View Full Version : OTC med for depression & anxiety -- finally feeling hopeful


Phoenix Ash
06-23-13, 10:40 PM
So after some unfortunate experiences with Prozac & Wellbutrin, I went off all meds last year and consequently sank into a pretty nasty major depression. I've been struggling with that for about a year now, and was feeling pretty despairing about it all.

But... I'm trying something new, and I am cautiously optimistic. And if it continues in this vein, I think it could be a really great thing for others, too. So here I am to share.

Chlorpheniramine. It's a common OTC anti-histamine, very inexpensive, and once upon a time it was actually used to treat depression until the advent of SSRIs. It also has anxiolytic effects.

I had never heard of it until I ran into this thread:
http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136336
here on ADDF about six months ago. I read up on it and I was intrigued by the idea and reassured by the research and the safety profile, so I tried it a little bit back then. But I didn't really give it enough of a chance before the depression kicked all my functionality back down to the ground again and I abandoned it... until this month.

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So now I am finally getting around to trialling this med in earnest, and I'm trying not to get overly excited, but...

I think we might have a winner, here.

Other than my ADD stims, I'm not on any other meds these days, so I don't have serotonin interactions to worry about. I started taking chlorpheniramine on June 4. I worked my way up from 4 mg up to my current 24 mg/day. I've gotten past the initial drowsiness issues and a bit of dry mouth, and now I am experiencing zero side effects. And I feel like I might actually be seeing positive results.

I've been on 12 mg ER x 2/day for ten days now, and just in the past couple of days I've noticed things really changing. I've started going to sleep early, and waking up before dawn, which is a complete reversal from the night owl pattern I've had my entire life. My hygiene is improving, I'm less avoidant, and just generally less miserable.

I'm not feeling quite so hopeless now. It's been maybe a week or so since I started thinking a lot less about death, or how pointless everything seemed. I'm no longer binge-sleeping, I'm actually getting out of bed, I'm functioning a bit better. I'm able to take somewhat better care of myself, and I'm starting to feel more hopeful about life in general.

On the anxiolytic tip, I'm also experiencing a certain measure of steady, internal calmness that I'm not used to -- perhaps it's that elusive feeling of “well-being“ they say NT's have. (I can't be sure, as I don't really know what well-being feels like. But I think this might be it.)

Of course, it doesn't do anything for my ADD-PI -- that's still there in force. But, interestingly, it's a bit easier to remember to take my ADD meds, and follow through with actually taking them. And even though I still sometimes add caffeine, I am no longer experiencing the anxiety or jitters I used to sometimes get.

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Here's the icing on the cake: Because it's such an old drug and the patent expired long ago, chlorpheniramine is CHEAP. So far I've been getting it from local drugstores at around 8 cents per pill, and that's already cheap, but yesterday I found it on Amazon at 1000 4 mg pills for less than $9.00. That's less than a penny for each pill. WOW.

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So, wait -- effective, no side effects, easily available, AND cheap?? Did I just hit the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of awesome?? Holy crap.

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I keep trying not to get too worked up about this, because I'm afraid of the rug getting pulled out from under me, but I guess I am kind of excited. Hopeful, for the first time in a long time. I feel like I might've finally found the right ladder out of my pit of darkness, and I've started up the first few rungs. I know there is still a long way to go, with a lot of room left for improvement, but I finally am daring to think that I might actually make it out of the pit and back into the light.

So there it is. And I probably would never have heard about this if it weren't for ADDF. Thank you, dear community... you are awesome. :grouphug:

PS - If you decide to try this, all the usual caveats apply. Do your research, talk to your doctor, watch out for interactions (espec. with other serotonergic drugs), I am not a doctor, YMMV, etc...

Fuzzy12
06-24-13, 06:41 AM
Interesting. I might look into this. Keep us updated please!!! :)

Nate W
06-24-13, 08:17 PM
This may be the medicine my suicidal aunt was on (name sounds familiar and I looked it up and it was an antihistamine too). She did not think it helped her, though. Here is info from Wikipedia on this medication:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorphenamine

"The adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, constipation, anxiety, nausea, blurred vision, restlessness, decreased coordination, dry mouth, shallow breathing, hallucinations, irritability, problems with memory or concentration, ringing in the ears, and trouble urinating."

