I wrote this for the Facebook group as someone came into the group and asked people’s experiences with antidepressants and one person actually said, “Oh I had a horrible time coming off them.” He also said his THERAPIST wasn’t a fan of antidepressants. I was fairly horrified at both the person’s response to him and his report about his therapist. It concerned me SO MUCH, that I wrote this post to the group and thought I would share it here for people who follow the blog, but aren’t on the group:
As the admin of this group I want to talk to people about talking to others about YOUR experience with medication.
I want to say this to anyone who has had experiences with antidepressants: please understand that your experience may not be another person’s experience. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DISSUADE SOMEONE FROM TAKING THEM.
I was on them for 2 years after Michael passed and I came off of them perfectly fine. I tried 3 different times to come off them and I wasn’t ready until the 3rd try. But, I did not suffer withdrawal when I finally came off successfully. We took them off slowly and I was FINE. Do not let someone else’s experience dissuade you from them. You can collect as much ancedotal evidence as you like, but YOUR EXPERIENCE will not be the same. So far as I can tell from being a therapist for 25 plus years, for being a psychiatric clinician for many of those years, and from being someone who was ON antidepressants for 2 years, you can’t compare your experience WHATEVER IT IS to what someone else MAY experience. It’s so different person to person. No 2 people, that I can tell, have the exact same experience. I’ve had SIMILAR experiences to other people, but exactly the same? Haven’t found it yet and I’ve spoken to DOZENS of people over the years.
As both a psychiatric clinician who worked with many psychiatrists and many many many psychiatric patients in the psychiatric milieu, I can tell you UNEQUIVOCALLY that you cannot let other people’s experiences dissuade you from something that may SAVE YOUR LIFE.
My experience both as someone who took them and someone who worked in the psychiatric services for a LONG time is that it is more ART than SCIENCE. I can only take one antidepressant. I have a very hard time with medication PERIOD. That is WAY OFF THE MARK from most people’s experiences with medication. I do not say “Only take this ONE antidepressants because all these others made me sick!” That would be CRAZY.I know my experience is different from most others.
I DO NOT tell others “Oh don’t take this it makes me sick….” or ANYTHING ELSE no matter WHAT the medication is. I could say that with pain meds – there is only one pain med I can take….antibiotics…there are very few I can take without upset….I was on chemo for Lupus and it almost killed me….I don’t tell other Lupus patients “Oh don’t let a doctor put you on chemo for Lupus! it might kill you!” I do not say that. In my Lupus groups, if there is a question about the chemo I was on, I tell them what my experience was – but I never say “don’t take that!” even though the medication I was taking nearly killed me. Everyone is different.
Please be responsible with your experience. We have many people in this group who suffer from depression and anxiety. Antidepressants are HELPFUL. It may take quite a few attempts to get you on the right med, on the right dose, before you are feeling okay and it take WEEKS for most of them to kick in. Please do not badmouth antidepressants.
They are not EVIL. If you suffer from depression or you have “sad brain” (low level depression that is chronic) from things that happened to you in childhood, you NEED the chemicals to wake up the NATURAL chemicals in your brain. You need a kickstart and often if you combine antidpressants (the right medication at the right does) WHILE doing affirmations and positive self talk (countless studies have shown that you can waken the “happy chemicals” in your brain through positive self-talk and affirmations – please read the Power! Affirmations Booklet about all the studies that have been done about this), you can reverse the trend (depression/sad brain) and DO THE WORK.
Antidepressants keep you from falling into the pit of despair you would fall into if you try to do the work without them. I would have jumped off a roof if I tried to do my grief work around Michael without them. They don’t NUMB YOU OUT. If you’re numbed out, you are taking too much or your doctor is an idiot. GET ANOTHER DOCTOR.
You do NOT go through withdrawal IF you come off them correctly. I tried 3 different times to come off them and I had to go back on them – I was NOT ready. I don’t tell others to NOT go on them because I couldn’t go off them 3 different times! That is MY experience and it’s odd. I don’t paint MY story as “the story.”
As a psychiatric professional and someone who took antidepressants SUCCESSFULLY when I needed them and did affirmations and positive self-talk while taking them to WAKE UP my brain chemicals so I COULD come off them when I was ready, I IMPLORE you to not paint antidepressants as anything you might not “be a fan of” or if you had a bad experience, maybe it was your physiological makeup and not the medication or maybe your doctor was a moron. But don’t tell someone who is asking for your experience to NOT take them.
This is neuroscience. They KNOW how to wake up the “happy chemicals” that have gone to sleep. I discuss all of this in the Power! Affirmations Booklet in GREAT DETAIL. And this isn’t a pitch for that booklet (but if you want to buy it, the button to the link is below), but I have seen people come off antidepressants because they substituted positive self-talk and affirmations to help keep the “happy chemicals” awake. YOU CAN DO IT NATURALLY but you MANY TIMES need a boost. Read about it. Don’t take one person’s bad experience opinion for fact or science. It’s neither. And please be responsible with YOUR experience. You can ENHANCE your experience with positive self-talk and affirmations and KEEP THE HAPPY CHEMICALS moving!
But if you need a BOOST to get there, if you need help to keep from falling into the pit of despair, if it’s been MONTHS and you’re still having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, TRY ANTIDEPRESSANTS. They have a bad rap for NO REASON. Stop trying to WHITE KNUCKLE your way through depression. It’s not only not feasible, it’s not possible!!!
I have seen antidepressants CHANGE people’s lives for the better. Read “Listening to Prozac” – it’s a great read. I have seen people DO THE WORK ONLY because they had a floor under them via antidepressants. If you’re on antidepressants and you’re NUMBING OUT, something is wrong. Either the medication is wrong or you’re on too high a dose.
We ask in the Group Guidelines that people who are suicidal not bring that to the group – but if you are so demotivated that you can’t get out of bed in the morning months on or you feel like jumping off a roof – GET A DEPRESSION EVALUATION and please get on antidepressants. And if you have a therapist who is not a fan of antidepressants and you like him or her otherwise, I would avoid the discussion and get an evaluation from a psychiatrist.
If your medical insurance requires a referral from a therapist and your therapist won’t give you one, get a new therapist. I rarely tell people to get a new therapist but if your therapist is against antidepressants, I’d consider it. I find it RECKLESS for a therapist to be strongly against something that saves people’s lives and you are welcome to print this out and bring this to ANY therapist and I will gladly discuss this with anyone’s therapist who has a different opinion.
And if you had a BAD experience with antidepressants, please know that your experience is not everyone’s experience and telling someone else not to do it is very irresponsible. Please don’t do it. Antidepressants have saved many lives.