Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Pisces_Fish, Jan 24, 2010.
Jan 24, 2010
Love my Lexapro...
...and I'm sure others love the fact that I'm on it.
I've been on Effexor for a few years now, and if I knew then what I know now about this medication, I would have refused. Yes the zaps, aren't they wonderful?!! Twice I ended up in the hospital as I didn't take my meds, and wow, apparently it is comparable to heroin withdrawl. It wasn't nice and it won't happen a third time.
I'm slowly weaning myself off of it, acutally opening capsules and counting the little balls inside, and I should be off at the beginning of next school year. It takes soooo long.
There's so muchs stress involved in this profession, and the demands can be overwhelming. Certain situations also arise that put the icing on the cake. Not only do we have to care for our mental health, but also our physical health. I have a low immune system and am sick often, and this year had the H1N1 as well,...what a treat that was!!
For myself, I run around and put so much care into my class and to each of my students, helping staff, and then come home and give, give, give. It can run you down quickly, and before you know it you can't pick yourself up mentally or physically.
Take care of yourselves!
UGH! Effexor! I hit a very rough patch my sophomore year of college, and my mom recommended I see a doctor about it. My doctor prescribed Effexor and had me take a ridiculously high dosage. (That doctor was later fired from the practice as I wasn't the only patient who suffered as a result of his recklessness.) I was so sick, out of my mind, and my grades suffered immensely that semester. Long story short, I just quit cold-turkey. Yeah... that was fun. I haven't been on anything since. There were times since then when I may have benefited from being on something for the anxiety, but my fear of taking any sort of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant is pretty strong.
Jan 25, 2010
Wow I can't imagine quitting Effexor cold turkey. I once missed it for two days and I honestly thought I was going to pass out when I stood up. And I had dreams where I just couldn't wake up from.
I think the biggest misconception of depression is that one can just "snap" out of it or just go walk the dog or something like that. If that is true then that is not true depression. In public no one would know I was depressed. It was when I was alone where I was a mess.
I've had mild depression since I've been in High School. It's been off and on, but at times it go so bad I contemplated suicide (that was in HS). I agree though, there is such a stigma attached to it, especially for men. I've been on antidepressants now for about 25 years and they've worked wonders. I wish my HS years could have been salvaged by them.
I can't remember either, so I set my cell alarm to go off everyday at 9 pm. Works for me!
ETA: sorry, I didn't see you already tried the cell alarm. Maybe take it at the first bell each day? At least then you'll remember 5 out of 7 days
OK, question from someone who is very ignorant about this whole thing:
Is this a snapshot of the general population, or is it more specific to teaching?
To the best of my knowledge, no one I know is on anti-depressants. That either means that no one is, or that it hasn't come up in conversation. I'm just curious as to what you guys think.
I tend to think it's a snapshot of teaching.
Our job is never done, huge demands like standardized tests and IEP's, budget cuts, huge classes (not an issue for me), low pay, and just simply being overworked (many teachers don't have planning time, duty-free lunch or a union)
My job has nothing to do with it. In a 6 month period, I suffered through two extremely shocking and traumatic loses. I had/have trouble handling it. I was able to wean myself off the meds during the summer/fall, but honestly, the holidays hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn't expecting it, and I got back on the meds. It has made a world of difference to me and my family.
Like someone else said to Rebel, it's not about being grouchy, it's about being sad. Believe it or not, I'm a very positive person. I laugh easily, and I believe in the good in people. But depression makes you feel so... sad, deep inside, and out of the loop, I guess. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep. I had no energy, I had no desire to get off my couch and do anything. I still *did*, but I couldn't wait to get back home and crawl in my shell. The meds have helped that considerably.
I also think that there is a large segment of the population who would benefit from being on meds but who choose to "self medicate". I know people who freely admit to getting drunk (or high) every weekend (or more often), and yet they're "ok" because they don't take Prozac, etc. I don't buy it.
I think it is more a sign of the times than a snapshot of teaching. I do not think that we are any more depressed than people of the past. It is just spoken of more often and there are more meds and better meds available to deal with the problem.
I think it's the snapshot of population.
This is a great post and I thank all of you for sharing.
I've been on several different meds and in therapy for years. I suffer from clinical depression. For some reason, we haven't been able to get the meds right. I'm starting to think I'm an individual who doesn't respond well to meds. My Dr. asks how I feel and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel.
Anyway, the therapy seems to help and I suggest it for anyone, even if you just need someone to talk to.
I found the comment by Rebel very insensitive. I'm sorry, but it's the truth. Unfortunately, all mental illnesses carry a HUGE social stigma along with it. I really don't know what the answer to this problem is (the stigma). I think the education is out there...I just find it insensitive when an individual assumes one can just "snap out" of and difficulty involved with mental illness.
Depression is an illness. It is NOT a choice. I don't WANT to feel the way I do.
