Do antidepressants work???

Jun 17, 2018

There is quite a bit of controversy on the internet when it comes to antidepressant medication.

Do you find that they work for you? Did they help you lift your mood? Did they stop those waves of deep hollow emptiness, where everything seems pointless and you can't bear the thought of having to live yet another day?              

As you most likely know I am a researcher and currently do a PhD - not on PTSD though, but in the field of immunology. So I love reading research papers. What strikes me is that research findings on antidepressants in managing depressions show,

that people on antidepressants are not coping that much better compared to people who are not taking them.

 So I am curious to hear from you, what is your experience with antidepressants?

There are a couple of things I would like to bring to your attention :)

I have been on antidepressants for over a decade on maximum dose (initially Zoloft, but for last good 10 years on Escitalopram). In recent years I had lots of new health issues (vertigo) and just more and more food intolerances - irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It got all too much for me and a small voice in me kept nagging me

"what if it is from the medications you are on"

Last year after discussion with my psychiatrist I started tapering off all my medication (I had stopped Seroquel a number of years prior - which comes with lots of side effects!!!) The Lyrica didn't seem to give me any side effects, but I decided to also stop, first, followed by the antidepressants.

Today I have been off antidepressants for 6 months and what I've found is that those waves of depression happen no more or less now than they did while I was on the antidepressants.

However, daily I hear from so many trauma survivors, who mention that they have IBS too. That is exactly why I wanted to share my experience with you, as for me most my IBS issues resolved once I stopped my antidepressants. I also follow a very "clean" diet plan from my dietitian, which certainly contributes to this as well. There were years I couldn't eat fruit, pumpkin, garlic, broccoli.... as an hour later my gut would bloat till I looked like I was 6 month pregnant - it was painful...

As you most likely know, most antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is not only found in the brain. It also has roles in our blood vessels and digestive system.

I must say though that 15 years ago, I was in severe crisis. And I don't think I would have survived without medication and therapy, but I somehow wish I had the courage to stop the antidepressants earlier. The reason for this is that once I stopped my antidepressants, a lot of my gut issues resolved. I can eat all foods now without bloating or pain :)

So if you have IBS, I encourage you to discuss this with your doctor too, and see if there is an alternative for you. Please don't make any changes to your medication without discussing this with your doctor :) As for me, it was a long process to taper off my medications safely.

Before I started tapering off I made sure that I could stick to my self-care routines, e.g. healthy eating, plenty of water, exercise, yoga, walks, mediation... I had put these in place for over a year prior stopping my meds.

So maybe all these routines are equally as effective in helping to stabilise our mood as the antidepressants?

The important thing here is though that I now can eat most foods again, as my gut starts to heal :) and that is my wish for you too :) living with complex PTSD is challenging enough, without the addition of side effects from medication. (which often gets treated by putting you on even more medication!!)

One thing I did notice now, being off medication for six months is that my anxiety is much more difficult to manage. Again I am very careful to have no more than one cup of coffee a day, daily exercise and meditate... but still, managing my anxiety is slightly more challenging now.

My anxiety goes up very quickly, often over minor or insignificant things. I am learning new ways to help me there without antidepressants :)

In summary, while the antidepressants didn't seem to have any impact on my mood, they did seem to help with managing my anxiety. But it came at a big cost - IBS, which can make your life very miserable too.

I would love to hear your experience with this as well. In the meantime, I send you lots and lots of love and rainbows to brighten up the tough times just a little :)

 Do you feel disconnected from your body? 

Self-awareness and feeling safe in your body are difficult concepts after Childhood trauma. People with complex PTSD often feel disconnected from their body. 

This is a normal coping mechanism to survive the trauma but puts as at great risk of developing burnout and disease in adulthood. This video series is for you to become more aware of all the different ways your body is talking to you and some practices, tips and exercises. You can watch it here 

 For more videos hop on over and check out my YouTube Channel