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Psychopharmacology I

Hello from the lands of the medicated!

Following a visit to the doctor, I am now on something called Effexor XR.* Side effects include everything. Likeiy side effects of this class of drugs, however, are weight gain (awww) and loss of libido (arguably a mixed blessing at this point) but she hastened to point out that neither effect was as pronounced in this generation of drugs as it was with the golden oldies like Prozac, and I might escape unscathed. Good 'nuff.

The doctor tells me that we're lookin' at four to six months worth of treatment, with a bit of flex time depending on how long it takes us to find me the correct drug and dosage, and made the usual plea to not give up on treatment if I didn't immediately feel better (or alternately not to stop after a month if I DID feel better, going "I'm cured!")  Hopefully won't be a problem. I know more or less what to expect--or delude myself that I do!--and I know that it may A) take awhile to figure out what I need to get on and B) I'm in it for the long haul until the 'ol seratonin levels get readjusted and I get in the habit of being happy again.

The interesting thing is that I can definitely tell I've taken a mind-altering drug.  (All those wild psychedlic adventures in college did have a use!) I'm not high, by any stretch, but I've got the dry mouth and mild sweats, and of course, the faint, familiar tremor I recall from many an acid trip. And something's definitely goin' on in there--I'm just a smidge off from normal functioning. To use the acid analogy, I'd compare the sensation to about fifteen or twenty minutes after having put the little tab of white blotter paper on your tongue--nothing is happening quite yet, but you're definitely examining the backs of your hands to see if the colors are doin' anything, and waiting for the walls to start breathing. At any moment, your roommate will nudge you and go "Dude, are you feelin' it yet?" and you'll say "I dunno...I'm feeling something..."

(Sadly, for people who share this experience, this is actually a surprisingly specific point in the timeline. )

(Mind you, this could be entirely the placebo effect at work, too. I freely admit that I am an unreliable observer in this case. )

Since the side-effects of anti-depressants are front-loaded, I can apparently look forward to a couple of days of this, headaches, mild nausea, tremor and sweats. (The headache I already met, but Advil knocked it down nicely.)  None of it's too bad so far, and it's supposed to go away after the first week or so. I've still got the anti-anxiety drug to take as-needed, and I'll head back to the doctor in a month to see how things are treating me, whether I'm feeling better, need a different dosage, or if the side-effects are persistant or excessive.

A friend of mine pointed out last night that I had had an astonishing efficient (and entirely typical of me) nervous breakdown. In retrospect, she was quite correct--I hit rock bottom, got the shit kicked out of me, recognized that I was utterly screwed, and held up a sign saying "SEND HELP," all in about three days.  (Three desperately horrid days, but three days nonetheless.) Time from hysterical break to complete re-re-location and picking up of meds--about a week and a half.

Now, sure, I'd been sliding for about two months prior, but as such things go, it could've been a LOT worse. I was feeling dumb for taking months to recognize the signs, but hell, it could have been years. So I think I did okay there, but more importantly, I'm grateful to everybody who posted about depression and made me feel like this was a normal thing that happens all the time and just needed to be dealt with, in much the same manner as a sore throat or a broken leg--yeah, it happens, here's the process, take it away. That helped. Thanks, gang.

*Please, please, don't write to tell me how your cousin took Effexor and weasels ate his eyelids....I'm tryin' to think positive here...

it wasn't my cousin what took it, but me and it wasn't weasels that ate my eyeballs but instead it turned me into a ferret ^_^

'scuse my mistake, *eyelids, not eyeballs ;)

Psychopharmacology for the win! I will say, though, that should you decide to go off the Effexor later, absolutely positively get a doctor to help you. You really don't want to cold-turkey that stuff.

Just to reinforce the above point. This is important. One doesn't simply quit taking the drug.

I was on Paxil and got the shakes frequently. Made tattooing rather difficult.

Also, be prepared for a hell of a headache/bodyache/omgtheuniverse-is-trying-to-kill-me if you miss a day or two. If you do it once, you may never do it again.

Hope you're feeling at least fair to middling soon. I admire you for tons of reasons and my fan-grrl-ness leads me to believe you're mostly infallible and can conquer damn near everything.

So there. ;)

No weasels. :)

Honestly, from experience I'd only offer two bits of advice about Effexor XR. The later you take it, the later you'll go to bed - unless you are one of those lucky people and it makes you sleepy - at which point I will be extremely jealous.

The other bit is try to take it at the same time every day or you might notice some strange things from a weird mental haze to really strange dreams.

All in all, it's been very helpful to me. Hope it works well for you.

I'm finding myself glad I'm not the only one. The dreams I have when missing my time are increasingly creatively confusing. I take another med to counter it, though...

Anyway, no. No angry eyelid-eating weasels. Fluffy, violet, snuggly wombats. It's very nice and pleasant, for a depression pill.

