The happy pill

I had no idea that so many people I know are on Wellbutrin; I guess it’s one of those things people don’t like to talk about.

One of my closest friends said, “Oh, the happy pill! It should make you feel a lot better.”

“What, you’re on it, too?” Nobody ever tells me anything, apparently.

Another one of my friends says it helped her — except for the frequent headaches she now gets all the time. I hope I’m one of the people it helps. Right now, I just feel drugged. I think the doctor’s every-other-day plan is a good one, at least for now. All I know is, politics as practiced these days makes me crazy and I need all the help I can get.

Come on, ‘fess up. How many of you are on/have been on antidepressants?

11 thoughts on “The happy pill

  1. I’ve been on Lexapro for years. It’s primarily because my adolescent eating disorders started up again when I got into perimenopause — I wasn’t going through that again. There are some clinical studies showing anti-anxiety meds help. For me it was a silver bullet. I won’t be getting off until I’m through menopause.

    I have no qualms about telling people either (obviously, see above) and anecdotally I’d say 50% of my friends have been on happy pills at least at some point.

  2. Yo. Well, anti-anxiety pills, anyway. Two 10 mg. generic Valium (diazepam), one in the AM and one before sleep. I trust ’em more just because they’ve been around longer…if they aren’t the original “Mother’s Little Helper” that Mick sang about, they’re close. The shame is that I *don’t* get any kind of buzz out of them like I did when I was younger; they just level me out, now.

    Odd afternote: they were originally prescribed when I was experiencing what I thought was carpal tunnel, but over all four extremities. The doctor took an in-office EKG, sent me out for a full-on echocardiogram, but couldn’t find anything. But while I was there for the first visit, he said “you seem rather anxious.” I replied that indeed I was; I’d been unemployed for 6 months at the time, and then pointed over my shoulder at the Newsweek in his mag rack with a big Sarah Palin pic on the front, and asked “do you blame me?” He offered Xanax; I asked for Valium; the deal was closed. And my “carpal tunnel” went away almost immediately. The doctor and I have since agreed that I’m more or less hyperanxious. I still retain my decade-old outrage whenever I pull up my morning RSS feed, but at least my appendages aren’t giving me grief. And it does just what it’s supposed to, I guess, with no side-effects like headaches or woozinesss.

    They made happy pills better back in the old days, I think.

  3. I took Zoloft for years. I finally abandoned it when I decided that I didn’t like feeling nothing at all. Sure, I didn’t have the black dog following me around, but I didn’t have anything else, either. I suppose if it gets really bad again, I can return to it, but for now I’ll deal.

    I tried Wellbutrin once. I took the pill, puttered around the house for a few minutes, sat down on the couch, and fell asleep for four hours. I guess it isn’t for me.

  4. Oh, and Anna has the right idea. Valium is a really good alternative, safe (relatively speaking), cheap, and if you don’t take too many, the docs are good about giving you a few. I keep some in the house for those times when I throw my back out.

  5. I tried taking Wellbutrin and it turned my spastic quadriplegia into a sort of drug-induced Parkinson’s — the first thing I noticed beyond that the noisy Nazi rally in my head had finally shut up after some months was that the muscles in my jaw were cramping uncontrollably, then I got rigid and athetoid. Now I’m on Effexor. It doesn’t work quite as well for the anxiety, but on the other hand, it doesn’t turn me into a human high-tension line, either.

  6. I took Zoloft for about a year back in the mid-1990s. It helped and I don’t remember why I stopped taking it. It didn’t help though with my stutter, which one doctor thought it might. Hmmm, maybe I should go back on it.

    Merciless and Anna: where do you get Valium. In NYS it requires a triple-page prescription and doctors are very wary of prescribing it. I used to be able to get it (30-odd years ago) from one doctor and I could make it last for a long time. It was a very good muscle relaxer.

  7. Purplegirl, wow. It must be classified as a narcotic where you live. It can be addictive (which is why I said it should be taken only occasionally unless prescribed otherwise).

    Where I live it requires only a regular prescription and my docs have good about it, especially since they can look up my records and see that I take something like five per year. I’m not much of a threat.

  8. PurpleGirl/merciless: my doctor was/is fine with prescribing it to me, and continuing to do so. I probably *am* addicted, but these days? Whateverz.

    When we all wake up one day and find a pony standing at our front door and Wall Street and the Village in smouldering ruins, I’ll consider cessation.

    And Susie: I did use Wellbutrin for a few years, with no ill effects, but I was using it for smoking cessation, upon which it had no effect whatsoever, nor did it serve me well as an antidepressant/antianxiety medication. In fact, I was taking it, using patches, and *still* sneaking the occasional smoke. Which was when I threw Wellbutrin away–well, actually, ramped down to not using it. I don’t smoke any more, but that’s only because I’ve switched to Swedish snüs, which is infinitely less harmful than cigarettes, though it’s still tobacco. It’s a small pouch made of–and don’t laugh–teabag-type paper filled with pasteurized (not cured) tobacco, and treated to remove the harmful nitrosamines inherent in tobacco. In short, it gives you the nicotine, but none of the lungchoking nastiness.

    To expand on my “these days?” comment above, I’m trying to minimize risk, while still allowing myself *something* that helps me not want to smash my computer every morning when I read The Daily Outrages.

  9. I was on Wellbutrin for about 6 months to break a 40+ year smoking habit (2 packs a day). Absolutely zero side effects. Haven’t smoked since and that was about 4 years ago. Actually there was one side effect — one of the reasons cited for being turned down for medical insurance after I lost my job and, therefore my insurance, was that I had taken medication for a psychiatric condition. Go figure.

  10. Anna: I hope you don’t think I was making a judgment about using Valium. I wasn’t. I’m envious of anyone who can get it. NYS makes it very hard for people to use it and it does have its uses. I have an anxiety problem during the winter involving walking on icy/snowy streets. When I was able to use Valium, it made the winter much easier for me. But the state decided it made people into addicts and doctors’ prescribing histories were followed closely and so doctors stopped prescribing it. I never wanted to try other drugs because Valium worked so well for me and I knew my response to it.

  11. I took Wellbutrin for just 3 weeks to quit smoking and I haven’t had a cigarette in over ten years, not a drag or any desire for one. It’s like I forgot to smoke. It kinda freaked me out. Now, in menopause my anxiety and stress levels just were unbearable. I was on lexapro, but, it was so expensive I changed to Celexa generic. I think my dose is too high because I tend feel a little lethargic, but, my symptoms have improved. My biggest problem is waking up at 2 AM for over 25 years (off and on.) I have a small dose Xanax, but, HOLY COW, it knocks me flat so I can only take a half and only at night. I think I am going to ramp up my exercise because that really helps all of my anxiety and helps clear up that “black cloud” over my head.

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