View Full Version : SSRI's... what's the good and the bad?


TheEngineer
12-20-12, 01:53 PM
I was told that talking about meds in here would net me more answers so here I am. I have started taking SSRI's recently and its basically turned my life around. I have a more positive outlook on life, I actually feel happiness sometimes, my ADD all but disappears completely, I seldom get angry or irritated with people, the list of benefits goes on and on, as I've said in another thread.

My wife even had me lower the dosage cause she said it just wasn't right how easy going and happy I was. That I was way too nice and never got angry with people even when I clearly should have. I think it kinda creeped her out. Like "Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" She said she half expected to come home and see me skipping around in the yard and throwing flower petals and playing with puppies. Pretty much a total reversal of the person I used to be. But I looked at it as a GOOD thing. I was tired of being who I was. A lesser individual with a lot of problems. So we lowered the dosage to 12.5mg from 25mg and I evened out. Still life was waaaaay better for me than it ever was before. A great many of my problems had been solved.

Social anxiety, slight depression, ADD, feeling like school was an unbearable burden, mistreating family members... all gone.

But there don't seem to be any drawbacks. Yet...

Well there is one drawback. Maybe just one. I was on the SSRI's for a year (off brand, just said something sertraline on the box) and now I'm taking a break like my Doc recommended. All my old problems are back. And they feel worse. Probably because I got so used to feeling like a normal human being. Can they get worse after coming off SSRI's? I feel somehow... meaner than I used to be. In a way. I don't know how to explain it. Then again, I was always a mean individual before the SSRI's so it could just be coming back. How long do I need to break from them? months? I have been off them for about 6 months now and I'm ready to go back on.

I'm ready to be good at school again. I'm ready to feel happy sometimes again. I'm ready to not be so lazy and get out there and do stuff again. Instead of hiding from the world in my house. Out of social anxiety and a little paranoia. I'm ready to be able to concentrate on what people are saying when they're talking.

Is there anything I should be wary of when it comes to SSRI's? What are some of the common side effects? What should I look out for? I've heard of brain zap but I never got that. I think it may be possible that my dosage was too low for me to get that.

Abi
12-20-12, 02:00 PM
12.5 mg sertraline is a VERY low dose.

If you are having such strongly positive effects with it, I suggest you continue indefinitely.

You will not have any significant side effects at 12.5mg.

For comparison's sake, the entry-level dose of sertraline is usually 50mg. 100mg is the average dose. Some patients take upto 200.

Phoenix Ash
12-20-12, 02:16 PM
I have to admit, I'm jealous. I want to know what it's like to feel like that.

Anyway, if it was working so well for you, why did your doc put you on a break?

Whatever the reason was, I am sure six months is, by far, more than enough time.

Coming off an anti-depressant can be very unpleasant. Yes, even more so than the original problems. I've been off SSRIs for over 6 months (for other reasons). The first 3 months off or so were horrible beyond belief. I hate depression and very much want to find and get on something that works.

Fuzzy12
12-20-12, 02:30 PM
I used to take Sertraline as well. Started with 50mg and went up to 200mg. I noticed a big difference at 50mg (within a few days) but it quickly wore off with no improvements at the higher doses. If you are getting benefits from 12.5mg as Abi said, stick with it.

I think brain zaps are more common when you stop taking an SNRI. In general, the withdrawal effects from SNRI's seem to be awful but I didn't experience them thankfully. The withdrawal effect from SSRI's isn't supposed to be that bad, but then everyone is different.

The side effects I had from Sertraline was mainly dry mouth, mood swings, constipation and a bit of increased restlessness. In the beginning I experienced other side effects as well such as itchy skin, fever, anxiety and extreme restlessness but they all stopped after a few days or weeks.

I've since started taking SNRI's but to be honest, in retrospection Sertraline worked very well for me and had much fewer and less unpleasant side effects.

Postive effects: Huge lift in mood (apart from the mood swings but then in my case I think, they induced hypomania but unless you have bipolar disorder that's rare). Huge improvement with OCD and obsessive thoughts.

TheEngineer
12-20-12, 02:31 PM
I've never in my life been at peace with myself like that. So calm and feeling like it all wasn't so bad and that everything would be all right. It was such that I didn't know what to think. I kept wondering where that part of me had gone. It was a bad part so it wasn't missed lol.

