Anti-depresssants after many, many years of depression
October 4, 2013 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in people's experiences with medication for very long standing depression, especially positive ones, but I'm curious about negative attempts too.

I am 34 now, and am certain I have been chronically depressed unremittingly since I was at least 9 or 10. I was told by my family doctor when I was 19 that he thought I had "chronic mild depression". I didn't really understand what that meant at the time and took the "mild" to mean not that serious, and was just getting medications for panic attacks so nothing much came of it. When I was 24 I tried Zoloft for a few months but it didn't do anything. I didn't get a chance to adjust dosage or try any longer since my insurance ran out at that time. When I was 30 I tried Wellbutrin and it was a horrifying 10 or so days.

Because of my above experiences, and the fact that I have no recollection of ever feeling okay in my life I am extremely skeptical that anti-depressants can improve my life in a significant way. The idea that anybody could feel okay in my life (or my past life) because they take a pill seems absurd to me. But I can't seem to change anything in my life even though I've been trying for so, so long. However, for the past five years it has gotten progressively worse, and I feel very desperate now. I want to try anti-depressants since it's the one thing I feel I have not really tried (and being depressed can make you completely ineffectual as my life has shown, but I think I can manage to take a pill every day). I've also realized that even when it's not that palpable to me I think I have deep fear and anxiety at all moments of the day and it effects all of my actions and inactions. I have been in therapy for 10 months but it hasn't improved anything except that I like having someone to talk to every week.

Has anybody had any inspiring experiences with antidepressants after being depressed their whole life? Did it actually begin a cycle of change, and make up for how deeply screwed your life has become over so many years?

I am very fearful, also, that if it works I will immediately dishonor my past and my experiences, and become like the average person in the US and be filled with constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized ideas about life, struggle, possibility, while calling it "optimism" and a "good attitude".
I also have over the last 6-12 months finally, finally, completely lost all of my sex drive. It's been a steady decline over the last 5 years but it's finally all gone. I'm worried about this for many reasons, but maybe most importantly, I am single and one of the few hopes I have left is that I'll still be able to experience a loving, healthy, secure relationship and have a family. I don't see how this can be possible without a sex drive. In my one serious relationship my lack of sex drive contributed greatly to our problems (on both sides), and it was much better then than it is now. Has anybody actually got their sex drive back from antidepressants? (not counting Wellbutrin)
Sorry if my question seems a bit all over the place, but basically I'd like to hear the experiences of people with a starting point somewhat similar to mine. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Did it actually begin a cycle of change, and make up for how deeply screwed your life has become over so many years?

It didn't make up for anything, honestly. What it did was keep the Bad Thoughts at bay long enough for me to realize that I am perfectly capable of getting up off my ass and getting things done (therapy helped with that quite a bit too.) You have to do the heavy lifting; the medication is there to make sure your head is in a place where doing heavy lifting is realistic. I doubt anything can make up for all the mistakes I made and all the shit I went into holding depression's hand, but my life is in a genuinely good place right now, and I can attribute most of it to getting serious about my mental health. I don't spend any time dwelling on the past anymore. Or, at least, on past mistakes. There's bad shit back there, but I don't have to think about it if I don't want to, and that being a choice is fucking fantastic.

...become like the average person in the US and be filled with constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized ideas about life, struggle, possibility, while calling it "optimism" and a "good attitude".

I was afraid of this too. Then it happened. It's awesome. Seriously, it is so awesome to just be an average person, to do average things, to just be a dude and have fun and not be depressed. Every day I thank my lucky stars and reflect on all the work I've done so I can just be some average shmuck. Because it certainly beats the everloving hell out of the chronically neurotic, hygiene-phobic shut-in I was before.

Assuming the medication is right and you're doing the work, you're still going to be you. You're not going to change into something you never were. You're not going to wake up in your cubicle in your shirt and tie one day and think "my god, what's happened to me?" And if you are in your cubicle in your shirt and tie you'll think "hey, this job's alright and I can go home and do whatever the hell I want after because the different aspects of my life are no longer individual swords of Damocles hanging over my head threatening to destroy me at every moment."
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on October 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm in the same boat as you, I guess, though my depression is a bit more than "mild". I've been living with it since at least age 5. I've been through various medications, on and off, over the years. The only med I've ever had anything close to success with was the brand-name version of Wellbutrin. All it did for me, though, was to moderate the depression so that I could function relatively consistently. It never gave me anything like a "happy day" or anything. It just made me better able to keep the depression in the background, and get on with my life without feeling as if there was a veil over my head through which I was experiencing life, which is how every other med made me feel.

Once the generics for Wellbutrin hit the market, though (and insurance stopped authorizing prescriptions for the brand version) it all went to hell, and I came to feel I was better off without any meds than take the crap generics, which either didn't work nearly as well, or actually made things worse.

So...If you're expecting meds to turn you from a depressed, dark blob into a bright, cheerful point of light...forget it. But, if it can help moderate things, and help you put the depression in the background and allow you to tend to your daily life, then it's worth the effort to try.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on October 4, 2013

One other thing: when you're depressed, it's really, really easy to confuse pessimism for realism, and cynicism for some sort of preternatural ability to see through the world's bullshit. It's not, or, at least, your take on things doesn't extend outside of you. "Optimism" and a "good attitude" do not have to come in ironic quotes; they are very real, and very valid ways of looking at the world. No human with a brain gets to have objectivity in thought. It's good to try, but it's better to realize it's up to you how you perceive things, and it's up to you to decide what points of view are valid. What treating your mental health issue does is make you realize you have a choice, and that your depression isn't granting you some sort of deep insight into the human condition, but coloring your perception in the same way you think the good-attitude optimists are coloring theirs.
posted by griphus at 6:58 AM on October 4, 2013 [29 favorites]

I would recommend reading this question and its inspiring follow-up by Acheman, about the way her life was improved by antidepressants in ways she never expected, after long-standing depression.
posted by penguin pie at 6:59 AM on October 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

