When taking antidepressants kind of sucks

when taking antidepressants kind of sucksI’m a big proponent of taking antidepressants to manage depression. I’m all for them. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. But that doesn’t mean that I think they will make life perfect and all better, all the time.

For example: You know what can suck about antidepressants? When you have side effects. And man, have I been feeling them lately.reminder

I haven’t posted much over the last couple of weeks because I haven’t been feeling great. I’ve been dealing with anxiety, which is unusual for me. Things like chest tightness, obsession with lists, getting really upset and teary about how miserably I’m failing at everything. Fun stuff.

I’ve also had trouble concentrating and I get distracted easily – which makes it pretty hard to sit down and write. And to top it all off, I’m having trouble sleeping.

Anxiety + poor sleep = tired, unfocused, even more anxious JD.

I stare at my list of to-dos and fret over how little I’m getting done. I sit down to write and get distracted by Facebook. I lie down to sleep and my thoughts race as I keep going over all the things I didn’t accomplish – and wonder how I’m going to get it all done the next day.

And then I wake up with a sense of dread, knowing I’m going to fail at getting my to-dos done. Again.

I’m pretty sure what I’m going through are some side effects of the citalopram (Celexa). I can feel the symptoms starting to lighten, and I’m not sure if it’s because the stress in my life has eased up a bit, or if my body has just become accustomed to the dose I’m on. Who knows, really. But I am feeling better, slowly.

However, when I’m not doing well for an extended period of time I always wonder deep down – is this it? Is it happening? Is this med wearing off and it’s time to switch to another?

Because that’s another thing that can suck about SSRIs. For some people, including me, they lose their effectiveness eventually. And you have to try a new one. Which means possibly going through new, fun side effects. Dosage adjustments. And being patient while you give the med time to work out the kinks before you judge if it’s not right for you.

SSRIs losing their effectiveness is called the “poop-out effect.” Cute little name. Not so cute to go through, you know? I appreciate what SSRIs can do for me, but even when I feel good, part of me is always waiting to feel bad again. Because I know I will, eventually.

So how am I getting through this down phase?

When I’m dealing with a down phase for whatever reason, I first try to make some non-medical changes. Right now I am increasing my activity and going back to group training. I’m also trying to work out sometimes with Hubs when he does his Insanity videos. It’s been proven over and over that exercise helps people who struggle with depression, and I do see a difference when I’m active.

I’ve also been offline more. It helps me to step away from the computer and not feel the need to stay on top of every social media site and read every blog post. Yeah, I owe a lot of people a lot of emails (and I know some of them are to you readers who emailed me after my Katie Couric show interview – trust me, I will reply!). But being online can increase my anxiety, so I’ve been taking a step back.

And finally – I’m trying to get more sleep. It’s tough because I know the earlier I go to bed, the less things on my list I get to. But sleep is crucial – so I’m trying to get more.

Yeah … the side effects and the poop-out effect can be a total bummer. But in the end, I’m still glad I have SSRIs to take. Because without them, I’d be in a far worse place.

What about you? Do you have side effects from SSRIs? Do they lose their effectiveness eventually for you? What non-medical tactics do you use to manage your depression?


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32 Replies to “When taking antidepressants kind of sucks”

  1. JD, I’m sorry to hear that things haven’t been great lately. I hope that increasing your activity level and getting more sleep helps alleviate your symptoms.

    As always, thank you for hosting this link-up!

  2. Your link just came over my Pinterest feed, which is how I found your blog. Wow! (Disclaimer: I haven’t checked the rest of your blog out yet, so keep that in mind if I ask a redundant question or something). I’m also a mom with mood disorders…I have chronic, lifelong, it-runs-in-the-family anxiety and depression and have been on meds for the last 20+ years. My blog is about being a mom of preschoolers while struggling with said mood disorders.

    I’m currently having an AWFUL time switching from Effexor to Pristiq due to the insane Effexor withdrawal symptoms. Xanax is my new best friend.

