Anyone Experienced with Anti-depressants?

Updated on May 07, 2011
M.J. asks from Sacramento, CA
25 answers

I know I'm depressed and I'm having a hard time getting out of it. This year has just been awful, with horrible family news followed by more and more horrible, sad news. Our son's ADHD isn't as well managed as it was just a year ago (he developed tics this year so we had to change from the fantastic Concerta to a different med) and I'm fried. I basically walk around with tears ready to come out in a split second if I get one more piece of bad news.

My question is this: Can anti-depressants really work if the factors causing my depression just keep happening? Will I really start to feel ok about my son's rotten behavior when the meds are inactive, family and friends dying, and other terrible situations if life doesn't get any better? Not even the little things in life are going well. I'm normally a person who feels there's a reason for the bad things in life and that things will get on an upswing again, but every time I manage to get a shred of that outlook, something awful happens again.

It's a long process to get the medical help in our plan, so I don't want to waste my time if I'm just going to be told this is life and deal with it.

Thanks for any insights on anti-depressants and other treatment.

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So What Happened?

UPDATE 5/5: Had issues reaching my primary care, so I called psychiatry directly. They got me in today, after work! Apparently it's a whole lot easier getting help as an adult than what we went through with our son (months to get in).

Thanks, everyone. I didn't realize I could go to my primary care for the first step, so I'm going to try that. I've been through the process of getting in with a psychiatrist for our son and know it's a long one. I also know the value of therapy sessions because we have them for our son. It's just now trying to figure out when I'd ever fit them in my schedule for my issues, on top of our son's full schedule of appts. for his issues.

I appreciate all of the kind comments and feedback. Many thanks.

Featured Answers


answers from St. Louis on

I think they helped me out. My husband thinks so too. My process wasn't that bad, I just went to the doctor and explained what was going on and he gave me a script for what he thought would help me out.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yes, meds can work even if there are outside factors behind the depression. Many people go on them temporarily after a traumatic experience (e.g. death in the family). But anti-depressants should be accompanied by talk therapy / counseling (as others have suggested). That can help so much! Also, meds won't make you feel great about everything that's going on, but at least you won't feel like you're constantly on the verge of tears. I know that feeling, and it's a big relief to get rid of it! Please do reach out for help and support. Any doctor can prescribe anti-depressants (I got mine from my GYN), so go to one you're comfortable talking with. Best wishes to you!! xoxo

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Anti-depressants can help, even if the stuff keeps happening. There is no guarantee that they will help, and anti-depressants should always be used together with counseling.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albany on

Many years ago when my kids were little, I found myself able to cope less and less every day. I'd just cringe when the phone rang (NOW what?), fought tears at every little thing, felt absolutely desolate. Not because my life was so AWFUL, just that was my perception, you know?

By the time I went to the drs for it, all I could do was sit on the examining table and sob. Geez.

She gave me a script for Zoloft. And a referral to a therapist. The Zoloft started working within 2 weeks, 3 weeks in and I got the courage to call the therapist and make an appt.

I had only one visit, but just that ONE visit was a catalyst enough. After 2 months on the meds, I was rollin' up my sleeves and diggin' in, my old self again, deal with this, deal with that, bring it on, no prob!!

After 6 months I decided it was time to go off the meds. Which I did. I have luckily never gotten quite that bad again where I think I need meds. But when I start to get the blues somewhat (who doesn't?), I STILL use the tips I got from that one visit with the therapist to help dig me out.

Hope this helps!


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, they can definitely work even if external factors are causing your depressive episodes. My son had colic which triggered my episodes and borderline psychosis. I kept thinking if I could *just* make it through the colic stage, I'd be okay. Wrong! I went on two, weaned down off of one of them after 6 months of use and am now almost completely weaned off of the other after 12 months of use. These do not have to be permanent.