I'm sorry if i offended anyone and only wish the best to everyone here.
Thanks again to everyone who has opened up here.
I appreciate it more than you know. Makes me feel as thought I'm not alone.
Unfortunately there are "Tom Cruise's" everywhere. Until more people realize that some cannot "snap out of it" the mental illness stigma will remain.
Was on Paxil for like 15 years, then the doc tells me it's a metabolism killer! So now I'm on Citalopram. I like it, too.
The Tom Cruise comment made me laugh so much I wanted to jump up and down on a couch!!
There was a time in my life where I know I truly needed medication, but due to the timing in the college semester I was unable to get meds because the doctor didn't want to prescribe me them and not be able to monitor me. My father should've really taken them a while back but he didn't want any type of anti-depressant in his medical files of any sorts. It was an embarrassment thing for him.
Personally, I too am quite surprised at the number of people who have shared that information on here. Where I'm from the topic is very hush hush, and one that's never shared or brought up.
I have talked to several doctors and they all agree - it is a physical issue! Our brains quit producing what we need to stay balanced. So the meds do the job for the aging brain. Plus, there are related issues - our stress filled world, low Vitamin D levels, etc.
I know lots and lots of people on meds for depression. I do have a question for everyone. I have a friend who NEEDS to be on meds, but is afraid to because she is in a profession that has mandatory drug testing. She is afraid that as regulations change, she will lose licensing if antidepressants show up in her drug test. Hmmmm . . . looks like they would lose a lot of employees if they booted everyone on meds, but one friend did lose his job due to back problems and pain meds! Any opinions??
I absolutely understand that depression is a serious and legitimate issue...I don't know from personal experience, but I know it to be true nonetheless. However, does anyone else think that perhaps too many people are being treated for depression or anxiety without truly suffering from either? I just know too many who take it all very lightly, and I don't feel they are just acting so casual and silly about it to cover their true feelings about their situation and medication. I fear that medication being so readily available and often free or nearly free has caused it to become almost...well, not an escape mechanism, but a tool people use to simply de-stress...which is obviously not what such medicines were intended for. Again, I am speaking with a few people in a particular in mind--actually, several.
I would ask your primary care physician. S/he can usually refer you to someone.
I think if you've never suffered from depression, you just don't understand it. Your brain thinks and feels differently than a person who's depressed.
Trust me, if you have depression, you don't take the medication to help you "de-stress". You NEED the medication in order to help you function like a normal human being. You need the medication in order to not think about things like your family would be better off without you. You need the medication to help you get out of bed in the morning or to even put your clothes on. You need the medication to help you cope with things that come so easily to most people.
Until you've truly experienced being depressed, you have no right to pass judgement on anyone who is or has been depressed in their lifetime.
I talked to a friend about anti-depressants a few years ago. I was very hesitant to talk to her. She just laughed her head off when I finally did talk to her. She said, "I can count 2 dozen people off the top of my head that are on anti-depressants!" So I don't think it is only a teacher thing. I think it is a societal thing.
Stressing again, most depression is a physical issue. It is something that happens to people when the brain for some reason is not producing or utilizing the hormones properly.
Effexor users, and everyone on anti-depressants, you should never try to stop cold turkey. And you should not miss doses. If you need to go off, do so under the doctor's supervision to avoid nasty side effects.
tracykaliski - you nailed it! Depression cannot be understood until you have experienced it.
Anyone who has not been depressed, you need to understand that the meds are not like Valium, which is what people used to take for depression. Those mood-altering meds relax a person, give a sense of "I don't care" or just kind of remove the stress. But antidepressants give the brain the missing ingredient that makes everything work!
I would also say that one should be evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist, and have that doctor work with the M.D. to diagnose depression. Depression should be treated differently than anxiety. And they do need to work with people individually to find the just right combo for the person.
An antidepressant brings the person back to the "true" self.
Valium is a whole different class of drugs. I honestly do not even notice my anti-depression meds because they level me out to where I should be. They gave me valium when I had my first kidney stone and they were still diagnosing it. I told my doctor to never give me another valium again. I felt so out of control and do not like that feeling.
I think society now is over-medicated. I do think there are a lot of people on anti-anxiety/anti-depressants that don't really need to be because it's a "quick-fix" and doctors are quick to prescribe it now. I also think our kids are terribly over-medicated. ADHD is another disorder I feel is often quick to be diagnosed and kids are put on meds for no real reason. I have kids at school that I'm surprised that they manage to function ON the meds...I can't imagine what they were like before they were given the meds if people think this is an improvement over what they were like before. It makes me really sad.
(Note I'm not referring to anyone here when I write this...just from experience outside of this board.)
I do agree that there are people who are overmedicated but it is so hard to tell. My best friends thought I was fine. They had no idea how bad I was.
