? Does anybody know? – Thanks, Chris G.

    • Shawn says

      Chris G. —
      I can understand exactly where you are and your fear is valid. My first suggestion, aside from meds, is to seek counseling; either group or solo. If you don’t feel comfortable with the group or the solo provider, look elsewhere…don’t settle. Do research on depression and NEVER be afraid to question doctors or therapists. I’ve been on meds for 18 years and I KNOW I was treated incorrectly. I questioned my pshyc once after he prescribed a med that my insurance company called and quegtionef me as to the reason it was prescribed. I called and left him a message about the insurance question and was VERY surprised how quickly he called me back. At my next appointment he told me he would no longer treat me because I was a liability. If that doesn’t speak volumes I don’t know what does. Long story short, after finding a new doctor, I was taken off some meds and dosages were reduced on others. Just NEVER SETTLE!!! Research!!!

  37. Arthur says

    My partner is concerned that I have personality changes whenever I go back onto anti-depressants. I am an alcoholic, my trigger being depression. I have been to rehab several times and I come out a changed man but after being back on anti-depressants I apparently have become acutely insensitive, “invincible”, have no fear of consequences, take risks and avoid all natural emotions required for a healthy relationship. This causes conflict in my life and I end up breaking down and drinking again anyway. I get chronic psychosomatic pains too. Is there really permanent brain damage from being on anti-depressants, mirtazapine specifically? How does one live without them?

  38. Brian Bugera says

    Chris, with this subject I believe you are opening a pandoras box. I’m a normal guy who experienced some marital troubles in my life, like a lot of people. I began to drink to numb away the problem. When I relized it was consuming me I went for help, in a rehab. Although when I was there, I was told I was not an alcoholic but depressed. I was prescribed anti- depression meds. This is where my nightmare really began. I am hypersensitive to medication. The meds they prescribed acted as if I was striped of my emotional governor. The result landed me in prison. I have through family and doctors been told to write a book about my experiences. but the evidence of the harmfulness of these meds are overwhelming. Especially in the returning military vets. who are given these same meds. Their suicide rate climbs daily. I am trying to find help putting my book together. Again it becomes overwhelming of all the info I have uncovered! Every time I mention it to someone, they have a story of someone they know that has been affected/effected by this. I would like to share my story to help people so they don’t repeat what happened to me. If you can contact me and or help me with this, either with info or connections to further my quest I would be very grateful ! Thank You!

  39. Raven says

    I’m sorry but this has to be the most irresponsible piece of “journalism” I have ever read. First of all, you have absolutely no empirical evidence backing up your claims, just a few citations sprinkled here and there to make it appear as if the author did some research.( ie:”thousands of excess suicides”? Come on. Where’s your citation on that number?) Mental illnesses are physical illnesses, just like AIDS, cancer or rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t know why that is so hard for some people to comprehend. Would you be so irresponsible as some of the commenters here as to tell young cancer patients to stay away from “evil” cancer drugs and use only natural therapy/spiritual guidance to treat their illness? It sounds as ridiculous as saying miasma (bad air) caused the black plague in the middle ages or that disease is caused by the devil. (I don’t know…maybe that’s what some of the commenters here believe?) It’s fine if you don’t want to take anti depressants yourself or you don’t want your kid taking anti depressants. That’s your decision. They don’t work for everyone. And there are not perfect. But for some of us, they are literal lifesavers. I have been on several over the years along with mood stabilizers, long term, and I am perfectly healthy, no brittle bones, gastrointestinal bleeding or Parkinson’s, but I have survived anorexia nervosa (72 pounds when hospitalized), have had no further suicide attempts and am able to live a relatively normal life with bipolar disorder, a disease that has been in my family for generations and has killed several family members who went untreated. I’m sorry if my tone is a little angry, but I don’t want to see a kid who needs help for depression be influenced by a very one-sided argument. Giving your opinion is fine, but please don’t present it as fact.

    • csczoe says

      My comments of warning to others regarding these drugs are based upon hard-earned life experience…now going on approx. 22 years of SSRI use and almost 30 years of struggle with anxiety/depression. I feel it is my responsibility to inform others and possibly prevent another bright, inquisitive (but struggling) young person from falling into the trap I fell into..and having a life before A.D.s in sharp contrast to their life after A.D.s. I know intimately how crippling depression and other mental/emotional stuggles can be in life. My point is that life is not always easy and can be an unbelievable struggle for some…but one should be fully informed as to the end result of long-term SSRI use. INFORMED CONSENT. If one is struggling so much that they agree to the brain-damaging effects of long-term SSRI use, then that is your right…but why do the pharmeceutical companies not disclose the entire TRUTH to the consumer so that the consumer can weigh the risk/benefit for themselves?? Perhaps because they know that few people would touch SSRI’s (short term or long term) if they knew the risks(i.e.testimonies like mine and many others). But looking back through history, their is a universal law at work: the truth will eventually surface, even if it takes decades or longer.
      CSC

    • Truth says

      Your and your family history suggests that either you are one of the very few people I the population with a genuine mental illness for which you really do need the meds, or that you have all been victims of the same fraud as the rest of us, but you believe that the pills, which studies have shown are of little use in all but the very extreme cases but regularly cause mania and other worse conditions. No need to cite sources here, there are a great many if you look, but start by reading rxrisk.org, Irving Kirsch, Peter Breggin, Joanna Moncrieff, David Healy, and many many more, rather than the clincial trials funded by drug companies which are rigged and they have been caught covering up the truth.

    • Teilor Heidi LyBrand says

      I have been through numerous antidepressants.Prozac is what was first giving to me at age 16.I am now 34. I have started to feel and realize that antidepressants have taken a toll on my well being.my mental and physical health is painful.and my children, I wastold by 3 different docs that antidepressants won’t harm my children..omg they were wrong.what can I do now?my mental being? Alot of what you are saying is true…I have experienced nothing but p

  40. BrandonJ says

    I love this article and am always looking for ways to naturally heal the body. I suffered from horrible depression and went on many meds…some made me manic, other like lexapro were HELL to come off of. I had serious mood swings and would go from 1-10 like that. I have talked to a lot of people who experienced similar things.

    What struck me in this article was the loss of motivation because of these drugs. This is something I have been experiencing since being on wellbutrin. I thought it was just me but all my motivation to do ANYTHING has disappeared. I am a college student and before going on the drug was hyped about school and now the desire is there but it isn’t as intense as it once was.

    My feeling is that these drugs should only be used short term and that CBT should be used in conjunction with the drugs.

    • Deb Hillyer says

      As someone who has suffered from depression and been on a few different anti-depressants, I would have to say that the need for an antidepressant is up to the individual. I would also have to say that there is some truth to what Chris is saying. I once heard that a doctor is guessing 40% of the time when making a diagnosis. As someone who does my own research, and believes in homeopathy, I believe people should rely more on themselves than the medical community. Depression is caused by many things and deciding to take an antidepressant is up to the individual. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and there are a variety of ways to treat that and medicine is one of the ways. All prescribed medicines have side affects, no question. So any individual needing help with depression should decide for themselves on the best course of action to take to get them where they need to be. Sometimes the prescribed medicine gets the brain issue corrected faster and easier than the other ways and people need that. But many of us should look at using an antidepressant as a short term solution while we also invest in natural and healthy ways to balance ourselves out for inner peace and happiness.