I was depressed for basically my whole life. Undiagnosed until I was in my 20s, but in hindsight it should have been painfully obvious. Years of crying bouts, feeling I had no worth, never understanding why people wanted me around, thinking that things were never going to get better. I ate my feelings of self-hatred and got to 335lbs (and I am 5 foot 2 inches), which only made me hate myself all the more. A turning point for me was finally deciding to address my weight and I started going to the gym. My mood slowly but surely improved and I managed it largely by doing intense workouts at the gym. If I missed a day or two at the gym I would start feeling awful and crying again, so I was obsessive about my gym routine to the point where I was injuring myself. (I know how chronic shoulder issues, both ankles are arthritic due to repeated injuries, and my knees and elbows are all busted to hell). Injuries or not, I apparently put more value on my mental health than my physical health, but that all caught up to be when I seriously injured my goot. When I had to have foot surgery and couldn't go to the gym for months my mood TANKED. I wept constantly, I stopped eating, I never left my apartment, etc. It was truly the worst period in my life, my doctor was seriously seriously worried about me, and I finally agreed to go on antidepressants. I was resistant, I was scared of becoming some sort of insincere chipper robot or something, I was scared it would take away a big part of who I am, but I couldn't keep going the way I was going so I took them.

Life altering.

It took probably 3 months before I really pulled out of the fog of my depression, but when I did it was shocking. Seeing all the choices I had made over the course of my life, and how my depression clearly impacted it all, was just staggering. I went through a period of major regret and remorse that I hadn't addressed my mental health issues sooner, I very much felt like I wasted so many years living that half life of sadness. But I got over that and my life has changed dramatically since. I have dropped 100lbs, I am doing great in my career, I have an incredible group of friends, I have feelings of self worth and confidence. I stopped placing all my feelings of self worth in what other people thought of me and started focusing more on what I knew to be important and good. I stopped going out to bars because that was never my scene, I was doing that because that was what I was "supposed" to do. I cut out toxic people from my life because I was no longer scared that I would never find anyone else who would want to spend time with me. I no longer saw each day as just marking time, getting through and actually saw value in DOING THINGS. When bad things happen I don't internalize it and feel like the world is crashing down around me. I still have sad feelings but they aren't these huge crushing overwhelming things that spiral out of control any more. I can be sad now but still get things done, solve problems, and live. Getting medicated and getting my depression undercontrol has most importantly made me feel compentent for the first time in my life. I feel able, if that makes sense. Things still suck and things are still hard, but now I feel like I can get through it. I'm holding myself to a higher standard and performing at a much higher level, and because of that my confidence and self worth have skyrocketed. And don't get me wrong, antidepressants are some magic wand that takes it all away forever. I still have bad days. I still have what I call "cry days" and "sad days". Sometimes they are brought about by sickness or stress or tiredness, or sometimes for no particular reason. They don't happen very often (maybe only once or twice a month) and unlike before they don't last for months on end. And even when those bad days do happen they aren't as suffocating as they used to be. I'm more able to stop the downward spiral. I'm more able to see it for what it is - my depression acting up, not me actually being a tremendous failure - and then ask for help (usually in the form of my telling my husband that I'm having a sad day and then he gives me extra hugs for the day).

In short:
depression under control -> no longer felt like I was totally worthless -> actually started accomplishing things in my life -> increased feelings of confidence and ability -> slowly made changes in my life to reflect my new feelings of self worth -> stopped settling for "good enough" in all aspects of my life -> PROFIT!

ps - I started out taking Paxil which made me feel great emotionally but I was drowsy and it NUKED my libido. I have been taking Welbutrin for 4 years now and it has been perfect for me. The break in period kind of sucked, but once my body leveled out to the drugs I have been great. The thing is that not every drug works the same for everyone. You may have to try a couple to see which one (or combination of ones) works for you.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:00 AM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Has anybody had any inspiring experiences with antidepressants after being depressed their whole life? Did it actually begin a cycle of change, and make up for how deeply screwed your life has become over so many years?

Yes. I probably could have been diagnosed around 9 or 10 as well. I have been on medication for 10 years now. They are EASILY the best 10 years of my life. They haven't been easy at all. They haven't always been filled with fun, but they also haven't been years of barely making it through a day of work, coming home and getting back into bed hating everyone, but especially myself. Rinse, repeat.

I am very fearful, also, that if it works I will immediately dishonor my past and my experiences.

Yep. Me too. For me, I was terrified that I would spend the rest of my life in a continuing depression that I didn't get help for my depression and wasted a good 20 years of my life. Well, I did have those moments. And I went to therapy. And I got over it. Because living my life beating myself over what I "could have been" just wasn't the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I'm still me. I still love the dark side of life. I still get angry at the terrible things in life and sometimes, myself. I still make choices I'm not proud of, but most mornings, I wake up and think, "OK, I'm not ashamed of yesterday. Let's rinse and repeat."
posted by Sophie1 at 7:02 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am very fearful, also, that if it works I will immediately dishonor my past and my experiences, and become like the average person in the US and be filled with constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized ideas about life, struggle, possibility, while calling it "optimism" and a "good attitude".

This is not how it works. In fact, I admit that I was surprised that it doesn't work that way. One of the things I used to do before going on SSRIs (I take 5mg of Lexapro) was to log in a diary days that I had a bad mood swing. I started taking Lexapro and wondered why I didn't "feel" different. But then I noted that there were no more log entries in my diary of me having any bad mood swings. There were times I would read something online or remember some kind of bad social interaction and it would piss me off and I would take an aggressive walk around my office, almost running down the hall. That hasn't happened either since taking medication.

Now this has been a bit difficult for me because a lot of my personal motivation has been tied up in catastrophic thinking which then motivates me to work "extra hard" to avoid the catastrophe ("OMG, if I don't do well on this test/get admitted to this school/get this job, then MY LIFE WILL BE OVER!!!"). It works in its own way, but it has played havoc with the rest of my life, and I have had to find ways to be accomplished without the threat of catastrophe hanging over my head to motivate me.

I'm not the person who has started posting inspirational quote pictures on Facebook, and I never will be. I am, however, a lot more even-keel than I used to be, and I can go about my life with the confidence that doing something or saying something or discussing something won't cause a spiral of bad feelings, so I am less avoidant.

I still need to do other things: I exercise a lot. After my latest bout of mood swings which caused me to go back on SSRIs (I realized that it wasn't that I didn't need medications just because I only have one of these meltdowns every so often-- the meltdowns are the problem), I need to find a CBT therapist to break me out of the broken cycles and mindsets that I spent most of my life teaching myself.

