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Author Topic: Effexor
Jenna D.
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Hey everyone!

I have just been put on Effexor for depression and anxiety. I'm having a hard time accepting that I need the medication, but it's turning into a vicious cycle where being sad makes me scared and being scared makes me sad. My doctor wants me to at least try it so I can talk about things without completely breaking down. I'm also going to make an appointment with a counsellor at the health & wellness centre when I get back to school.

I just wanted to know what kind of experiences other people have had with Effexor or other similar drugs. I've read and discussed side effects but I'd kinda like to hear some personal stories.


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LilBlueSmurf
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Hey there,

Personally, Effexor didn't do it for me. I was on it for two weeks and could barely drag my butt out of bed. Not only was i mentally and emotionally exhausted (from the depression and all), i was physically exhausted. I didnt have the drive to do ANYTHING anymore, and needed a change.

I have been on medications that have helped me greatly. I started on Zoloft which did wonders for both the depression and anxiety, and later i was on Prozac which was also wonderful. Different medications work differently for different people. You may find the Effexor to be just what you need, or you may have a try a few meds to find the right fit (or you may find that meds aren't what you need at all; you need to try to find that out).

The first time i was put on medication i was 16 and not doing it by choice. I had a hard time accepting that i needed medication as well ... My psychiatrist compared it to a diabetic taking insulin or a person with a heart condition taking heart medication. Yeah having to take medication sucks, but having to take anti depressants or anti psychotics has a certain stigma to it that it shouldn't. Is it that you need to take medication or is that that you need to take medication for a mental health issue that's bothering you?

The best advice i can offer you ... Keep an open mind. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else has it all together and you don't; there are many MANY people on anti depressants and in therapy (and i'm a nurse[ing student] ... I hand out the drugs ... I know who's on what LOL). But like i said earlier, there is a stigma attached to mental illness and no one talks about it.

And what do you have to lose? If it works, that's wonderful and you're one step closer to beating this. If it doesn't work, you tried ... And you can move onto trying something else.


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Jenna D.
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It's that it's for a mental health issue, really... I'm on medication for an underactive thyroid. I am fine with that - it's my thyroid, an organ I have no control over. But this is my head here. This is my mind. It's been a big part of my identity for my whole life - I'm known and know myself as very intelligent, thoughtful, creative, logical, etc., things that people (at least me) associate with the mind and the thought that something's WRONG with this huge part of who I am that I can't fix with my own reason kinda freaks me out. I don't want to identify with this. I'm starting to come around to the idea of medication but I still feel weird.


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LilBlueSmurf
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Here's the thing though -- You have no more control over your brain's biochemistry than you do over your hypothyroidism.

Seriously. You can think happy thoughts all you want, and WANT to BE happy, but if the seritonin (and others) aren't there, you're going to run into trouble ... And this is what drugs like Effexor (an SSRI - selective seritonin reuptake inhibitor) do.

Just like insulin. Just like thyroxin (or whatever you're on). Just like every other med that people take for issues they cannot control without.


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Jenna D.
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I know that. It just feels different this time. I guess I have to let go of the idea that I can control everything that happens in my brain. I don't know where the heck that idea comes from, because I know perfectly well the brain is much too complex for me to do that. :-)
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villanelle
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Congrats on taking the first big step! It is the hardest, completely terrifying thing. But you did it!

I avoided meds for years, but hit rock-bottom, got into counseling, and decided to take the leap. And I'm so glad I did -- I am still here! I was scared that the meds would take *me* away, but instead they allowed me to be Me.

I also thought it was horribly unfair that it took weeks to get through the side-effects. After all, I had taken this giant step -- why did I have to wait? Why did I feel worse?

But then the meds and my body suddenly meshed and I felt free and wondered why it took me so long to get over myself and take that leap.

Now it is a good 10 (!!!) years later, and I still struggle with depression, anxiety, etc., but have learned a lot from reading, therapy, being open and talking to people...and I am still on meds and still in therapy. And it is totally worth it.

I'm on a coctail, but it works...for now. My med needs change from time to time. It was hard for me to switch meds the first time...to take more than one at a time...but once I got a taste of freedom, I didn't want to ever live in darkness again.