  41. zoe says

    For the young people who have posted, please take this article and my personal life experience while on these drugs to heart (see my earlier posts)! Try to wean off of these drugs (slowly and in a controlled, managed manner, WITH SUPPORT). You must do WHATEVER is required: long term therapy, life changes, spiritual pursuits; in order to cope with life and live without the mind-numbing, and ultimately brain damaging, effects of these drugs. I have had to learn the hard way and I now see it as one of my major life purposes to inform others of what I now KNOW. I was a high-achieving student in a difficult graduate program and after succumbing to the belief that my brain was “chemically imbalanced” I lost years of my life and nearly ended up homeless, all because of 18 years of antidepressant use. Looking back I pray that I had someone to warn me and I can see that life is sometimes incredibly hard, but worth the fight. You can do it, but you MUST persevere and find the long-term solution, not the quick-fix.
    God bless you and I pray you heed the advice of one who has gone before you.
    CSC

    • Yen says

      Thank you for your effort. I have been using paxil for nearly one year. It affects my short term memory terribly. I would rather cease using those after seeing so many people have the same symtomp.

  42. alice says

    Dear Chris, I have been on Strattera for ADHD for a year. I am now coming off it due to the many side effects and am experiencing terrifying memory problems akin to dementia. My short term memory is completely malfunctioning. Within minutes of a conversation I can’t recall even the topic let alone details such as names. Long term memory is also afftected. I can forget what film I saw at the cinema the night before and even names of best friends and work colleagues. I’m incredibly frightened this is permanent. Do you think a year is long enough to cause permanent damage or is it a withdrawal symptom? Prior to the medicine I was high achieving and had excelled academically (I got into Cambridge to read English). Other withdrawal symptoms are tearfulness and anxiety (both significantly exacerbated by the memory issues). Thank you so much.

  43. jh says

    I was on Paxil for 6 years for panic disorder, it worked but dulled my senses and made me put on weight so tried to come off but symptoms persisted. Switched to citalopram and within a year noticed twitches in fingers and toes. 8 years later and I have tics all over my body – it’s hell. I went to so many specialists who said I should up my dose or try another ssri. All the time I knew they were causing the tics so I eventually weaned off. I am a husband and father of 2 young children and run my own business. My life is a living nightmare now, I am in constant pain, feel ashamed and am constantly under pressure to mask the agonizing tics. Nobody seems to have an answer and I don’t know what to do. Avoid these drugs if you possibly can.

    • Tracy says

      I am so sorry to hear that! I experienced something similar. I was on Paxil for almost 10 years and gained almost 80 lbs. I hated myself and was more depressed than ever but at the same time, lost interest in nearly everything. I felt numb and didn’t care about things the way I should have. I finally weaned off which was awful and now, 8 years later, I am still not right. I lost the weight, rapidly, in the first 18 months but I experienced so many withdrawal symptoms. I never had twitching but I did have nightmares, horrible mood swings and the worst anxiety I’ve ever known. I still don’t leave my house much. These antidepressants are NOT good for anybody – they are a way of not dealing with the bad stuff in life, plain and simple. I am currently writing an essay for my college class and using this website as one of my sources. This man makes sense! Good luck to you and all who have gotten duped by the doctors and pharmacists throwing pills at our problems!

  44. Jacob says

    Great post, but I have a question I’m 16 years old I I’ve been taking antidepressants since I had 15 mirtazapine for 6 months and Prozac for 3 months both medications together,and my question is if I have permanent brain damage or I did change my neurons for bad I’m very groggy with your post I have negative effects of antidepressants and I would be great full if you answer me, thaks.

    • Margie says

      Hi Jacob
      Have a look at this utube site below. It is a bit long, but it helps to explain how the brain works when we have experiences that cause us to be so fearful or terrified. Our mind tries to help us fight or flee the “situation”. That makes the person feel highly anxious and “out of control” when this is relentless, it wears the person down and can cause the depression.
      He explains the three different sections in our brain that are responsible for our thinking and feeling and keeping ourselves safe.
      The Neo Cortex part (thinking,imaginative and logical part), The Limbic (the feeling and emotional part)and the Reptilian part of the brain (fight or flight part of the brain).

      At the heart of all this is becoming aware of the different roles they play. Fear is fear and at any given time in your life these feelings will inevitably show up. When there are stressful life events which can put one’s resilience to the test, the brain instead of being able to logically explain and reason with the feelings, it goes straight to your limbic and reptilian parts which are activated and over ride your logical part of the brain. You just hate the feeling and it disempowers you, no matter what your logic tries to tell you. Depression/anxiety etc can occur.

      Neuro plasticity of the brain is a very encouraging thing to know and understand. A person has the chance here to turn their thinking and feelings around.

      Knowledge of how your thoughts and senses can keep you in this state is useful as it empowers you to not be tricked by past responses to stress. As well, using Imagery to tell the Neo cortex part of the brain to visualise the healing of Limbic and Reptilian part of brain can go a long way in empowering yourself to a better way of being.

      Meditation
      The reason why meditation can work is that it just gives these parts of the brain time to rest and restore. It is worthwhile persevering in the art of meditation. See it as helping your brain give it the rest it needs.

      I am not against anti depressants, but anything that will help in empowering a person to awareness is incredibly empowering and this is key to a better life

      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kFnLR9PLH8A&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DkFnLR9PLH8A
      Also Brene Brown – “the power of vulnerability” Tedtalk
      Plus Brene Brown – “listening to shame” (this is a positive talk). Do not let the title fool you. It’s great!

  45. Anna says

    Well, this article just opened my eyes on some things. I was put on Paxil when I was thirteen years old and took it for around six months (maybe longer -it’s hard to remember now, but it was at the very least 5-6 months, probably a bit longer). I went from being a healthy pre-teen/teen at a healthy weight of around 130 pounds (5’6″ tall, broader, athletic body type) to TWO HUNDRED POUNDS in a matter of MONTHS. I had NO idea that something like Paxil could have been to blame. And let me tell you, for a thirteen year old girl being that overweight is absolute HELL. I ended moving to live with a different parent ~6 months after I’d been put on Paxil and my dad promptly told me I wasn’t going to take it anymore and that was the end of that. I experienced withdrawal symptoms (though I didn’t know what withdrawal even was). It wasn’t until I was 16, almost 17 years old that through a LOT of hard work and some near-starvation weeks that I was able to go back down to a healthy weight. This makes SO much sense now… For years I’ve wondered how it was I could put on weight like that so quickly when I’d been at such a healthy weight and a mildly athletic kid (played outdoors and walked the neighborhood with my friends to get away from parents, rode my bike everywhere, etc.).