Fuzzy12
12-20-12, 02:33 PM
I've never in my life been at peace with myself like that. So calm and feeling like it all wasn't so bad and that everything would be all right. It was such that I didn't know what to think. I kept wondering where that part of me had gone. It was a bad part so it wasn't missed lol.

I felt like that too. I couldn't believe it either. I always thought I was depressed for a reason but once I started taking anti-depressants I was able to feel good inspite of the reasons depressing me previously.

TheEngineer
12-20-12, 02:45 PM
Same here. I think that's because those reasons, aren't really reasons at all. And bad moods just don't last. If something does really happen that does (and should) get you down, its not for long. Before you just say "Eh, I'm sure I'll deal with it some kind of way. No big deal. Its not the end of the world". And you just move on. And go back to feeling good again.

Its weird that its tied to my ADD somehow though. All these things being described seem like depression, but I have ADD and have struggled with concentrating all my life. And with the ssri's, its gone. Just gone.

Come to think of it there were two "side effects" but they're a little strange and not what others have described. They seem kind of atypical. This one went away though, on its own: When I first started on the SSRI's....

Hard to describe but my vision wouldn't "catch up" when I turned my head. Odd. Well, it would catch up but it was... behind. Like I would turn my head, and THEN the picture would slide over to where it was supposed to be. Like the edges were still blurred. You know how when you're looking forward, you can see what is to the side of you, to a degree. But its out of focus and sort of blurred. It still looked that way for a second when I turned my head.

And once you turn your head, what is now to the side, was in front of you before you turned your head. That stuff would actually remain in focus lol. For a second.

ana futura
12-20-12, 07:01 PM
Anyway, if it was working so well for you, why did your doc put you on a break?


I also am curious as to why you wear put on a break. Are you seeing a psychiatrist or a GP?

Phoenix Ash
12-20-12, 08:47 PM
Hard to describe but my vision wouldn't "catch up" when I turned my head. Odd. Well, it would catch up but it was... behind. Like I would turn my head, and THEN the picture would slide over to where it was supposed to be. Like the edges were still blurred. You know how when you're looking forward, you can see what is to the side of you, to a degree. But its out of focus and sort of blurred. It still looked that way for a second when I turned my head.


Heeeeyyyy.... I had that too! I totally forgot about that until now. That was such a strange phenomenon, and slightly disorienting. Made me just a bit dizzy at times. I remember really struggling to explain it to others but I don't remember which med I thought was responsible. At least it went away before too long. A few weeks maybe. You described it very well!

Lunacie
12-20-12, 08:47 PM
I think docs recommend taking a break to see if you still need the meds.

Clearly you DO still need them. Didn't the doctor ask you how you were
doing? Recommend that you begin taking them again? Didn't you ask???

That does seem like a low dose. I take 50 mg of Sertraline and am very
happy with this dose. If my psychiatrist recommends taking a break to see
if I still need it, I will certainly ask how long it will take to know if I do.

When you start taking them, it takes most people about 6 to 8 weeks to
get the full effect. I expect it would work the same way when you taper
off. Six months is more than long enough, in my opinion.

Call the doctor already. The holidays are really stressful. Take the meds.

ana futura
12-20-12, 08:56 PM
I think docs recommend taking a break to see if you still need the meds.

Clearly you DO still need them. Didn't the doctor ask you how you were
doing? Recommend that you begin taking them again? Didn't you ask???

Call the doctor already. The holidays are really stressful. Take the meds.

Supposedly this doctor is treating his ADHD with the SSRI :scratch:

That makes no sense to me, but what makes even less sense is if you were treating "ADHD" with them and not depression why would you take the patient off?

Lunacie
12-20-12, 09:21 PM
Supposedly this doctor is treating his ADHD with the SSRI :scratch:

That makes no sense to me, but what makes even less sense is if you were treating "ADHD" with them and not depression why would you take the patient off?


Doctors begin by treating the most serious problem first. Sounds like the
depression/anxiety/anger was of the most concern. When those are under
control, you look to see if anything needs to be addressed.

