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Thread: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

  1. #1

    Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Hi everyone.

    I was put on antidepressant (Citalopram) 10 years ago, when I was 18, shortly after coming home from rehab. At the time, I was suicidal - recovering addict, just got out of an abusive relationship - so I just took the meds, along with the benzodiazepines I had been given at the rehab facility (I quit those after a few months). For the next few years, I was just prescribed the same medication over and over, no doctors bothering to ask me about whether I was receiving additional treatment or telling me that maybe taking SSRI's indefinitely wasn't the best idea... Then I got pregnant at 21, my doctor helped me to try and stop the medication, but I couldn't do it and so continued with a smaller dose. After my second pregnancy, I had postpartum depression and had to increase the dose again, then went back to the smaller dose when I started feeling better. About 3 years ago, when my youngest daughter was 1, the health anxiety began. I also felt the medication didn't work anymore and read a lot of articles online about why antidepressants shouldn't be taken long term and I got so scared, I decided to quit the medication. I talked to my doctor and a psychiatrist about it, of course, and tapered off slowly. After the intial withdrawal symptoms, I felt fine for a month or so, then I started feeling worse and worse, but I was determined not to get back on antidepressants, I had become so scared of taking them because of all the shit I had read... So I kept going, until finally, after maybe 7 months, I ended up at a psychiatric hospital. At this point my doctor had been begging me to get back on medication for a few months. After coming back home, I started the medication again, this time Escitalopram and I have been on it ever since. I just can't seem to function at all without it. So that's 10 years I have been on it now. I am so scared I have done permanent damage to my body, especially my brain. Has anyone else been on antidepressants this long? I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to live a life without medication and it scares me. Am I doing myself more harm than good? Please, if anyone can offer any words of reassurance, it would be much appreciated... Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    I’ve been on them for 6 years, but many here have been on longer with no ill effects.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Hey. I've been on some form of antidepressant constantly for almost 15 years. When I first started them it bothered me a bit, but in the end I guess I accepted that I may always be on them. I have to admit I've never really looked into long term effects and have trusted the GP's advice on it. I do think it's quite easy for GPs to just keep prescribing them without reviewing the need for them, but it sounds like you've tried really hard to come off them and importantly, it sounds like they help you. It doesn't mean you'll be on them forever, but even if you are, so be it. Perhaps have a chat with your GP about long term effects, though if the benefit outweighs the risk my guess is they'll recommend you continue.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by maryjane91 View Post
    So that's 10 years I have been on it now. I am so scared I have done permanent damage to my body, especially my brain.
    Antidepressants do just the opposite. Anxiety and depression are symptoms of atrophy of parts of the hippocampal regions of the brain caused by high brain stress hormone levels killing brain cells and inhibiting the growth of replacements. Antidepressants work by stimulating neuronal growth (neurogenesis). The therapeutic response is produced by the new cells and the interconnections they forge, not the ADs directly. This is why it typically takes 4-12 weeks for ADs to kick-in. For a more detailed explanations see: Depression and the Birth and Death of Brain Cells (PDF) and How antidepressant drugs act.

    Has anyone else been on antidepressants this long?
    I've been on ADs almost continually since March 1987 with only 3 longish breaks, one of 18 months, another of 6 months and the last of 3 months, and a couple of weeks of washout when switching to/from a MAOI class AD. My brain hasn't turned to mush yet. I know people who have been on them for even longer.

    BTW - SSRIs are mild anticoagulants which may reduce heart attack and ischaemic (blocking) stroke risk a little, although they may slightly increase it for the much less common haemorrhagic stroke, as may anxiety and depression.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    I've been on antidepressants since 2001. First I was on effexor, for around 2 years, then came off because I didn't want to be on them anymore. Then a few years later I went on mirtazapine for around 5 years, and then came off for 3 years. Now I have been on mirtazapine for about 7 continuous years. I love the sleepy feeling it gives me of a night.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    I've been on Doxepin 10mg (lowest dose) for 25+ years for my CFS. It helps with the symptoms and also sleep. I'll soon be switching to Amitriptyline (cousin of Doxepin) as Doxepin is being discontinued. Amitriptyline tablets can be cut in half so that will be my next step. While I'm working, I'm loathe to stop them completely in case I have a huge flare of CFS symptoms!

  7. #7
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by panic_down_under View Post
    Antidepressants do just the opposite. Anxiety and depression are symptoms of atrophy of parts of the hippocampal regions of the brain caused by high brain stress hormone levels killing brain cells and inhibiting the growth of replacements. Antidepressants work by stimulating neuronal growth (neurogenesis). The therapeutic response is produced by the new cells and the interconnections they forge, not the ADs directly. This is why it typically takes 4-12 weeks for ADs to kick-in. For a more detailed explanations see: Depression and the Birth and Death of Brain Cells (PDF) and How antidepressant drugs act.



    I've been on ADs almost continually since March 1987 with only 3 longish breaks, one of 18 months, another of 6 months and the last of 3 months, and a couple of weeks of washout when switching to/from a MAOI class AD. My brain hasn't turned to mush yet. I know people who have been on them for even longer.

    BTW - SSRIs are mild anticoagulants which may reduce heart attack and ischaemic (blocking) stroke risk a little, although they may slightly increase it for the much less common haemorrhagic stroke, as may anxiety and depression.
    Are there any more recent studies, PDU? Not sure that these are definitive articles as antidepressants are such a controversial topic in terms of their efficacy.

  8. #8

    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Thank you so much for your replies! I feel a little better kniwing that I am not the only one taking antidepressants long term, I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that I can't function without them and stop worrying so much... /:

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Hello there, I was on ADs roughly 15 years and very gently tapered off them with very few side effects. That was personal choice and I've been off them 6 years, but if they're working for you and you feel ok I wouldn't worry. Best of luck with everything and have a great week

  10. #10
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    Re: Long term antidepressant use - anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    Are there any more recent studies, PDU? Not sure that these are definitive articles
    I cite them because of the way they explain the issue, not because they are the last words on the subject. That hippocampal atrophy is the underlying cause of anxiety and depression and neurogenesis the mechanism by which ADs (also psychotherapy, ECT, exercise, ketamine) work isn't controversial. Research is now focussed on working out how ADs and the other therapies produce neurogenesis, not on proving it is the method. Among the more recent studies:

    Zavvari F, Nahavandi A, Goudarzi M. (2020)
    Fluoxetine attenuates stress-induced depressive-like behavior through modulation of hippocampal GAP43 and neurogenesis in male rats.
    J Chem Neuroanat. Jan;103:101711 [Abstract]

    Tunc-Ozcan E, Peng CY, Zhu Y, et al. (2019)
    Activating newborn neurons suppresses depression and anxiety-like behaviors.
    Nat Commun. Aug 21;10(1):3768 [Abstract |Full text]

    Micheli L, Ceccarelli M, D'Andrea G, Tirone F. (2018)
    Depression and adult neurogenesis: Positive effects of the antidepressant fluoxetine and of physical exercise.
    Brain Res Bull. Oct;143:181-193 [Abstract | Full text]
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    The opinions expressed above are based on my observations and, where applicable, interpretation of cited data and are general in nature. Consult your physician before acting on anything stated.

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