Effexor. That's my miracle drug right now. The latest. Totally working for me. But it does make me really tired, so I take it at night. I haven't noticed any other side-effects. It has made me nice and calm and doesn't let me dip into deep depression. Instead, I experience depression like a "normal" person would. (That was an amazing thing -- the first time I could tell I was depressed instead of depressed being my normal state!)

So, ride it out. Be patient. Let the meds do their thing. Be open and honest with your Dr. and therapist.

Good luck!!!


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blueveggie
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As far as the meds screwing with your head..

Also comparable to having to take meds I take Lamictal for epilepsy- thank god I can take about the lowest 'acceptable' dose. As it is I swear I have ADD now, I always feel like I have fuzz in my head (and kinda like the lady in the Claritin commerical), I get nauseous spontaneously for no reason and being lethargy/listlessness (sometimes to an alarming degree) is daily occurence.

Hang in there..

For me the best thing I can do when I have a really 'fuzzy' or listless day is excersize- almost impossible to get me to do it. (It helps because I have to excersize one if not two horses most days, which forces me to at least do something.)

Unfortunately I'm not gonna sugarcoat it- I've lost a lot of my bubbly zest for life.. it only pops up on some days. This fluctuates with hormones too (everything does, dammit..), so it does get to the point where it's almost normal as long as I don't try to think too much.

I've been on it since August 05- so 8 or 9 months? something like that.

You'll adjust at some point. You do have hope though- someday you'll be able to wean yourself off of the Effexor or whatever you change to and hopefully return to normal.

Good luck and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Lay low until you know exactly how you react.. I have to be absolutely religious about my blood sugar.. munch semi-constantly all day.. You'll figure out what works for you and sooner or later your sense of normality will change.


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sexualghost
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From Personal experience i'm on effexor as well for the exact same reasons. The only side effects i've experienced was slight shakes in the morning and extreme tiredness as well as a lack of drive to do anything school related. Anyways i've come to my senses and am taking them every day in the hopes that i'll get better eventually but these things do take time, and you have to be willing to work at it. But in any case regardless good luck!
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Juniata
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Hey all,
I have taken medicine for social anxiety and depression since I was 15. Jayintheuk--I found it the idea of taking meds a little strange at first too, but they have improved my quality of life immesureably. I am now free of the prison my mental illness created, and able to enjoy life wholeheartedly.
quote:
This is my mind. It's been a big part of my identity for my whole life - I'm known and know myself as very intelligent, thoughtful, creative, logical, etc., things that people (at least me) associate with the mind and the thought that something's WRONG with this huge part of who I am that I can't fix with my own reason kinda freaks me out. I don't want to identify with this.
Jayintheuk--nothing is wrong with your identity. As a person, you ARE NOT defined by your anxiety and depression. With mental illness you are still intelligent, thoughtful, creative and logical. You simply have a chemical imbalance that makes you feel crappy emotionally. If you take meds, they WILL NOT effect your identity. They will just treat the anxiety and depression. You will still be you. Nothing, not mental illness, not antidepressants, can change that.

As for some of the mentioned side effects--yikes! I can only say that they sound pretty strong. I have tried both lexapro and prozac, and had minor or nonexistant side effects. My advice to you, if you have unpleasant side effects on a certain medication, unless its the only medicine that works for you, you can often switch meds to find ones with fewer side-effects.

I hope all goes well for you,
Juniata

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sexualghost
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Oh one side effect i've noticed with Effexor is that you have an increased Libido(at least for me anyways) but i guess in most cases that's a possitive side effect [Wink]
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Heather
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Well, depression decreases libido.

So, a given SSRI won't so much increase libido in and of itself (and in many people, Effexor does the opposite): rather, if it's working for you in general, you should see a libido increase because it is mitigating the effects of depression.

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BiLLaBaBy017
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Hey Jay, I'm also on Effexor. I was put on it about 2 years ago for Bipolar. For me I had a few side effects, just nauseous after a few times of taking it. But when I don't take them everyday, I get really bad anxiety and often can't leave the house because of it. I have to take it everyday so I can function. I also have a really low sex drive now from being on it.

At first they put me on Paxil, which worked for about a year before I started to become somewhat violent (verbally) towards friends and family. Then they put me on Celexa, which made me really dizzy, then followed by Zoloft. It made me really sick, so I was placed on Effexor and have been on it ever since.

