The first medication I took for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder was Anafranil. This was in early 1990, right after the FDA approved the drug for use in treating OCD.
My psychiatrist told me it was the first drug approved for OCD specifically. Since Anafranil is a tricyclic antidepressant, it would work on my depression too.
Anafranil did help me. It took about three months before I saw the full measure of its help.
It took away the worst of my cleaning and checking compulsions. It made it easier for me not to give in to compulsions. And it lifted me out of a deep depression.
I will be forever grateful for Anafranil and for other medications that I’ve taken since then that have helped me deal with my mental illnesses.
Janet at the blog ocdtalk inspired this post. In an excellent post called “OCD and Medication,” she wrote she thought it was important to share our stories of our experiences with medications, because medication was a sometimes controversial topic when discussing treatment for mental illnesses.
As Janet points out in her post, people have different experiences with and attitudes towards medication.
Let me preface my story by saying that I know not all medications are for all people. And what works for me may not work for someone else. Not everyone needs or should take medication. Any decision about medication should be made in conjunction with your doctor.
Medications have been quite literally a lifesaver for me. I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I say that I’m not sure I would be here today if I had not had the help of medication.
I have had serious bouts of depression. Long ago, I made plans to end my life. Medication combined with talk therapy kept me alive.
Anafranil was not the first medication I took. I was prescribed Prozac and took that for about a month before Anafranil became available in pharmacies.
Anafranil was not without its problems. I gained a lot of weight while I was on it.
I also eventually fell back into depression and lethargy. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been on Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, Buspirone, Seroquel, Abilify, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta and Klonopin, and different combinations of the drugs, for depression, OCD and anxiety.
My family doctor told me once that medications could stop working. That seems to be my story.
Some of the medications helped, some didn’t. I felt horrible on some of them. Seroquel and Cymbalta were not good for me at all. It was during a period of trying different drugs, including those, under the care of my family doctor that I developed paralyzing anxiety.
I was afraid all the time. I would lie in bed at night, whispering over and over, I’m so afraid. I couldn’t drive. I didn’t want to be around people. I faced any task with extreme anxiety.
I couldn’t concentrate enough to read or write. I felt antsy and ready to leap out of my skin.
It was one of the worst times of my life.
I don’t know for certain that the medications caused my problem, but I do believe they contributed to it.
When I finally started seeing a psychiatrist again, he just shook his head at some of the medications I had been on, saying, “You should have never been on that.”
He is treating me for OCD, depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
He started me on Lexapro, which I’m still on. It has been of tremendous help to me. I haven’t had a difficult time with side effects either.
I am on 30 mg/day of Lexapro, which is a high dose. This is a problem only when my insurance company refuses to pay for that dose, and my doctor has to send authorization showing that I really do need that amount.
My doctor said the insurance company really isn’t concerned with the dosage I’m on. They are concerned by the fact that I have to get 45 of the 20 mg pills for a 30-day supply of the medicine. In other words, they had to pay for 45 pills instead of 30 pills.
My doctor eventually added Wellbutrin. I was on 300 mg, but I asked him to cut it down to 150 mg because I believed it was making me hyper.
And he recently added just 2 mg of Abilify, which has been very helpful for the depression.
I also take a low dose of Klonopin every day. I wasn’t taking it every day, just when I thought I needed it, but the doctor told me he wanted me to take it every night, that it would help with anxiety the next day.
Years ago, another psychiatrist told me that Klonopin was good for people with OCD because it gradually went into the system, instead of giving a quick relief.
I’m also prescribed Trazodone to help me stay asleep during the night. My doctor said that it’s not addictive. I don’t take that very often, though, because even a low dose makes me feel groggy the next morning. I’m doing this with my doctor’s knowledge.
That’s a lot of medicine. But it’s a combination that works. I don’t feel drugged, sluggish or hyper like I have on some medications.
Here are some things I’ve learned along the way about medication:
*Not all medications work the same way.
*Not all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the same.
*Some medications work faster than others.
*Combinations of different drugs can be very helpful.
*It’s important to discuss any concerns you have about medication with your doctor.
*For me, a medication plus therapy is working the best.
*There is nothing to be ashamed of in taking medicine for mental illnesses.
*Taking medicine does not mean that you are not working hard to battle mental illness.
What are your thoughts on taking medication for depression, OCD and/or anxiety? What have your experiences with medication been like?