The thing is that our problems are so familiar to is that we are reluctant to give them up. It was hard for me to let go of my constant underlying fear/catastrophic thinking/pissiness under the guise of "motivation." Letting go of that in the name of living a more stable life was tough, but at the same time, at a certain point you realize that it is messing with your life, and you're just convincing yourself that they're "good things" because the unfamiliarity of a future without them is scary. But you can do it: living life outside an emotional maelstrom is pretty good.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 7:02 AM on October 4, 2013

Man, the edit button didn't last long enough for me to catch these...

that all caught up to be when I seriously injured my foot.
antidepressants aren't some magic wand that takes it all away forever

One other thing, whether it was the medication or just a choice, I no longer hide my depression from people, which has helped tremendously. I know that my depression tells me lies know. I know that when I am having a cry day and I start thinking that my husband can't possibly love me, I see it as a lie my depression is telling me. I then tell him "Honey, I'm having a cry day and my depression is telling me lies. Right now it is telling me that you can't love me. I know it is a lie, but I need you to know where my head is at in case I am extra needy today.". He appreciates knowing because he can then help to reassure me and squash the lies. Also, by bringing the depression out of the shadows and out in to the daylight it seems to take away a lot of its power. I was never able to do this before I got medicated, I think in part it was because I thought the lies were true, and even if I knew they were lies I never thought my problems were important enough to bother anyone with them.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:08 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're really struggling with this, and I hope that whatever happens you find a way to feel better soon.

If you've been doing your best for a long time to try to find ways to make yourself feel better (which it sounds like you have been) and you're still not in a place where you feel OK, then to me antidepressant medication is the next logical step. That's always been my approach to my own depression in any case, and it's served me well although I've been very lucky to have only good experiences with medication.

Antidepressant drugs are unfortunately a bit of a crapshoot. The neurology of depression is still poorly understood, and it's a very complex system that is difficult to "correct" pharmaceutically. However, antidepressants do help a lot of people. They certainly help me. A lot of people have bad experiences with the drugs unfortunately, but on the upside that doesn't mean a whole lot as far as whether a different drug will work well for you or not. It's kind of a game of roulette, although a good doctor, and your own research (I recommend crazymeds as a great starting place for no-nonsense advice about antidepressants) will help you make informed choices that will improve your odds somewhat. I do understand your fear though, taking these drugs is a bit scary especially if you've had trouble with them before.

One thing I will say is that in my own experience with antidepressants and the experiences of people I'm close to who use them, they don't really dull your mind. I certainly don't feel like my intellect or creativity are any less sharp than they were before I went on drugs (which was a fear of mine as well) and I definitely don't feel like a different person. Some people do have personality changes on antidepressants, but most do not. It's something to watch out for when you're trying a new drug, but you can always stop the drug or switch meds if you experience an effect that you don't like.

It hasn't messed up my sex drive, although I've never had problems with my sex drive. I did experience mild anorgasmia (difficulty achieving orgasm) for the first month or so which is pretty common, but it passed. For some people (not for me) this is actually a feature rather than a bug. Medication does interfere with some peoples' sex drives, but there's not a lot of consistency as far as whether it increases or decreases it. If you ask your doctor about one that will help to increase your sex drive, he or she may be able to recommend one that is known for that.

I also gained a moderate amount of weight, which is also pretty common but now I have the motivation to exercise and get rid of it -- which is part of that cycle of change, since exercising regularly is something that is well known to be a big help with depression, but which is hard to do when you can barely even get out of bed in the morning.

I find that my coping mechanisms work better when I'm on meds. I have an easier time breaking out of the cycle of self-sabotage that gets in the way of my self care. It's easier to talk myself into getting out of the house, or getting my laundry or homework done, or what have you -- the things that I know make me feel better and give me a sense of accomplishment and courage, but which are often very hard to do if my depression is strong.

Overall I would say that the depression is still there, but very manageable. My emotional troughs are shallower, and my thoughts of self-sabotage are easier to fight off. The peaks (talking about ordinary joys of life here, not manic episodes -- I am unipolar) however are not flattened off for me. I still am able to enjoy life just as much, and even moreso since I am more able to get out and do the things that I like to do.

I would say that the effect that medication had on my depression (which has always been fairly moderate depression in the scale of things -- some people certainly have it much worse, and they have a tougher time finding satisfactory treatment) was overall moderate. It wasn't magic, but it definitely helped. When combined with my existing coping mechanisms, it gives me the ability to shrug off the depression most of the time and get on with my life, which in turn helps me feel better about myself, so that there is a positive feedback loop of well-being that at this point has rendered my depression nearly unnoticeable.

Some people do not get that much relief, but I know at least two other people in my life who have had a similar experience with antidepressants, and who are much happier, more functional people for it. Neither of them have lost any of the things that made them wonderful people before they went on meds -- if anything, being on medication allows them to be closer to their best selves, so that their virtues shine through even more.

That's been my experience. It is not everybody's experience. It may be your experience if you go back on drugs, or it may not. You may have a good experience with one drug, a bad experience with another, and nothing at all with a third. It is possible to make educated guesses, but it is impossible to know for sure without trying a drug for at least a few months (assuming that it isn't immediately horrible), giving your body time to acclimate to it and to adjust your dosage once or twice. I'm sorry that it takes that long and that much effort, especially since you say you are a bit desperate and depression itself makes it hard to countenance going through such a complicated and drawn-out process. For me it was absolutely worth it, but I also got lucky and hit a good drug/dosage after only a few tries. I also had some relief from nearly the beginning, such that my process was one of finding better and better treatments, rather than going through a series of treatments that either didn't work or had negative effects.

It may help to have a basic understanding of some of the drug families, or classes of antidepressants, if you haven't looked into that already. Zoloft is an SSRI, which is the class of drugs that are generally prescribed as first-line antidepressants these days. They are all fairly similar but people nonetheless do do better on one or the other. I have been on Paxil and am now on Lexapro, both of which are also SSRIs. I like Lexapro better, but that's just my personal experience. SSRIs have a lower (but still significant) side-effect profile than most other antidepressants, which is why they're so popular. Like most antidepressants, they often take as much as a month before they start working fully -- so if you were only on Zoloft for a short time at a low dose (usually doctors will start a patient at a pretty low dose just in case the patient can't tolerate the drug for one reason or another) then I wouldn't count out this class of drugs just because you weren't feeling anything. If I were in your shoes, I would probably try another SSRI or two. Maybe Zoloft again, maybe something else. I would do some research and talk to my doctor about it.

