Do SSRI’s reduce highs too?
November 15, 2019 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I’m on Paxil (20mg) and it completely ended my acute panic attacks. But I tried taking a little vacation from it, and I feel like I’ve been noticing more moments of joy. Just smiling at a pretty day or song or etc. Is this in my head, or is it the drug, or is it some third thing?
posted by ftm to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is my experience on a different SSRI. Not sure what would happen if I quit long term, but IMO it’s a thing.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Impossible to actually answer, but if you want validation via anecdote, missing doses of Paxil makes everything dark, not joyful.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:38 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

In one of my Psych classes in college, that is exactly how my prof described it. "It makes the lows not as low, but also the highs not as high. It smoothes everything out."
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 2:58 PM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

Different people have different reactions to psychotropic drugs. Your experience is valid. I’ve had significant anhedonia on SSRIs, for what it’s worth
posted by horizons at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

You must be in a good place if you’re deciding to take a meds vacation, so that might be a connection. Also I would imagine being off medication and not having panic attacks would be a real mood lifter.

Could be the Paxil though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:42 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

For me, not taking Paxil for a while leads to withdrawal. Brain zaps mainly.
posted by Splunge at 3:49 PM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

I also had the very opposite effect when I missed a Paxil dose: zaps, dark stuff, inability to stop crying even.

But when weaning off of Paxil or Luvox on reasonable timelines I experienced emotions rushing and flooding back, particularly when listening to music or around art. I was hyper emotional for a bit and then settled into normalcy until I needed meds again.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was my experience with Prozac after I had been on it for a while. Then even moreso with Lexapro. I don't think I ever tried Paxil.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:44 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I felt better after I quit Paxil. I was on it for a couple of years back in the late 1990s. I did feel slightly better for the first few months, but that could have been the placebo effect. And then I felt decidedly worse for the rest of the time I took it. When I finally stopped taking Paxil, I found that I was no longer tired and sleepy all the time, and my mood ultimately improved (though it took some time). My experience is consistent with some research on the long-term effects of antidepressants. Unfortunately, one side-effect remains with me to this day. I've never been able to lose most of the 40-to-50 pounds I gained when I took the drug.
posted by akk2014 at 7:20 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not Paxil for me, but when my Cymbalta was increased enough that I could live normally, I lost my libido, and those moments of happiness. My doctor reduced the cymbalta and added a second anti-depressant, which is working well. No suicide ideation, and I do get those moments, bursts of sheer joy. Ask your doc to reconsider your meds and mix & match. Flatline life, while not depression, is almost as bad. You feel like your medicating so you can be a robot to fit the world, rather than your medication mitigating those pesky brain chemicals. Good luck in finding the right ones.
posted by b33j at 11:24 PM on November 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

Anhedonia with SSRIs or SNRIs is a thing; reacting to extended periods of meh by stopping meds (often in unsafe ways) is also a thing.
posted by holgate at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's different for different people.

I've been on an SSRI for years now and I can still experience the full range of emotions, even anxiety. I met and fell in love with my husband while on my SSRI. I just don't have panic attacks, which was the goal.
posted by thereader at 10:42 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the sanity check, y'all. Panic attacks started to come back and my Paxil vacation is over; I can live without the manic stuff if it means keeping the panic at bay.
posted by ftm at 7:06 AM on November 20, 2019

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