Medications

Important Note:  The following information is for educational purposes only.  Information, like everything else in our world, is changing quickly.  Always check with your doctor if you have any questions about medications.

Also, before taking antidepressant medications, ask you doctor  about learning how to develop proper coping techniques which can identify and address feelings related to anxiety and depression.

It is generally recognized that this is the best way to find permanent, long term relief and this may be your best first course of action should your doctor approve.
 

Covered in this section:

--Introduction and Cautions
--Do Medications Cure Depression?

--What If You Don't Think Medications Will Help?

--Do Antidepressant Medications Have Other Uses?
--Overview of Types of Antidepressant Medications

--Overview of Side Effects of Antidepressant Medications

--Specific Antidepressant Medications
--Things To Be Curious About Concerning Drugs
--General Precautions to be Observed When Taking Drugs
--Specific Precautions
--Conclusion

 

Introduction and Cautions


Anyone can develop depression.  The good news is that treatment is effective to some degree in about 3/4 of those diagnosed.  Psychotherapy(1) and medication are the two primary treatment approaches. 

Antidepressant medications have been very important in making  psychotherapy more effective for some people. Consider that if someone is too depressed to talk then, they may not get much benefit from psychotherapy or counseling.  However,  medication can help to improve their symptoms to the point where they can respond better.

Be aware of self-medication.  Especially be careful of those friends who have left-over medications and they offer them to you with the reassurance that it worked really well for them so it should help you too.  These friends are well intentioned but, most likely they are not doctors and therefore cannot prescribe medications.

Also, their medications could be out of date or, may be seriously contra-indicated as a result of other medications you may be taking.

And, even though our friends care deeply for us, a diagnosis of our signs and symptoms are jobs for the professional. This is the only way to make sure that the safest and most effective use of medication is achieved with a minimum risk of side effects or complications.

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Do Medications Cure Depression?
Although aspirin can sometimes eliminate headache pain, it does not necessarily eliminate the cause of the headache.  In the same manner, antidepressant medications act on symptoms but not the cause.

Like most prescription drugs, antidepressant medications appear to correct or compensate for some malfunction in the body and, unless the depression is due to strictly biological reasons (statistically highly unlikely) these medications will not and cannot cure depression.

The most likely outcome therefore, is that medication can help a person carry on with their life despite some continuing mental pain and difficulty coping with problems.

What If You Don't Think Medications Will Help?

 

When I was depressed, I used to vehemently declare that I could fix myself and that I didn't need medications.  Tough Guy and all that.  And, I really believed it. 

 

But then, two things happened: First, a friend of mine told me that because I had been depressed for so long, I had no idea what it was like to be normal.  The bitter truth was that he was right.

 

The second thing that happened is that a hugely painful event-transition-emotional disaster  happened and I was quickly going from more or less functional to becoming emotionally crippled.

 

Somewhere inside of me a little voice kept saying 2 things:

 

1) I didn't need to get hooked on antidepressants for life---I just needed them as a bridge right now to get over the turbulent waters of what was currently happening; before I drowned.

 

2) I had to wonder....what was it like to feel 'normal'?  It sure as hell couldn't be any worse than what I was feeling then.

 

So, I went to my doctor.  And yes, the medications absolutely did help.  And no, I am no longer taking them.  The reason for that is why the website has come into existence.

 

What did the medications do for me when I used them?

 

One thing they can do for anybody is to lift the dark, heavy moods of depression. A person's degree of response can vary from not much relief of symptoms to complete remission depending on a variety of factors.

How long someone must take an antidepressant medication depends on the situation and/or disorder. Many depressed and anxious people may need medication for a single period perhaps for several months and then never have to take it again. For some depressions, medication may have to be taken indefinitely or, perhaps, intermittently.

Bear in mind that intermittently must take into account the amount of time needed for a medication to begin having a noticeable effect and this can take 4-6 weeks or so depending on the medication and other factors.

Antidepressant medications do not produce the same effect in everyone. Some people will respond better to one medication than another. Some may need larger dosages than others do. Some people will experience annoying side effects, while others will not. Age, gender, body size, body chemistry, physical illnesses and their treatments, diet, and habits such as smoking, are some of the many factors that can influence a medication's effect.

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Do Antidepressant Medications Have Other Uses?

Yes.  Although antidepressants are used mostly for serious depressions, they can also be helpful for some milder depressions. Antidepressants, although they are not "uppers" or stimulants, they do tend to take away or reduce the symptoms of depression and help the depressed person feel the way he did before he became depressed.

