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Vanta

Stuck In Limbo About Whether To Take My SSRI Or Not

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I am a 30 year old male and have been suffering from depression, anxiety and OCD for 15 years.  During this time I have tried numerous different SSRIs, including Citalopram, Fluoxetine and Paroxetine (albeit not all at the same time).

I'm gonna be blunt as there's no way to sugar coat this, although I have been suffering from orgasm related issues during my time on SSRIs.  I barely feel any sexual stimulation and find it extremely hard to ejaculate.  4 weeks ago I decided to quit my Paroxetine cold turkey as I'd had enough of the side effects.  The past 4 weeks have been the worst I have ever felt in my life, by far.  I have been experiencing all of the 'discontinuation syndrome' symptoms including nausea, fatigue, headaches, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, anger etc.

I kept thinking it would go away eventually, although 2 days ago I broke down in tears and my family took me up to the hospital.  I was in the waiting room for 15 hours before finally seeing somebody from the mental health team.  I spoke to them for 2 hours and explained everything.  They prescribed me Sertraline (50mg) for everything I was feeling.

Unfortunately I am now having to convince myself to take them as I do not want to go back to feeling the sexual side effects of SSRIs which were horrible for me.  Although I felt terrible during the past 4 weeks since coming off Paroxetine, I noticed that my sexual libido had increased massively and I was easily able to achieve orgasm again, which was brilliant.  I am now extremely nervous about reintroducing an SSRI into my system, even if it will supposedly help with the way I'm feeling.  I just don't know what to do and it's destrying me inside.  I wish I could just make a decision, but I'm unable to.  I have searched numerous times online for "Should I take an SSRI?  Do SSRIs work?" and "Side effects of SSRIs" etc.  I am constantly seeing people post that they think SSRIs are the devil's drug and that they should be banned from being prescribed, etc.  I am constantly reading about people's side effects whilst taking them and that they'd never take them again once quitting.  Many people claim that SSRIs ruined their lives and that people are better off without them, etc.  So I just don't know what to think.  My doctor told me "Don't search online", and I DO understand why he would suggest that, but surely based on the amount of people I've seen online talking about how bad SSRIs are and how they mess up your life, they can't ALL be wrong can they?  If they're all wrong then that means I've seen over 500 or so people talking crap, which I find very hard to believe.  They all have experience in taking SSRIs throughout their lives and therefore why would they come online just to lie about them?  I know that people DO lie online and some people just want to talk crap for the hell of it, but as I said I have read over 500 or so posts and threads from different people claiming that SSRIs did not work for them and caused numerous different side effects.  Even if only 10% of these people told the truth, that's still 50 people.

During the past 4 weeks I purchased a couple of natural supplements which supposedly help with your mental state.  I purchased 5-HTP and St. John's Wort.  Whilst taking these I was still feeling bad although I had absolutely no issues with taking them.  After researching thoroughly online I read that the side effects are pretty much non existent compared with SSRIs, especially sexual libido related.  I noticed that I had no libido issues whatsoever whilst taking them as well.  My brother takes Sertraline also and he told me that it DOES cause failure to achieve orgasm and loss of libido (in himself anyway).

Now I just don't know what to do... Should I carry on with the 5-HTP and St. John's Wort to see if it eventually makes a difference (perhaps they just haven't kicked in yet, I don't know) or should I go ahead and take the Sertraline?  I spoke to my GP and a Psychiatrist about this but I really have no idea what to do.  I honestly have the feeling that if I were to take the Sertraline I'd be feeling horrible about it.  Granted, they may kick in and help me with my depression/anxiety but I'd always have this horrible feeling in the back of my head that I took the easy route and popped a man made pill to deal with all my issues.  I am an extremely health conscious male who goes to the gym numerous times a week and I try to look after my body, therefore I prefer to take natural environment grown things instead of man made stuff.  I really don't want my inability to achieve orgasm to return, which I feel it most definitely will do if I were to take the Sertraline.

Should I just push through these withdrawal effects and hope that I feel better eventually, or do you feel I've done some permanent damage to my brain and will never get better due to stopping the Paroxetine cold turkey?

I DO have CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) coming up in the next few days, so perhaps that will help me out with the way I'm feeling and I won't have to take the Sertraline... I just don't know.

 

I realise you guys are not doctors (apologies if some of you are) so you may not be able to help me, but I am just looking for some peace of mind and advice really.  I find that when I talk about my issues with other people and hear what they have to say, that it puts my mind at ease, as I am unable to keep this all bottled up inside of me and try to deal with it myself.

 

Many thanks & I appreciate any replies I get.