And that's the tricky part of depression. People can go out and function and "seem" fine, but when they get home it can be an entirely different story. No one knows the thoughts that go through your head. No one knows how difficult it is to put on that face that everyone expects and go out and function in the world. Medication makes that all possible and makes you feel somewhat normal.
That's what I was asking...is this typical of the general population, typical of the teaching population, or just typical of members here? Not sure anyone will have the definitive answer, but I do think some meds are over-prescribed. (again, I'm not downplaying clinical depression, just a comment on our 'take a pill' society)
I think its a little of both. I think that there are cases of over-prescribing meds, but I also think that people who need them are just more honest about them.
Clinical depression is a tricky thing. In my case, what I deal with is generally mild. Just like a type two diabetic with a mild case can control the disease with diet and exercise alone, I can usually control depression with techniques I learned in therapy. During times of extreme stress, those techniques haven't been enough, and I am very thankful I had the option of medication to supplement therapy.
I also agree with everybody else who says that the meds aren't a magic fix. They just allow you to see things in a "normal" way. You don't feel like there's this 20-ton weight holding you under water. When I'm at my worst, it seems like everything is "fuzzy". I just don't feel things, and it seems hopeless to even try. With the proper medication, I still feel stressed out, angry, upset, sad, or whatever emotion, but I can also see the larger picture as well. I know that "this too shall pass". Without meds or therapy, I loose the ability to do that. If there ever comes a time when I can no longer control my depression through the techniques I've learned, I will have no problem going on medication full time. I don't see that as any different than a formerly diet-controlled type two diabetic who's disease has progressed to the point of needing medication.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but why shouldn't antidepressants be a "quick fix"? Why should a person have to suffer through depression when meds are available if meds would be an appropriate treatment?
It seems a lot to me like saying a person shouldn't take Excedrin Migraine because it's a "quick fix" to getting rid of a headache. Seriously, it should be a quick fix! No one should have to experience a headache for hours or days when they have access to what can make it better.
What other posters have said is true: you can't understand depression until you've been depressed. I don't mean that you've had a bad day or are "grouchy" or "grumpy" or even going through the grieving process. Being clinically depressed means, at least to me, that you feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and worthlessness. For me, depression also carries feelings of tremendous guilt, like I've done something horribly wrong even though I haven't. It feels like I can't do anything right, nobody likes me, things will never get better, and I can't find the solution to whatever is bothering me. Whenever I've been at a low point in my cycle of depression (and it is a cycle, lasting days, weeks, months, or years) and off meds, I used to cry over everything and wasn't able to do things that were part of my daily life. For example, one of my low points happened while I was in grad school. One of the things I did for about a year (before getting back on meds) was get up every day, shower, drive to school, spend a couple of hours working on my translation assignments, and then, minutes before classes started, turn around and go home. I was physically unable to go to class, and I have no idea why other than the thought of it made me feel such overwhelming stress that I couldn't function. Trying to get myself to class would have been as successful as trying to get myself to change eye colors.
Depression affects the way you see and experience the world. Like others have said, many people don't realize that they are actually experiencing clinical depression because they just aren't able to evaluate their situation completely. For many people, depression comes about so slowly and subtly that the changes are hard to recognize. I remember that it felt to me like I was underwater all the time: everything seemed sort of blurry and muted, everything I did seemed to happen in slow motion, and there seemed to be a barrier between me and everyone else. It was unpleasant, debilitating, and isolating.
Cassie...I see a difference between using meds to treat temporary depression, and abusing meds just because one is unwilling to get to the root of the problem. In any case, either temporary or long-term depression, non-pharmacutical treatment options should be explored first (unless the case is already severe). Of course, that goes along with the rest of my medical philosphy. If I was diagnosed with type two diabetes, or high blood pressure, I would make lifestyle changes in order to try to control the disease without meds first. If that failed, or if the problem was already severe, then I would use medication.
Just like many other things, anti-depressants can be overused and abused.
Exactly. My point is, I feel that some people--again, people I know very well--aren't depressed but use the drugs for lesser reasons.
I admit to passing judgment frequently...I do it every day. But this isn't one of those times.
And for the record my Wellbutrin doesn't make me high or loopy or even happy. It doesn't take away my stress or make me feel like my day-to-day crap isn't stressful. It just brings me up to normal and allows me to feel like I can manage. There is zero feeling of 'ahhhh, that's nice' when I take Wellbutrin. I think lots of people think that antidepressants are like Morphine or something, and that's not true.
(Wellbutrin is unlike other antidepressants in that it works on different chemicals and in a different way. Many people who haven't had luck with traditional antidepressants are much more successful with Wellbutrin.)
Just keep in mind that the root of the problem is very likely a chemical imbalance, treated with medication to re-balance those chemicals. Talking about feelings doesn't really re-balance brain chemicals and hormones.