    Thanks for this article and the info! My eyes are definitely opened up now. I can’t believe that I didn’t even consider that the Paxil might have played a role… Those years are some you can’t get back either… Not bitter, but dang, if that wasn’t irresponsible to have a 13 year old put on something like that (that I honestly didn’t even need)…

  46. Lisa truitt says

    The problem with antidepressants is that they are Jerry rigging they are not fixing the cause. And while Jerry rigging may help symptoms in the short term it does damage in the long term. Sometimes there may be no choice but to do this in the short term because of the severity of symptoms. But the goal should be to shift to dealing with the cause and stop the Jerry rigging as soon as possible. Unfortunately because of lack of resources to focus on healing rather than medicating, some folks may be stuck with Jerry rigging via medications. Insurance will pay for pharmaceuticals for a poor person, but not a better diet or tryptophan supplementation.

    The bottom line is not whether antidepressants work. It is whether they are the best option and the answer to that is a definitive no. The reason they are so heavily relied upon is because they are lucrative.

  47. Miguel says

    I dont right english very wel so sorry if my spelling is bad, my name is miguel i started having depresion 4 months ago.. Because of this my girlfriend left me, i droped out of school and things are really bad. One month after having panic attacks and anxiety problemes i went to a doctor, he gave me an antidepressant called rivotril, i started taking them then after a few weeks i knew that they were to strong, so i only tok them for a month and i got of them.. My anxiety and panic attackas never got any better … Im still preatty bad and i have no idea when all of this is going to go away.. I think im having side effects from the antidepressant because i feel dizzy, and i have nausea all day! Its all really hard for me because ive allways been a happy kid, i love partying and i had a lot of friends before all o this happened .. I just hope i can be normal again

    • zoe says

      Hi Miguel
      I also first experienced debiltating depression(anxiety) while in university (30 years ago). That started me on a journey of self discovery through psychology/therapy, which was very eye opening. I continued my journey in spiritual pursuits, which was even more eye opening. I now believe that depression is the soul’s way of telling you that something is wrong in your beliefs(about yourself) or the way your living your life and we should listen to that warning- NOT take drugs to mask the pain. I have learned to be careful what I am thinking about or meditating on and to listen to MYSELF- my true self- to get directions out of depression.
      God bless you and keep digging for the truth and most of all stay hopeful. You CAN overcome!
      CSC

  48. Robert says

    I’m against psychiatry. When I said expanding I meant tools for measuring brain activity and chemical in the Brain. Which gives credence to the expansion of neurophysiology and neurobiology. Disproving the discipline of psychiatry. I think psychiatry will become obsolete when professionals realize that brain function is a neuro problem.

  49. Brandon says

    I was and have been on citalopram for 6 years. I can say with all honesty, it helped with my depression to some extent, but only while I was on them, so if it was correcting a so called imbalance or improving my neurons or helping my brain in any way, then why I am I all of a sudden 6 months off the drug and suffering depression once again? If they were so magical they would have fixed something

    I can also tell everyone that, I was not as bad before I went on them, now I am off them, I am worse much more. with increased anxiety.

    • Shawn says

      Hello anonymous, first I have to ask if you’re a doctor? I was diagnosed with depression 16 years ago and have been on 18 or 19 different antidepressant drugs in that span of time along with other drugs to “enhance” the effect of the drug(s) I was taking. In addition I went through three and half years of psychotherapy. Like anyone who suffers from depression the main goal is to feel normal again. And because of that goal they will rely on anything the doctor gives them with the hopes that will be the result, normalcy. In my case, very little bloodwork was ever done yet I was told I had a chemical imbalance in my brain and that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. As I’ve come to understand depression, it can occur in anyone’s lifetime and may or may not need to be treated with medication. If treatment with medication is needed, upon seeing symptoms of relief a doctor should proceed to wean you off that medication to see if it’s something that truly is an imbalance. And I might note that the imbalance that I referred to has to do with the serotonin levels in your brain. What’s interesting is the scientists conducting the study which I believe you’re referring to state there is no evidence that depression is a serotonin deficiency syndrome. Furthermore, your comments state that SSRI antidepressants promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus which, to date, have not been validated. This isn’t to say that people with depression don’t need to take antidepressants, far from it. But they should also educate themselves on the various medications available, the side effects, the suggested length of time to be administered and pose questions to their doctors instead of just turning their lives over to drug. Once I started researching my issue with depression and started cognitive behavioral therapy, many things changed in my outlook and opinion on an antidepressant drugs. This started when I had to switch psychiatrists and my new psychiatrist immediately weaned me off or decreased the dosage of three quarters of the medications I was on at that time. That was approximately four years ago and have since stopped taking antidepressants altogether under my doctor supervision. I read in a previous post something about the use of antidepressants to treat depression versus antidepressants continuing the effects of depression and that I feel is a very scary prospect and was potentially what kept me on the up-and-down roller coaster for far too many years. The fact of the matter is that these medications haven’t been around that long and to my knowledge there are no studies that show what the long-term adverse side effects could be. Again, that’s not to say that people should not use medication in the treatment of depression, however the effects of overuse could cause irreversible damage. Even though I no longer need antidepressants, my life is not normal or rather the way it was before depression entered my life.

  50. Robert says

    I would like to say psychiatry is useful but not without the accompanying of neurology and infectious disease. But even from a purely psychiatric basis, you can’t determine solely by looking at someone that they should be put on an antidepressant. How can you thoroughly or indefinitely determine whether a person needs some type of medication to control a “chemical imbalance” in the brain that is if its organic if you don’t measure the chemicals or the displacement or depletion of chemicals or a diagnostic for monitoring and measuring neurophysiological impairment and to me psychiatry needs to join forces with neuroscience, in fact psychiatry is neuroscience to me. It involves the brain. But Chris is right, these drugs are complicated and it can mimic the symptoms you had before. Now I’m not satin we should do away with psychiatry if anything I’m calling for expanding it but with more accessible diagnostic tools for determining whether people actually need them. And that is where research comes in. Same thing with cancer. Think of all those people who couldn’t the follow up care to determine whether they had it or not. And then the type of treatment they receive. First thing you learn in medicine. Do no harm.

