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I took anti depressants a few years ago (I had a lot of stress). Some of the feelings are coming back. Do I need to take them again?

By Anonymous February 8, 2009 - 11:28pm
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My stress was due to my husband being in Iraq, my daughter in boot camp, a teenage son at home, no job...well you get the idea. I do not seem to be handling the stress to well again with my daughter now in Iraq. So is it normal to go on and off depresants? Are there side effects?
Where do I start this time to get help with out looking like I am crazy?

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It really is not a good idea to go on and off anti-depressants. At least that's what I've learned from my doctors over the years, and I've experienced it myself. For one thing, they lose their effectiveness, and also, you have to remember that these are serious brain meds, and you don't want to mess around with them. I've had a lot of personal experience in the area of depression and have spent several years over the last 14 years on various anti-depressants. I nearly seriously screwed myself up by listening to my primary care physician by going on and off an anti-depressant over the years. And then at one point my gynecologist started me on something new and that nearly did me in. This is serious stuff -- not to be messed around with. And yet far too many doctors are prescribing anti-depressants like crazy as the cure-all.

I strongly believe that the MOST important thing to keep in mind is that you want to go to the RIGHT doctor -- I do not agree that you can go to just any doctor for this type of medication. You absolutely don't want to go to your gynecologist or primary care physician when you start on an anti-depressant. It really is better to see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. A doctor who knows the brain and the impact the various anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds will have on your brain as well as the many side effects that may impact your life. I mean, you wouldn't go to a heart doctor to get lung medication, right?? It's also a good idea to see a psychologist as well, and one who can work in conjunction with your psychiatrist. Talk therapy is essential -- it's half of the total therapy, and meds are the other half. It's less effective to go with one and not the other.

If you need help finding a good psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner and/or psychologist, please let us know here at EmpowHer and we'll help you find someone.

February 9, 2009 - 8:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

You are not alone. I am a 44 year old women who has never been on anti-depressants up until a few weeks ago. With this horrible economy and added pressures with a new job I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I had never encountered this before. My doctor said he has seen record numbers of patients coming in with similiar problems and he has been prescribing a large amount of anti-depressants.

So hang in there, take a deep breath and know that there are many of us going through tough times.

February 9, 2009 - 7:50pm
HERWriter Guide


Diane has given you some great ideas and links.

Also, remember that stress is a normal part of life. It may be diffiuclt but it's actually normal. Your stress seems very environmental - meaning that there are outsides causes (your environment and experiences) rather than chemical (a chemical imbalance).

For example, someone working long hours or home alone with small children all day, as well as having relationship issues or financial worries would have a lot of stress, yes? This will change as her situation changes. She is able to save some money, her relationship improves and she works a regular work week or if at home, she gets some help with her kids. One the stress factors leave, so do the depressive feelings.

But someone with a good life and seemingly few problems may need both talk therapy and medication because her depression is due to an imbalance in her brain, not due to environmental factors.

Stress is normal for most people, in small doses. In today's world, we understand that life is hard but I think we tend to forget that stress is a part of life and we want to medicate to alleviate the stress, rather than decrease or eliminate the factors that are causing the stress in the first place.

I think you should definitely talk to someone about what's going on in your life but not necessarily about medication quite yet, unless of course, you and your doctor feel otherwise. Take some time to figure out where exactly your stress is coming from.

Many people have high stress lives but do not need medication. A healthy diet, exercise, sleep, emotional support and elimination (or decrease) of the stress factors is what they need. Others have a chemical imbalance and may indeed need medication. I think you need to figure out where you stand in this area before taking medication again. There are many other remedies to consider, including talk therapy, exercise, relaxation techniques and homeopathic choices. If the factors that cause stress are not decreased, they will simply return once you stop medication and I'm sure you would prefer to not be on anti-anxiety pills for life.

Going on and off medication does have side effects. You should always talk to your doctor before changing your dosage, adding other medications or eliminating your medications.

The American Institute for Stress might be a good place for you to start.


Please keep us updated and thank you for finding Empowher. We're here to help you and point you in the direction that's right for you!

February 9, 2009 - 2:04pm

Anon, thanks so much for your question.

The first thing I want to say to you is this: You aren't crazy, and you shouldn't waste another moment thinking that you might look that way.

Many people use anti-depressants for what they are: a tool for the times when our bodies aren't creating the kinds of chemicals we need to handle things. Normally, seratonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals are created naturally in our bodies. Sometimes we need help, and that's where anti-depressants come in.

With a daughter in Iraq, the other recent things you've dealt with and the stress from everyday life, it's no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed.

First, let's start with depression; it's slightly different from stress. The top symptoms of depression are:

--feeling down all the time, crying easily
--not getting pleasure from things that used to make you happy
--insomnia or other changes in your sleep pattern
--changes in your weight (that you aren't trying to make)
--extreme fatigue, a listlessness, you don't want to do anything
--feelings of worthlessness or guilt
--concentration or focus may seem impossible

Are those the things you're feeling?

If so, you can either start with your family doctor or with a psychiatrist -- either of them can talk with you about what's going on, and prescribe medicine if it seems best. Neither will think you are crazy. And you should know that when people are depressed, studies have shown that they get better faster when they also are in talk therapy; is this an option for you?

There are also things you can do to help naturally -- exercise is a prime stress-buster and it increases the amount of the good chemicals in your blood. It can be really, really hard to make yourself do anything, but even a small daily dose of fresh air and sunshine -- just a walk around the block -- will help, slowly.

Here's a good page on depression with a lot of other links:


It's important for you to realize that depression is an illness. It's not something you brought on or could have simply avoided, and it's not something that you'll "snap out of," as much as some people want to believe that. You're just a good person with a lot of anxiety and stress in your life, and it's not surprising that you feel this way.

Do you need help finding a doctor or psychiatrist? If so, can you tell us where you live?

February 9, 2009 - 11:11am
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