Antidepressants are also used for disorders characterized principally by anxiety. They can block the symptoms of panic, including rapid heartbeat, terror, dizziness, chest pains, nausea, and breathing problems. They can also be used to treat some phobias.

Please note:  Drugs are no substitute for proper cognitive-emotional management.  In other words, other solutions should be attempted before resorting to drugs.  Of course, if a person is in dire straits then drugs can, and often do, make life and death differences but in the main, it is best for someone to not rely on drugs to do something that they should do for themselves.

Take sleep for example: Assuming there is no physiological basis for poor sleep, a person has only to learn how to sleep properly which is actually more easily learned than one would think. 

Hypnosis for better sleep has been clinically demonstrated time and time again so that is one consideration before using drugs which can have a host of undesirable side-effects.

Now, if drugs are a choice then your physician will choose a particular antidepressant based on your symptoms. When you begin taking an antidepressant, improvement generally will not begin to show immediately.

With most of these medications, it will take from 1 to 3 weeks before changes begin to occur. Some symptoms diminish early in treatment; others, later.

For instance, energy level, or sleeping and eating patterns may improve before the depressed mood lifts. If there is little or no change in symptoms after 5 to 6 weeks, a different medication may be indicated, and you should discuss this with your physician.

Some people respond better to one medication than to another. There is no certain way to determine which medication will be effective, so your doctor may have to prescribe first one, then another, until an effective one is found. Treatment with medication is continued for a minimum of several months and may last up to a year or more.

While some people have one episode of depression and then never have another, or remain symptom-free for years, others have more frequent episodes or very long-lasting depressions that may go on for years. Some people find that their depressions become more frequent and severe as they get older. For these people, continuing (maintenance) treatment with antidepressants can be an effective way of reducing the frequency and severity of depressions.

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Overview of Types of Antidepressant Medications


There are a number of different types of antidepressant medications available. They differ in their side effects and, to some extent, in their level of effectiveness. Tricyclic antidepressants (named for their chemical structure) were, at one time, the most commonly used medications for treatment of major depressions.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were often used for "atypical" depressions in which there are symptoms like oversleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. More recently however, newer antidepressants have been developed.

These next-generation antidepressants are called "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors" (SSRIs). Some examples of SSRIs are fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). (Luvox has been approved for obsessive-compulsive disorder , and Paxil has been approved for panic disorder.)

Though structurally different from each other, all the SSRI antidepressant effects are due to their action on one specific neurotransmitter, serotonin. Two other antidepressants that affect two neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine have also been approved by the FDA. They are venlafaxine (Effexor) and nefazodone (Serzone).

All of these newer antidepressants seem to have less bothersome side effects than the older tricyclic antidepressants.

The tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine (Anafranil) affects serotonin but is not as selective as the SSRIs. It was the first medication specifically approved for use in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Prozac and Luvox have now been approved for use with OCD.

Another of the newer antidepressants, bupropion (Wellbutrin), is chemically unrelated to the other antidepressants. It has more effect on norepinephrine and dopamine than on serotonin. Wellbutrin has not been associated with weight gain or sexual dysfunction. It is contraindicated for individuals with, or at risk for, a seizure disorder or who have been diagnosed with bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

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Overview of Side Effects of Antidepressant Medications

 

Please Note:  If you experience any serious side effects, immediately call your doctor and/or seek emergency medical attention.  Side effects for some medications can quickly become lethal.
 

1. Tricyclic Antidepressants
There are a number of possible side effects with tricyclic antidepressants that vary, depending on the medication.
 

Tricyclics also may interact with thyroid hormone, antihypertensive medications, oral contraceptives, some blood coagulants, some sleeping medications, antipsychotic medications, diuretics, antihistamines, aspirin, bicarbonate of soda, vitamin C, alcohol, and tobacco.


For example, amitriptyline (Elavil) may make people feel drowsy, while protriptyline (Vivactil) hardly does this at all and, in some people, may have an opposite effect, producing feelings of anxiety and restlessness. Because of this kind of variation in side effects, one antidepressant might be highly desirable for one person and not recommended for another.

Tricyclics on occasion may complicate specific heart problems, and for this reason the physician should be aware of all such difficulties. Other side effects with tricyclics may include blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain, dizziness when changing position, increased sweating, difficulty urinating, changes in sexual desire, decrease in sexual ability, muscle twitches, fatigue, and weakness. Not all these medications produce all side effects, and not everybody gets them.