  51. Robert says

    Stogie,

    I would like to respond to your comment about Psychiastrists. Psychiatry and especially psychology are useful more so psychology then psychiatry unless its related to neurology. I find that before advancements inmedicine be it pediatrics to infectious disease, neuroscience and everything in between people were turning to psychiatry as an explanation for ilnesses An conditions they had not discoveredand have yet or are just discovering now. now there is the reality of psychological changes and fundamentally and even as an applied field that’s justified but I find that the medical community hastely turns to psychiatry for a variety of reasons. The first being a quick easy approach to treating someone without clinical observation or other clinical medical evaluations and avenues of approach in various specialities and body systems. Also I find the pharmecutical aspect to be a big reason. Also treating the piblic with antidepressants has become a way of avoding giving people proper medical care and treatment. its far easier cost wise to put someone on a drug like an antideressant that has nothing to do with their medical condition then it is to give that person extensive treatment. ive seen enough to know that we are now giving out antidepressants fir stomach aches and to young children especially then we are exploring the full extent of medicine. Thats not to say paychiatry isnt useful it is but making correlations with psychiatry neurological biochemistry and neurology and disease. In fact it can be said for allot of conflicts in medicine arise because we try to compartamentalize the body’s systems too much, and not accepting the fact that its all interrelated. Even in emergency situations. there is the ideological aspect, of control. Now there are a whole host of other reasons which then become more narrow and on a patient to patient basis. So my interpretation is that there must be a global view on the human body as well as a narrow view of the different systems and also a much more thorough investigation and inquiry into a patients causes an exposures. If someone leaves in a moldy house if say the chances of them developing a psychiatric or chemical deviation in the brain are great but what good is it if we’re drugging people without taking into account everything this person has been exposed to. From tick bites to undiscovered illness to diet. And that 9/10 we are exposed to so much that disease develops from infection and if related to the brain, and psychological symptoms or symptomatic coditions disease and conditions is responsible.

  52. Anonymous says

    Chris,

    I wanted to ask how I can remove my question or paraphrase it. I think expounded on your forum in too much detail about the extent of everything without sending you a private email an I realize people can read that on a public forum. I was recovering from a procedure and was in allot of pain and going over allot of exposures and my past experience with those medications. Can you delete it? Or is there a way I can delete it?

  53. Brandon says

    Hi Doctor, Do you know much about the SSRI Citalopram? I was taking it for 6 years.
    Do you have much info about this drug? And its effects on the brain, body etc?

    Also Doctor do know much about the anti convulsive drug Lamotrigine? I was also taking this for over 5 years as It helped my Depersonalization disorder but I am not sure what damage I have done to my brain.

    I very worried about this long term damage I have caused from these drugs

  54. Maggie says

    Chris,

    I am enjoying this series but I think there is some information missing, specifically what effects SSRIs have on the body, brain chemicals, hormones, etc. You are quick to discredit the drugs by comparison to placebos and to point out the negative side effects but you don’t discuss at all how these drugs work from a biochemical standpoint. I see you question the method of measuring how well they increase seratonin but you don’t explain what effects increases in seratonin would have on a person. I would love a more thorough overview of these drugs from your perspective but unlike most of your work this series seems to skip over the biochemistry part and jump straight to discrediting the drug on only a few points (placebo and side effects). It is obvious that you have a vendetta against antidepressants but you are usually better at presenting the whole picture/myth which is why I am having a hard time buying in to your conclusions on this topic.

    • becca says

      There is no way to study the actual biochemistry of any psych. medicine-none and this is the issue. They have hypotheses but they cannot be tested. In physical sciences if a hypothesis cannot be tested it is of no use.
      All we know is that the drugs effect the brain. We have no idea why or how. Children should never be given these during brain development.
      Please investigate infectious and autoimmune neurology this makes more sense.) (P.A.N.D.A.S., alzheimers post mortem studies reveal infected brains –that we can actually see!!, also there have been cases of mental illness that cleared when antibiotics/antivirals were given for another infection — mental illness doesn’t happen for no reason and infection/autoimmune (other side of infection coin) is NEVER looked at by Pshychiatrists–b/c they know it is the cause.

  55. zoe says

    Robert,
    Weening off a psych drug has to be done very slowly! Believe me I lived through hell weening quickly off of Paxil after 14 years on the drug. Very painful experience-unbelievable! Your brain has to readjust to normal settings and this takes time. It effects almost every system in your body. You need lots of support/monitoring from family, friends and, if you have an understanding doctor that would help, but many doctors have no idea what the effect of drugs is in the long run (or the short run). Stay calm and do not overreact to withdrawal symptons and if you need to go back on meds and then ween more slowly, you should do it. God bless you and hang in there. CSC

  56. zoe says

    I can attest the truthfulness of the side effects of ADs because I’ve LIVED it. I innocently was first prescribed Prozac and a few years later Paxil for depression and then anxiety, when I was 28. That was 18 years ago. I gradually went from a highly intelligent graduate student in architecture to a complete IDIOT and almost homeless. It wasn’t until I came to my senses about 6 years ago and tried to get off of Paxil (very gradually) that I realiized that my brain literally could not function without it. I could not return to my old brain. After accepting this painful truth, I now am on the lowest dose I can manage and am functioning but I am NOT the person I used to be. Interestingly, when I reduced the dosage of Paxil, my cognitive abilities (that got me through a very difficult graduate school program) began to come back. However, I am nowhere near what I used to be. I miss myself…and so does my family. My memory is completely shot and I am crippled in my profession. I make all kind of excuses as to why I cannot remember this or that. Anyway, I am a survivor and will make the best of the life I have left to live and am committed to telling others about these horrible (evil) drugs. CSC

    • Friend says

      Zoe, I am so sad to hear your story:( you are so right with antidepressants being connected to brain injury- it is scary,I know because being on Effexor ruined my ability to concentrate,I have to really slow down when I read or the words get all combined,I have dizzy spells,vertigo and tremors in my body (un controlled movements) almost like Parkinson’s. It’s not fun living like this,and I will never let my doctor prescribe these again. They wanted to put my daughter on them just because she has stomach issues! They will prescribe them to “anyone” beware people,get thorough testing before you go on these.

      • zoe says

        Thank you for your empathy and thank God you are wise enough to steer clear of these drugs. My advice: do WHATEVER it takes to change your life so that you can cope WITHOUT brain-damaging drugs.
        God Bless
        CSC

    • DenDug says

      Perhaps Prozac and even Paxil are not the right meds for you. You could still be depressed as well. Depression and anxiety manifest themselves in many ways. I have fought this battle for almost 20 years and recently had my 4th episode of major depression after 11years of remission. It’s been hell and I hate trying the different medicines but I hate feeling the bad even worse!!!

      • zoe says

        Hi DenDug
        I have learned through my experiences that the best chance one has of overcoming depression/anxiety is to face it head on with your fully functioning brain. Psychology/therapy was very helpful to me in digging into why/how a person come be overcome with this pathology. I always suggest digging deeper to find the TRUTH. Sometimes we have been so damaged by childhood or adult experiences that we have to retrain our beliefs about ourselves and RADICALLY change our lives in order to overcome. It is a BATTLE but I know it can be overcome without succumbing to brain damaging drugs. Also helpful for me was my spiritual journey and discovery of God/Source/Universe(whatever works for your own soul). When I realized that there was a higher being that loved and cherished my true self that gave me even greater strength to not feel I had to conform/alter myself, which was causing me great psychological pain: i.e. depression/anxiety. Unfortunately I learned that after years of using these drugs and the damage was done. But I have faith in God/Goodness and the Universal truth: “No pain, no gain”. And the lessons I’ve learned I am committed to telling others about.
        God’s blessings to you and prayers for your success/victory in your journey friend- keep digging!
        CSC

        • Erin M says

          For what it’s worth, all of the downsides of your experience with antidepressants match my experience of depression. For me, personally, “facing it head-on” has been a total bust–something I have tried and failed at for the better part of a decade. Not that there aren’t incremental improvements to be made; there are, but those tiny improvements barely scratch the surface compared to how I’ve felt with a combo of a radically changed diet plus a low dose of prozac.

