My history with antidepressants
I've been taking antidepressant medication for almost twenty years solid, with the exception of the period when I was switching antidepressants and when I was pregnant. The first antidepressant my depression was treated with was Norpramin, also known as Desipramine. I was very lucky, as it worked very well for me. Not everyone has that kind of success with their first antidepressant. There were a couple of uncomfortable side effects, but I was willing to live with them.
After almost I had been on Norpramin for two years,I got a new doctor at the clinic I went to (they were on a six month rotation). He did a complete intake instead of merely relying on what was in the file, and diagnosed me with mild to moderate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Because of this, he suggested that we switch my antidepressant to Prozac, which he said would treat both my depression and my OCD. We started my dosage at 20mg, but it was doubled and then tripled when the stress from my upcoming wedding brought on a recurrence of my depression.
The doctor was spot on in his belief that the the Prozac would successfully treat my OCD. In fact, it essentially "broke the back" of the OCD. It's never been quite as severe since. However, for me, there were two problems with the Prozac. One was that I felt emotionally flat. It wasn't as bad as my depression had been, but it seemed as though all the color had been bled out of my life. In addition, I suffered from a sexual side effect that didn't do a lot to enhance my already problematic relationship with my ex-husband.
Since I had been lucky enough to get a great response to my first antidepressant, I knew that I didn't have to settle for feeling like this. I went back on Norpramin for the next seven years, till I had a new doctor who urged me to try an antidepressant from a newer class. "Why are you still taking an antidepressant that's thirty years old?" was how he put it. Well, partly because switching antidepressants is scary. Since you often have to taper off one before starting the other, so you have a period of being depressed, which I'm never really up for.
So I switched to Wellbutrin. Unfortunately, I did have to taper off of the Norpramin first, and the experience was pretty unpleasant. It just so happened that this was right before I had my first attack of Multiple Sclerosis, so it really was the worst possible time, but when my doctor and I decided on the switch, we had no idea that I had MS. However, the Wellbutrin did start working quickly, so I was back to normal pretty quickly.
I've been on Wellbutrin since then, except, as previously mentioned, when I was pregnant. The only modification to my antidepressant since then was last year, when my doctor suggested that I augment the Wellbutrin with Lamictal, which is a anti-seizure medication. It worked well, but had the unfortunate side effect of making me eat constantly. That was definitely unacceptable, so we removed the Lamictal from the mix and increased my dose of Wellbutrin.
As I said, I've been lucky. Every antidepressant I've tried has alleviated my depression. Not everyone will have a good response with the first antidepressant they try, so the whole process can be discouraging. But it's definitely worth the effort. I can't even imagine going through the last twenty years without antidepressants. To be honest, I'm not sure I would still be here.