What have all these prescription drugs done to me?
October 27, 2007 4:26 PM   Subscribe

What has a decade anti-anxiety medication done to me?

You name it, I've probably been on it at one time or another--Serzone, Topamax, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, BuSpar, Gabitril, Provigil, Klonopin, Ativan, Lexapro, Seroquel...the list goes on.

I've gone from my early 20s to my early 30s constantly on some combination of medication to combat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Some of the drugs I've been on have been to combat the major side effects (weight gain & sexual dysfunction) of the main drugs. I've also been in therapy the whole time.

At this point, I'm still experiencing anxiety, which I hope to deal with with yet another cocktail of drugs/therapy. I'm on 20mg of Cymbalta and 2mg of klonopin a day. I'm trying to go off the Cymbalta because it doesn't seem to be working. I just went off Seroquel because it was making it impossible to wake up and I had a feeling it was causing a huge explosion in weight gain.

My question: Will I ever be "normal" again? Now that I've gone off the Seroquel, will I have an easier time losing weight? Will I ever get my sex drive back? Before all these drugs, I had a really healthy sex drive. Even in the few months between being on SSRIs etc. over the past decade, my sex drive hasn't magically come back. Am I doomed to be overweight and sex-drive-less from an early adulthood of pharmacological roulette?
posted by Drohan to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Seroquel makes people want to sleep for a week, so yes, if you're willing to exercise to get rid of your anxiety instead of take pills, you should definetely lose weight and "normalize".

I recommend laying off the meds for awhile. Stop resorting to pills. Not to pick on you (although I don't know you, I really want you to get better), I thought you should watch this:


Get better Drohan.
posted by JaySunSee at 4:35 PM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Am I doomed to be overweight and sex-drive-less from an early adulthood of pharmacological roulette?

Weight-gain and sex-drive may be related. I believe your body produces more estrogen or testosterone when you gain weight, depending whether or not you are male or female, and I think these will affect your sex drive.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:37 PM on October 27, 2007

You've been on drugs for a decade and your problem still hasn't gotten better? Have you been seeing the same doc too? Maybe you should try something different: new doc, no drugs, lotsa workin out...
posted by dame at 5:10 PM on October 27, 2007

i would try a new doc, but don't ditch the drugs without a stepdown plan from your doc. it's just not safe. going off medication suddenly puts you at a much higher risk of a major depression.

exercise is supposed to be great for anxiety, so you should do it whether or not you go off the drugs. meet with a trainer and set up a plan that works for your level of fitness and weight. a nutritionist can help you on the food side of things.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:29 PM on October 27, 2007

As someone who's used anti-depressants successfully in the past, I think the advice to do more exercise is an excellent one.

I'm sorry but I don't think anyone can tell you if you will be cured or have an increase in sex drive or even if that was caused by the anti-depressants (certainly it's a risk) or by the depression or the increase in weight.

Are you doomed? Not unless you keep doing what you've been doing, because clearly, that's not getting you where you need to go.

If you are happy with your therapist, ask him/her what the likely outcomes are. Bring up the issues you've noted here.

Remember during therapy that it's not just about you talking, but also working on your problems, however painful that might be. A lot of people here recommend CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and I'm one of them, but some find the David Burns book to be condescending. At the time that I used it, and applied, it worked well for me.

Don't give up.
posted by b33j at 5:38 PM on October 27, 2007

No, you are not doomed. At one time or another I have taken all of the anti-depressants you listed over the past 35 years. Wellbutrin worked the best for me, especially in the sexual and weight department, but I'm sure it's different for everyone. When I lost my job in April I also lost my health insurance and haven't taken anything since then. I'm really doing fine. I'm only speaking for myself, but maybe you can do okay drug free. Have you tried that? You might be surprised. I certainly was. If there comes a point when I'm feeling "iffy" I'll consider going back to the Wellbutrin, but until then....life is good.
posted by wv kay in ga at 6:13 PM on October 27, 2007

Response by poster: @JaySunSee: Thanks--that video made me laugh, so true. However, "Laying off the pills for a while" is what I'm attempting to do; my question is about lasting side effects. For many, regardless of the larger political questions, managing medication and its side effects are real problems, not something to which they've "resorted."

To clarify, I've been seeing two different therapists, with varying degrees of success, and I am a long distance runner. My question emerges out of frustration with weight gain and essentially no interest in sex even as I've ramped up my exercise. Has anyone seen a reduction/reversal in these side effects once going off the drugs?
posted by Drohan at 7:01 PM on October 27, 2007

Okay, I wouldn't be so quick to "get off the drugs" (I love how people only say that about mental health, btw, and never tell diabetics to "get off the insulin") but I see your frustration at haveing been on so many, and with side effects that impair your mental health, to boot.

One medication suggestion: I have been on Venlafaxine for years, for GAD, and have had no side effects. It's not a straight up SSRI, but a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which moght make a difference for you. Some people I know find it too "numbing," however that's not a side-effect I've noticed. Warning though: you need to taper off this one, if you do start it.

You mention that you're in therapy, but I would strongly suggest, specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy.

As far as your sex-drive/weight gain...this is brain chemistry. It takes a while to get back on an even keel once you stop taking meds/find a med that works for you. There is a Wikipedia article on this, actually, and it looks like long-term repression of the libido is a possible but rare side effect.
posted by sarahkeebs at 6:13 AM on October 28, 2007

Personally my difficulty with weight gain and sexual disinterest ceased a few months after ceasing psychiatric pills. I can't really attest to other people's experiences but it certainly *seems* like a common result. I did not partake for as many years, however.
posted by shownomercy at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2007

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