          And I tried going off the prozac after a bit, hoping that the diet alone was enough, but that didn’t prove to be the case. The combo is what works for me–what gives me *myself* back. I know exactly what you mean about missing yourself, because that’s how I feel untreated. This is not to negate your experience, but merely to say that there is a wide variety of experiences, and we are all different.

          • zoe says

            Hi Erin,
            I respect your truth/experience. I would only re;y that sometimes it requires a massive paradigm shift in beliefs through education and seeking Truth in order to radically change your beliefs and therefore combat persistent depression. In many cases, when one looks at one’s life, it actually would be “crazy” to NOT be depressed. For me depression is an alarm…”Warning, Warning, something is very wrong!” Drugs are the the easiest answer but again, I also understand the devastating pain of deep depression. I came to a point that I literally looked at depression as an evil enemy that HAD to be conquered. I was going to find the truth if it killed me. I hope/pray the best for you and your journey, but I feel it is a moral duty for me to tell my story and what happened to me. Nothing is worth damaging the brain permanently in my opinion.
            All the best to you,
            CSC

        • says

          Zoe,
          You have it right. Life is supposed to be hard and the answer is to work through life’s challenges without the use of drugs whenever possible. Cognitive reasoning and spirituality are the answer to life’s challenges. I have a daughter who was once upon a time a brilliant person and her mother put her on Prozac at an early age. It changed her in a dramatic way. She has been emotionally damaged by the use of this drug. She went from being brilliant with a bright future to an emotional cripple. She is now barely able to function. I tried to get her off of the drug but the next thing I knew my ex wife had gotten both my daughters and herself and new husband on prosac. I am saddened by this terrible turn of events. Drugs like Prozac should only be prescribed to people with severe depression and not given as a quick an easy fix for people who are going through a rough patch in life.

        • Esther says

          Good for you for working hard to find natural healing. I used the Dr. Abrams method to get relative off the physch drugs, then the alpha-stim to complete the healing. NOw I am looking for a cheaper model of the machine

    • zoe says

      Hi Maisy Mae,
      I’ve been working an unbelievable schedule so not able to check emails till now…sorry I am not responding till now. I am so sorry to hear your story. Believe me I KNOW exactly what you’re talking about. I felt like Rip Van Winkle when I started my slow wean off antidepressants (still on an extremely low dose out of necessity now, as noted in my post). It was a surreal experience. Evil, evil drugs. However, I was DETERMINED not to lose the rest of life, once I realized how much damage the long term use had caused, and to salvage what I could. My goal now is to INFORM as many people as possible of the reality/truth of long term use of these drugs. It is absolutely RECKLESS for medical practitioners to be prescribing these drugs to depressed (or mildly depressed) people, or for any other reason. It’s like the “expert” who knows “just enough to be dangerous”, with all kinds of unintended consequences that the patient has to survive. I think that the American public is decades away from the full realization of what I now KNOW. I hope/pray that you will be hopeful and take care of yourself from now forward and continue to spread the WORD. Perhaps this is your one of your life purposes, to experience something as horrific as this in order to warn others??
      Take care and God bless you,
      CSC

    • Shawn says

      Zoe,
      I’m am so sorry to read your post yet I feel I am now not alone in the belief that the medications I took to help me have only made things worse. Perhaps through sites and posts such as yours will people start to surface and the real issue of “legalized addiction” be addressed.

  57. says

    I am not at all convinced that your conclusions are sound. Your comments are anecdotal and may or not be a fair representation of the cases you discuss. I take Zoloft and have not experienced any mania whatsoever, and the drug eliminates my anxiety, it does not agitate it. I think you are reacting to either very small percentages of adverse reactions in proportion to the whole, or there are other factors involved besides SSRI’s.

    A group of highly qualified psychiatrists from places like Harvard discuss the benefits of SSRIs and rebut a lot of the alarmist claims here:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/aug/18/illusions-psychiatry-exchange/

    • Ash says

      I’d like to point out that my hospitalization was due to being ordered to stop effexor immediately by a supposedly “qualified psychiatrist” because he decided one day that he wanted to switch it out with welbutrin. As you can imagine, my trust in “highly qualified” psychiatrists is pretty much non existent. They’re kind of like highly qualified philosophers. Qualified in what, you’re not exactly sure… but hey, he’s got a Ph.D. hanging on his wall so he must know everything, right?

    • Shawn says

      Stogie,
      May I ask how long you have been taking your antidepressant??? I’m not negating it’s effectiveness for you but there are massive gray areas when it comes to the dispensing of antidepressant drugs and the length of time which they should be used.

    • Truth says

      Harvard psychiatrists are part of the psychiatric – big Pharma axis that profits from expanding the myth of mental illness and its lucrative treatment in drugs they push. No one is going to do studies that matter because drug companies that fund them aren’t interested in research that could destroy this business and most career conscious doctors and researchers want to toe the line. The mass of anecdotal evidence is building and the truth is coming out of a huge medical fraud that has literally ruined lives and without doubt wrecked and lost more lives than have been saved. Only a tiny percentage of people need these drugs, the truly suicidal, delusional, psychotic and dangerous, most even those “depressed” need help but not drugs. The drugs are a win win for doctors and drug companies, if they seem to work it’s because the person was going to get better with time anyway (plenty of research that they have no effect on lifting depression beyond placebo and the passage of time) and if they make things worse, then the patient gets more diagnoses or it’s all down to a worsening of a condition that didn’t really exist in the first place. I have seen enough to evidence if this now and been through it myself. Keep taking the drugs if you want but realise that you could very easily wind up dead as a result. Or worse, homeless, penniless and in jail because you went on a manic spree and when you come off the drugs you will know what caused it – and there will be people like you now that you tell who as you do now, simply won’t believe it. But it happens. Look at these people who’ve killed their kids and friends who never would have done anything like that if they weren’t being treated with powerful mind altering drugs.

        • prozac 'survivor' says

          There is no mental illness so deep as that experienced by the brain destroying effects of Prozac and Zoloft. Lucky for me I survived a life changing event in the form of an hours long argument with myself and the end of a gun I had pointed at my head while on a mighty prozac depression lifting (sic) two week after start episode, that the PTSD that resulted from that life experience finally kicked in enough for me to totally rebel against the entire system and say NO, or I and perhaps others would be possibility dead from SSRI poisoning. The thing is, I had to actually fight the system when I said NO even though it was the very system that said YES to lies that allowed the Prozac SSRI torture and destruction of my brain and life to begin with.

          What are the long term effects of the poisoning?

          How can anyone trust the medical society when they push this poison on children, even by threat of legal action in some cases?

          • BE says

            I’m so sorry this happened to you prozac survivor. How are you now?

