Is there a brain chemistry boomerang effect?
September 13, 2012 5:48 PM Subscribe
Can going off and then later back on an antidepressant "do" something to your brain chemistry or is in some other way unsafe or unwise?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (16 answers total)
Ten years ago, I had a number of quite bad things happen and I became clinically depressed. My therapist put me on a low dose of Lexapro, which did wonders. I felt "normal" and discovered that I probably had been low-grade depressed for many, many years prior to the clinical depression episode.
I was on Lexapro with very few side effects for two years, and eventually weaned off of it at the suggestion of a new general practioner (I had moved across country, did not have a therapist, felt fine without one), as life circumstances had changed as I was feeling quite good.
That was five years ago. Though I have bouts of anxiety and can feel myself getting low-grade depressed during times of great stress, I seem to be able to battle it with regular exercise and wholesome outdoor activities. I am glad to have learned what works for me.
Jump forward – several big issues hit at once (grave illness of loved one, financial distress), and I went to see this same doc to ask if he thought my going back on Lexpro would be a good idea. I felt at times as if a crushing depression was just around the corner. My doc was out, and the MD on call that day told me that to go back on an antidepressant was dangerous, as brains often don’t respond the same way to a drug after being off it, and I was, essentially playing with fire as far as my brain chemistry was concerned.
I suspect she had some axe to grind about meds. I had never met her before; when I told her as part of my history discussion that I had depression and PTSD from childhood and had been on meds, including Clonopin and Lexapro, but off of them for several years, she told me people overdiagnosed themselves, overused antidepressants in general, and that she suspected fewer people were clinically depressed than they thought. Which, okay, sometimes, sure, but she implied that I was one of those people and reiterated that going back on anything was really reckless.
I ended up walking out and not getting meds. And while I feel mostly okay, I do wonder if meds would help me get through this extremely lousy time with more resilience. However, I do not want to potentially do something to my brain chemistry that cannot be undone.
I do think she was a jerk, but she planted doubt. Has anyone heard of this? Can going off and then later back on an antidepressant "do" something to your brain chemistry or is in some other way unsafe or unwise?