Depression is a chemical issue in your brain where either too much chemical gets sent, not enough chemicals get sent, or the chemicals are made properly but they go to the wrong receptor, which does you no good. The meds help your brain produce enough of the chemicals and send them to the right place, so that your brain chemistry works the way it should be working. You might ask your PCP for a referral to a psychiatrist.

Although I'm not a professional, I strongly believe that when starting anti-depressants one should also consult with a therapist/counselor. Having a trained professional help you look at your issues objectively and in a different light, and give you tools to manage your stress can be extremely beneficial.

You won't be wasting your time and please don't be afraid of the stigma that is attached to mental health. No one is afraid to go to the ER when they're having a heart attack or if they broke a leg. There isn't any shame in getting medical help for those serious issues. Likewise, a professional won't be looking at you like "Who is this crazy lady!?!" You will probably find that those who deal with mental health issues are some of the most empathetic and helpful people.

Good luck and happy healing!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Honestly, because of my daughter's medical problems I found myself depressed, for years. I finally found a great GP and told her about how I was feeling. I was completely sure I didn't want antidepressants because of the stigma attached to taking them. I also didn't want to take anything that would make me gain weight. She talked and talked about antidepressants. I told her it won't change anything because of my daughter's ongoing medical problems, but I finally relented. I started taking pristiq, 50mg which is a very low dose, and my life has changed completely. I now am able to see hope, be upbeat, and see that despite everything my child will be ok. I was never able to get out of that fog of desperation. I finally do. So I totally suggest taking something. I feel like it's alright for me to tell you this because seems like our condition was triggered by our children's problems. Talk to your general doctor and start taking something. I promise you will see changes.
Good luck mama

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Can anti-depressants really work if the factors causing my depression just keep happening?

Yes. Here's how it is for me. My depression was always treated on and off sort of situationally. Most anti-depressants didn't work for me, the one that finally did was a nightmare to wean off of (six months!), and finally I found one that worked well that I took on and off.

During my first pregnancy my doctor had very strict views about taking medications during pregnancy. Totally off limits. So I went without my antidepressant. HORRIBLE decision.

After that I got on it, and I stay on it. And here's why:
1. My problem with depression was clearly a long-term, ongoing struggle, not as situational as it seemed. And even times I thought I was doing well, I can look back and see I wasn't doing as well as I thought, or that I had to fight hard for it. I'm over feeling like there's something wrong with me for taking an anti-depressant. It's an illness I have.
2. And this is more relevant to your question: When I take the med I'm on now, I feel like myself. And even though I still have situational issues arise, my medicine makes of mind so that I can deal with it. I can be sad or stressed and not bottom out or lose my ability to get out of bed. I don't know that any amount of therapy could ever have helped me until my brain chemistry was right. I now have the ability to see the world as it is, and, well, be more like a "normal" person. I can learn coping skills. I can function.

>>Will I really start to feel ok about my son's rotten behavior when the meds are inactive, family and friends dying, and other terrible situations if life doesn't get any better?

YES. I see the entire world differently when I'm depressed.

I don't know if I'm making sense. I'm not perfect and my life isn't perfect, but I can react in healthy ways and have clarity of mind to learn and grow.

P.S.--I don't mean to say that *you* will need to stay on anti-depressants like I do. I'm just urging you to consider taking something if your doctor recommends so that you can get to a place where you can cope, learn to cope, and function.

Depression is one of the hardest things to live with. It can be a very long road. Here's hoping it's a short one for you and that you find the answers you need. Feel free to write me if you need a listening ear or understanding heart!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I'm so sorry you are feeling this way. I get it-I really do.

Hopefully my experience will help a bit. I've been on anti d's since 2001 when I got a divorce. I've since found out that I probably always needed them, but a traumatic event like that was what got me on them. In any event-if the meds are the correct ones and you take them as prescribed-they do help.

It doesn't make things less sad or frustrating-but your ability to cope is better. For instance on those days when you feel like you can't get out of bed-when you are on the correct meds you'll be able to get out of bed and tackle the issues..but that doesn't mean you don't still cry, get frustrated or are sad.