    Anyhoo, I’ll be back to read more, but I’m also trying to get off the computer so I can get some chores done. πŸ™‚

  3. I have never heard it called the “poop-out effect” before, but this makes total sense. There are definitely times when I feel like my meds are working better than others. I am so sorry things have been tough for you lately. I hear you on the anxiety and sleep issues. I wish you weren’t going through this b/c I know it’s awful, but I can so relate. Sometimes I feel like I need a horse tranquilizer at night to actually let me fall asleep and stay asleep. Hang in there, friend…

  4. I am a new follower to your blog since I saw your interview on katie. I’ve been struggling with ppd and ppmd since my son was born last march but have only recently seeked out help in the last few months. I am on week 4 of taking prozac and it has helped me so much. I’m not 100% better but I feel the edgieness is subsiding. The only side effect I’m feeling is total lack of energy. I’m working with my doctor to fix this but man it definitely does suck! Your posts really help me and give me the sense that I’m not alone. I thank you for being such a great role model and strong enough to stand up for other moms like us. I hope you are feeling better soon and those side effects leave you alone. Much love, phaedra.

  5. Have you ever tried an SNRI? Don’t seem to have the whole “poop out” thing. Also, they can add a med that tweaks dopamine (like Abilify) for harder to treat depression. Anyway, I recently read that studies are showing that if you get agressive with the meds until you find one that leaves you with literally no symptoms of your depression, and then you stay on that concoction (assuming it’s working of course) for one year after all symptoms are gone, then the chance of having another depressive episode is significantly reduced and even if you do have another episode, the length of time until it occurs is significantly longer. Anyway, thought that was cool and I know when I’m done having kids and bf-ing, I’m going to go hard for that goal! Hope you feel better soon πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you for sharing these important words on the sometimes-downside of taking antidepressants. I’m on Celexa and Abilify. Unfortunately, the medication has been making me put on weight all in my tummy area and behind! In terms of my mental health, though, it’s been working wonders. I think it’s good that you’re trying various non medical ways of battling depression. I should start implementing some of your ideas in my own life.

  7. One of my drugs actually made me more depressed, so I know how you feel. It can be really frustrating.

    I’m going to talk to my shrink soon about lowering my dose and see how I feel since things have been pretty stable. Which is a little scary because I’ve really enjoyed stable. πŸ™‚

  8. hang in there…you are not alone. I'm not sure if my SSRI causes those things w/me. But I do find that facebook and non-work related computer time sucks the time away from me and my family. then I feel guilty and unproductive and that leads to all sorts of bad feelings. so I set my timer for those computer times and walk away from the computer when it goes off. I've been more productive for sure. but my problem is sleep deprivation. if I don't get a good night's rest I am total crap the rest of teh day. luckily my husband is understanding of this (he's been victim of mood after a night of no sleep) and lets me get to bed early when needed. but I remind myself (out loud sometimes) that I am not alone when it comes to anxiety and depression and raising kids and being a wife and running a home and etc, etc, etc. so YOU ARE NOT ALONE and reach out to your friends and family (and us online buddies). we're here for you!

  9. I am on wellbutrin, which is not an SSRI, but I am so afraid of the day it stops working. I do not want to go through the pain of switching meds. I totally feel for you. I hope you feel better soon!

  10. I have never heard of the “poop out effect.” Interesting. You’re making me think. Yesterday I was one screaming mama bear to my kids. It was ugly. I took one of my pills and I feel better today. I will have to notice it a little more.

    I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling well, friend. I hope this all gets worked out for you. Hugs!!

  11. Dear JD, I am not at all surprised that you feel this way. You did a very difficult and brave thing putting yourself out there on Katie Couric (I thought she was tough on all the guests that day–you were all brave!) You mentioned that you had a lot of backlash before the show and after as well as positive comments and I am sure it took its toll. Not to say you are not having the poop out effect but I know when I do something incredibly difficult and or taxing I sometimes have repercussions for weeks after. I am very proud of you!

