I'm writing this post in the hopes that I can get some kind of information from people who are more experienced with anti-depressants than I; this nightmare I've been experiencing is, as far as I can tell, not supposed to happen, but it is happening regardless. First off: I've been suffering from Major Depressive Disorder and moderate Anxiety Disorder for a long time now, far longer than I've been getting treatment for it. I've been in therapy for months, but I've always been reticent to try mood-altering drugs to treat it. However, after experiencing frustration with continued emotional problems and experiencing episodes of depression or anxiety regardless of cause, I decided last Wednesday to talk to my doctor about antidepressants. My grandmother and mother are taking Paxil and Cymbalta respectively, so we decided to start with Paxil to see how that worked. Six hours after taking it, I found myself in the ER, having woken up at 3 AM having a tight throat, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing. The conclusion we came to is that I had an allergic reaction to the drug, and my doctor decided to see if the reaction was just to the Paxil or to the entire family of antidepressants. I got a prescription filled for duloxetine on Thursday, and took one Friday morning when I felt completely recovered from the effects of the drug. It took longer for me to notice anything wrong, but by Friday night, I was having issues again, and found myself once more lying in a hospital, under observation while I recovered. I was told not to take any more SSRIs, and I haven't, but I'm still suffering from allergic reactions. To date, the one Paxil and the one Cymbalta are the only antidepressants I have consumed.
This is where I hasten to point out that I am fully aware that, under normal circumstances, it should take multiple doses and weeks for this drug (or any SSRI) to 'build up' in your system and, with a half-life of approximately 12 hours, duloxetine shouldn't even be in my system anymore. So none of what I'm about to say makes any sense to me, but it is what has been happening...
Fast forward to Sunday. I had another episode where I was having difficulty breathing, and I had to go to the ER again. I responded as well as I did the last two times to treatment for airway-constricting allergic reactions, and after about five hours I was set to go again. I thought at the time it was odd, because I'd done my reading and knew I should be free of the drug completely by this point. I talked to my doctor and we're basically of the mind that, at this point, while I could attempt an SNRI or other type of antidepressant, it was not really a good idea, especially not until I knew I was completely free of all allergens in my system. Frankly, at this point, I'd say I'm fairly scared off of any kind of medication for depression/anxiety.
It's now Tuesday, however, and while I'm 4.5 days past the last time I ever even touched duloxetine, I'm still having (thankfully somewhat less severe) allergic issues. My throat is still tight, but I've been able to stave off more severe issues by maintaining 50 mg of Benadryl every six hours and keeping my throat under ice. This typically lasts long enough to get some sleep and a respite. However, I feel that the drug is still inside my system. How do I come to this conclusion? First of all, the effects and side-effects of the duloxetine made themselves known very quickly, the same day I took it... I felt no anxiety, I got the sweats, the sexual dysfunction, right away. And I still suffer from the sweats and... frankly, at this point I'd call the main effect a problem. Despite the fact that, if you were to ask me how all this is making me feel, I would answer that I've never been more terrified in my entire life of anything... I don't feel it. I still don't. I'm as calm as I've been in a long time about anything. I was calm when I went to the ER three times in the last week, each visit. I was calm when I explained to my doctor what happened. I'm calm right now, typing all this up, despite the fact that I know that I ought to be scared. I've been able to avoid having to go back to the ER, but I'm well aware that if my swelling obstructs breathing again, I'm going to have to go back, no question about it. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to talk about my lingering issues and ask what I can do, but I hope that there are people who have experience, firsthand or not, with duloxetine and similar drugs, to answer this for me:
Is duloxetine's half-life really 12 hours, as it says? Does that change if your body decides to go nuclear on it with immune response? Has anyone had lingering effects days or longer after they were 'supposed to' with duloxetine? Is there anything I can do to hasten getting what I am rapidly regarding more as a poison out of my system? Is there any other information I can have before I talk to my doctor tomorrow?
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.