Some will disappear quickly, while others may remain for the length of treatment. Some side effects are similar to symptoms of depression (for instance, fatigue and constipation). For this reason, the patient or family should discuss all symptoms with the doctor, who may change the medication or dosage.

An overdose of these antidepressants is serious and potentially lethal. It requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an overdose of tricyclic antidepressant medication develop within an hour and may start with rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, flushed face, and agitation, and progress to confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, irregular heart beats, cardiorespiratory collapse, and death.

 

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2. SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) Antidepressants
The most common side effects of these antidepressants are gastrointestinal problems and headaches. Some people complain of insomnia, anxiety, and agitation.

Because of the potentially serious interaction between these medications and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, it is advisable to stop taking one medication from 2-5 weeks before starting the other, depending on the specific medications involved.

 

In addition, some SSRIs have been found to affect metabolism of certain other medications in the liver, creating possible drug interactions. As with all medications, be sure to tell your physician if any other doctor, including your dentist, has prescribed any medications for you. This is necessary to prevent potentially dangerous drug interactions.


3. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIs may cause some side effects similar to those of the other antidepressants. Dizziness when changing position and rapid heartbeat are common.

MAOIs also react with certain foods and alcoholic beverages (such as aged cheeses, foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), Chianti and other red wines), and other medications (such as over-the-counter cold and allergy preparations, local anesthetics, amphetamines, insulin, some narcotics, and antiparkinsonian medications).

 

These reactions often do not appear for several hours. Signs may include severe high blood pressure, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, possible confusion, psychotic symptoms, seizures, stroke, and coma. For this reason, people taking MAOIs must stay away from restricted foods, drinks, and medications. They should be sure that they are furnished, by their doctor or pharmacist, a list of all foods, beverages, and other medications that should be avoided.

 

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In general, if you have taken or are taking any MAOIs, avoid the following foods, beverages, and medications for a minimum of 2 weeks after ceasing

the medication:
 

Foods to Avoid
Beer (including alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol beer)
Caffeine (in excessive amounts)
Cheese (except for cottage cheese and cream cheese)
Chocolate (in excessive amounts)
Dry sausage (including Genoa salami, hard salami, pepperoni, and Lebanon bologna)
Fava bean pods
Liver
Meat extract
Pickled herring
Pickled, fermented, aged, or smoked meat, fish, or dairy products
Sauerkraut
Spoiled or improperly stored meat, fish, or dairy products
Wine (including alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol wine)
Yeast extract (including large amounts of brewer's yeast)
Yogurt

 

Please note that for those who love or crave certain foods, hypnosis can help them to more easily avoid them.

Medications to avoid
--Amphetamines such as dextroamphetamine, benzedrine, and Ritalin. 

 

Note that Ephedra, a.k.a Ma Huang,  has been marketed as a 'natural' (therefore erroneously thought to safe) supplement to be used for weight loss.  This herb contains ephedrine and does not mix safely with MAOIs.

 

--Appetite suppressants such as Redux and Tenuate.

 

-- Antidepressants and related medications such as Prozac, Effexor, Luvox, Paxil, Remeron, Serzone, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Elavil, Triavil, Tegretol, and Flexeril.

 

--Asthma inhalants such as Proventil and Ventolin.

 

--Cold and cough preparations including those with dextromethorphan, such as Robitussin DM.

 

--Hay fever medications such as Contac and Dristan, L-tryptophan-containing products.

 

--Nasal decongestants in tablet, drop, or spray form such as Sudafed and sinus medications such as Sinutab.

Taking an MAOI with any of the above foods, beverages, or medications can cause serious, potentially fatal, high blood pressure.

 

Therefore, when taking an MAOI you should immediately report the occurrence of a headache, heart palpitations, or any other unusual symptom.

 

In addition, make certain that you inform any other physician or dentist you see that you are currently taking an MAOI or have taken MAOI within the last 2 weeks.

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Specific Antidepressant Medications

 

Click on specific drug name to learn more about it.

Adderall

Buspar

Effexor

Nardil

Paxil

Prozac

Ritalin

Valium

Wellbutrin

Xanax

Zoloft

 

Please note: This is only a partial list of the more popular antidepressant medications available. 


Adderall
Adderall is a variation of one of the first stimulants, Dexedrine.

Adderall can help to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. It helps remove symptoms such as having a short attention span, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

 
Side effects of Adderall:
The more common side effects include: loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia, headache, dizziness.

