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to ask for your experiences/advice on taking anti-depressants

(31 Posts)
WhoahThere Wed 20-Jul-11 19:40:05

It seems I'm suffering from mild depression; feeling pretty sad, very tearful, absolutely knackered and not quite able to pull myself out of this mental hole. However, to all intents and purposes I am functioning fine - getting up and going about my day, visiting people, exercising, and avoiding (most of the time) bursting into tears in inappropriate places.

I've been to the GP today who was very nice, listened and asked questions, and then gave me the number of the counselling people and also prescribed me anti-depressants. She said - and I agree - that the depression is not strictly post-natal (dd is 6mo) but also situational; I find it hard being on my own and always have done, and whilst I love dd and wouldn't have it any other way, maternity leave is proving a challenge to say the least!

I am totally in two minds about taking anti-depressants. On one hand it seems a rather radical step to start taking something that will 'mess with my mind' when I am fairly confident that when I go back to work in 4 months mental order will be restored, and I think there are strategies I can put in place to help me get through this. On the other hand, I am definitely not happy or coping very well, so should I just take them to give me the kick I need to get back on track so I can get on with being a mum and enjoying the rest of my time at home with dd?

And finally, having taken the step and talked to my GP, I find that I'm actually feeling much much better - whether it's having the option of taking the pills that's helping, or just having talked about the problem. So maybe a counsellor would help - I had previously thought this wasn't really an option for me, but maybe I'm wrong.

So this has turned into a bit of a (lengthy, sorry) WWYD, but what I originally was thinking was that I might benefit from the wisdom of anyone out there who has experience of this sort of thing.

elisadoeslittle Wed 20-Jul-11 19:42:28

I felt that I wouldnt be the 'real' me on antidepressants. That they would create some ultra happy different me, which would not be true to my real and melancholy self.

I took them and never looked back. I was on them for 2 months and they really really helped me. HTH smile

DontCallMePeanut Wed 20-Jul-11 19:42:29

Which ones did she prescribe? Each one has a different effect, and every person reacts differently.

Glitterknickaz Wed 20-Jul-11 19:43:07

You will find if you take them you'll feel 'flat'.... on an emotional level. You won't feel extreme lows but nor will you feel the highs. It kind of anaesthatises you from your emotions. You just keep on keeping on if you get me.

When I had my last bout of depression (situational plus PND) I needed that, I literally couldn't go on. If you don't feel that way then perhaps they are not needed.

Only you can make that decision. Only you know how you feel and if you can carry on the way you are.

Just all the best and I hope you're feeling better soon, whatever you decide.

squeakytoy Wed 20-Jul-11 19:44:02

If you had a headache, you would take a painkiller, if you had a broken arm you would put it in plaster, and by the same token, if you are depressed, it is usually caused by a chemical imbalance, and the tablets you take will hopefully put it right.

They are not an instant cure, it can take a few weeks for them to really kick in and the effects work. But if you dont give them a try, you wont know if they will help or not.

They dont take away the things that are getting you down, but what they do is repair the imbalance of your moods, and the things that have been stressing you out so much will not seem as much of a challenge as they do at the moment.

smile

catgirl1976 Wed 20-Jul-11 19:46:17

They do take a while to work - ususally 6 - 8 weeks so if you are thinking you will be better of your own accord within 4 months you may want to give that some thought. They are not for me but other people find them very useful. I think they are good to give you "a break" from your feelings whilst you deal with the things you have going on but are not really a solution longer term. They are all different, work in different ways SSRI's are fairly common but there are other types

Good luck whatever you decide

shakey1500 Wed 20-Jul-11 19:47:23

It's very true that people react differently to them.

For me, I was prescribed fluoxetine and had an extreme reaction to them. But they work well for others.

From what you've said, it appears to me you are being extremely level headed about you situation. I think it would be worth exploring the counselling without meds first and if it doesn't help, then consider taking them.

