774736 tn?1311331385

Pros and cons of SSRI's?

I went to see my doctor yesterday, and we talked for about an hour and a half about my anxiety symptoms and how there seems to be a fluctuation between good and bad days concerning the severity of my symptoms/anxiety.  She is recommending that I start SSRI's because there seems to be no consistency in my progress with cognitive therapy alone.  I expressed my concerns with her about my reluctance in taking medication and she assured me there are no major side effects with SSRI's.  I'm hoping she is right and I understand doctors are professionals but there is a great deal scientists still don't know about the brain especially down at the molecular/atomic level.  I'm wondering if these medications actually do help people and that there is some evidence supporting these claims.  I'm aware there is no miracle drug but something with minimum side effects and maybe a few cases or examples of success.  I'm not trying to question everything or everyone I just want to make the right decision.  
13 Responses
480448 tn?1426948538
HI again.  The decision to try a medication for anxiety is an individual one.  Some people are willing to try anything, others are on the fence about it, and still others have a really hard time coming to that decision.

Treating anxiety and mental health issues is largely based on theory.  The way in which SSRI's work on the brain chemistry to help improve depression and anxiety is also partly based on theory as well.  

The one thing I will say is, it's hard to dispute the large number of people who have had great success in treating anxiety with SSRI meds.  Myself included.  I've had great success and I've been on three different meds at different times over the years..Zoloft, Lexapro and Prozac.  All helped me, and some had more side effects than others, but all were tolerable.

Everyone is going to have their own unique experience, just be cautious not to put too much emphasis on the horror stories.  Sure, there are people who have had bad experiences with meds, but that is not the norm.

The cons for taking a med would be some initial unpleasant side effects that can last about 2 weeks.  The common ones are an increase anxiety (feeling jittery/shaky), GI issues (nausea, diarrhea, loss or gain of appetite), sleep disturbances (drowsiness or insomnia), headache.  Again, these vary greatly from case to case.  Some people never have one side effect, and others have a few of them.  They can vary in intensity too.  The good thing about the side effects is, for most people, they start to improve at 1-2 weeks into therapy and usually completely resolve by weeks 2 or 3.  That was also the case for me.  I took a PRN anti anxiety med (Ativan) during those initial weeks to help with the symptoms, and it really worked.  The other aspect of these meds to consider when starting them is that they'll need to be tapered when and if you would decide you wanted to discontinue them.  Again, it varies from person to person, but SSRI's sometimes do come with a discontinuation syndrome much like withdrawal.  I personally never had a problem stopping any 3 of the meds I had been on, even after taking meds for years at a time.

Some people approach meds as something they want to try for a short time to try to get some relief, and others view it as a more long term need.  I personally feel, if a med like an SSRI is going to help someone get their life back and they need to take it for the rest of their life, the trade off is well worth it.

What has your doctor recommended medication wise?  My personal opinion is that Zoloft is one of the best meds to start with for anxiety (and panic).  It remains just about the most Rx'd SSRI for anxiety and it is tolerated well with a great deal of success.

Again, don't get caught up in the nightmarish tales.  It would be rare that you would have an extreme experience like some you read about.  Some people were unfortunate and were very sensitive to these kinds of meds, and as a result, had a rough time.

I'm all for trying a med in conjunction with therapy.  Meds gave me my life back on numerous occasions.  At times I was virtually housebound with panic and agoraphobia.  Within a few short weeks, I felt so much like myself again.

Good luck...let us know what you decide.
Avatar universal
I was apprenensive about taking any medication in the beginning - believing that if this was anxiety i should be able to think my way through it and also not entirely convinced it was not something physical.... I also spent too much time googling other peoples experiences and scared the crap out of myself.... so a few revelations I came up with

1) If you have allergies do you suffer through the symptoms because you dont want to take medication? Maybe some do but the vast majority I think don't.... I think anxiety meds are kinda on the same level.

2) You can always try them and if they don't work for you stop. The only way to know is to try and give it a good 4-6 weeks to see if there is any improvement. Starting an SSRI does not mean you are committed to it for life.

In the end the decision is yours to make and I would say you need to be comfortable with your choice to take meds if you do. I wasnt the first time I tried and my side effects on Lexapro and Wellbutrin (2 meds I tried) were amplified by the fact that I didn't want to be on them.... now I am in my second week on Lexapro again and I am totally comfortable on getting a little help with the physical symptoms of anxiety so I can concentrate better on my therapy.....

Good luck and keep us posted!
Avatar universal
You mention physical symptoms of anxiety.  What are they?
Avatar universal
lightheadedness... tingling in my legs and fingers due to chronic hyperventilation caused by shallow breathing which is common when you are anxious... jitteryness...
Avatar universal
I would have to agree here.  Whether or not to use medication is an individual decision, but there are many studies that show that when SSRIs are combined with congnitive therapy it can be a very powerful combination in confronting anxiety.

I was also very skeptical at first about taking any form of medication, however, I decided to try it and I have had a extremely positive experience with SSRIs.  I actually prefer Zoloft, but how well it works for you could be different.  Another great thing about this class of drugs is that they have been around for awhile now and millions of people have used them both safely and effectively.  

For me, I did notice some initial side effects when I first started taking it, but the vast majority of the side effects went away within a couple of weeks.  I get many more bothersome side effects with many over the counter medications than I ever have with SSRIs.  I also believe that I probably magnified many of the side effects because I was worried about taking it in the first place, so every little feeling I was experiences I related back to taking the medication whether it was relevant or not.

I would say to keep an open mind when considering this and be patient with it.  Keep us posted!
Avatar universal
Thanks for your reply about your symptoms.  My symptoms are feeling very hot and a sensation of pins and needles.  I agree with your comments about trying out a medication.  I, too, was apprehensive, but it's worth a try.
Avatar universal
Curious... did you also try Lexapro? You say you prefer Zoloft was that because you found the side effects to be less?
774736 tn?1311331385
My doctor wants to start me either on Celexa or Lexapro.  Thanks for your responses I have 2 weeks to make up my mind :(...
774736 tn?1311331385
What medications are you guys taking?  Do these medications work better than others? How many meds did you have to trial and error before you chose the right one?
Avatar universal
Cipralex (Lexapro) 10 MG -  I tried Wellbutrin 150XL as well... wasn't the right med for me made me way too jittery and nervous. Jury is still out on the Lexapro as I am having some side effects of increased nervousness and jitteryness but I have only been on it 12 days and need to give it about 3 weeks to see if the side effects go away. However I believe it has "calmed" my mind in that I don't get as panicky as I did before about things. But again.... important that you remember that EVERYONE is different in their reaction to meds so someone else's experience should be for interest sake only and not a basis for making your own decision... you won't really know until you try.... and again... you can always stop if it doesnt work....
784382 tn?1376931040
i just started zoloft 5 days ago,thanks to the help of everyone on here, it took me a week to even fill the RX cause i was SOOOOOOOOOOO scared about starting meds with all the horror stories online.  today is day 5 and i havent had any side effects, except maybe a lil more anxious, which is probably my own fault. i am also in therapy doing the CBT which does help.

good luck let us know what you decide
Avatar universal
Remember most people that post online are the people that didn't have good experiences... kinda like the percentage of people that complain if they get bad service somewhere versus the percentage that send in a compliment when they get good service.....balance that against the MILLIONS of people on these meds and you can pretty much see that the majority do not have very bad experiences like the ones you read online... otherwise these drugs would not be allowed to be sold....
Avatar universal
Has anyone tried imipramine?
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