Another common class of drugs are SNRIs. These are often a second-line drug for people who aren't having a great time with SSRIs. One person I know is on Effexor, which is a drug in this class. For her, it was a revelation -- it basically just "fixed" her, an almost perfect treatment. They sometimes have a stronger side-effect profile, but they're a good second choice if you are not liking SSRIs.

Wellbutrin is sort of in a class of its own. Since you obviously had a bad experience with it I won't bother to go into it here, I think you will probably want to stay away from this one. There are also a bunch of other sort of miscellaneous antidepressants out there, which might be worth doing some research into and/or talking to your doctor about. They are too numerous for me to elaborate on.

After that you have things like tricyclics and MAOIs, which I won't even talk about here. Those are drugs that you would probably not be prescribed unless you had already been unsatisfied with several other ones, and you would really want to be in close communication with your doctor if you went on them. They have much higher side-effect profiles than the previous two classes.

Hopefully that'll get you started, and hopefully you found my story of personal experience worthwhile. Like I said at the beginning, I hope you find a way to get better one way or another. If I were in your shoes I would definitely be looking into giving medication another try -- it's a tough process, but it's worth going through it because if you can find a medication that really works for you, it can really change your life for the better. Even if it takes three years to find that drug that really hits all the right buttons, you'll then have the entire rest of your life to live without having to deal with the crushing monster that is depression. That, my friend, makes the whole arduous process absolutely worth it.
posted by Scientist at 7:10 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Did it actually begin a cycle of change, and make up for how deeply screwed your life has become over so many years?

No, it won't make up for anything, but don't discount the amount of pride and positivity and confidence that can come out of someone turning their life around. There is a LOT to be said for taking a pretty unsatisfying messed up life and then rebooting it to be something so much better. People resect and admire those that are able to do that. The fact that your life isn't perfect now and that you haven't made the best choices in the past isn't something to be ashamed of. It is a starting place, that's it, and it can provide a pretty great reference point for how far you have come and how much better your life is.

(Sorry to keep posting, this question really hits home for me and I would love nothing more to help others feel better the way I have.)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:20 AM on October 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

...become like the average person in the US and be filled with constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized ideas about life, struggle, possibility, while calling it "optimism" and a "good attitude".

I am someone who has gone from chronic, life-long deep depression and anxiety to moderate, manageable and intermittent depression via lifestyle changes, previous short-term use of Wellbutrin and talk therapy - so while obviously my path out of my previous situation is totally different from what yours would be, I can speak to the whole "optimism" thing, especially because I was just thinking about it yesterday.

How I have felt: before, I felt that I had no control over my life, could not do anything except take what came and thank god for it if it was good and weather it if it was bad. I felt that I had to try to fake a "good attitude" to stay employed. I had no internal "good attitude", so everything I projected was fake. This wore me down and made me cynical. Also, because I felt that I was always just barely clinging on to work and life in general, I felt that I had to fake a positive attitude all the time.

Now, I have some internal, authentic [to use a bad term] "positive attitude", in the sense that I feel like I have some control over my life and can make some of my own choices. I look at the world more positively because I no longer feel helpless and full of self-hatred. So in a sense, yes, I do have a "better attitude". However, precisely because I feel that I have some good qualities, options and control over my life, I feel less pressure to be fake at work. Also, when I do need to be fake, I feel much more confident that I am doing it tactically. "I am being smirkily chipper In Order To Achieve Thing That I Want According To My Plan" is a hell of a lot better than "I feel like my life is constantly on the verge of total catastrophe and only by being smirkily chipper can I make people like me and keep my job".

I don't know how true this is for others, but 1. It took a LONG TIME to really get de-depressed. I would say that it took nine years of slow improvement, but as soon as things started to turn around, I could at least look at the improved parts and have some hope. 2. I am still not a cheerful or sanguine person; I am risk-averse, crabby and cynical just like I was before except without the misery and self-hatred. I mean, I am miserable sometimes, but I feel when I am miserable that I can at least take steps to ameliorate the misery instead of just enduring it.

I would not worry about turning into a fake, vapid person who subscribes to the most generic US values. I think that's a separate problem.

Also, one thing I realized as I became less depressed - in a lot of situations, the banal US culture of optimism and "positivity" is structural and born of fear, not something that people really believe in their private lives. People fake being optimistic and say stupid, anodyne things because we live in an incredibly precarious society where the high-standing nail gets fucking beaten down with extreme prejudice, there's no social safety net, our government is terrible, etc. People are afraid that if they display their actual characters or say what they think that they will get horribly punished, which is in fact fairly likely for most workers. It comforts me to realize that most people most of the time are actually more interesting and have more depth than society permits us to express outside the "safe space" of private life.
posted by Frowner at 7:43 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I do not know how long, how consistently, or how severely I had been depressed before trying antidepressants, because depression will muddle things up like that, and for most of it I was convinced that I was seeing the world accurately and I was just a boring pathetic nobody. The first time I distinctly remember feeling something I'd identify as clinical depression was around age ten; I was maybe twenty-five when I started antidepressants. I wish I'd started so much earlier.

Antidepressants were like changing the burnt-out light bulbs in my brain. I didn't realize it had gotten so dim and hard to see in there, and then suddenly it was bright again and I could see details and do things. I had no idea how bad it had been or that it could get better. They absolutely changed, and probably saved, my life.

