My first experience with clinical depression occurred when I was just sixteen years old. I see my long-term struggles with depression as a primary symptom of having MS, as well as a normal reaction to the multiple losses induced by being diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses.
I’ve been fascinated by psychpharmacology for several decades. My first psychiatrist prescribed Doxepin (Adapin), a tricyclic antidepressant. Its side effects were miserable, and included blurred vision, cotton mouth, orthostatic hypotension, and significant weight gain. (Note to psychopharmacologists: No depressed adolescent female wants to gain forty pounds, in a very short period of time). Nevertheless, taking Doxepin did help pull me out of a very deep, dark place.
Over my many decades of dealing with depression, I’ve been prescribed each of the following psychotropic medications, at one point or another: Abilify, Celexa, Cymbalta, Doxepin, Elavil, Effexor, Geodon, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Tofranil, Viibryd, Wellbutrin XR, and Zoloft.
To address my depression-induced insomnia, I’ve been prescribed Ambien and Trazadone. My antidepressant medications have frequently needed to be changed over the years, due to reduced effectiveness.
At times, I have honestly struggled with the idea of needing to take antidepressants on a long-term basis. However, I know that depression is truly one of the chronic illnesses that I must manage. Not doing so would seriously impact my ability to cope as effectively as possible with my other chronic conditions.
At this point, my advanced education informs me that there need be no stigma attached to taking an antidepressant. I certainly don’t feel bad because I need to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life, do I?
I view antidepressant medications as just one component for effective treatment of depression. Psychotherapy is equally important in achieving relief from depression.
The combination of taking antidepressant medication, and receiving psychotherapy, is more effective than pursuing either treatment option alone.
Running, on a regular basis, was perhaps the single best antidepressant that I ever came across. I still miss being able to lace up my running shoes, put on my headphones, and go for a long run.