 

Other side effects include nervousness, irritability, over stimulation, restlessness, dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain diarrhea, constipation, paranoia, or addiction to Adderall.

 

Side effects that are rarer include: Phonetic tics, high blood pressure, rapid pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and hallucinations.


Prescription drug warnings for Adderall:
* Parents should note that serious, even fatal, Adderall medication interactions can occur if Adderall is taken with MAO Inhibitors.

 

* Parents should immediately alert their childís doctor to any Adderall side effects experienced.

* Amphetamines like Adderall can impair judgment and the ability to engage in potentially hazardous activities like operating machinery, vehicles and sports participation.
 

* Adderall medication has an elevated possibility for abuse as well as addiction.
 

* Amphetamines like Adderall should be administered at the lowest effective dosage and dosage should be individually adjusted to avoid Adderall abuse

and harmful Adderall side effects.
 

* When possible, Adderall medication should be stopped occasionally to determine if there is sufficient need for continued Adderall medication therapy.  Consult with your doctor before doing this.
 

* Children under 5 years of age should not take Adderall since safety and effectiveness can not be guaranteed for this age group.

Buspar
Buspar is is an antianxiety agent that is not related to the benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or other sedative/anxiolytic drugs.  It is not an SSRI.

 

Buspar is used to treat anxiety disorders and provide short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety. It is also used to ease nervousness, anxiety, tension and premenstrual syndrome.


Side Effects of Buspar:
The more common side-effects of Buspar include: drowsiness, dizziness, insomnia and radical dreams.

 

The less common side effects include: nausea, headache, faintness, random excitement. Some of the rarer but more serious side effects include: tremors*, stiffness*, movement disorders, tingling sensations, a raise in blood pressure and sexual problems. (* indicates only at high doses)


Prescription Drug Warnings for Buspar:
* Patients should fully communicate to their doctor their medical history, in particular, kidney or liver disease and/or any drug allergies.
 

* Patients should limit their alcohol intake because it may intensify the dizziness and/or drowsiness effects of this drug.
 

* Extra caution is advised when doing activities that require alertness like driving a vehicle.
 

* Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant before using this drug. Buspar may actually be excreted in breast milk so it is important to consult your doctor before breast-feeding your child.
 

* Do not take Buspar with any MAO Inhibitors because this can cause very serious or fatal interactions.
 

* Luvox, (fluvoxamine) if combined with Buspar can cause a serious slowing of the heart, so doses should be lowered.
 

* Narcotics such as Percodan (oxycodone) can increase sedation and can also decrease respiratory depression.

Effexor
Effexor is a Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SRI not SSRI).  It seems to be free of the side-effects associated with SSRI's.


Effexor is generally used to relieve symptoms of depression such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt; loss of interest in daily activities; changes in appetite; tiredness; sleeping too much; insomnia; and thoughts of death or suicide. Effexor is also used to relieve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.

Side Effects of Effexor:
Anxiety, constipation, delayed orgasm, depression, difficulty breathing, dizziness, dry mouth, itching, loss of appetite, loss of strength, nausea, nervousness, problem urinating, sedation, skin rash, sleepiness / sleeplessness, sweating, tingling hands / feet, tremors, vomiting, unusual dreams, weight loss, or weakness, Abnormal speech, bleeding / irritated gums, chest pain, dry skin, ear pain, hair loss, excessive salivation, migraines, seizures, sensitivity to sun, soft stools, stomach irritation, suicide attempts, taste disorders, tongue discoloring, thyroid changes, or problems with vision.  (Sounds a lot like depression symptoms, doesn't it?)


Prescription Drug Warnings for Effexor:
Effexor can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Effexor is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

Do not take Effexor if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor ( MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days.

Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol may increase drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion while you are taking effexor.

Effexor is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether venlafaxine will harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

Do not stop taking Effexor without the approval of your doctor. It may be 4 weeks or more before its depression relieving effects become noticeable.

 

With some people, continuous treatment may be required for quite some time. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking this medication.

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Venlafaxine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Nardil
Nardil is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) used to treat depression as well as anxiety or phobias mixed with depression. MAO is an enzyme responsible for breaking down certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. By inhibiting MAO, Nardil helps restore more normal mood states.

Nardil is used to treat symptoms of depression such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt; loss of interest in daily activities; changes in appetite; tiredness; sleeping too much; insomnia; and thoughts of death or suicide.


