Antidepressants: My Experience
By Heather, age 30, Illinois
"This category of antidepressants will never work for you." Approximately half a dozen psychiatrists told me this as I searched for a medication that would keep the suicidal thoughts away while still allowing me to do daily tasks. My internist tried two antidepressants, which had no effect on my depression whatsoever. When I saw my first psychiatrist, she recommended a medication that is sometimes used for depression, but is more frequently used to treat bipolar disorder. While the medication eliminated my suicidal thoughts, as the dosage increased I began to experience side effects. For example, I had difficulty concentrating. At 400mg, I could no longer remember what I had just read five minutes ago. Driving gradually became impossible because my eyesight had become so poor.
I sought out other psychiatrists in the hope that I could both function and keep the suicidal thoughts from returning. They insisted that the type of antidepressants my internist had tried would not work, so I tried other classes of antidepressants. The first one I tried had no affect, and the suicidal thoughts returned because the doctor was trying to take me off my original medication at the same time. When I realized she had no idea how to safely take me off my medication, I looked for another doctor.
Eventually I found one who was able to get me off a significant amount of the original medication. Unfortunately, the antidepressant she tried to replace it with only made my vision worse.
By this time I had almost despaired of having a normal life. Finally, I found a psychiatrist who specialized in psychopharmacology. I could tell immediately that he knew a great deal about medications. Still, I was skeptical when he suggested an antidepressant in the same class that every other doctor said would never work. My determination to be able to drive and get my memory back won out over my fear, however. As he slowly weaned me off the other drugs, I added the new one. This antidepressant, which others said would never work, has given me the freedom I have always sought. I can now drive, write, and comprehend what I read. Suicidal thoughts are also in my past.
I wish I could tell those other doctors how wonderfully the medication they said would never be effective is working for me, but that is really not important. What is important is that people with depression never give up searching for the right doctor and the right medication for them.
Editor's Notes: 1. Heather's experience is her own, though not unique. People respond in a variety of ways to medications, including antidepressants. If you are suffering from depression, you should talk with your doctor. If unsatisfied with a particular medication, you should discuss alternatives, and if unsatisfied with or uncertain about your treatment in general, seek a second or even third or fourth opinion, as Heather did. 2. Heather's article was previously posted on Helium.com.