Good luck and hope you feel brighter soon.

smileyhappymummy Wed 20-Jul-11 19:47:55

If you feel better for having talked to your GP why not wait for a week or two, go back and see him / her again and talk through the pros and cons of antidepressants again? It certainly isn't a clearcut decision and while they work brilliantly for some people there is a fair bit of evidence suggesting that they may not offer much benefit for others. Other options like CBT might be useful as well perhaps??? If you fancy having a look, there is a computer-based CBT thing that you can do yourself - v basic and not as good as interacting with a therapist but it might be good to try? here is the link http://www.llttf.com. Anyway, whatever you decide I do hope you feel better soon. Often, I think, recognising that there is a problem and what it is can be helpful in itself. You have taken the first step towards getting better anyway.

DontCallMePeanut Wed 20-Jul-11 19:49:19

Depending on the one's you're taking, they will take some time to kick in. Some of them can have pretty shitty side effects, but they do wear off after a few weeks.

Agree with Glitterknicknaz's "flat" description. But, like I said, everyone is affected differently. I was on citalopram for several months. Took myself off them, as they really screwed with me. My friend however, found they worked wonders for her.

lubberlich Wed 20-Jul-11 19:49:28

Anti-depressants don't have to be a long term thing - I have used them to get me through a tough time on a couple of occasions. Walking, physical activity, gardening etc all help too - getting the balance back into my life made a huge difference - but it was the anti-depressants than enabled me to get back on my feet in the first instance.
If you take something like Fluoxetine (Prozac) don't expect miracles initially. It takes a while to kick in.
Good luck. Depression is shitter than shit but you can come out the other side of it.

Tee2072 Wed 20-Jul-11 19:51:24

I have to disagree with glitter. I have been taking anti-depressants for years and I still feel highs and lows and not 'flat' at all.

In fact, when I feel 'flat' is when I know I need a med adjustment.

Of course I have several diagnosed mental illnesses but I would encourage you to give the meds a try. It doesn't have to be forever but it just might make things easier and, as you say, make the rest of your leave more enjoyable.

WhenCanIWine Wed 20-Jul-11 19:55:11

I'd wait. I say that because I often ended up at the GPs at the worst point and it all got easier quite quickly then. It kind of peaked. Plus if you are sure it is situational then you know the end is in site. Hang on in there.

If however you still feel low then, I would have no hesitation in saying try the meds. They really can help.

TurnipCake Wed 20-Jul-11 19:58:16

I took anti-depressants in 2004 and came off them a year later. I had a really positive experience with them. My depression was deemed moderate and by the time I took them, I had trouble getting out of bed every morning; it really felt like there was a weight on my chest pushing me down.

In the end, most of my recovery came via therapy, taking up regular exercise, sleeping and the rest. Anti-depressants acted as the key unlocking the door to all those things - they helped me to function to get to the other forms of help, and in conjunction with everything else, it all worked really well together. Sure, I may have eventually gotten from A to B without them, but they helped to get me there faster; there was no virtue in having depression for a longer period than necessary, I had already been through that.

That's my experience, I don't think there's a 'wrong' way of doing things in your situation, you just have to evaluate what feels right for you. Good luck, hope things improve for you soon smile

elah11 Wed 20-Jul-11 19:59:40

I took Lexapro for a year and never felt 'flat', I just felt better able to cope with the cr*p that was happening at the time. I am glad I took them for that time, they were what I needed and I came off them when I felt ready.

FreudianSlipper Wed 20-Jul-11 20:10:14

i would try to get some counselling rather than taking ad's

for many they become addictive, at times they are needed but they are so over prescribed because counselling services are in short supply, its quick fix

they can make you feel like you can cope better but what happens in so many cases is they feel like this for a while then something happens and they feel like they can not cope again, the dose is upped and the cycle carries on adn it is very hard to then get off them. jsut be careful about upping your dose if you do go on them and try and get off them when things are better for you (but gradually)

FabbyChic Wed 20-Jul-11 20:15:34

Depression is caused by short circuit in the brain, in order to get this going again you take anti-depressants, or look at it like your car being topped up with oil because it keeps losing oil. The anti-d's are your oil.

I would never tell anybody not to take them.

I started on mine when I was near suicidal, they keep me alive, I am normal by all accounts, but only because I take the meds, I would rather take medication than spend every day feeling like I was drowing and I could not swim.

Like feeling like I was in a big dark well with no way out and all I could see was a pin prick of light.

Counselling? Does not cure depression it might help with something else like anxiety, but depression is not necessarily caused by having a bad life or by life events. Sometimes it can hit those who have everything.