Side Effects of Nardil:
Allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, closing of your throat, swelling of your lips, tongue or face; or hives.

 

Headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, tremors, weakness, or muscle twitches. Restlessness, insomnia, anxiety or agitation.

 

Nausea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth or blurred vision.


If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking Nardil and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately!


Prescription Drug Warnings for Nardil:
Avoid foods with high levels of tyramine, which can cause a severe reaction including severe headache, large pupils, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, irregular heart beats, chest pain and/or death.

Foods to avoid include: cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, beef or chicken liver, tenderized meats, game meat, avocadoes, bananas, figs, raisin, soy sauce, fava beans, ginseng, chocolate, caffeine, beer, red wine and other distilled spirits.

Medicines can also cause severe reactions if they are taken with phenelzine. Do not take any prescription or over-the-counter medicine without the approval of your doctor.


Paxil
Paxil is an SSRI is used to relieve symptoms of depression such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt; loss of interest in daily activities; changes in appetite; tiredness; sleeping too much; insomnia; and thoughts of death or suicide.

 

Paxil is also used to relieve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.


Side Effects of Paxil:
Anxiety, constipation, delayed orgasm, depression, difficulty breathing, dizziness, dry mouth, itching, loss of appetite, loss of strength, nausea, nervousness, problem urinating, sedation, skin rash, sleepiness / sleeplessness, sweating, tingling hands / feet, tremors, vomiting, unusual dreams, weight loss, or weakness, Abnormal speech, bleeding / irritated gums, chest pain, dry skin, ear pain, hair loss, excessive salivation, migraines, seizures, sensitivity to sun, soft stools, stomach irritation, suicide attempts, taste disorders, tongue discoloring, thyroid changes, or problems with vision.


If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking Paxil and contact your doctor immediately and/or seek emergency medical attention.

Paxil can have major withdrawal symptoms. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Paxil is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

Do not take Paxil if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor ( MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days.

Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol may increase drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion while you are taking Paroxetine.

Paxil is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether Paroxetine will harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

Do not stop taking Paxil without the approval of your doctor. It may be 4 weeks or more before it begins to help you, and you may require continuous treatment for quite some time. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking this medication.

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Paroxetine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Prozac
Prozac is an SSRI that is used mainly in the treatment of depression. It is also used to treat other psychological disorders, these include: OCD ( obsessive-compulsive disorder), panic disorder, and antiphobic effects.

 

This drug may also be used in the treatment of bulimia. Prozac is also used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), symptoms of which occur in the week or two before a woman's menstrual period and commonly include irritability, mood swings, and tension as well as the physical symptoms of bloating and breast tenderness.


Side Effects of Prozac:
Anxiety or nervousness.  Abnormal sweating, change in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, headache, nausea, sedation, seizure, skin rash, stomach cramps, or trouble sleeping.


If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking Prozac, contact your doctor immediately and/or seek emergency medical attention.

Prozac can be habit forming. You can become physically and psychologically dependent on the medication. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Prozac is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

It is also suggested that you do not use Prozac for more than 12 months without speaking to your doctor.

Also, do not take Prozac if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) during the last 2 weeks.

 

Serious, and sometimes fatal, reactions have occurred when these medicines have been used together. Also, do not take Prozac if you are taking thioridazine (Mellaril).

 

Dangerous, even fatal irregular heartbeats may occur if these medicines are taken together. You must wait 5 weeks after stopping fluoxetine before taking thioridazine (Mellaril).

Avoid alcohol while taking Prozac. Alcohol may increase drowsiness and dizziness caused by Prozac.

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding while you are taking Prozac.

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Fluoxetine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Prozac may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives (used to treat insomnia), pain relievers, anxiety medicines, seizure medicines, and muscle relaxants.

 

Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking, and do not take any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Ritalin
Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant. The active ingredient in Ritalin is methylphenidate. It is used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.


Ritalin is primarily used to treat the symptoms of ADHD by increasing attentiveness and decreasing hyperactivity. Ritalin has been used sparingly to treat other conditions such as narcolepsy.


Side effects of Ritalin:
The possible side effects of Ritalin include: loss of appetite, depression, irritability, a worsening in behavior, headache, feeling jittery, tremor, upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, possible rise in blood sugar, increased blood pressure, psychosis, paranoia and tics.


Prescription Drug Warnings for Ritalin
* Your doctor should do a complete history and evaluation before prescribing Ritalin.
 

* Ritalin should not be given to children under 6 years of age.
 

