I was recently asked how my switch from Prozac to Wellbutrin is going, and realized that I haven’t mentioned it at all here. That’s mainly because I haven’t had any problems with it. Besides what I’ll mention next, I get Wellbutrin free from Canada through work (I don’t even have to pay shipping & handling!), which is a lot better than paying $15/month for generic Prozac.
My doctor and I decided to switch back in June after taking Prozac for 12 months. I had a few negative side-effects which weren’t serious, but were annoying, and if I could find something that didn’t give me those problems, I would be much happier. With the Prozac, here’s my complaints (which are different for every person, I shouldn’t have to mention, that this is just my personal experience with any one drug, the Prozac people would have me mention that I was taking fluoxetine which is generic Prozac, and not brand-name Prozac blah blah blah disclaimer done):
- If I took it in the morning, I was nauseous from about 10 till 3, at which point I was starving and then… well, nauseous because that’s how I feel when I get too hungry.
- If I took it in before I went to bed, I usually woke up several times in the middle of the night. Usually it wasn’t for long and I fell right back to sleep, but I used to be such a sound sleeper (like a log, or a dead person) that it was annoying.
- If I took it at dinner-time, I had a really hard time falling asleep, which defeated some of the reasons why I was taking it in the first place (I’ll talk more about that later).
- Also, I had the oft-mentioned problems with lack of… desire, which, though it doesn’t currently affect my life, I am a fairly healthy 20-something and should, well, feel healthy in that regard.
When I started taking Prozac, the first week was pretty bad sleep-wise. I happened to be on a mission trip with my youth group to Chicago, which only made the side-effects worse. I had a real hard time sleeping. I remember one day in the middle of the trip I woke up at 4 am and was wide awake. While it doesn’t sound that bad, anyone who’s been on one of those trips knows how long and hard the days are, and how precious sleep is.
My doctor had mentioned that I could have the same problem when switching to Wellbutrin, that if I was going to have side-effects, they would happen within the first two weeks, etc. She also mentioned other side-effects others have had, the most alarming one being the proclivity to experience hallucinations.
Well, I didn’t have any of the forecasted problems switching. My sleep issues have gone away, as well as the eating/nausea problem. Also, I just feel better. While anything is better than what I felt like before I went on meds, and Prozac was a definite improvement, this just takes it a step further. It wasn’t a noticeable change or a jump in energy. All of a sudden one day I just realized that I felt better, and I had been feeling better for a while. It was a pleasant realization.
Not many people that I know personally are aware that I am on medication. I told because she was my roommate and the person who saw me most often and I felt should be aware of it. I also told , because I knew she would be understanding and non-judgmental. I think knows, although I haven’t told her outright, but we’ve talked about meds for various problems before, and she knows I’m on something. I have not told either of my parents, although could know if she had snooped at all on any of my trips home or her trips here. The only other people who know are those who read this blog. Admittedly, there are a few people I actually know that read this blog, who found out through this and not because I told them personally. I hope they’re not offended I didn’t tell them – it’s a hard subject to bring up, and you’re never sure what kind of response you’re going to get. There’s such a negative stigma around depression, even with the market saturation of Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin etc etc.
Nearly two years ago, when I first started working again full-time with benefits, I took advantage of my health insurance and saw the doctor for a check-up. I mentioned a few small ailments, including the fact that I felt tired all the time. I seemed to need 10-12 hours of sleep a night to feel normal. While it wasn’t destroying my life, it was having an impact, and I was ready to find a solution. I had thought it might be my thyroid, since many of the same symptoms are present for that. Tests were ran that came back negative. This was the same time that all the hormone tests were ran and I was diagnosed with PCOS. My doctor encouraged me to see a therapist, and that if I did that, she would be willing to prescribe an anti-depressant.
So I saw a therapist (for a total of four sessions, which I know isn’t a lot, but I just didn’t feel like I was getting what I wanted out of it, and didn’t seem to know how to) and he agreed with my doctor and actually gave me the needed push to ask for a prescription. It’s a big step, really officially admitting you have a problem you can’t solve any other way.
When my doctor first asked me how long I’d felt this way (tired, apathetic, generally unhappy), I said for probably the past ten to fifteen years. It’s amazing, but since I can remember (much of my childhood is foggy just because I don’t have that good of a memory) I haven’t been… thrilled with life the way others seem to be. I don’t really get passionate about much, and even then, it’s pretty restrained. Of course, I’m a fairly conservative person, but I had just gotten to the point where I felt like I wasn’t having any feelings at all anymore, besides anger and frustration. I know there were lots of times since I was 10 that I have been happy – I can remember events in junior high, high school, and college when I thoroughly enjoyed myself and life was good and I felt good. Overall, however, I just wasn’t happy, and it wasn’t situational.
I’m OK with knowing that I have a chemical imbalance. Heck, I have a hormonal imbalance and I’m pretty OK with that, and that has a bigger potential for negatives throughout life than depression. I’ve never been suicidal, though I have thought about it in a strictly theoretical way before, as I think a majority of people have by the time they reach their mid-20s. Depression wasn’t something that was going to end my life, or completely ruin it. It was just something that was stopping me from experiencing all of it.
I feel much better now. I’m happy with my Wellbutrin XL (extended release) and don’t really have plans to stop taking it any time soon. I don’t see it as being a temporary solution to a temporary problem. It’s not a band-aid for a cut. And they’re not “happy pills.” They don’t make me happy. They give me energy to experience life enough so that I can enjoy it. I really encourage anyone who’s been undecided about whether it’s time to talk with their doctor about it, or a loved one, or a good therapist if it’s covered by your insurance. It’s worth it to be able to live life in color, instead of greyscale.
Rockin’ out to: U2, Best Of 1980-1990, the B-sides
Wisdom Source: between books
Today’s Wisdom: Psalm 35:9, “Then I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be glad because he rescues me.”