  12. I was diagnosed with depression at 13, and started my medication rollercoaster there. In my 20’s I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. So I went off, it wasn’t until I became a mom, that some might call an evil dragon lady, that I realized I needed to get my issues under control, that was about 5 years ago (37). I was put on SSRI’s as well, I was OK with the side effects, I had what you are describing when going up doses, completely the whole thing. I stopped seeing my GP for these issues and instead started talking to my Neurologist, who is also a Neuropharmacologist and the top in his field. He has published many articles on bi-polar and bi-polar 2 disorder. He was the one who explained to me that I had bi-polar 2, he also explained that while SSRI’s are great for clinical depression, they are not the right drug for bi-polar. The correct drug family for bi-polar are called mood stabilizers. I urge you to google this if it fits you at all. Seriously, my life has changed exponentially since I very very slowly weaned off of Lexapro and onto Lamictal. I am a different person, I mean the same person, but without the anxiety and stress that didn’t totally go away on the SSRI’s. I joke that I knew it was working when I realized it had been about 3 weeks since I went apeshit on my husband πŸ™‚ The sad thing is that it was about then that my son said, “Mom, why have you been so nice lately?” It made me want to cry, but at least I know now, it’s all good πŸ™‚ Sorry for the longest comment in the world!

  13. JD, Once again I thank you for your openness and honesty!! And Im sorry your having a hard time. Seriously give yourself credit! You deserve it. I do realize that is easier said than done, LOL. I feel guilty for finding comfort in your discomfort. I have had times when I felt just like that. I wonder why and if its just me being lazy or just weak. Your post always also lets others have a voice in expressing themselves. I love reading the responses and comments from others. Well not enjoy persay, but again find comfort in knowing Im not alone or as fucked up as I think. The fact that I find that I am not alone is inspiring. It helps by getting me through the low days. Thank you for not being selfish and sharing your feelings. I imagine it can be somewhat therapeutic. Or maybe its a labor of love. Either way I appreciate it.

  14. Most importantly, you’re taking care of yourself. I’m hoping your side effects continue to wane. The side effects of my medication are weight gain and problems with sex. My hubby is really good about it and we joke that at least I’m fat and happy instead of the alternative. Hang in there!

  15. I give you so much credit for trying to make little changes to carry you through this change. I think it’s all too easy to give in to the depression and anxiety and give up on anything. But you are trying to take steps. That is great and it will surely help. You’re not alone. We’ve all felt this way one time or another. Hang in there.