* Suppression of growth has been observed in long-term use of Ritalin so it is important for your doctor to watch your child carefully while he or she is taking the drug.
 

* Blood pressure should be monitored for anyone taking Ritalin. This is especially true for those with pre-existing high blood pressure.
 

* Some patients have experienced blurred vision while taking Ritalin.
 

*Anyone with a seizure disorder of any kind should avoid taking Ritalin. Your doctor should ask you about your history involving seizures.
 

* Patients should also tell their doctor about any previous alcohol abuse or substance abuse

Valium
Valium is also known as Diazepam. Diazepam is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Valium affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasms.

 

Valium is used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension associated with anxiety disorders. It is also used to treat certain types of seizure disorders and muscle spasms.


More specifically, Valium is an antianxiety agent. It is used primarily for

short-term relief of mild to moderate anxiety. It may also be used to treat symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawals, to help control epilepsy, or to relieve muscle spasms.


Side Effects of Valium:
Abdominal cramps, blurred vision, dry mouth, racing heartbeat / palpitations, shaking / slurred speech, urination problems, convulsions, hallucinations, memory loss, trouble breathing, staggering / trembling, headache, clumsiness, sleepiness or confusion.


If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking valium contact your doctor immediately and/or seek emergency medical attention.


Prescription Drug Warnings for Valium:
Valium has been shown to be habit forming. You can become physically and psychologically dependent on the medication.

 

Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Valium is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

Avoid alcohol while taking valium. Alcohol may increase drowsiness and dizziness caused by Valium.

Valium is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that Valium is known to harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

Valium may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives (used to treat insomnia), pain relievers, anxiety medicines, seizure medicines, and muscle relaxants. Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking, and do not take any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Do not use if: You had negative reactions to other benzodiazepines, if you have a history of drug dependence, if you have had a stroke, if you have multiple sclerosis, if you have Alzheimer's disease, if you are seriously depressed or if you have other brain disorders.

Welbutrin
Welbutrin is an anti-depressant that tends to have a somewhat stimulating effect.  Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor.  It is very different from SSRI's however.

Welbutrin is also used in treating ADHD and bipolar disorder and has fairly recently been marketed as useful in helping people to quit smoking.  Please note:  If you are taking Zyban do not take Wellbutrin.  Also, inform your doctor if you are or are planning on using Zyban while taking any other medications.


Side Effects of Welbutrin:
Wellbutrin has been linked to seizures in about four out of a thousand patients who were given up to 450 mg/day.

 

Other possible side effects include: anxiety, headache, hyperactive sweating, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dry mouth and blurred vision.

 

Additional, less common  but more serious side effects include: palpitations, unusual weight loss or gain, agitation, slowed movements, trouble sleeping, tremor, dizziness, fainting, mood changes, difficulty urinating, drowsiness, decreased sex drive, seizures, mental problems, fever, muscle aches, yellowing of the eyes or skin.

 

Allergic reactions to this drug may show the following symptoms: trouble breathing, rash, itching, swelling, or severe dizziness.


Prescription Drug Warnings for Welbutrin:
* Patients should be instructed to take bupropion in equally divided doses three or four times a day to minimize the risk of seizure.
 

* Patients should be aware that any CNS-active drug like bupropion can weaken the patients motor and cognitive skills. Until this is found not to be a factor, the individual should stay away from tasks that involve heavy machinery.
 

* Patients should be aware of the fact that problems can develop if the patient has recently stopped drinking alcohol. Also, alcohol should be avoided when taking this drug.
 

* Patients should inform their doctor if they are taking or planning to take any prescription or over-the-counter drugs. This is because bupropion and other drugs may affect each others metabolism.
 

* Patients should also make sure the doctor knows if there are any plans of having a baby in the near future or if one is already on the way.

Xanax (Zan-Axe...sounds like the name of a rock group, eh?)

Xanax is an antidepressant/antianxiety drug that is also known as Aprazolam.  It is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.

 

Generally, Xanax is used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension associated with anxiety disorders.  It is also used to treat panic disorders.


Specifically, Xanax is primarily used for short-term relief of mild to moderate anxiety and nervous tension.

 

Xanax is also effective in the treatment of activity depression or panic attacks. It can be useful in treating irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety due to a neurosis as well.

 

Xanax may help the symptoms of PMS if extreme, some cancers pains if given with various narcotics, agoraphobia, essential tremor, and tinnitus.


Side Effects Xanax:
Allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, closing of your throat, swelling of your lips, face or tongue; or hives.