--Nate

Phoenix Ash
07-09-13, 06:24 PM
Sorry I didn't reply before now; I didn't see your replies!!

Fuzzy, IIRC you struggle with bipolar, which is a whole 'nother ball of wax that I'm not at all qualified to address. (My depression is unipolar.) All I can say about that is I seem to recall something about serotonergic meds in general potentially causing problems with bipolar. Possibly inducing mania?? I think?

Like other SSRI's, Chlorpheniramine does act on serotonin, so please be very careful if you are indeed bipolar. Of course, like anyone considering adding/changing medication, you would need to talk with your doc and do your research and think very carefully before trying. But in particular for those with bipolar.

I'm sure you're aware of all that anyway... just felt like I had to put that out there. And I do want to take this opportunity to say I hope you are doing better these days... I know it's been a rough road. :grouphug: I'm not on ADDF as much anymore but I plan to drift through periodically. And I will post any relevant updates on the chlorpheniramine progress.

Phoenix Ash
07-09-13, 06:36 PM
This may be the medicine my suicidal aunt was on (name sounds familiar and I looked it up and it was an antihistamine too). She did not think it helped her, though.

Yikes, I'm sorry to hear your aunt was having such struggles, Nate. I hope she is doing better now...? Do you have any idea what her dosage was and how long she was on it? Has she since found a med that works for her?


"The adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, constipation, anxiety, nausea, blurred vision, restlessness, decreased coordination, dry mouth, shallow breathing, hallucinations, irritability, problems with memory or concentration, ringing in the ears, and trouble urinating."


So far I've been pretty side-effect free. Just a bit of drowsiness early on while my histamine receptors were desensitizing and I was working my way up to my current dose.... a touch of dry mouth that went away easily... and a bit of mild constipation that I am not too bothered by and can probably fix with dietary changes.

None of those other issues shown though, thankfully. I'm grateful, but surprised, because I had so many problems with Prozac and Wellbutrin.

I'm surprised they listed anxiety as a possible side effect, since chlorpheniramine is actually an anxiolytic. It seems to be working; I am definitely not as anxious these days. It's nice.

425runner
07-09-13, 07:12 PM
I've tried it and it worked really well, made me feel good, had nice dreams, always woke up refreshed but my eyes got very dry so I had to discontinue.

Currently trying Prozac with Wellbutrin as the Prozac itself, even at a low dose 5mg, made me very sleepy and apathetic. The Wellbutrin makes me nervous so I'm getting off that shi*

I'll give myself a week to wash out everything and then try the Chlorpheniramine again

Phoenix Ash
07-09-13, 07:33 PM
I've tried it and it worked really well, made me feel good, had nice dreams, always woke up refreshed

That's awesome, 425runner! What was your dosing regimen and how long were you on it?

Dryness:
Do you wear contacts? I don't wear mine every day but never noticed dry eyes. I did get some mild dry mouth, though. Maybe if you're on it for long enough the dryness goes away...? The dry mouth did for me.

Which is interesting, cos the dry mouth I had on Prozac and Welly (combined with stims) was VERY bad and never got better until I got off the SSRI's. But now I'm on what amounts to an older SSRI, combining with stims, and the dryness is pretty much gone. :scratch:

Meds are weird... neurotransmitters are weird... brains are weird. At least, mine is!!! :lol:

425runner
07-09-13, 09:22 PM
Very interesting...yes, I wear contacts and noticed several months ago that my vision was blurry, my eyes itching, and I couldn't tolerate the contacts, it felt like razors underneath so I went to see my eye doctor and he said it's extremely dry eyes and I need to wear glasses. My dose was 4mg twice a day and I took it for a week, felt really really good...not sedated just relaxed.

It is possible that the Wellbutrin caused it because it surely caused a hell of a lot of side effects and health problems. I was told to stop the anti-histamine as they dry out people too. So there...quiting Prozac today, I'm taking Rhodiola Rosea instead and threw away the Wellbutrin.

I hate this whole concept of poly-pharmacy. Like adding Wellbutrin to treat the fatigue induced by Prozac, and then Klonopin to help with insomnia. No wonder I'm a mess...