For me, my meds make me feel less impulsive, more proactive and less reactive. I feel like-ok, this totally sucks-but what are our opposed to-I can't see my way out of this tunnel.

I hope that makes sense/helps.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Yes, I think you can get help. Keep in mind, most of us who are the primary care givers for a child with an issue like ADHD are going to need help at some point in dealing with that stress, and depression is very, very common for us as a population. If you can get help from a psychiatrist, that is best, and talk therapy with medication are quite helpful together, but you may need one or the other more.

Good luck...I have walked your path, and you will be much less fried when you take care of you!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes I think that they can help for people that have unexplained feelings of depression but I think you simply need someone to talk to. Venting and getting some much needed validation can go a long way. You have good reasons for feeling the way you do and probably don't have the time needed to process them. Life has many "Seasons" in it and right now your going through a time in your life that is very sad and probably feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You can get caught in a hopelessness trap. Though it may not seem like much right now, seasons to change and things pass. Even if they do you should still process this stuff now and not continue to carry it any further. I do think that meds can help but I don't think they will help alone.
Sending a mom hug,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chico on

M., in the last 3 years I've had a child, lost my mom, lost our home, went bankrupt, lost our car, moved twice, struggled with husband's job loss and subsequent underemployment. . . believe me, I know how you feel sister! For the last 1.5 years, I've been taking Celexa. It has really helped. For me, it just kind of keeps me level so that even though the bad things kept coming, I was able to cope. What it does for me is just keep my emotions in the "center". And it has helped with the anxiety. I would suggest you give it a try. And please know that things WILL get better. There is a season for everything and nobody is spared the bad things in life. Hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I know I'm late on this response as you've already written a follow-up but I wanted to post my 2 cents worth.

First, I absolutely support anti depressants. I've seen them make a huge difference in people's lives.

There is an alternative and I saw 2 others mention it. Its vitamin B. The way my GP explained it, when your body is stressed, it uses up it's vitamin B supplies. Vitamin B is difficult to replenish through diet alone so supplements are important. Talk to a Pharmacist about the correct dosage.

I used vitamin B when my children were really little and I thought I was going to lose my mind. It got to the point where I could tell if I'd forgotten my vitamins that day based on how I felt. It made me feel less on edge, more able to cope and I just felt calmer.

Its something you can try while you wait for an appointment with your GP. Good luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have been on and off anxiety meds (which are usually the same as antidepressants). I stay on them until life settles down, and when things get overwhelming, like what has been happening to you, I go back on for a year or two to stabilize things.

Try to stay away from the really strong ones, and keep in mind that weaning off them takes time if you don't want them anymore. Quitting cold turkey can make you really sick. And if you are on a strong one, life may seem too overwhelming to ever get off.

I recommend Effexor XR (not the twice a day version -- only the XR version) or Celexa. Those have been the best for me.

Good luck...sometimes it takes a while to find the right one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

So sorry to hear that you are going through such a rough time.

My recommendation for you is to get out and talk. Does your medical plan have a mental health plan. If so, use it. If not, and you can't afford to go on your own, look up your state and county mental health services. They often do counseling for free. If you can't find out anything, call your local Planned Parenthood. They are a wealth of information!

Also, call your primary care dr. Ask to be put on something (Zoloft, etc). Maybe get a little Xanax, too (ask for a minimal dose). you don't have to use it but it helps to know it's there if you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It chills you ever so slightly and not for very long. It will also help you while you are waiting for the antidepressants to kick in (it takes about two weeks).

Then he and the therapist can adjust it as you go along.

But you really need to talk - women need to talk - that's why we are on here, right. So find a therapist (woman preferred) and get to talking. Try twice a week at first - it will help SO MUCH!!