 

Sores in the mouth or throat. Yellowing of the skin or eyes. Rashes.

Hallucinations or severe confusion.

 

Changes in your vision. Drowsiness, dizziness, clumsiness, depression, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, difficulty urinating, headaches, dry mouth, decreased sex drive or changes in behavior.


If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking Xanax and contact your doctor immediately and/or seek emergency medical attention.


Prescription Drug Warnings for Xanax:
Xanax has been shown to be habit forming. You can become physically and psychologically dependent on the medication. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Xanax is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

It is advised that you do not use Xanax for more than 8 months.

Avoid alcohol while taking Xanax. Alcohol may increase drowsiness and dizziness caused by Xanax.

Xanax is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that alprazolam is known to harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

Xanax may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives (used to treat insomnia), pain relievers, anxiety medicines, seizure medicines, and muscle relaxants.

 

Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking, and do not take any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Zoloft
Zoloft is an SSRI and is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and obesity.


Side Effects of Zoloft :
Diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry month, headache, indigestion, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, tingling, vomiting, altered taste, abnormal vision, chest pain, confusion, hallucinations, headache, hives, impaired concentration, increased blood pressure, numbness, paresthesias tingling or pins and needles sensations), or tongue ulceration.

 

If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop taking Zoloft and contact your doctor immediately and/or seek emergency medical attention.


Zoloft can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if Zoloft is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use.

Do not stop taking Zoloft without first talking to your doctor. It may take 4 weeks or more for you to start feeling better and you may experience unpleasant side effects if you stop taking it suddenly.

Do not take Zoloft if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) during the last 2 weeks. Serious, and sometimes fatal, reactions have occurred when these medicines have been used together.

Sertraline is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is unknown whether it will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take sertraline without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment.

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Sertraline may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol may increase drowsiness or dizziness while taking sertraline.
 

Things To Be Curious About Concerning Drugs


Two major points here:

1) To increase the likelihood that a medication will work well, you and your family must actively participate with the doctor prescribing it. Tell the doctor about your past medical history, other medications being taken, anticipated life changes such as planning to have a baby and, after some experience with a medication, whether it is causing side effects.

 

2) Becoming involved in managing your health is vital.  Many of my clients have said that they've either been too depressed to care and/or they have been intimidated by the doctor.  "Great!" I tell them.  "This gives you a chance to practice assertiveness and to take control of your health all at the same time."

 

I do mean it by the way but, I do not press my clients.  If they are in too much pain then I gently encourage them to do the best they can and I leave it....for the time being.

 

The point is, at some point a person has to take their life back in some way.  And, though most doctors are well-meaning, there are of course, a few bad apples.  If your doctor is a bad apple, get a different doctor.

 

If your doctor is just harried or distracted then gently but persistently ask them to please take a few more moments with you.  If they care (and most likely do) then they will. 

 

When I was going blind from then undiagnosed diabetes, I was already

quite depressed.  When I found out I was diabetic as well as losing my vision, I went into a 3 month tailspin of dark depression.

 

However, after having too much of that pain I started to ask: "What can I do?"

 

This was after I asked all the questions that only had terrible answers.  Questions like: "Why is Life so unfair?"  "Why me?"  "What's the next bad thing that will happen to me?"  "Why does my life suck so much?"
 

Once I got past those questions because they only made me feel worse then I really meant it: What could I do? 

 

I began to assert my control over my health and I studied a lot of stuff.  As a result I got my vision back and, because I was utterly on my own, I began a long journey from depression to a good life. 

 

The ultimate point is that when you see your doctor and are put on medications, take control.  Don't be a victim just blindly taking drugs.  Get curious.  Become involved with yourself in a healthy way.

 

So, when a medication is prescribed, the following questions are important:


--What is the name of the medication and what is it supposed to do?
--How and when do I take it, and when do I stop taking it?
--What foods, drinks, other medications, or activities should I avoid while taking the prescribed medication?
--What are the side effects, and what should I do if they occur?
--Is there any written information available about the medication?

--What could you do that may be a healthier substitute for the drug?

 


General Precautions to be Observed When Taking Drugs


When taking antidepressants or any prescription drug in general, it is important to tell all your doctors (and dentists) about all medications being used, including over-the-counter preparations and alcohol.

 

Antidepressants should be taken only in the amount prescribed and should be kept in a secure place away from children. When used with proper care, following the doctor's instructions, antidepressants are useful medications that can control many of the physical symptoms of depression, while you work on changing the life stressors that contributed to its cause.