  16. Thank you for being a voice for us moms who suffer from and deal with anxiety and depression. I started following you after I read the article written about you in Parenthood magazine. I’m a new mom, my baby is 4 1/2 months old, and I have generalized anxiety disorder. I’ve been a worry-wart since I was a teenager, but it never really got out of control until college. I would get anxious when ever I would feel trapped. Claustrophobia is not my friend. I carry Xanax and Ativan with me wherever I go in case I need to take it. In reality, I only take it when I get on an airplane, a boat, a train….somewhere that I have to sit for a long period of time where I can’t escape. I’ve been trying to figure out where this stems from, but have been told by therapists it is mostly genetic. After baby was born, my anxiety went richter. My whole body shook with fear when bringing her home from the hospital. I became afraid of the dark. I couldn’t sleep, which causes more anxiety. My life was already upside down with a new baby and a feeling of a lack of freedom. I started to be obsessed with weather patterns. I live in the Midwest where weather is volatile and not fun at times, especially in the winter months. The grey days started to get greyer. The days were shorter. Fog, blizzards, and thunderstorms are not my friends. And I felt trapped at home with my baby. My anxiety was getting the best of me and I was becoming afraid of my own baby! After three months of breastfeeding and not getting back on Zoloft (which I took for two years prior to getting pregnant), I realized that I should probably get back on the SSRI. The first 10 days were brutal. Jaw clenching, racing thoughts, sleepless nights, depression, and worsening anxiety. I have no idea why the opposite of what Zoloft is supposed to help with becomes so severe in the first few weeks. I had never really felt depressed in my life. I’ve felt down, but not ever like I felt when I started taking Zoloft again. When I started the medicine two years ago, I never had these side effects in the beginning. I’m taking the same dosage and I am wondering if I was supposed to start with 25 mg and eventually move to 50 mg. Anyway, the severe side effects lasted a few weeks then started to fade away as the weeks progressed. I started to feel really good four weeks in but really sleepy at night. Now, it’s been almost 8 weeks on Zoloft and my sleep is light at night, I wake up at every little sound. My jaw still clenches from time to time and my motivation and drive have dampened. But, I feel less anxious, which I guess was the goal. Side effects suck and I am thinking that there is no magic pill that will help me live a perfect life. Maybe I have to wait a little longer for my body to get used to the drug. I’m not quite sure. As for when I took Zoloft for two years prior to pregnancy, I started to feel the fear creep back in. I started taking it because I was going through a major transition in my life, moving from Los Angeles to rural Iowa. In LA, I started to fear traffic jams and I started to avoid freeways, always looking up traffic maps on my phone for alternative routes. I wasn’t willing to travel far by car by myself. Anxiety is irrational fear and I have lots of it.
    Maybe Zoloft isn’t right for me. Maybe it doesn’t help me with all of my anxiety issues. About 12 years ago, I tried Paxil and I remember it made me feel awful. It was the first SSRI I tried and looking back, maybe I didn’t give it long enough to work. The side effects for two weeks were not fun. I dropped down to 10 mg a day and took that for 7 years. I had a therapist tell me that that dose was probably not doing anything for me. So I stopped taking it one day, cold turkey. I had some side effects from the withdrawal, but nothing that bad.
    This reply is getting longer than I meant to write! The conclusion to this comment is that yes, side effects suck and trying out new meds sucks. The time it takes to get off one, then start another, then see if that one works is time consuming and mentally painful, all while caring for a child. I feel for you Honest Mom, and am right there with you. I’ve got two blogs, totally unrelated to motherhood, so I understand that sitting down to write is difficult when going through side effects. The mind is in a fog, and the ability to concentrate is really hard.
    My baby is taking an extra long nap right now, so I have the ability to write a long comment. Thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings out there for us all to read. You have no idea how helpful it has been to read about other moms and their experiences with SSRIs, anxiety and depression, and motherhood. It helps me not feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother!

  17. There are all kinds of benefits to exercise, but recent studies show that alleviating clinical depression is not one of them. I do hope you find the right medication, dosage, and treatment plan to manage your depression.

  18. It does suck. I was put on celexa when I was first diagnosed in Nov/10. For the first week or so I had a persistent headache and was utterly exhausted. After that one week though, I felt fine. I was functioning again and able to feel enjoyment. Lately things had been getting really bad again, I was in a really bad spot and it stayed like that for months. My doctor decided to go out of the SSRI group and try me on Wellbutrin. She did say that after roughly 3 years a lot of people need to switch medication. So I’ve been taking the Wellbutrin for a few weeks now, and am still weaning off the celexa. I think their goal is to have me off it completely in the next month. I haven’t noticed a huge difference yet, but I am not taking the full dose of Wellbutrin yet. They are going to up me from 150mg to 300mg/day on my next doctor’s visit. Which I imagine will bring a side effect or two, so we’ll see. This is my first time going through switching medications so I have no idea what to expect.

  19. I've been off/on several SSRI's since I was in college. I guess I hadn't really thought about this much lately, but maybe mine is wearing off in a way, too? I'm taking Cymbalta for depression. I'm at max dosage, I think, but have still been not-so-great. I am also not exercising, but that's another blog comment with inappropriate childbirth content, LOL. I am grateful you posted this and appreciate your openness. you rock!

  20. Get out of my head. There can't be two of us in here-it's too much. Seriously, thank you for writing this. It helps me to know I'm not alone.