On the positive side, everyone I have know that took Effexor actually LOST weight *shrug* YMMV

They were very cuddly pink weasels and they granted wishes!

I worship at your feet for knowing better than to stop when you feel better going "I'm cured!" I have a friend I want to spank sometimes because she KEEPS DOING THIS. Her husband is, shall we say, bereft of spherical objects and doesn't object when she does this.

Oh my, that phrase is so deft... and you think you don't write well!

Her husband is, shall we say, bereft of spherical objects and doesn't object when she does this.

Oddly enough, the drugs which have given me the most noticeable side-effects were for allergy.

OTC tablet: Got me pleasantly high; still in touch with the world, but if I'd been driving rather than taking public transport, I would have stopped immediately. Effect wore off within several days.

Prescription drug, one of several I was to try out: Depression. I didn't complete the test run.

Why no, in fact! Effexor, of all the SSRI's, was kindest to me and easiest to get off of (which I did after about a year). I approve.

(A mixture of Effexor + Lamictal + Seroquel + Ritalin had me experiencing a daily late-afternoon burst of euphoria that made everything look pink. But I'm guessing it was the combo.)

I've been on three of those myself, but never at the same time. I can't even imagine what the extrapyramidals must be. Was your Ritalin standard or sustained release?

I hate the trial-and-error nature of psychoactive drugs. That said... I don't know what my cousins are taking, but I can tell you that I've taken Effexor XR for depressive episodes several times over the last 10 years. It worked really well for the depression and caused minimal side effects. Absolutely no weasels.

Woohoo! I hope the medication works well for you. On the no weasels side, I've taken Paxil (I think) and some other anti-depressant and, as far as I recall (it was quite a few years ago) had no side effects other than a slight weight gain on one of them. (And even that is debatable because I'd been gaining weight with the depression anyway.) In fact, I remember how neat it was that I felt no effects, other than the remarkably useful one of not being completely drowned in the depression.

And kudos for the efficient breakdown.

Yay for dealing with problems! You recognize the problem, you go deal with it. Just like you would if you'd come down with bronchitis. It's the people who -won't- take action on something like this that need to have their eyelids eaten off or something!

When I took Effexor, I could literally have sex for hours with no orgasm. I could want to orgasm, I could be deluged with every kind of personal favorite fetish, whim, and kink, and it would still be hours of non-stop pumping. It was bad enough my wife was considering getting stand-ins so she only needed to show up near the end.

After about two weeks on the drug (I was on it for a couple years), I noticed that I had a slightly numb feeling on the emotions. You can't place it, exactly, you just know that you should be feeling something, and you're not. It was a very odd sensation. Overall, a very decent little drug, though. Good luck!

I'm having similar problems, except without the non-stop hours, on my current meds - Lamictal, Lexapro and Risperdal. My brain stays interested, but the rest of me is like, meh, this is boring. It's like I lose momentum or something - if I don't get off within the first couple of minutes, it's just not going to happen, and let's face it, women don't get aroused and climax that quickly, so my wife's not able to help out. The frustration is driving me bats.

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The nice thing is that Effexor, and Effexor XR (time release) are really seperate beasties in that regard. But I think the VA is rather limited in what they can stock.

My sister is on Effexor and now that they have the dosage all worked out, she's doing just fine.

I was on Effexor and quit cold turkey, and it was ugly, but I'm much better now. :)

Speaking as a voice of great experience in the search for meds that did what they should and continued to do it. Effexor wasn't bad. My problem was it didn't keep working. After a few months it lost effectiveness for me. Side effects weren't to bad, other than I gained ALOT of weight. That may or may not have been entirely medicine caused though.

If you decide you don't care for it you can go from taking it to starting another medication very fast and it usually helps with the withdrawal. I finally discovered the joy of Cymbalta. It's good stuff. Few to no side effects and since I had to stop taking it when I found myself pregnant I can say honestly, I had very few issues with cold turkey-ing it. In other words if you don't like effexor and want something else and the Dr. thinks it's appropriate You might ask about that one.

re: Cymbalta

I agree 100% on the Cymbalta. I take it in combination with Strattera. I'm not ADD, but the Strattera takes care of the memory problems and that "wandering through life" feeling I've experienced with several anti-depressants.

The unfortunate part to this story is how long it took, via trial and error, before we got to this particular combination- no fun at all! The end result has been worthwhile though and it's been a long while since I've wasted time trying to do the Pierson's Puppeteer/navel contemplation thing.

Being in this for the long haul, the best advice I can offer anybody in similar straits is "get informed" and work on the terms. Learn what you can, about what you've been prescribed, and how things may interact. When all is said and done, it really helps the Dr. evaluate when you're both working with the same vocabulary. For want of a better analogy, it's something like approaching the mechanic with "the car sounds weird" versus "it sounds like the bearings are going on the alternator". Both descriptions may get you were you need to be, but the latter is likely to get you there a lot quicker!