I'm trying to get placed on another medication in place of Effexor because for the last 6 months or so I've been actually MORE depressed than I was when I first started it. I also have heard that some "studies" of people who are on Effexor actually become more depressed while on it and end up committing suicide. Whether that's true I don't know (I'm not trying to scare you, just something I have heard).

[ 03-17-2006, 09:06 AM: Message edited by: BiLLaBaBy017 ]

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Jenna D.
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Hey everyone! Just noticed that some more people were talking, thank you very much. :-)

I'm up to 150 mg of Effexor right now and I think I've reconciled it with myself. So far the major side effects I've noticed are dizziness and vertigo, difficulty getting going in the morning, and (probably my least favourite so far) dry mouth. Eeew. My eating habits have also gotten weird, which kinda bothers me because I generally LOVE food, but nothing seems to satisfy me, so I either go hungry for hours because there's nothing I want, or I clean out the fridge in a quest for something that will make me feel satisfied. I kinda feel the same way with sleep.

I'm not very happy with my family doctor right now, but that's kind of a side issue. The last time I saw her my appointment got screwed up, but when I finally got in we talked, and she made me talk about my father. She's been doing this for as long as I can remember (I've been seeing her since I was about three; as long as I can remember is probably when I was 12), and the same thing happens every time - I start crying uncontrollably. My parents are divorced, and while I grew up with my mom, I'm living with my dad and stepmom while I'm at university, because it's in the same city and saves me money. Money and my parents are a very sensitive subject for me, and that's what we talked about, on the 13th I believe. Apparently I am a very angry person, particularly towards my dad, and I think she was trying to feel out if I was angry at my mom too. I didn't like that but it's something to work on later.

I joined some depression/anxiety/Effexor communities on LiveJournal, which is helping, because I can constantly communicate with people in the same boat, so I know that the appetite thing, for instance, is normal. I even found one specifically for mental illness and academics, which is excellent considering I am a full-time university student and I am also taking on a very important leadership role at school starting in May. I was elected my student union's Vice-President of Students & Equity, an advocacy role that will have me working on a HUGE variety of issues: campus safety, environment, disability, religion, culture and ethnicity, diversity in so many other forms, both inside and outside the union. I'm very excited for this (we just hired our last three VPs today and the director elections are next week) and I know I have to be at my best to handle this job AND coursework next year.

Soooo, I made that big step into the Health & Wellness centre this week, and I made an appointment with a psychologist. It's not until April, because one of them is on leave and the other is booked right up until then, but if the first one comes back before my appointment I will be bumped up. I feel better just knowing that it's there and it's coming up. I've also informed a few close friends about how I feel and the medication, so there is someone other than me or a doctor that knows the situation that and I can talk to. My mother knows and understands - she has had to deal with anxiety herself and wasn't surprised at all when I told her; it's one of the many ways in which I'm "my mother's daughter," I suppose.

I have heard about Effexor being a very strong drug - it seems to be one that for the most part, people do okay on, but after they come off it they are often angry that they were on it because the withdrawal is so severe. That kinda worries me, but I'm getting the foundations of a good support network going so hopefully they can help me out.

As for libido, mine seems so far the same as it was before, maybe a little decreased because I've had a lot of school stress to deal with. I do not have a partner at the moment, so right now my biggest problem with this effect of the medication is that I'm too tired or distracted to masturbate! I'll think to myself at some point during the day, "Yeah, gonna get some self-lovin' tonight!" but it doesn't happen. I usually do it in the shower or before I go to bed, but lately I have just been trying to keep a routine going and have been so exhausted that I don't have time or I just fall right asleep. And that sucks.

Anyway. Thank you again so much for your stories and support everyone, I really appreciate it. Keep them coming and I'll try to keep you posted on how I'm doing.

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LilBlueSmurf
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Hi jayintheuk. Glad things are going so well for you.

No one ever said therapy was easy [Wink] It really really is not, and a lot of people (like myself) just can't/or refuse to do it. So you're doing well. Hang in there. If you find your doctor is pushing you too hard, speak up. The idea really isn't to induce a breakdown, but to get your more comfortable at exploring your issues.

Good luck !