Good luck. And people will tell you not to take any drugs - do what you need to do for yourself to feel better. It's not forever.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

So much of life is attitude. Even if bad things keep happening, if you're outlook was changed, you would at least have hope in your life. I dont take them anymore, but they really helped me face the bumps in the road with more clarity and confidence. It allowed me to "get out of my own head" and find solutions to my problems, rather than just to avoid them and stay inside with the curtains closed and my phone turned off. Now, I just take a whole lot of B complex vitamnis and work out to keep myself centered, but they really helped during a dark period in my life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Anti-depressants help some people but not all. It also takes time, in some cases, to find the right one. Usually medications are used in conjunction with therapy to help you deal with things, sort them out, and figure out strategies for coping. You may have a chemical reaction going on in your brain - the normal hormones that help manage stress and sadness may not be produced in sufficient quantities, and that's the theory behind antidepressants. They don't make the issues go away but they sometimes help people manage them. But a good counselor who either is or who works with a psychiatrist can help you both with the therapy and the medication - far better than a primary care physician who isn't as up-to-date with meds alone.

If anyone tells you this is life and just deal with it, you have the wrong person.

I've been on antidepressants for years, with varying degrees of success. I've also made significant nutritional changes with supplementation to give myself a much better balance, and that's helped so much that I've actually been able to reduce my use of antidepressants and soon expect to come off them entirely. My doctor is thrilled and so am I.

There are also things you can do nutritionally to better manage your child's ADHD, which will make him happier and you as well. I'm wondering if the tics were connected to the meds or to something else. I think there might be more you can do there, but you're not going to get that kind of help from a physician unfortunately.

Good luck - you are not alone. There is hope.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Good job recognizing a need for help~ and doing something about it. :)

Anti-depressants won't change what happens around us, but helps SO much with outlook. Pristiq is a good one. It has given me back my future. Its also important you have a great Dr. who takes time to really listen to you & your concerns...and follows up on medication given. Insist on it, change doc if need be.

Get the (chemical) help you need ~and accepting the love, support, and help offered by friends/family doesn't hurt either. :)

Hang in there! :)


Good job recognizing a need for help~ and doing something about it. :)

Anti-depressants won't change what happens around us, but helps SO much with outlook. Pristiq is a good one. It has given me back my future. Its also important you have a great Dr. who takes time to really listen to you & your concerns...and follows up on medication given. Insist on it, change doc if need be.

Get the (chemical) help you need ~and accepting the love, support, and help offered by friends/family doesn't hurt either. :)

Hang in there! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I would try some holistic supplements first, maybe even acupuncture before going with anti-depressants.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I didn't read the other posts; I wanted to share my experience. Depression is a hormone imbalance in your brain that you truly have no control over. Mild depression can be combatted with talk therapy, getting outdoors, and taking good care with your physical and nutritional needs. However, more severe depression can really benefit from antidepressants. When I was "diagnosed," I knew I would probably go on meds. My son was 15mo when I finally recognized the symptoms, and he was 18mo when I finally saw the psychiatrist.

The first thing he told me was that research has shown that the mini-pill (progesterone only) actually contributes to depression, so I stopped taking my birth control immediately. The risk of a pregnancy at that point was worth taking vs my health, and the decision was justified because I'm not lying to you: within a week, I was already feeling better.

He also put me on a low dose of Zoloft; I never took more than 25mg, so not everyone needs a great deal of meds. I wouldn't say I was back to my "old" self because who truly goes back to the way things were before their child was born???? I really began to feel more like myself, and when my husband and I decided we wanted to have baby #2, I slowly weaned myself off of it, and I stopped taking it immediately when I found I was pregnant. Fortunately, my symptoms and depression didn't resurface, nor have I experienced anything like that since (my 2nd child is almost 18mo).