Here are two things antidepressants did NOT do:
  • They did not squish my personality down into soulless robothood. I am every bit as creative and complex and interesting as I was before. I am still capable of feeling sadness and ennui and self-loathing, but I am also capable of contentment and joy and bouncing back from bad days. And I'm actually way more appreciative and aware of my past with depression. I remember what it feels like, I can name it, I can better place it in context. I am not less me on antidepressants; I am more me.
  • They also didn't magically turn me into a better person. I still struggle with the same bad habits and nagging questions about what to do with my life and all the things that might be critically wrong with me. But that no longer sends me into a spiral of misery; it's okay for me to be flawed, and I'm now able to work on making myself better, even if only a little bit.
Incidentally, Wellbutrin is what I've been on for the past few years. I turned into Cornholio for several days when I first started it, and when I increased my dose, but that wore off and it's been smooth sailing ever since. I was on Cymbalta before then, and it gave me all sorts of wacky side effects for a few months, but they all faded eventually. Worth it.

I probably sound like a horribly perky cheerleader evangelist who doesn't really understand, and all of this probably sounds hollow and fakey, and for that I apologize because I swear it's not the case. Once you get on the right medication, it is the best thing that could possibly ever happen. The other side is real, realer than the depressed side. Good luck and don't lose hope.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:49 AM on October 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I liked Metroid Baby's response because I could've written it myself. I started on escitalopram a few months ago to treat dysthymia, and the best way I can put it is that the fog is slowly clearing. My problems haven't gone away, but being on an anti-depressant helps me feel as though I can actually deal with them. This, compared to last year when all I wanted to do was be sucked into a black hole... definitely an improvement.
posted by constellations at 8:00 AM on October 4, 2013

When I started taking Prozac, I actually felt high for a couple of weeks. It felt good but I knew it wasn't really healthy and was worried. It leveled off though and after a while it felt like it didn't make me feel positively good; it just eliminated the awful lows and gave me a floor I didn't go under. I would still be taking it had the effect not worn off. The doctor told me I was no longer metabolizing it in the same way. I may try another antidepressant at some point.

I have always had the feeling that the depressed me is the "real" me. My mother and sisters have all dealt with depression too; it feels like our identity and in a weird way I do value it. But at a certain point it is extremely self-perpetuating and self-defeating and the view from outside of depression that I got from medication has been extremely useful.
posted by BibiRose at 8:03 AM on October 4, 2013

I have had severe depression (major depressive disorder) since I was a small child. To give you an idea of how foundational it is, I started plotting out my suicide when I was in kindergarten and have rather inexplicably made it to see the other side of 30. I can definitely relate to not having any memory of ever feeling OK -- that is such a perfect way to put it. While I haven't tried every single medication there is, I've been prescribed enough individual meds to put down an elephant. I've taken SSRIs, MAOIs, and TCAs out the wazoo for months/years at a time and none of them have worked for me at all. I still have some fairly profound cognitive impairments, mostly related to significant memory loss and general confusion/fogginess, and I was a passionate writer for most of my life but I lost that desire and ability almost completely after just a few weeks of Seroquel. It is what it is, no takebacks.

It was unbelievably discouraging to realize that the be-all end-all cures everyone cheers about were simply not going to do the trick for me, which was accompanied by the realization that I am just going to have to grit my teeth and grind through neverending sadness and fear for the rest of my life without any pharmacological support. The incessant SSRI brain zaps, which lasted for nearly a year after only two months of Celexa, were my final straw.

That one last tango with happy pills did have an unexpected positive effect, though: it forced me to come to terms with the fact that while I do not happen to be one of the people who can take advantage of chemical treatments, I do have much more of a hand in keeping my depression at bay than I had ever really understood. Basically, instead of subconsciously going to great lengths to continue wallowing in my myriad failures, I consciously try to set myself up for small successes, so when the sky starts falling down all around me and I need to coast, I have a well of strength and stability to draw from rather than a black tar pit of despair. If I have the energy to accomplish anything, I put on psychological blinders and make myself do it right then and there -- and after that, at least I can look back on having accomplished something, no matter how insignificant it seems, and even if I don't have the energy to do anything else for the rest of the day/week/month.

The ability to wrest these small pearls from the proverbial mud has helped me create a sort of "life hygiene" routine: yoga, meditation, exercise, making sure to get fresh air every day, lots of Vitamin B12 and D, lots of leafy green vegetables. It sounds like common sense, but it wasn't, it is/was very hard! I would have rolled my eyes at myself a decade ago, but adopting a nominally Buddhist philosophy and accepting the notion of basic human goodness has been huge. There is great comfort in realizing that I am inherently good -- not because I am not terrible (I am) but because everyone is good no matter how terrible they are. Radical acceptance was a massive game-changer and probably the most important thing that has ever happened to me.

I am not writing this to discourage you from taking medication at all, but to beg you not to give up hope if you happen to discover that medication does not work for you. After a certain number of failed attempts, it can start to feel like this stuff works for everyone but you, and that this is because you are uniquely wrong/bad/damaged. It is maddening to be told by all comers that the only reason medication has not worked is because you just haven't found the right one (as though trying nearly a dozen of the damned things has not experimented/altered my brain chemistry enough). But everyone's brain is different, and various types of treatment work better than others for various individuals.

You might find the right med for you after the first try, or not at all -- but no matter what you feel like, you are still a resilient, capable, and fundamentally good human being. Nothing can change it, and nothing can take it away from you. I wish you peace and strength.
posted by divined by radio at 8:07 AM on October 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

In case a few extra voices help here: My depression (that lovely chronic, lifelong, low-level depression) kicked in around 10. Probably. I don't really remember the previous four years of my life; maybe I was so depressed that I've blocked it all out. But by 10, for sure, I was having my first major depressive episode. I white-knuckled through it because I honestly didn't know there was another way to feel, and then it leveled out to chronic low-level-but-debilitating depression that I lived with until around age 20, when another major episode hit.

Then I went on meds because it was a last-ditch effort to save my life. And it absolutely did. They did not make me a different person, but they made me able to get up in the morning, go to therapy, go to class, function in the world, and get my head on straight.

After about a year I went off them and found myself an unmedicated plateau that is still on the melancholy/pessimistic side of the spectrum, but certainly better-functioning and happier than anything I'd experienced in my life previously. Rolled along that way for another decade or so, hit another major depressive episode, spent another year on meds sorting myself out, and am currently again in an unmedicated, pretty happy and pretty functional state of mind.