Not all/most depression is the result of abuse or trauma or other things like that. For thousands and thousands of people, it is a hormone issue.
I've described it to others as being able to feel "real" emotions in a healthy fashion. You feel the stress, you feel sadness, you feel anger and happiness, and everything else. The difference is that when you hit the low points, you don't feel smothered, and you are able to do what you need to do in order to get through whatever is causing the low. When you're depressed and those things happens, you feel powerless to help yourself.
I don't think antidepressants will work on you unless you are clinically depressed. If you already have the right sorts of chemicals and hormones in the right amounts, antidepressants won't work. They don't add extra stuff or act as stimulants or anything like that.
I will also add, as others have, that it's impossible to know or feel what other people experience in their own minds. Many people with depression seem completely functional to the public, and it's only in private where the breakdowns occur. It might seem like so-and-so is totally happy and fine and lovely, but you might be surprised. Almost no one who knows me thinks that I suffer from major depression. I seem like a happy person, and my 'normal' self is happy. I'm good at covering it up when I'm not my 'normal' self though, as I'm sure others are.
...And that's why antidepressants require a doctor's prescription. Doctors usually know what they are doing and can make diagnoses.
That's not exactly true. Production of brain chemicals can be affected by the outside world. In mild cases, the sufferer can learn techniques that will help to keep those chemicals balanced when the person's natural reaction isn't so "normal". Therapy isn't all talking about one's feelings. That's part of it, but not even the biggest part. The benefit of therapy is to re-train yourself in responding to various situation.
Please note, that I have always said in mild cases. Depression isn't an all or nothing deal. There is a continuim of severity, that ranges from very mild, to incredibly severe. When I talk about non-pharmacutical techniques, I'm only talking about mild cases, such as myself. Like I said before, this is no different from varying levels of severity in type two diabetics. Mild cases can be diet controlled, and severe cases require pills and insulin, with all sorts of degrees in between. Depression is no different. In my case, therapy has been helpful in learning to re-train my responses to situations. Those responses then have the affect of altering brain chemical response, and I can function normally. This has not always been the case, and might not stay the case. If there ever comes a time when those techniques no longer work, then exploring pharmacuticals is a good thing.
Please know that I am in no way trying to minimize yours, or anybody else's experiences. I am just pointing out that no two cases are alike, and that some people who do take meds might not need them if they were willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes. The brain, just like the pancreas, responds to environmental/lifestyle factors.
Gotcha. I didn't even notice that you were saying 'mild' (but you totally were!)
I sometimes get very defensive about this topic because it's obviously something that I am intimately familiar with. It's hard for me when I get the impression that people think I'm being melodramatic or that I need to just grow up and snap out of it or that I should be able to fix it on my own by just deciding to be happy or by going to the movies or something. For me and in my personal experience, those things just aren't the answer. For me, medication is the only thing that works, and it works well.
Thanks for clarifying, yo, and I'm sorry if I sounded snappy.
It's totally cool, Cassie. I get it. I really do. I can get pretty defensive as well, and I only suffer from mild depression. I'm lucky that behavior modification techniques work for me most of the time. There have been times when it didn't...mostly postpartum. I can vividly recall, shortly after my youngest was born, being so thirsty that my throat was literally sticking together, but being physically unable to get up and get a glass of water. I was hospitalized for a few days during that time, though the original admission was for pnemonia, the doctors realized there was far more going on and kept me there for a few more days to deal with the depression issues. I do understand more severe cases, and I don't think negatively at all about people who need medication.
I've compared this to type two diabetes a lot. I think it's a good comparison, because it's another physiological disorder that has a wide range of severity and responds to a wide range of treatments...some pharmacutical, some not. What works depends entirely on how severe the case is and the individual's repsonse to different treatments.
I think the key might be to determine if it works and works well.....like Cassie just said.
I am torn on this subject but am trying to be sensitive enough to realize that I may not completely understand it.
Nonetheless, I think that if you have found a solution that is working for you.....then GREAT. Everyone deserves to live a happy, fulfilled life.
But, if someone is taking long-term medication yet still suffering......that's when it seems as if we are over-medicating and the drugs are a "quick fix" (that aren't working anyway) rather than getting to the root of the problem.
I'm rambling.....did ANY of that just make sense??!! lol
I know quitting suddenly is a bad idea, but that idiot doctor had me taking 300 mg a day. For me, that was entirely too much. It didn't help that he was dismissing my concerns when I talked to him about it. I had been on it for a while when I couldn't take it anymore. My husband (boyfriend at the time) almost called 911 because I was so sick. It was that incident that made me decide to just quit taking it. To be honest, I don't remember how long it took for me to feel like "me" again-- at least a few weeks.
In addition to the not-so-fun aspects of dealing with depression and anxiety is the added stress of trying to find the right medication and dosage for you.