            I STILL have severe 24/7 akathisia a year after going on citalopram and now have severe withdrawal syndrome on top after going in more drugs. I tried to reinstate unsuccessfully and have been completely med free for 3 months. I’ve been in acute withdrawal for almost 7.

            I really would like my life back now.

      • lucy says

        Actually, there is evidence that the antidepressants don’t really work. Only in the severe depression was there any difference at all between pills a placebo. (even in those cases the amount of improvement was not really very great) I took the stuff, and I feel like it made me worse. I was kept on it for years. I finally stopped listening to the psychiatrist and pitched the pills. I have been fine for almost two years. Getting off the stuff was h*LL. I am so proud. I find it strange that I have completely recovered from my “incurable” genetic depression. hmmmm

  58. Omega says

    I agree with Anonymous. There are many who are quick to bash the use of antidepressants, as well as medication in general without any empirical evidence. These are usually the people who do not know how debilitating depression can be. If it not were my antidepressants, I would be unable to get out of bed, wash or feed myself. With the help of modern medicine, I am able to function as a productive member of society, make sound decisions, and carry on a meaningful life. Just because a substance is “unnatural” does not mean it’s bad for you; conversely, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good for you. Arsenic is natural, and so is lead. Without the assistance of these “evil pharmaceutical companies”, I would be in an institution. And also, I am not a “sheeple” type. I am a medical professional myself.

        • Travis says

          Just so you all know- empirical evidence is fairly easy to skew.

          They call it ‘statistics’.

          I know because I study this at the PhD level.

    • Kathleen says

      Thank you. Excellent comment! I, too, am able to function well in society and in my personal life because of Lexapro. Without it, I would probably have killed myself. The dark veil of depression is horrific.

    • Ash says

      I was put on antidepressants and antipsychotics as early as age 6 due to a visit with a psychiatrist as the result of a divorce. Up to age 17 I was prescribed almost everything in the book, and was hospitalized due to withdrawal symptoms on one occasion. My doctor retired and the doctor that replaced him was able to ween me off of everything. I can tell you that I am a different person without them. It was difficult initially and my moods were very unstable for a few months after, but looking back it was worth it. I can feel things. In the beginning it was amazing because I had honestly forgotten what it was like to feel human. Yes, I have been depressed since. It happens. Life happens. But I’d rather be depressed occasionally with a legitimate reason than depressed all the time and not know why. The feeling of not being truly in control of your emotions is terrifying. I felt terrible on the medication… all the time. My entire childhood was consumed by it. I slept all the time, never felt like doing anything. I barely made it to school. I’m just glad I was strong enough to get through the withdrawal symptoms. Alot of people end up hooked for life. I think the reasons behind my negative view of these substances are more than justified and I have more than enough experience to back them up. I have medical records (that I have copies of) That do not state a diagnosis but provide a record of medication prescribed. I was a child. What was done to me was wrong both ethically and scientifically. I’m lucky that I was able to learn to cope with life as well as I do, since I grew up strapped into an emotional wheelchair of sorts. And they wonder why more and more adults can’t deal with the stress of daily life. I understand that there are people that may legitimately need this stuff, but there are many who are on antidepressants that don’t need them. And it doesn’t take a medical professional to figure out basic chemistry concepts. When you screw with chemical balance in a person’s brain and the person’s doesn’t have a prior imbalance, it’s going to throw everything off kilter. There needs to be more preliminary testing before the prescription is written. And I mean real, concrete, science based testing with real results; Sitting there at a desk and nodding as you say something along the lines of “well since you’re sitting in my office crying because your dog died yesterday you’re obviously clinically depressed” doesn’t count.

      • Awake says

        Thankyou Ash for your strong advice against these drugs. My doc doesn’t think twice of putting me on depressants. Once I was on Effexor and I just about lost my mind,seriously.. I felt like I was going crazy. I was only on it for a month,due to “feeling like i was phyco” then when I withdrew from them I had “zappy” sensations threw my body for two months after. I’ve had vertigo ever since-it’s been 12 years!! I’m not the same. I was put on Effexor due to my dads death,I couldn’t cope. But now I would never go back on them no matter how hard life is,I will deal with my problems head on,not being in control of your emotions or body movements is a feeling of helplessness that doctors take lightly. These drugs can throw your body chemistry off like you said- everything you said is true. I hope your feeling better,you are a VERY strong person for what you have been through. Thankyou for your post, very helpful

      • victor avidor says

        Bravo! It is truly amazing how similar our stories are.
        I was doped up on everything in the book too, starting at age 6 or 7. My mother was bi polar and scared me to death, shouting, shrieking, crying…I reacted like any vulnerable child would. My mother took me to a shrink (LOL) and I was given just about every thing ever invented for `depression.“ This was 1972. I was on all these drugs for years after as I was a minor…ritalin,lexapro,thorazine,paxil,neurotriptoline, vistaril,prozac,elavil,navane, tofranil,etc.etc. Long term—years of use. I later developed extreme headaches that would not respond to normal doses of aspirin and came close to accidentally overdosing on aspirin and pain relievers more than once because of the extreme headache pain! I worried so much that my wife would deliver our kids with brain damage or defects. THANK HEAVENS all my children are happy and healthy and nothing happened to them as a result of me being abused involuntarily with countless medications.Sadly, I am now a cancer patient, but I do not believe it is because I was fed a diet of poisonous drugs as a helpless child responding to a frighgening, abnormal environment.

      • Shawn says

        First I have to say the fact that people are talking about this is the most important thing and I don’t believe any comment posted here can be wrong or right. By that I mean we all suffer in different ways. Some are helped with medication while others are not. I have been on antidepressants and other medications indicated to help the others I was on for over 14 years. Am I better now??? In one word…NO. Over the course of these years I was prescribed just about every drug to treat depression. Sometimes I would take one for 6 weeks with little or no results and then on to the next one. Some helped for a couple of years but then stopped working. I was told at the time of my diagnosis that finding the right medication might take years and 14 years later I’m still waiting. I’ve had debilitating episodes lasting weeks to months and I have had a year or two where I thought I was back to my old self. I guess the issue I want to raise is the ease in which these medications are prescribed and the length of time they truly need to be used not to leave out what the potential long term effects might be. Are doctors over medicating people…in my case I believe that true. As I have been researching everything now related to depression I find I’m getting more angry due to the lack of real medical data that addresses these issues. Please understand, I’m not saying that there’s not a benefit of medication for many people. My question is more related to the fact, from what I’ve found, that in many cases medication is not meant to be a long term solution but when used as such appears to be more harmful than good.

      • Any says

        I was also given a med as a preteen w no testing. As a result I have struggled for about 2 years on several meds that ended me in hospitals. I finally withdrew but there seems to be short term memory loss, I am angry that I lost so much of my teen years and just want my life back. I feel like the meds were frying my brain.