What I try to tell people facing your situation is that the meds will not fundamentally alter you in a way that will make you unrecognizable to yourself, if that's what you're afraid of. And because of that, because you will still be you, you will be able to assess how you are doing and decide if you want to keep doing it. So meds? They do not have to be a forever decision. They are a tool that you can try, and that you should give a fair shake of a few months and a few different meds if needed, but if they're not working for you, you can taper off them safely and then walk away. It feels like meds will be a Huge Irrevocable Decision, because we've built up this ridiculous societal stigma about them, but they're just a tool that may help you to help yourself to make your life something closer to what you want it to be.

Anti-depressants saved my life twice. I have zero regrets about my experiences with the medication, will go on them again in a heartbeat if I feel I need them again, and from what you are saying here, think that in your case it's a very reasonable thing to try.

One caveat, though, is that I am assuming we are talking about unipolar depression here. For my bipolar partner, who tends toward the depressive side of bipolar disorder, meds are a very different experience, much harder to walk away from, and while I am still wholeheartedly glad he is properly medicated now, I would give you slightly different advice if that were your situation.
posted by Stacey at 8:32 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is an older question of mine.

I haven't been on medication a super long time (maybe a little less than 3-4 years or so) but I've definitely struggled with depression/anxiety for a very long time. I remember writing suicide notes when I was in second grade.

Antidepressants have definitely saved my life. I'm no longer in talk therapy, although I was in that for about 2 years when I first started taking medication. (The therapist and I both decided that I had gotten out of it what I needed to and would be able to continue work on my own, which I have done.)

The past times of my life are extremely difficult to recall. (I'm not quite sure what happened, but for some reason, my brain has lost track of my childhood and chunks of adolescence and I only have pretty clear memories of stuff from mid-high school into college.) However, I do know that I get angry over that and feel like I have indeed 'wasted' some parts of my life. But, at the same time, I realize now that I'm able to do more than I could have back then.

Medication isn't a cureall. It's not going to suddenly make everything kittens and roses and rainbows. But for me, at least, it pushed away the clouds enough that I could see that those things were possible. That there was a future beyond the next week. That I could start to actually make plans for the future because I WOULD ACTUALLY BE THERE and not just thinking about killing myself constantly.

And given all of that, I still have bad days. (I'm currently in the midst of a funk right now.) But I'm still able to function. And I can acknowledge the bad days as something that will indeed pass. And knowing that makes the bad days easier to deal with. Also, the bad days aren't as bad as they were before the medication. I still spend a lot of time in bed, but I'm not crying. I'm not thinking about killing myself. I'm able to get space from the dark clouds and understand that 'yes, this is a bad patch but I'm able to handle it and it will pass.'

(Also, I track my moods like a fiend so I can typically tell when I've got a bad patch coming up. I highly recommend that as you start this process. It's awesome to see days that are constantly marked as bad start to trend towards okay, and then even occasionally good!)

I wish you all the best. If you want to talk more, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by sperose at 10:01 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have no memory of a time before depression. I started trying antidepressants about fifteen years ago, with varying results. Because of the vagaries of insurance, for non-emergency situations the model was usually that I'd be in talk therapy with a psychologist, and the medication would be prescribed by my GP. Depending on the particular psychologist's expertise, he or she might make recommendations, or a psychiatric nurse practitioner might be called in for consultation. Needless to say, there were lots of stabs in the dark. I tried a lot of different medications over the years, at a bunch of different doses, with different side effects. Zoloft increased my energy levels for a few months, but the effects faded even after raising the dosage, so we tried other things. A few of them made the depression much worse, and I stopped them immediately. These were all at what I later learned were relatively low doses.

Fast-forward to last year, a change in insurance, and the availability of an actual M.D. psychiatrist in my local network. He hit on a combination of drugs that have been effective for my depression, insomnia, and migraines all at once. I don't feel like a different person; I just don't feel like hiding in the bathroom all day, either. Sometimes I find myself getting chatty when I would have been taciturn before, but I'm not saying anything I wasn't thinking back then. I think some people may perceive a change in me, because I'm holding back less, but I really can't bring myself to worry about that too much.

I am still a cynic. I still have horrible attitudes about some things. A lot of things, really, if you ask some people. I'm still a pinko leftist who wants rich people to pay their taxes and other people's kids to mind their manners. I still argue with people - I just don't feel so worthless afterwards. So, yes, I think it's possible to be on an effective medical regimen for depression and not become a cock-eyed optimist.

If you'd asked me a couple of years ago, I would have had serious doubts about effective treatment for lifelong depression. I would never have imagined myself as a poster girl. I never would have even imagined having the courage to admit my own history on the Internet, where people with whom I've built up this weird, crazy virtual friendship can see it.

I have no idea how it's going to work long-term. I'm trying to use this newfound clarity to learn as much as I can about how I work.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:54 AM on October 4, 2013

Has anybody actually got their sex drive back from antidepressants? (not counting Wellbutrin)

My partner has.

I don't want to speak for her here, so I can't really go into much detail, but yes, she found that getting her depression treated made sex a lot more appealing. From where I stand, the story looks something like this: what feels like "I have no libido" can actually be some combination of "I suck and I don't deserve this," "I'm hideous," "Nobody really loves me," "I'm tense all the time and everything hurts," "All I want to do is sleep" and "I can't concentrate on anything anyway" — all of which are possible depression symptoms that the right antidepressant can totally help with.

My experience is different from hers for a lot of reasons (though I have depression too). But what I found is that the less depressed I am, the less desperately I need sex to give my life meaning or to make a relationship feel secure. When I'm in a deep depression it's like "If you aren't fucking me right now then that's clear proof that I'm totally unlovable and our relationship is doomed." When I'm on top of that shit, it's more like "Yeah, sex is fun. You know what else is fun? All the other stuff we do together when we're not having sex!" Long dry spells still frustrate me, because I do still like sex — but they aren't the sort of profound crisis they would be when the depression was winning.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:40 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might be lucky and only have to try a couple of meds. But choosing the right antidepressant can be a crapshoot, because a given drug will work differently on various people, even siblings. Also, statistics for side effects aren't very helpful in deciding what to try. You might not be affected by some of the most common problems; and if you end up with a rare reaction, it's still going to be a big deal for you. So you just have to try different drugs.

It can be weird and frustrating to go through the process of selecting a medication. It can take several days to get used to a drug, and your body and mind can go through changes during that time.