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bobbiskoda
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I noticed everyone was talking about effexor and thought i might add my story. I have had social anxiety and depression since i was 15 years old the first medication they put me on was paxil. That was the worst thing ever because it sent me in to the worst state of depression i have ever been in and i tried to kill my self. After that my mother took me off of it and I was off of all meds for it for 3 years but my depression was so bad and my anxiety was horrible it was so bad i dropped out of school because i couldnt handle being around the people. But anyway when i was 19 things got so bad my doctor put me on effexor and i started seeing a phycoligist she was helpful but then she uped my dose to 400mg of effexor and it was alright but i had the shakes all the time and cryed alot. She just kept telling me it would get better. I went with it until one night i had a complete break down i sat in my bath tub and cryed for hours when i just couldnt take it anymore i decided i would rather deal with things without meds. I have been off all meds for 3 years and still have anxiety but the depression is better!

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Jenna D.
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Thank you for sharing, Bobbi! I hope you're doing well. :-)

I saw the psychologist at school on Monday. It was weird. Mostly because it was the first time I'd met her and it was the whole getting-to-know-you bit. When I talk to my GP, she knows almost everything already, because I've been seeing her since I was three. But I need someone closer to school, since I'm there almost all the time. Anyway. She seems really nice. I did get a bit upset, but I also noticed that I didn't get quite as choked up as I have in the past. Maybe that's the medication, maybe it's because she asked different questions or in a different way than my GP does. She seemed baffled, but pleasantly so, that in school, friends, extracurriculars and the like I have done quite well (good grades, lots of involvement, well-liked, and the fact that I just light right up when I talk about these things), but when it comes to my family I am quite the opposite. I'm quite confident and happy with everything at school, but very insecure and sad when it comes to my family, and she's happily surprised that I've been able to keep the two spheres separate for so long. But like I said, the reason I'm seeking out help for this now is that I've noticed things that make me afraid that I'll lose the ability to separate them, that I won't get out of bed and go to school, that my grades will drop, etc.

I see her again in two weeks. In the meantime, I have another week and a half of classes left and assignments to be done and a quiz to study for!

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Zachs lil Lady26
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I am on Effexor right now for anxiety, panic disorder, and depression. I don't like it. But my doctor wants me to see a psychiatrist before he changes my medicine again. The problem is, the appointment is for July. It's not that the Effexor isn't working, I just have side effects and I'd just rather be taking something else. That, and I still have panic attacks from time to time. I think you just have to try different medicines until you find one that works. Make sure you communicate well with your doctor and tell him/her any problems you have. The side effects I have are night-sweats, fatigue, and dry mouth.

Good luck, and I'm always here to talk if you need to.

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isabelle
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well i take effexor everyday and I remember the doctors tried to take me off it and I couldnt handle it: I have anxiety. it really does miracles for my anxiety but otherwise I dont know of it doing anything else: oh but if i forget to take it one night I'll get withdrawal and get really nautious and that really really sucks
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Jenna D.
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Oh, wow, I almost forgot this thread was here, lol. So here's an update.

I'm not taking Effexor anymore. I started weaning myself off it, got down to half a capsule per day and I took my last dose on Canada Day, July 1. The withdrawl afterwards wasn't as bad as I had expected - I'd heard horror stories about brain zaps and other terrible side effects, but I didn't get any of them. It's probably because I wasn't taking it very long, and I weaned off fairly slowly. I just felt like it wasn't working for me, and I didn't like the side effects either.

In May I was feeling all right, but I've been kinda down again lately and VERY stressed out, and everything has been triggering lately - the littlest thing, the smallest irritation or disappointment makes me soooooooo worked up, either in anger or anxiety - so my psychologist wants to see me more frequently and if it doesn't let up she wants me to try meds again, something other than Effexor, of course. So we shall see how that goes.

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FromZero
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Jay, I commend you for getting yourself off the meds! I certainly have issues myself and have found that when faithfully practicing Yoga and Meditation my life is far different. Just through practice, it puts you in touch w/ the deeper issues in your life... Things buried deep that drugs mostly hide or cover w/ that fog you talked about. I am so thrilled to see you are off meds, even though I would never judge anyone who tries them.

I just wanted to suggest that you see a yoga instructor (preferable Kundalini yoga if available, but ANY yoga is great) - and this is the cheapest therapy you will EVER spend your money on... It has a long term lasting result because it truly does allow you to sift through things... its not just "excersice" for your body, its for you mind/spirit. Truly... try it... It has saved my life.

Good Luck and Many Blessings.

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