So, honestly, it has nothing to do with whatever is going on your life. You don't know for sure that you wouldn't be experiencing the depression even if all these things WEREN'T going on. Talk to your doctor!!! You need to make the time :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm so sorry for all the struggles that you have faced recently. Asking for help and ideas is always a great step.
I think it's important to look at things from a couple of perspectives. There are lots of things in your life that are making you sad and stressed and those are certainly appropriate responses. Depression can exist without those things or on top of those things. It is okay to feel sad about stuff and stressed and frustrated when life seems to keep piling things on.
In every circumstance I think its important to approach this on lots of different levels; your general health, are you eating and sleeping well? Do you get exercise? do you have friends or family that you can talk to? Do you take the time to find things (even very little things) to be grateful for every day? Also, are there medications and/or other therapies that might be helpful in both the short term and the long term.
On the ADD issues, I don't know if there are any parent support groups for that like CHADD in your area, but it might be helpful to get connected with them too.
Hang on, reach out,
mom of 2 kids, one with autism, both with diabetes

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

true depression is present no matter what the situation. If your depression is "situational" then it may not benefit- as much. Counselling is the best thing. No anti D can make you accept behavior that isnt acceptable, it will numb you so you maybe dont react so much.
I would take supplements like calcium, magnesium, omega 3, there are a few others- to help with dealing with stress & talk to someone you trust.
You may want to look at how you deal with things, learn how to avoid internalizing rotten situations so you arent so affected. I look for a "why" for everything. "whats the reason for the rotten behavior" also try to see positive in everything, there is usually some positive in the worst situations, and focus on happy things to attract it to you. sounds corny but its true. Pick your battles- pick your stresses too. Ignore the little things so it doesnt seem so huge, look for little positives instead. (the sun on your back is a positive right? smell the flowers, see the cute puppy walking on the street etc etc)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

YES!!! Anti-depressants really do work. You don't just have to deal with it. Please see your doctor and discuss one that may help you. I have taken Lexapro in the past and it really helped. Please understand that each one is different and you may need to try a few until you find one that works. Also give each one time to get into your system, they don't work overnight. Also remember that when you try to go off them in the future it is a gradual process as well. Another thing is if you can find a therapist to talk to. Talking things out can also really help. Ask your doctor for names or call your insurance for names as well. Good luck and see your doctor, you don't need to keep feeling this way there is help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

The other moms are right - it is very stressful to deal with special needs on a constant basis. It can be relentless. My heart goes out to you. You really have to carve our time to refresh your soul and recharge your own batteries. Hopefully your husband supports you doing this.

I took Paxil many years ago when I divorced . . . hated the way it made me feel - very flat.

There are probably new and better things on the market that may be appropriate for you.

I am not a fan of RX so I avoid them unless absolutely necessary. What works for me is regular, consistent exercise as well as a really good B-complex vitamin, Omegas, adrenal support and sometimes 5-HTP. You may also want to get a complete hormone work-up to rule out physical causes of your feelings (perhaps get a complete physical too).

I realize this doesn't work for everyone - I just hope you find what works for you.

Good luck.

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answers from San Francisco on


So sorry to hear you're having a hard time! If you're open to it, I wanted to suggest a different approach. There's a book called "Potatoes Not Prozac" by Kathleen DesMaisons that helped me (and my whole family) immensely. Just by making some fairly simple dietary changes my daughter went from being nearly suicidal to being a mostly very happy child. I wasn't quite as low as she was, but I definitely felt HUGE improvement in my attitude as well. Plus, my son's ADHD improved! I learned that food (and some behavioral approaches) can really help to balance brain chemistry.

You can check out to see if this program fits what you need. There's great support there as well.

Oh - also - this book can be found in lots of libraries. Way cheaper than a visit to the doctor!

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Anti-depressants can help even though life circumstances continue to be difficult. You won't feel okay about your son's behavior, but you can be less reactive, and feel less helpless. You will continue to mourn your losses. But you don't have to crying all the time. I would recommend psychotherapy as well.

A little about me : A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, married 22 years, two kids, 22 &14. In practice 17 years in Palo Alto.

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