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I'm not a doctor but SSRi's do that to many people. They did it to me too. Some people are lucky and don't have that effect. But everyone is different. I knew a girl on Prozac for 20 years who never had an issue with her libido. Do you think maybe you can ask your doctor to try something else? It's not embarrassing. I had to talk to mine about it once too and he was a guy doctor....I was nervous, but its normal...  Like an SNRI? or TCA ? Those never bothered my libido , but while on SSRI's I did notice myself losing my libido and it was annoying. On the one hand you want to feel better, but on the other if you can't feel any pleasure it's annoying. And it's your sex drive, it's nothing to be ashamed about .. Your doctor knows you better, so I would talk to him/her about it. Everyone reacts different to each meds..

Stopping cold turkey is never a good idea. Again it depends on the person and how they react. Some have severe withdrawal effects and others don't. And be careful with supplements and vitamins, while some people benefit from them (I have nothing against them , they don't help me ) but if you mix them with certain drugs they can have serious medical side effects.

Good luck!

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Hey Vanta, welcome to DF.

I understand your dilemma. I too was prescribed sertaline for depression, anxiety, and OCD. Took it for several years and hated it. It helped with the OCD and the anxiety a bit, but not the depression. It really just exaggerated my bipolar cycles and made my brain feel like a wet sponge. No sexual side effects for me, but whether the side effects of a med are sexual or otherwise, it's terrible adjusting to them, if they eventually pass, or living with them, if they never lessen.

Maybe SSRI-type meds don't even work for you. They didn't work for me, and they don't work for everyone. I took a GeneSight test (where they swab your cheek and test meds against your cells) and it indicated that my body doesn't respond normally to serotonin, so those types might not be effective for me at all. My recommendation would be to keep talking to your doctor about what you want. There are so many alternatives, if you decide to go the medication route, but it might be a years-long process to find one that actually makes you feel better without  all the compromising side effects.

It sounds to me like you do some of the important work for making yourself feel better: exercise, supplements. I would also recommend talking to people, doing something creative, and getting some precious vitamin D, both as a supplement and as much sunshine and fresh air as you can get. That's whether or not you decide to take the medication!

As far as medication being the easy way out, I don't know. I gave up mine. I didn't like the way they made me feel, and I felt like it was more so that people around me wouldn't have to deal with my emotions... but it was my life that was really ugly. That's what needed to change to start getting better. I didn't think taking meds was easy, but life without them is certainly not a constant picnic either. It does feel more like real life, though.

Maybe none of this will help you. But just know you're not alone in this.

x-SS

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Thank you so much for your helpful replies, it's much appreciated.  It really helps me to know that there are others who have been and/or are going through what I am.

I was considering this... Stay on the antidepressants for a month or two and then slowly taper off them instead of quitting cold turkey which I had done 4 weeks ago.  Do you feel that would be a better option?  I'm like a lot of people and don't want to stay on antidepressants for the rest of my life, but perhaps I NEED to for the time being in order for them to get into my system properly and help with this horrible 'SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome'.  After a couple of months I can then speak with my doctor and slowly taper down.

The only problem is, when I last spoke to my doctor about tapering down he suggested that I do 'one day on, one day off' for a week and then 'one day on, two days off' for the following week in order to quit.  Now I get the feeling that although he's a doctor, he may not know what he's talking about when it comes to tapering off meds.  I only say that as I read from numerous different sources online about how to taper off Paroxetine (Paxil) properly and pretty much everywhere says that one of the most dangerous things you can do is to go 'one day on, one day off'  The reason for this being that Paroxetine's half-life is extremely short and only stays in your body for 21 hours.  This means that if I did 'one day on, one day off' then it'd be out of my system by the next day and then I'd be reintroducing it the following day, which could play havoc with my brain.

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On a related note, does anybody have any idea how long 'Discontinuation Syndrome' lasts?  It's been 4 weeks since I quit my meds cold turkey and I'm still feeling horrible.  Is this likely to last for a long time or am I nearing the end of it now?  I'm worried that it'll last for the rest of my life and that I may have done some permanent damage to my brain.

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It goes away... Your body will adjust and start doing the work again, it just takes time. Even when the meds are completely out of your system, your brain will need to relearn how to behave without them and do the job it's supposed to do in giving you the right chemicals. Some people's brains never did the job in the first place, hence the depression. ;)

Honestly, though, sertaline wasn't the worst med I've come off, but there was an SSRI I took for a short time when I was 18 that gave me horrible discontinuation symptoms. It took close to 6 months. But I think part of it, at least the mood part, was that the SSRI cut away a good portion of my emotions, and everything I had been too numb to deal with was still there. I wasn't doing any work, I was just hoping the pills would fix me, and it really doesn't work like that.