But when you find one that works, you'll definitely know it's working. Ideally, you'll feel like yourself, you'll be better able to tolerate your anxiety and depression, and the side effects will be tolerable.
posted by wryly at 11:43 AM on October 4, 2013

I'll speak a bit for the downsides: in the past year, I've been on two SSRIs of varying dosages, and in both cases they started pretty well, pushing my depression down a bit, but with the first one (setraline) I had no end of stomach problems. I was like having the flu all the time, which was a trade off I was willing to live with until after about six months, it just stopped working. My doctor switched me to the generic of Lexipro, which didn't give me nearly the stomach issues, but like the setraline, after a while it just stopped helping (although, interestingly, it separated my depression from my anxiety, something I'd never experienced before, so while I wasn't necessarily showing or feeling the symptoms of depression, I was having some really shitty anxiety issues that the medication did nothing for.)

Now I'm weaning off the SSRI and have moved to an SNRI, I've only been on it for about a week, so I can't tell if it is doing anything or not yet, but I will say this;

Even with all the problems and crappy feelings that I've been put through because of these medications, the moments of feeling normal are so great as to blot out the bad pretty effectively. So much so, in fact, that I'm willing to keep trying, because I've lived with depression for four decades, and I just don't want to anymore. Medication, and therapy are worth trying, and I'm going to keep at it till I'm fixed, because I know that depression is a fucking liar, and I've seen a world where it isn't bad all the time, and I'll be damned if my stupid brain is going to keep me from living there.

Good luck. I very much hope it works for you right away. But even if it doesn't, keep trying. It'll be worth it.
posted by quin at 2:19 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am extremely skeptical that anti-depressants can improve my life in a significant way

The right ones will. I promise, they will. There will probably be some trial and error regarding the drug, combo of drugs, dosage etc... but when you hit what works, like others have said, it's awesome. It's like a light has suddenly been turned up in a dark room and now you're no longer jamming your toe on furniture or fumbling around for things, everything is just easier.

Has anybody actually got their sex drive back from antidepressants?

Yes. The sex drive came back, plus I was in a better frame of mind where I wasn't obsessing over relationships or dependent on having one, which meant having a healthy one became a lot easier. So the opportunity for sex increased along with the drive. Like everyone has said, awesome. Not a magic bullet, because life has its ups and downs and sometimes it's just unavoidably shitastic - but the meds will help you realize that even though something is complete crap, with enough time it can and will be good again.

I'd like to hear the experiences of people with a starting point somewhat similar to mine.

This person knows it's possible and thinks you should go for it. You deserve it and I wish you the best. Memail me if I can help.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 3:14 PM on October 4, 2013

Echoing others - although the trial and error period was frustrating, I don't regret going through it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:13 PM on October 4, 2013

From the OP:
Thanks everybody, for sharing your important and personal experiences with me, and for your supportive wishes. Please keep them coming. It's certainly giving me a lot of food for thought, and helping me take the idea of medication seriously.

I did want to clarify what I stated in my original post regarding "I am very fearful, also, that if it works I will immediately dishonor my past and my experiences, and become like the average person in the US and be filled with constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized ideas about life, struggle, possibility, while calling it "optimism" and a "good attitude".

I definitely did not say that there was no such thing as optimism or a good attitude, and I don't think that anyone would call me a cynic. Nor do I believe terms like pessimism, optimism, and realism are the best ways to understand life. I did say that many (most) people have ideas that are "constant, trite, simplistic and completely generalized" and propound them under the guise of "optimism" and a "good attitude" (hence the quotes). And that these generalizations have no ability to convey the nuanced truths of "life, struggle, and possibility" While my statement was not "negative" it was immediately interpreted and critiqued as such. I think this reveals exactly what I was trying to point to.

I think that pain, loss, irrevocability, and tragedy are profoundly true parts of life. They need to be seen, heard, kept in awareness, and given weight just as much as other parts of life. This is NOT at all what is done by mainstream society. The negative is only allowed to enter life as "problems to be solved". We recognize that there are homeless people that are hungry and that's suffering so we must feed the homeless, we recognize that suicide is bad so we must save the suicidal, etc, etc. These may be good things but is not at all allowing the painful side of life to have a place. The "negative" are parts of all people's lives, some much more than others, and generalizations can't be made as to what's the "appropriate" way to think of things. Most people have, say, 5 percent pain in their life (the "negative") and the minute they hear someone speak who has more than that, and gives voice to that, they label them "negative" and a "pessimist". And it's REALLY their "pessimism" that is causing all their problems, and if only they would have a "good attitude" their "problems" would go away. Pain is only allowed to enter as a academy award winning movie that turns all suffering into a glorious story of hope and full recovery.

I agree very much with Frowner that this cult of positivity (I really believe there is an aspect of brain washing to this) is rooted in fear. The problem is that I think there is a lot of moralizing that goes along with this, and even if they don't believe it deep down I think this is functioning at every level in society including the personal. It's not just a façade that isn't relevant. It changes everything.

I also think that optimism (true optimism here, I think it's a real thing), is not as profound as hope, it is relatively superficial. It can't do that much, it can't hold that much, and it can't conquer that much. I have a strong suspicion that what is really getting those by with true trials of life is hope, and that is what should be credited in any situation where there really is a struggle and ordeal. Optimism is almost impotent and yet it is propounded constantly and used to attack "pessimism and negativity". To roughly quote a great documentary called The New Medicine-- "people often confuse hope with optimism. They are not the same. Hope is clear eyed. It doesn't know everything's going to be okay, but it sees a possible path, not a guaranteed path. Hope is much harder than optimism". I think this is so well put and shows where true strength lies. It means being able to hold the pain along with the desire for something better.

Also, one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Hope is a deep knowledge inside of us of what life is supposed to be.