    • junnkie #1 says

      ok those people Antidepressents work for. how long have u taken them and have u ever tried to stop.Ofcourse many pyscho active substances can seemingly help or mask symptoms in short term ie. opaites,cocaine,meth.Letme know how u feel after 10 years daily use.And if i told u all i gotta do is take some oxycontin to cure my depression i would be an addict? But i never touched opiate b4 taking prozac for acouple years only to be told oh now ur bipolar u got take antipyschotics.LoL It all comes down to the reality that most likey ur doc knows almost nothing about what is wrong and is guessing what to give u based on what works for others from what statistics? Ofcourse everyone has the same brain chemistry so that all makes perfect sense? Anyways there’s to many variable in the equation and no definite proof of anything.Ofcourse none they would admit to because that would halt their multi billion dollar legal drug dealing bussiness.The lack of or proof of effectiveness is one sided and they only use it to support what they want. Anyways some people are preceptive enough to notice increasing severity and amount of symptoms after taking or trying different meds.while others maybe never put it together and believe what their doc tell them wether it is lies or just the lies they have been taught.But what would i know im just a idiot junkie? Anyways at this point for me it really doesnt matter. i am screwed any way i go.I have used up all of the what would be considered the easy ways out.when really the easy way out or quick fix was to not take anything to begin with.So now one route left death and if it easy id done it along time ago.I just wish the doctors i went to didnt hand them out to me like they were no more dangerous then a sugar pill.And i am sure i am not the only one.They are potentially very dangerous the same or more then any other pharmy and the medical comuniity and public needs to reealize that.Nowadays they hand them out for every condition under the sun.As if it wont cause all kinds of problems.just like any normal person taking up using/abusing crack isnt gonna cause future problems.

    • Quirky Diva says

      If these pharmaceutical companies are making these “medicines” for the greater good and help people.

      Why then are there products being released with no low dose options for the aid of tapering of after they are no longer needed? I am referring to the likes of Pristiq which has serious withdrawl affects but only comes in a high dose of 50mg or 100mg with no real research into how patience can withdraw from these medications safely and easily?

    • lucy says

      Actually, there is evidence that the antidepressants don’t really work. Only in the severe depression was there any difference at all between pills a placebo. (even in those cases the amount of improvement was not really very great) I took the stuff, and I feel like it made me worse. I was kept on it for years. I finally stopped listening to the psychiatrist and pitched the pills. I have been fine for almost two years. Getting off the stuff was h*LL. I am so proud. I find it strange that I have completely recovered from my “incurable” genetic depression. hmmmm

  59. Neptune says

    This great information, I hope your message is received. I am just an ordinary person who’s watched her family (sister, niece) deteriorate from drugs. I believe the long term use of Psychiatric Medications (and migraine medicine) is the cause. However it is too late to convince them and may be too late for them to pull out of it to live a normal life. My sister cannot work anymore due to joint, foot, and back pain and has sicne been diagnosed with Pageants Disease too. Her daughter (on anti-depressants as an adolescent) went to a gifted High School and studied foreign langue. After one semester of college (also studying foreign langue) had a mental break down and now is 20 and acts like an 8 year old now still trying to recover from it. Does not go to school, does not work, and instead stays at home and plays with toys. I don’t know how much we can do to get this message across but would be willing to help if I knew how. Preventative medicine, diet, exercise, and vitamin/herb therapy is the safest way to begin treatment of many mental and physical ailments.

    • J.W. says

      What preventive medicine? Aren’t you suggesting another drug? Where would someone get vitamins and herbs? Who could tell which ones and how much to take? You do know they are not regulated and it appears to me I wouldn’t have a clue what it is.

  60. Anonymous says

    Thank you. This is quite a helpful post. But lacks credability. It is very easy to generalize when talking about psychiatric drugs and their side effects. But the fact that so many millions of people find them useful and improve their quality of life mean that you need to qualify broad statements with more quality evidence and be specific and inclusive. For example, the experiments on mice were using doses of antidepressants 10 times that used on humans. In fact, it is now known that antidepressant drugs promote neurogenisis in the hippocampus and this has been suggested as the reason why antidepressants commonly take 4-6 weeks to work fully even though they raise synaptic serotinin levels within hours or days. Perhaps a more balanced view including all data and accurate statistics would be more useful for everybody since antidepressants are not going to go away in the near future and are very useful. Have you ever suffered from depression? It doesn`t sound like it. Show me the good quality evidence base that accupunture works for depression… There isn`t any..

    • Kate says

      Thank you for saying so eloquently my exact thoughts – there are a lot of holes in this study, including the fact that people taking higher levels of antidepressants are more likely to have more severe symptoms – how is it possible to differentiate between depressive symptoms and depressive symptoms apparently caused by antidepressants?

    • Anonymous2 says

      “Have you ever suffered from depression? It doesn`t sound like it.”

      One of the hardest things about being clinically depressed is that most people don’t understand the depths of agony it brings so they criticize the fact that some people do actually need antidepressants to help them. Not to say that people without MDD have never felt depressed, as it is human emotion, but it is ENTIRELY different. Its hard to accept the fact that I really do have a disease for this very reason– most of society just cannot understand. I would rather live a short, normal, and “happy” life on antidepressants than a long, miserable one without.

      • Njasmin says

        I agree with you, I have been on antidepressants for a very long time. I am someone who never likes to take anything for a head ache. I have tried multiple times to get off them but It just doesn’t work for me, the feeling of being depressed is miserable and know I would at anytime prefer to live a short and happy life than a miserable one. Antidepressant have given me my life back, and I am able to function on a daily basis. The feeling of being happy and enjoy the day, is priceless.

    • says

      There’s no “balanced view” of an industry that admits itself to being one of the leading causes of death in the US. Neither is there a “balanced view” of a drug that advertises one of its side-effects as “thoughts of suicide.” In contrast, how many have died or suffered from health supplements or alternative therapies? One drug alone killed 50,000 before it was pulled from the market. Vioxx is the tip of the iceberg.

      US Healthcare Third Leading Cause of Death
      http://bit.ly/18UQDTH

      It stands to reason that if a mind-altering drug can predispose someone to killing themselves, it can also manifest thoughts of killing others, and there’s no shortage of evidence to back this claim. Certainly, some patients do improve on antidepressants, but for how long? The vast majority of drugs only suppress symptoms — they do not cure. Often a change of lifestyle or diet can greatly improve the health and well-being of a troubled mind. Invasive drug therapy should be a last resort instead of the first line of defense. We don’t need more studies. We need to start holding the drug pushers accountable for their actions.

      Antidepressant Drug Warnings
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDUjCE-b-rU

      International Coalition For Drug Awareness
      http://www.drugawareness.org

      • Anonymous says

        Antidepressants aren’t meant to be a “cure,” nor are they meant for long term use. You said a change of lifestyle or diet can greatly improve the health and well-being of a troubled mind. I believe you are vastly oversimplifying the issue. These methods are ineffective for many people with Depression, especially those with severe symptoms. And moreover, how are you supposed to find the will to make major lifestyle changes when one of the primary symptoms of Depression is a loss of motivation? I highly doubt that you’ve experienced severe Depression personally, or you wouldn’t be making these rash statements. Antidepressants are useful because they make it easier to move towards these types of changes. Antidepressants may potentially increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, but the patients that are prescribed these medications are usually already suicidally depressed. It’s a risk-benefit consideration. Chemotherapy is horrible for the body, but would you discourage everyone with cancer from using this type of treatment? Something worth thinking about.