Counselling takes time, you have to wait for it, I would never advocate counselling over anti-depressants.

And I talk from experience of a very long time.

WhoahThere Wed 20-Jul-11 20:20:27

Wowsers, that was quick!!! Thanks everyone.

DontCallMePeanut she's prescribed me 20mg of Citalopram and said they would take 3 weeks at least to kick in.

shakey1500, yes I do feel fairly level-headed about the situation now - but I didn't earlier today!!

nethunsreject Wed 20-Jul-11 20:20:56

I've been on them 20 yrs now and I would wait in your situation.

They are great if you are not functioning. They get you functioning again enough to see the issues. You are functioning, albeit with difficulty. And you can see the issues.

I don't regret taking them as I was severely depressed (hospitalised) but I do not thiink they should be prescribed so readily, particularly to people like you, op, who clearly knows what is wrong and has had benefit from a bit of off loading.

kalidasa Wed 20-Jul-11 21:27:44

I think if you found talking to the doctor has lifted your mood, then it would really make sense to seek out some counseling - especially as you mention in your original post that part of what is bringing you down is that you find it hard spending time alone.

Citalopram is generally considered to be one of the 'mildest' of the SSRIs and most people are fine with it. (I had a very serious adverse reaction to it but the senior psychiatrist I eventually saw said how unusual this was.) Maybe you could get arrange some counseling and also fill the prescription and put it in the cupboard so if your mood sinks further you have it to try?

As well as CBT you could try googling "mindfulness" which I find extremely helpful (more than the pure CBT techniques). But really from what you say I think you'd benefit a lot from talking to a real person.

BlooferLady Wed 20-Jul-11 21:34:03

I have twice been prescribed ADs.

I have a tendency to develop clinical depression absolutely out of the blue and totally unrelated to circumstance. It evidences itself in the usual feelings of bleakness, pointlessness, ennui, retreat and inclination to be a bit teenagery in the self-harm dept (disclaimer: I have thankfully never gone far down that route).

Both time I was presribed Prozac for 3-4 months. Both times I found that restored me to an even keel. The hollowness and terrors receded. The best way I can describe it is that it was as though all the lights came on again.

HOWEVER

To this day I do not know if they worked as placebos or not. The first occasion it happened I effectively had a breakdown in the GP's reception area and wept and howled 'Why will no-one help me?' Sometimes I think the very APPEARANCE of being helped was what helped me and not necessarily the drug itself.

That being said I was actually taking a dose of serotonin reuptake inhibitor ... so it could have been the chemicals!

In short: I recommend. You need not continue on them, but they may help.

Glitterknickaz Wed 20-Jul-11 21:36:29

I'm only here today because of anti depressants.
I wouldn't have survived my depression without them.

It's a personal, individual choice as to whether you feel they are right for you.

CurlyCasper Wed 20-Jul-11 21:37:13

I was in a similar position to you in December. My daughter was 6 months old and I finally sought help for the way I was feeling (not PND, just the surfacing of issues that had been present for several years). I was put on 20mg of Citalopram and it has really helped. I finally started counselling last week and see that as the "real" was out. In the first session she uncovered a few issues, and is referring me and my husband (together) to someone more appropriate to our situation. From my experience, I think it is right to take the ADs to get back on track, but you need to get to the root cause. The pills helped me get on with life, but they also blocked out any extreme emotions, so I haven't actually been handling it at all, just getting by. Nonetheless, they allowed me to get back out of my front door, back to work and to have some good times. The hard work starts now - second appointment tomorrow. Hope you feel brighter soon.

CurlyCasper Wed 20-Jul-11 21:38:05

<brief wave to Bloofer>

madmomma Wed 20-Jul-11 21:38:20

fabbychic I relate so much to that. Fluoxitine made my life feel worth living, and whilst I'd love to not need them, the fact that they're available is such a blessing.

Glubs Wed 20-Jul-11 21:42:12

I took them for PND in conjunction with counselling. I wasn't happy about taking them but they did help. I was on them for 6 months, I'm sure I wouldn't have coped going back to work without them.

Each case is individual but don't see them as a slippery slope, see them as (an albeit long) course of antibiotics for your wellbeing.

I hope you find what works for you and you find your way out of this soon. Don't panic, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. x

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