Now recently, less than a year ago, the advice my doctor gave me when I told her I didn't want to take pills anymore was to 1. Cut back slowly, 1 week at a time for a month. And then after I stop taking them, 2. Don't let myself suffer. If I need the pills, no shame in taking them.

For many people, I'm sure this is unfortunately true for most of us here, depression, and mental illness in general, is long road. If medication isn't the way you want to handle yours, then you'll need to figure out what really works for you that you can conceivably do for the rest of your life. Isn't that a lovely thought?

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On 3/13/2018 at 4:10 AM, Vanta said:

I am a 30 year old male and have been suffering from depression, anxiety and OCD for 15 years.  During this time I have tried numerous different SSRIs, including Citalopram, Fluoxetine and Paroxetine (albeit not all at the same time).

I'm gonna be blunt as there's no way to sugar coat this, although I have been suffering from orgasm related issues during my time on SSRIs.  I barely feel any sexual stimulation and find it extremely hard to ejaculate.  4 weeks ago I decided to quit my Paroxetine cold turkey as I'd had enough of the side effects.  The past 4 weeks have been the worst I have ever felt in my life, by far.  I have been experiencing all of the 'discontinuation syndrome' symptoms including nausea, fatigue, headaches, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, anger etc.

I kept thinking it would go away eventually, although 2 days ago I broke down in tears and my family took me up to the hospital.  I was in the waiting room for 15 hours before finally seeing somebody from the mental health team.  I spoke to them for 2 hours and explained everything.  They prescribed me Sertraline (50mg) for everything I was feeling.

Unfortunately I am now having to convince myself to take them as I do not want to go back to feeling the sexual side effects of SSRIs which were horrible for me.  Although I felt terrible during the past 4 weeks since coming off Paroxetine, I noticed that my sexual libido had increased massively and I was easily able to achieve orgasm again, which was brilliant.  I am now extremely nervous about reintroducing an SSRI into my system, even if it will supposedly help with the way I'm feeling.  I just don't know what to do and it's destrying me inside.  I wish I could just make a decision, but I'm unable to.  I have searched numerous times online for "Should I take an SSRI?  Do SSRIs work?" and "Side effects of SSRIs" etc.  I am constantly seeing people post that they think SSRIs are the devil's drug and that they should be banned from being prescribed, etc.  I am constantly reading about people's side effects whilst taking them and that they'd never take them again once quitting.  Many people claim that SSRIs ruined their lives and that people are better off without them, etc.  So I just don't know what to think.  My doctor told me "Don't search online", and I DO understand why he would suggest that, but surely based on the amount of people I've seen online talking about how bad SSRIs are and how they mess up your life, they can't ALL be wrong can they?  If they're all wrong then that means I've seen over 500 or so people talking crap, which I find very hard to believe.  They all have experience in taking SSRIs throughout their lives and therefore why would they come online just to lie about them?  I know that people DO lie online and some people just want to talk crap for the hell of it, but as I said I have read over 500 or so posts and threads from different people claiming that SSRIs did not work for them and caused numerous different side effects.  Even if only 10% of these people told the truth, that's still 50 people.

During the past 4 weeks I purchased a couple of natural supplements which supposedly help with your mental state.  I purchased 5-HTP and St. John's Wort.  Whilst taking these I was still feeling bad although I had absolutely no issues with taking them.  After researching thoroughly online I read that the side effects are pretty much non existent compared with SSRIs, especially sexual libido related.  I noticed that I had no libido issues whatsoever whilst taking them as well.  My brother takes Sertraline also and he told me that it DOES cause failure to achieve orgasm and loss of libido (in himself anyway).

Now I just don't know what to do... Should I carry on with the 5-HTP and St. John's Wort to see if it eventually makes a difference (perhaps they just haven't kicked in yet, I don't know) or should I go ahead and take the Sertraline?  I spoke to my GP and a Psychiatrist about this but I really have no idea what to do.  I honestly have the feeling that if I were to take the Sertraline I'd be feeling horrible about it.  Granted, they may kick in and help me with my depression/anxiety but I'd always have this horrible feeling in the back of my head that I took the easy route and popped a man made pill to deal with all my issues.  I am an extremely health conscious male who goes to the gym numerous times a week and I try to look after my body, therefore I prefer to take natural environment grown things instead of man made stuff.  I really don't want my inability to achieve orgasm to return, which I feel it most definitely will do if I were to take the Sertraline.