Specific Precautions


Children, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing women have special concerns and needs when taking antidepressant medications.

 

Some effects of medications on the growing body, the aging body, and the childbearing body are known, but much remains to be learned.


Children
Studies consistently show that about 15 percent of the US population below age 18, or over 9 million children, have been diagnosed with a psychological problem that compromises their ability to function. In children, these disorders may present symptoms that are different or less clear-cut than the same disorders in adults.

Younger children, especially, may not talk about what's bothering them, but this is sometimes a problem with older children as well. For this reason, having both a physician and psychologist evaluate the child is especially important.

There are many psychological treatments that can help children. These include psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, social skills training, parental and family therapy, group therapy and medications. The treatment, or combination of treatments, used for an individual child is based on the child's diagnosis and individual needs.

When your child appears to have a psychological problem, it is very important to consult with a psychologist to determine what should be done.

If a decision is reached that a child should take medication, active monitoring by all caretakers (parents, teachers, others who have charge of the child) is essential. Children should be watched and questioned for side effects (many children, especially younger ones, do not volunteer information). They should also be monitored to see that they are actually taking the medication and taking the proper dosage.

 

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The Elderly
Persons over the age of 65 make up 12 percent of the population of the United States, yet they receive 30 percent of prescriptions filled. The elderly generally have more medical problems and often are taking medications for more than one of these problems. In addition, they tend to be more sensitive to medications. Even healthy older people eliminate some medications from the body more slowly than younger persons and therefore require a lower or less frequent dosage to maintain an effective level of medication.

The elderly may sometimes accidentally take too much of a medication because they forget that they have taken a dose and take another dose. The use of a 7-day pill box is especially helpful to an elderly person.

The elderly, their friends, relatives, and caretakers, need to watch for adverse (negative) physical and psychological responses to medication. Because the elderly often take more medications (prescribed, over-the-counter drugs, and home or natural remedies), the possibility of negative drug interactions is higher.


Pregnant, Nursing, or Childbearing-Age Women
In general, during pregnancy, all medications (including psychotherapeutic medications) should be avoided where possible, and other methods of treatment should be tried.

A woman who is taking a antidepressant medication and plans to become pregnant should discuss her plans with her doctor; if she discovers that she is pregnant, she should contact her doctor immediately. During early pregnancy, there is a possible risk of birth defects with some of these medications, and for this reason:

1) Lithium is not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

2) Benzodiazepines are not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

The decision to use a psychotherapeutic medication should be made only after a careful discussion with the doctor concerning the risks and benefits to the woman and her baby. Small amounts of medication pass into the breast milk; this is a consideration for mothers who are planning to breast-feed.

A woman who is taking birth-control pills should be sure that her doctor is aware of this. The estrogen in these pills may alter the breakdown of medications by the body, and/or reducing their efficacy to relieve symptoms of anxiety.

For more information, talk to your doctor or psychologist, consult your local public library, or write to the pharmaceutical company that produces the medication.

 

Conclusion:

Drug therapy is risky but, in many cases it is far more risky for a person to go without treating their depression.

 

There are alternatives to antidepressant medication but, these options must be completely discussed with a doctor.

 

Some alternatives include one or a combination of the following:

--Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

--Hypnosis for Stress Management and Related Issues.

--Exercise

--Lifestyle changes

--Changes in current medications

--Herbal and/or vitamin supplementation.  Note: Do not believe the manufacturers labels.  Find credible information not paid for by these manufacturers and then discuss these options with your doctor.

 

Before making any decision on any treatment program or alteration to your current treatment program, get as much good information as you can and discuss it with your doctor.

 

Finally, please bear in mind that happiness cannot be found in a pill, a bottle, a relationship or a bank account.  It is a state of mind, body and spirit that must be earned and then, like a garden, tended to on a daily basis.  This includes conscientious work like pulling weeds.

 

I once heard someone say: "Happiness is damned hard to find in oneself

and impossible to find outside of oneself."

 

Never give up. 

 

C. Devin Hastings


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(1) Of all the studied forms of traditional psychotherapeutic treatments, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be the most effective; even more so when combined with appropriate medications.

To date, no studies exist on the efficacy of hypnosis except for the incredible, ground breaking research of Michael Yapko, Ph.D. whose work is well worth investigating.

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Exciting News!  Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Date of last update: March 9, 2011

Questions or Comments?  devin@depression-hypnosis.com