Sounds like the ADHD wasn't really severe, and stress made it much
worse. By treating the anxiety, the ADHD was minimally impairing and
didn't need to be treated separately.


Whether the doctor prescribes an antidepressant or a stimulant, they
often recommend taking a break after a year to see how the patient does
without meds and assess whether to continue with the same meds at the
same dose, or change meds or dose, or even discontinue meds if the
patient has developed good coping skills, reduced stress, or gained
support (coaching or new helpful family member).

TheEngineer
12-21-12, 02:27 AM
I also am curious as to why you wear put on a break. Are you seeing a psychiatrist or a GP?

Just a general practitioner. He said that I should take a break in order to see if I actually "liked" the medicine and its effect on me. After being off I can say that I certainly did. I knew that when I was on though. He also said that if you're on them too long, they can become the problem rather than the solution. I think that may have been referring to higher dosages though, now that I've read a few things around here. That was before we knew how much I'd be taking.

Heeeeyyyy.... I had that too! I totally forgot about that until now. That was such a strange phenomenon, and slightly disorienting. Made me just a bit dizzy at times. I remember really struggling to explain it to others but I don't remember which med I thought was responsible. At least it went away before too long. A few weeks maybe. You described it very well!

Yeah it was pretty weird. I was like "Whoa, is this doing some kind of nerve damage or something?" My wife was worried about it but the doc said it would go away on its own and it did. The medicine seems to have, for lack of a better term... retrained my brain to some degree. I do still have the ADD, but it takes longer before I just can't sit there and stare at schoolwork anymore. The whole time I still struggle, but I can force myself to sit there for about 1 hour. Drifting off into space at random intervals and annoying the wife when I do. She sits there and helps me stay on track when she's off work. And I do stress a lot about getting the work done and my ability to even do it. I realize that now. It hangs over my head always cause I know how difficult and time consuming its going to be. I always wanted to believe that I don't worry and don't let anything get to me but school really does. So yall have been very helpful with that.

Also I'm more aware now, of the way I'm talking to people. I don't want to hurt their feelings as much and I bite my tongue more. But the emotional downs are still there. Rarely do I feel anything but indifferent, or negatively. It feels like there is little positive. If its positive its for a negative reason, like I'm laughing at someone who got hurt or something. Where as on the SSRI's, I would try to help them and feel very sympathetic to them. I'm definitely meaner off the med. As I always was.

ana futura
12-21-12, 06:50 AM
It sounds like the ADHD is still an issue. Your GP sounds good, but a psychiatrist or neurologist might be more helpful in dialing everything in, if your insurance covers it. Have you tried Strattera or Wellbutrin?

TheEngineer
12-21-12, 10:15 AM
Strattera made me meaner than a... than a.... well something really mean. I can't take that stuff. I don't like picking fights with strangers. Beating on people ruins my inner peace, maaaan.

The other one I've never tried. I'll probably never stray from my off brand sertraline. Found something that works great so I'll probably just stick with it. As for the H in ADHD, I think I only have the ADD. Minus the H. Hyperactivity requires not being so lazy lol. I don't feel hyperactive. That drains a lot of energy. I have a rather sedentary lifestyle that I'm looking to change. That's another thing it helped with. I just can't sit there in the house and waste my life away when I'm on it. I have to get out there and do stuff and be part of the world.

T-Rex65
12-21-12, 11:04 AM
Any short term side effects would have shown up for you by now, and probably gone away as well. As for the long term, no one really knows what the effects are. I've heard that the body will eventually adjust and make less seratonin, or fewer receptors, or something like that. But my philosophy is this. We don't know how long we have on this earth, and we don't know what might happen tomorrow. We also don't know what kinds of meds will be developed in the future, so the problems caused by SSRI usage now might be fixed anyway.

So...enjoy life now. And if taking SSRIs allow you to do that, then do it.

Abi
12-21-12, 11:24 AM
Any short term side effects would have shown up for you by now, and probably gone away as well. As for the long term, no one really knows what the effects are. I've heard that the body will eventually adjust and make less seratonin, or fewer receptors, or something like that. But my philosophy is this. We don't know how long we have on this earth, and we don't know what might happen tomorrow. We also don't know what kinds of meds will be developed in the future, so the problems caused by SSRI usage now might be fixed anyway.