Should I just push through these withdrawal effects and hope that I feel better eventually, or do you feel I've done some permanent damage to my brain and will never get better due to stopping the Paroxetine cold turkey?

I DO have CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) coming up in the next few days, so perhaps that will help me out with the way I'm feeling and I won't have to take the Sertraline... I just don't know.

 

I realise you guys are not doctors (apologies if some of you are) so you may not be able to help me, but I am just looking for some peace of mind and advice really.  I find that when I talk about my issues with other people and hear what they have to say, that it puts my mind at ease, as I am unable to keep this all bottled up inside of me and try to deal with it myself.

 

Many thanks & I appreciate any replies I get.

I feel your hopelessness and frustration bc I’m also faced with this struggle to medicate or not. I’m currently in the same exact predicament and have been in one of the lowest depressions bc I just can’t decide or see a better option between medicating or not. They both seem to have disastrous results in my opinion. I’m either very depressed and riddled with anxiety most of the time but in my good times I actually feel alive and feel like my brain is working and feel creative (I’m an artist this is vital!) and passionate OR I’m a complete mindless unfeeling zombie on meds that feels nothing, has zero motivation and no inclination at all for sex or life. How are these the only two possible living options? It’s so frustrating and abhorrent that depression medication has not gotten further but after reading and reading everything I can get my hands on about the pros and cons about antidepressants they scare me to death bc in my own personal opinion (and after trying two:Prozac and Zoloft) they changed me as a person and made me into someone that wasn’t really there. I also realized the hard way how dangerous their withdrawal could be after deciding to quit Zoloft abruptly and it caused one of the most severe relapses I’ve had in my life. My doctor is pleading with me to go back on them (prescribed me Effexor) bc she thinks it’s better to be alive (or half alive in my opinion) than take my own life, so I am here, tortured and indecisive bc I’m tired of being depressed and it is ruining my life in many ways but the alternative was not any better...... I’m only 34 and want to have a life of passion, intelligence, emotions (good and bad)-so I’m aftaid to go back to meds. My doctor keeps telling me that I can just go back off them once I’m better in 6-9 months but I know it’s easuer said than done and I know that these types of meds leave a lasting impression and change in our brains and that’s a thought I just can’t shake. So if I can beat this depression low I’m going to try as hard as I can to eat right, exercise, start yoga and meditation, mindfulness, and just about anything that can help me bc meds just scste the hell out of me. I hope I’m strong enough and I hope you can overcome your struggle and decide. Just wanted to share my story and let you know you’re not alone in feeling this great weight if such a massive decision. Best of luck!!!!!!!!!!  

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When I discontinued Cymbalta it took months to feel normal sexually.  It's been over 18 months without medication.  In the last few months I have had much worse anxiety than anything previously experienced.  I still have a stash of Cymbalta (as per agreement with psychiatrist) so if I felt the need before my next appointment I could start taking them again. After 4 days I could not orgasm normally. In 6 days I felt much less anxiety. After a couple weeks of unable to get sexual release I quit Cymbalta.  I also had started back on the Wellbutrin at 150mg, but thats not cutting the anxiety alone anymore. It sure helped with my desires though. Mix great desire with impossible resolution and you have frustration.  Anxiety and frustration. Cymbalta makes it so hard to finish.  I just shake like I'm having tremors or becoming possessed by demons.  Sometimes while trying to get there, I lose all pleasurable feelings and it becomes an annoying sensation. I can go for a while with a good feeling and then it switches to uncomfortable, it is so bizarre. Speaking of bizarre Vanta, you should never feel bad telling your doctor that you cant orgasm because of a medication, I am sure your doctor has heard it before. My doctor was quick to admit that it is a common problem and yet they don't know why.  Best of luck to you and any others with this problem.

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Not sure why this is showing up on my list as it appears to be old...but ill respond anyway.

Im a guy and i had the same problems with ssri's,  and i get it...its a deal breaker. When youre depressed the last thing you want is having the only pleasure in life taken from you.

I had good luck with wellbutrin SR, which does not have that side effect. In fact it can sometimes make things feel  better if you get my drift. But, sometimes i had anxiety that it didnt tackle. For that i was given buspirone, which supposedly is not addicting. I used it sparingly and it worked well for me. 

You may have some convincing to do, as dr's are paranoid about people abusing stuff for anxiety. 

Anyway, it was a good combo for me, and had the least objectionable side effects.

 

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Before trying Zoloft, consider using CBD oil. I personally haven’t used it yet, but I’m planning on it once I finish tapering off of Zoloft. I’ve heard good things

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