  21. I’ve been really lucky with the Zoloft. The side effects are minimal to non-existent (except for the first 2 weeks I go on them, I’m nauseous, tired and dopey until my system adjusts). I think it was Celexa that worked really well except it completely killed my sex drive, and less than 48 hours on Effexor put me in the ER with the worst migraine of my life. I’ve been on/off Zoloft for the last several years (varied doses…right now I’m on a high dose and hoping to drop it down in the next 3 months) and it works really well for me

    I’ve noticed that outdoor activity helps me. I spent a lot of time golfing last spring and summer and the exercise and fresh air helped to keep me somewhat level. Also, I try to focus on the good things in my life…I’ll sit there and list all the people and things I’m grateful for, that make me happy…it reminds me that even when I feel like crap, there are still lots of positives

    The thing that helped with my depression the most in the last 6 months was ending a relationship with someone who caused a great amount of stress and emotional upheaval in my life. The breakup was horrendous and it just leveled me, but now that I’ve recovered, I realize he was sucking the life and happiness out of me. I feel so much more calm and happy now πŸ™‚

    I hope your downturn swings back up very soon and I do sympathize…I’ve been there and it sucks

  22. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for being so honest. It really, truly touched a deep place in my heart knowing that I am not alone. Thank you.

  23. Thanks, once again, for sharing your experiences honestly.

    I was on SSRIs for almost 2 years following my daughter’s birth, and I weaned off them over the holidays (smart move, right?). It has been bumpy. I want to be off them because they’re not pregnancy-safe and we’d like another kid at some point, but I am left wondering whether I’ll really be able to cope with the stress of having a headstrong toddler and being pregnant without them. I’ve had a couple of days lately where my anxiety is just out of control, and it’s no fun.

  24. I’ve been there. So many times. It really does suck. The whole process of finding the right therapist or medication is exhausting, overwhelming, and totally exacerbates any symptoms I may be having. This is why I haven’t ever (EVER) had a regular therapist. You go in to meet one, spill your guts, give them another try, and then realize it’s not a good fit. To go in and meet another new person, to spill your guts all over again…. ugh. I’ve never done it. I’ll try once every couple of years. Anyway, I hope things get better for you soon.

  25. Look at these comments, woman. You are incredible. Can we be BFFs? πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, so much truth. I switched from one med to another after years, and the switch was weird and eerie for me. I hope that it is just exhaustion and a whole lot of non-poop-effect stuff happening. That was poop out, oops. I haven’t heard that term, either. But whatever is happening you take the rest you need because those who love and adore you will be here no matter what!

  26. Oh, I know those feelings. I have been on and off meds since I was 25. I was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder. They added a med (xanax) and it has made all the difference in the world. I am able to relax and keep it together. I don’t yell anymore and rarely cry. I have had he poop out effect, but I just stayed on the meds and it seemed to work itself out. I do have to take something for sleep every once in a while. My mind can still go crazy at night sometimes. I hope you get the rest you need. I know that rest makes a big difference for me. Don’t stress either. When I am stressing everything is so much worse!! Love your blog. The honesty is refreshing and helpful for me. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

  27. I've been taking 20mg of Prozac for close to 6 years. Although it does keep the hardcore depression away, It also keeps the really happy moments away too. Also known as the zombie feeling. I tried Welbutrin for 2 months and that is not for me – horrible anxiety and irritability. Those two months sucked and I went back to my Prozac. This week my doctor suggested Effexor. We'll see. Prozac and I had a great run but like all great things it pooped-out πŸ™‚ I hope you are feeling better. Those ups and downs and all arounds of depression medicine side effects are rough. Good luck!

  28. Sorry to hear you are having those additional side effects. For me when my anxiety was at it’s worst several years ago, I went through almost an entire 2 year period of lack of sleep far more often than I care to recall. That just makes everything else so much worse.

    Due to side effects that you speak of I’ve never been able to take most prescription drugs, the side effects are always far worse than any symptoms and/or they make my original symptoms worse. I guess this is a bit of a blessing at times, as I’ve managed to get rid of my anxiety without drugs, but I know that certainly isn’t always the case for most especially when compounded with depression.

    I hope you get relief soon!

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