So...enjoy life now. And if taking SSRIs allow you to do that, then do it.

Quoted for emphasis.

:goodpost:

ana futura
12-21-12, 06:15 PM
Strattera made me meaner than a... than a.... well something really mean. I can't take that stuff. I don't like picking fights with strangers. Beating on people ruins my inner peace, maaaan.

The other one I've never tried. I'll probably never stray from my off brand sertraline. Found something that works great so I'll probably just stick with it. As for the H in ADHD, I think I only have the ADD. Minus the H. Hyperactivity requires not being so lazy lol. I don't feel hyperactive. That drains a lot of energy. I have a rather sedentary lifestyle that I'm looking to change. That's another thing it helped with. I just can't sit there in the house and waste my life away when I'm on it. I have to get out there and do stuff and be part of the world.

There are a lot of things you have said that make me question your diagnosis. Or perhaps you truly have "ADD-I"/ SCT.

Have you had your thyroid checked out? Been tested for gluten allergies?

ana futura
12-21-12, 06:22 PM
Doctors begin by treating the most serious problem first. Sounds like the depression/anxiety/anger was of the most concern. When those are under control, you look to see if anything needs to be addressed.

His doctor has told him that the SSRI is being used to treat his ADHD, as he responds poorly to stimulants.

This is why I'm confused. I get the bit about getting creative with treatment if stimulants aren't an option, but if you're treating something that's life long, and his doctor truly suspected he had ADHD, why would he take him off?

Perhaps the doctor is trying to rule things out, but it makes me question his doctor's competency and his honesty with the patient. If you're not sure what your patient has, be honest with them.

It is highly likely that anxiety or depression are making his symptoms worse, but if you take away the SSRI they're not going to go away as the ADHD is still not being treated.

Lunacie
12-21-12, 06:43 PM
His doctor has told him that the SSRI is being used to treat his ADHD, as he responds poorly to stimulants.

This is why I'm confused. I get the bit about getting creative with treatment if stimulants aren't an option, but if you're treating something that's life long, and his doctor truly suspected he had ADHD, why would he take him off?

Perhaps the doctor is trying to rule things out, but it makes me question his doctor's competency and his honesty with the patient. If you're not sure what your patient has, be honest with them.

It is highly likely that anxiety or depression are making his symptoms worse, but if you take away the SSRI they're not going to go away as the ADHD is still not being treated.

I'm sorry, but could you please point out where the OP said that he
responds poorly to stimulants so the doctor was using the SSRI to treat
his ADHD? Try as I might, I can't find that. :scratch:

ana futura
12-21-12, 06:45 PM
I'm sorry, but could you please point out where the OP said that he
responds poorly to stimulants so the doctor was using the SSRI to treat
his ADHD? Try as I might, I can't find that. :scratch:

He has mentioned it in other threads. Sorry, I forgot you all aren't psychic.

http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136536

See stims don't work on me at all. They turn me into a zombie. They make me wonder who, in their right mind, would ever do crystal meth. I'd go insane. They make me paranoid, but largely emotionless otherwise. I hardly eat, and my heart feels like its going to beat out of my chest. This is all with trying various dosages in an attempt to make them work. They just don't have the same effect on me as other people. As for the SSRI's, they're pretty new in the ADD world so it wouldn't surprise me if you hadn't heard much about them when it comes to ADD.

Zoloft. That's it. Now I remember. Anyway, there was a doctor who specializes in ADD teaching some things to the nursing students when the wife was doing her RN training. Offhand she mentioned something about me having ADD and the doc told her that he had recently learned about SSRI's having an effect on ADD . He said SSRI's really don't have the effect that was originally intended on depression.

That they're really just not as effective as the pharmaceutical company/s wanted them to be. But lo and behold, they seem to work great on ADD. So hearing this she thought I might give them a try. The effect on me demonstrated very clearly that MY particular brand of ADD (and there are many different types) is seratonin related. All my ADD symptoms disappeared as though they had never been there. Suddenly I was much nicer, much more social, could concentrate with ease, couldn't be distracted if I didn't want to be.... etc etc etc. The list goes on for negatives that just weren't there anymore. You have to give it plenty of time to build up in the proper quantity in the brain though. The effect certainly takes a lot longer than the stims would. After hearing about this I went to this doc for a visit and he said that at two weeks, others would notice some kind of difference in me. That I might not. At 1 month, the difference would be quite clear to me as well as everyone else. He was quite right.