        • Travis says

          Hello Anonymous,

          While I respect your arguments and that you are living with a depressed love one or that you are depressed yourself, I have to ask you what it means when a shrink tells you or your loved one that, while you may have thought you would be able to get off of the drug, in actuality you will need to be on it the rest of your life because the chance of remission is so high.

          That argument is at the very least self-supporting, and I think this article is trying to address the issue that people who do stay on these drugs, for however long, gradually seem to become worse off. Agreed: living on the drug is 1000% better than feeling suicidal, but the drug is NOT going to fix the depression, merely to enable one to better COPE with it.

          .. I’m sorry but why are so few people who are depressed interested in moving beyond the drugs? Certainly they did not intend to stay on those substances their entire lives? Many people I love and care about are on these substances, for better or for worse, and I fear for their longevity because the system is stacked against letting people know just how much misinformation and commercial bias there is out there. It is in the drug companies’ best interest to get as many people as possible taking the drug- same story as with ADD. Yeah I know, suicide and ADD are very different. I agree– too bad the companies don’t see it that way.

    • Vrr says

      Hello anonymous, when I was 12 y/o my pediatrician prescribe me antidepressants I just took them for several months, when I turned 16 my gynecologist prescribed me Prozac , which I took it for the first 2 years of medical school, then doctor switch to sertraline this one I took it everyday just one and a half year off during pregnancy . Now I am 34 y/o, a year ago I started having movements problems, as a foreign graduated medical doctor I was worried because I had what in the medical field is called myoclonus, it was so bad that the involuntary movements wake me up during the night every 5 minutes … I couldn’t sleep was a nightmare, I proceed and go for a cranial MRI, the results where so unexpected , they show cerebral cortex atrophy, I was 33 and have a brain of a 75 year old women, immediately I book an appointment with a neurologist and he told me , that kind of atrophy was seen in drug addicts, I was shocked because I never did any recreational drugs, I have never smoke and just take a glass of wine in the
      holydays, I always been trying to eat healthy and have a daily run… I knew that the only thing I have been taking strange to my body or chemical was my daily sertraline, in that moment I stopped taking it hoping the myoclonus stopped to, thanks God the movements started to diminish, I took six months to totally disappear, now my problem is the memory loss . The dosage I took was 50 mgs.not even the 100 mgs. It was small dose … I am just telling you this because even doctors didn’t realize the hazardous potential of this medication, I would never give any long term antidepressant to my family, if it’s really bad the moment they are going through I prescribe exercise lots of exercise in order the brain start generating endorphins by itself.

  61. Dale says

    And what about the GI bleeding? I had severe gutaches with Candida, thought it was cured with a year of nystatin, but my digestion has been worse and worse ever since and I am only able to eat few foods and digest few supplements. How do you know if you have GI bleeding?
    I didn’t realize at the time (08) when I quit Effexor that the panic walking I had which resulted in Plantar Fasciitis was from withdrawal. My depression did not change except perhaps to get worse. I think I need a lot of a variety of hormones to try to get better.

  62. Dale says

    After years of migraines (from The Pill), then quitting smoking, severe Candidiasis, hypoglycemia, severe depression, type 2 diabetes, at least a decade of antidepressants including Effexor, I awoke in 2000 with severe incapacitating chills. After several years (normal TSH) I was finally able to get enough thyroid desiccated hormone to bring my Free T3/T4 to the top of the range and start on bioidentical hormone replacement. I still have low temperature (average 95.5 am) and chills and severe depression. I quit Effexor about 3 years ago when it seemed more negative than positive. The low thyroid I thought was from many things BUT if it’s from antidepressants is it permanent? Can anything be done to repair the damage? Thanks.

  63. barbara says

    I’m having psicological and psysiological symptoms some of the ones you write of Effexor withdrawal, i’m now with 18 g I started taking last november with 2 capsules, but i had two other epiodes of depression with cold turkey in last 2 years.
    I don’t like how antidepressants change my power and self confidence.
    I was doing acupuncture for the last two monyhs but i had to quit because i felt going crazy.
    A Ph. Dr. told me about a supplement with Griffonia simplicifolia extract, quelate magnesium, malic acid and apple extract.
    I wrote to the laboratories that prepare them and told me that i can take it when i stop completely the antidepressants.

    I don’t feel completely fine, i’m afraid to quit Effexor because of another depresive episode, and as you say each time my depression goes chronical and feel less power in myself.

    It’s good time to leave Effexor and switch for this supplement it seems can help me enhance my self power and confidence? and maybe continue with Acupuncture.
    I also made a SCIO and ORION test who made me feel a little better with my withdrawal. But i don’t live no more, i’m afraid to get a job, i’m semiparalyzed i lost my feelings and goals,i don’t now what to do. I also try positive thougts and meditation. But i want to be myself again! my baddest feelings are in the morning.

    Thank you for your comment, i am pretty deseperate
    I hope you can answer me soon

  64. Bob Taylor says

    Read the book, “The Dark Side of Mania” by Amy and William Dunn. It’s deftly constructed at 67 pages. It’s about a manic depressive and his dark moments iin mania and what his wife felt living with him. Great read.

  65. says

    Barbara,

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a hard time. As you are well aware, it can be very difficult to withdraw from these medications and the withdrawal symptoms often mimic the original symptoms of depression. My suggestion is to find a medical professional to supervise you through this process if possible. Pick up a copy of Peter Breggin’s book “Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Your Psychiatric Drug“, and see if you can find a doctor or psychiatrist that will follow those principles. Good luck, Barbara.

    Chris

  66. Teilor Heidi LyBrand says

    Physical pain lately.my wrist,ankles,legs,back hurt as if it was on fire.I forget things about thirty 30 after inquiries.my children suffer from childhood illnesses,making me feel like I’m not a good parent.these alone are mentally harmful.and staying in therapy for the rest of my life..who really can you trust?I think about suicide everyday..how much can a human mind take..oh and we are all in therapy. Tired and hopeful…wanting peace.however,I have also been forcing myself to ignore imagined things..like my voices”borderline personality disorders”…shadows as if there is someone there.light sensitivity..lost.

    M

  67. BARBARA says

    Thank you for your reply I’ve been told to trust my psy Dr, they say at OSU he’s a ” major league” expert nationwide with pharmacology in the psy world. I’ll have to work on trust and communication as well as being more aware.
    Thanks again

  68. Sarah L says

    My heart goes out to you. The physical symptoms are bad enough, but I also remember when the drugs were messing with my mind so much (while I was taking them and during withdrawal) that I was afraid to be alone with my kids (afraid for them, I mean).
    As for the suicidal thoughts, I know that the drugs can make it a lot easier to believe things that can push you close to the edge–and even over it. Zoe (who commented above) will be praying for you, and so will I. God bless and protect you and your family! One day at a time.

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