Oh, and part of my point of bringing up hope. I think you can be a pessimist or a cynic and have hope and strength. I don't think optimism (and attacking pessimism and negativity at every angle and moralizing about it), is the be all and end all of goodness. If someone credits optimism to making a great difference they either 1) had trials that were not that great or 2) have mislabeled hope which is not in dichotomy with pessimism or cynicism.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:28 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know this isn't exactly what you are looking for because I never took antidepressants even at my worst (which was crying every day and suicidal thoughts level of horrible), but I just wanted to chip in with what worked for me because I want to help! Nobody should have to feel depressed. You can try adding these changes along with antidepressants or on their own

-exercising every day
-a regular sleep cycle
-eating more vegetables (e.g. a portion at every meal)
-having a tidy room
-taking care with appearance
-making an effort to smile at people, shut up and listen, and laugh... This made me feel connected and like there was meaning in life
-scheduling socializing even if I really didn't feel like it or it made me feel worse, I would socialize every day
-sitcoms and general HAPPY media diet -- no more Sylvia Plath, bring on the Jane Austen
-ACT therapy, start with The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris

-vitamin D pills -- kept hoping for them to work, never did
-omega 3 supplements
-talk therapy
-most self help books only made me focus on how I was weird and broken
-guided meditation
-journalling without guidelines
-comfort eating
posted by dinosaurprincess at 12:04 AM on October 5, 2013

Optimism helped me a lot. And I don't think you can say my "trials were not that great" seeing as the trials I faced in the first twelve years of my life included two long-term hospitalizations, sexual abuse by a trusted adult, several long-term hospitalizations for my mother, and my mother's death. This is not even taking into account the more ordinary shit like the suicidal thoughts that I remember from as early as four and the significant emotional dysfunction of my nuclear and extended families.

So. I think that the commodification of optimism is a significant social problem (and I really liked Barbara Ehrenreich's take on it in her book Brightsided) but I treasure my optimism as much as I treasure any of my other personal qualities. You don't have to be on Team Optimism, but denigrating and erasing others' experiences and values is kind of shitty, and often (in my experience) conducive to unhappiness. Trying to make yourself feel better by thinking ill of others is a hamster wheel that goes nowhere.

Antidepressants have saved my life just as surely as antibiotics have saved my life. But not every medicine works for everyone; antibiotics have made some people sicker, and so have antidepressants.

I do think letting go of the familiar is hard, even when the familiar is despair or self-loathing. Stockholm Syndrome, maybe?

No matter what you choose to do next, or how your choices turn out, I wish you the best, because being alive is the best thing there is. It may well be the only thing there is. In any case, it's all we've got for the moment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:10 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Most people have, say, 5 percent pain in their life (the "negative") and the minute they hear someone speak who has more than that, and gives voice to that, they label them "negative" and a "pessimist".
If someone credits optimism to making a great difference they either 1) had trials that were not that great or 2) have mislabeled hope which is not in dichotomy with pessimism or cynicism.

One thing that helped me a lot with my depression is to not compare my lot with others unless that comparison serves to make me more empathic and willing to help them. What most people do or think or what someone experiences is, at best, a hypothesis, an educated guess that you will never be able to truly prove, only convince yourself that your assumption is correct.

Watch out for that kind of assumption and prejudicial (in the most literal sense) thinking. The depression will ooze its way into the cracks of such thoughts and tell you that no, that person can't truly be happy because of this or that reason, or that other person bought into the Big Fake Idea and isn't really better. And the logical conclusion behind that, maybe hidden even to you, is that these are more and more doors to depression-fighting attitudes that lead nowhere, or are just painted on the wall. That is what hopelessness is: a discounting of avenues toward happiness, whether by practice or assumption. Try to make it the former, and not the latter.

As I said above, it sounds like you consider your experiences to have dropped a veil on your perception of reality. Be careful not to overestimate your own insight, especially from within the illness.
posted by griphus at 5:48 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

And, like Sidhedevil, I also speak from a place of unasked-for authority on human pain (a lot of it thrust upon me and having nothing at all to do with my own illness) and also from an attitude that generally makes my experiences a ghastly surprise whenever they come up in conversation with people that do not know me well.
posted by griphus at 5:52 AM on October 6, 2013

Hi! I came to suggest that you read my previous question, but it's already been linked to upthread. That was only the beginning of a long story for me, though, and it's a story that's still happening now.

Taking antidepressants changed the course of my life completely. I'm still a person who suffers from depression - I'm not sure there will ever be a point in my life when I'm completely free of it, and I'm still taking antidepressants and may do so forever. But I have a sense now that what's happening can and will end, and that it's at the same time not my fault and something I can control. The drugs are far from the only thing I've done to change my life - I've altered the way I live in a million ways, from taking more art classes to having 18 months of NHS psychotherapy to reworking the whole way I approach emotion and connection to people. But they opened up a gateway.

I am not free from negative emotion now. In fact, the first couple of years after I started taking antidepressants felt like a second (and more extreme) adolescence, because suddenly I was having all these FEELINGS that had previously been lost in the frozen wasteland of my despair, and I had no idea how to cope with them. Therapy and meditation helped with that, but to an extent I just had to be patient and learn how to be a human being again, only properly this time. I think longstanding depression takes things from you so insidiously you don't even realise it's happening, and if it starts when you're quite young there are developmental stages you just don't go through fully until you're not depressed.

Your sense that life and the world could be different don't have to go away if you treat your depression. In fact, depression tends to take away your ability to imagine things being different. The kind of hope you're talking about will help you to climb out of this pit - but it won't lift you upward on its own; you need to grab at every foothold you can find.
posted by Acheman at 4:50 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aaaa I wrote that at work and it is poorly phrased in some parts. What I intended to convey was this: at the moment, I am often not depressed, but I still feel negative emotions in a healthy way. Sometimes my depression recurs - I'm at the [fingers crossed] tail end of a recurrence now. When it recurs, I can hold onto the fact that what I'm going through will eventually be over. I can separate myself from it, because it isn't my whole life. When I talk about my experience of depression before I was able to call it depression, I often call it 'despair', because back then the only way I was really able to describe it to myself was as despair, in a deep, Kierkegaardian sense. I used to think that my despair was both out of my control and something for which I should be condemned. Now I don't.

It still seems absurd to me that there is a drug which can treat what feels at times like a deep, metaphysical evil and at times like the only rationally proportionate response to the world and at times like a fundamental moral or spiritual failing. But the fact is that it is so. I am far more interested in philosophical theories of embodiment than I was before I started antidepressant treatment, but this is not a recognised side effect and experiences may vary.
posted by Acheman at 9:58 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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