I'm not crazy for thinking this doctor is a fruit loop, right?

Perhaps when he's saying ADD he actually means SCT?

TheEngineer
12-23-12, 02:32 PM
There are a lot of things you have said that make me question your diagnosis. Or perhaps you truly have "ADD-I"/ SCT.

Have you had your thyroid checked out? Been tested for gluten allergies?

I'm sorry, I see that I've made a large error here. This is not the same doctor that originally diagnosed me as a child with ADD. That doctor specializes in ADD and simply put, now that I'm an adult and paying my own bills, I can not afford to go see him. I'm not insured, as I am but a lowly unemployed college student.

However, I can afford to go see another Doc who knows the ADD Doc and works in the same building with him. I told him of the old Doc's diagnosis and he had my old data transferred to him so that he could take a look at what meds I'd taken in the past and such.

We tried stims again but that was a pretty big failure. But we tried them because it had been about 10 years since I'd been on an ADD medication of any kind and I was just a kid the last time I'd taken them. So no one was aware of how they would affect me as an adult. So then we tried the stratera which also failed. It didn't seem to help the ADD much but it made me very mean and angry. So finally, the wife heard of the SSRI's having some effect on ADD people (she was in nursing school at the time and exposed to a lot of medical talk) and so I asked the new Doc if I could try the SSRI's and he said yes.

Put me on 25mg which was way too much so I went with the 12.5mg and that's pretty close. All symptoms vanished, quality of life dramatically improved. Sorry I should have been much more clear about all that.

ana futura
12-24-12, 02:56 AM
Ah, okay, that makes sense.

So I did find some research about ADHD and serotonin- You are correct, apparently this is indeed a new line of thought in treatment for ADHD. It also seems to go counter to everything else I've read.

There is also a small amount research that found ritalin affects serotonin, and then a bunch of research that counters that finding.

Perhaps it has something to do with the low doseage? I imagine a high dose would indeed make your symptoms worse.

Anyway, the good thing is that you found something that works for you, and if it improves your quality of life, stay on it!

There are people on this forum who reported great success with 5HTP, are you familiar with it?

It might be very similar to your low dose SSRI.

If you still need something for the time being, try the 5HTP. But DO NOT EVER take it with an SSRI, that can lead to serotonin poisoning.

ana futura
12-24-12, 03:05 AM
You might find this thread interesting-
http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14689

TheEngineer
12-24-12, 10:22 AM
Ok thanks I'll give it a look. And I hope a few more people out there will give the SSRI's a try. Looks like they're actually pretty common around here, but it does seem that most people are taking them in relation to depression and not ADD. Hope more people can become aware that they can potentially have that use as well.

TheEngineer
12-26-12, 04:06 PM
Another reason I made this thread, was because I heard something that I'm sure is just typical sensationalist nonsense. There were a few people posting on... twitter and facebook (can't remember exactly where) that the recent killers have been on SSRI's.

Such as the Colorado theater massacre, and the more recent school shooting in CT. It did make me want to ask about any real known bad side effects. But as one member suggested, I guess such a low dose isn't really worthy of worrying about.

ana futura
12-26-12, 06:50 PM
That's a legitimate concern, for a small number of people. The SSRI's could have played a part. If they did, It was because the drug was not right for them. However, in these incidents, even if the SSRI did play a part, those thoughts were already there. The SSRI didn't turn them into killers. the worst thing the SSRI did was make a bad situation worse.

You will know if you start having homicidal/ suicidal ideations. It's a slow process. You don't just wake up one day and act violently all of a sudden. If you already have those thoughts prior to meds, then yes, it's something to be concerned about. But for the great majority of people, it's nothing to worry about. And SSRI's help stop suicidal ideation in most people.

If you do notice thoughts like that occurring, tell your doctor right away. If you do think the SSRI's are not the right fit for you, ask your doctor to taper you off of them slowly.

In the case of Eric Harris, it appears that he went off his medication suddenly without telling anyone. Also, he had homicidal thoughts prior to medication.