Everything you need to know about anti-depressants – real people real experiences | KarloLabs Everything you need to know about anti-depressants – real people real experiences – KarloLabs

Everything you need to know about anti-depressants – real people real experiences

Diving deep for answers on anti-depressants

A lot of people are afraid to take medication for depression, they have heard a lot of stories about bad experiences with anti – depressants. But are anti – depressants really that bad? I took it upon myself to look for experiences that people have had and told.

There are some good ones, some bad ones and some neutral ones. I’ve pulled together them all for the most prescribed anti – depression medication, so you can make and educated guess which ones would work the best for you.

I will try to keep it really simple, without the medical jargon that a regular person might not know.

Disclaimer: Take what is written with a grain of salt. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have the exact same experience. You might have it worse or you might have it better, we’re all different and our bodies react differently. All the effects and their effectiveness rating in this article are based purely on real experiences that come from real people, not medical studies! Definitely talk with your doctor!

The most common questions are these:

Do anti-depressants cause weight gain?

Do anti-depressants cause loss of sex drive?

Do anti- depressants make you emotionally numb?

Do anti-depressants cause addiction?

Do anti - depressants make you drowsy?

The answer to all of them is: “It depends.” On what, you might ask. On your body of course. As you will see in the individual medication overview some are more prone to make you gain weight, some are more prone to lowering libido etc.

I shouldn’t even be going into this, because if you’re a normal adult you should know that you need to take as much as your doctor has prescribed to you, no more, no less. Try to take the medicine at the same time every day for the best effect. And under no circumstances purchase it from the internet!

Another small, but very important thing to note is that anti – depressants don’t work straight away, it takes around 4 – 6 weeks to fully start feeling the effect, so don’t drop them as ineffective straight away! After the 6 weeks if it still isn’t kicking in talk with your doctor about changing your medication. If you are experiencing terrible side effects, talk with your doctor sooner.

One more thing, anti – depressants in the first week or two in some cases can make you feel a bit worse in and it might seem that your depression is worsening. You SHOULD talk about it with your doctor, but that is considered to be normal with some medicine.

Without further ado here is the list of most popular anti - depressants and what kind of experiences people have had with them.

A lot of people call one type of anti-depressant in different names, for example Zoloft is just a trade name, it actually is sertraline. When someone says that they are using Zoloft and someone else says that he is using sertraline, they are basically using the same thing. (There might be a different trade name, but the main chemical is the same).

So this is how I’m going to write the titles

The most popular trade name(s) (the name of chemical that it consists of)

Side note: The packaging will differ from country to country

Let’s get started.

Most popular anti-depressant overview

Lexapro, Cipralex (Escitalopram)

This anti – depressant belongs to the SSRI group of drugs. To this day no one really knows for sure how Escitalopram works. All that is known is that it positively affects how your nerve cells communicate with each other.

Effectiveness: 6/10

Time to take effect: ~5 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Medium

Emotional numbness: Medium

Risk of addiction: Medium

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: If you have a past of insomnia, it could make it come back or worst! If you forget to take it for a few days and accidentally abruptly stop taking it, you might experience some brain shivers.  There is also a chance that Lexapro will increase anxiety during the first days. It also takes a long time to get off from it if you have been using it for some time. Not because it causes addiction, but because of the bad side effects if you go cold turkey.

Great experience:

Redditor Jojenpastes on Lexapro:

“[…]I used to struggle to get out of bed in the morning and feel full of dread and anxiety about starting another day. Now I get up and get going and can't even imagine how that used to feel. I don't get angry over every little thing throughout the day or feel overwhelmed every time something goes wrong. I don't feel hopeless about my future or the world's future every second of the day. Before I overthought every social situation and got anxious about leaving my house to go to them, now I enjoy it. The best thing is actually using the word "happy" to describe myself almost every day. I never thought that was possible.[…]”

Bad experience:

Redditor autopornbot (yep, that’s correct) on Lexapro

Lexapro did the opposite to me. I couldn't feel depressed when I was on it, because I was too busy feeling like my brain was being fried by a strong electric current. It was like taking LSD minus anything good about the trip. It just made me feel fucking crazy.

[…]I get shaky and paranoid and even have some very mild hallucinations. And really bizarre, intrusive thoughts. Like "I should run straight at that brick wall as fast as I can, and smash into it. Over and over again."

Oh, and I have images of terrible gore and horror zipping through the foreground of my mind when I take them, too.

Conclusion: There are some people that report quite odd side-effects from this drug. But then there are people who praise it like the sun for its effectiveness. If it works, it works great, if it doesn’t you will most likely experience some side effects.

Celexa, Cipramil (Citalopram)

Another SSRI group anti – depressant. It is meant to improve energy levels and overall feeling of happiness.

Effectiveness: 8/10

Time to take effect: ~5 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: High

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: It is very common to feel anxiety in the first weeks when you start using it. Citalopram will probably also reduce your social anxiety in the long run, you will feel much more comfortable around people.

Great experience:

Redditor Mental_Valendrome on Citalopram

“I'm on it, “[…]. The citalopram has changed my life drastically for the better.

Like the difference from crying multiple times a day and constantly wanting to end it to being relatively care free and happy go lucky (barring the most major depressive episodes).

It did push me towards mania before the meds combo was sorted.

In terms of side effects I sometimes get a tingly mouth a couple if hours after my dose. I also noticed a kind of floaty feeling when I moved up to 60mg but that subsided as my body adjusted.

[…]

Overall my experience is extremely positive, I'm 26 and feel like I can finally handle going to university and pursuing a career etc.”

Bad experience:

Redditor talley500642on Citalopram

“When I was first put on it about a month ago I wasn't worried about the side effects too much because I just wanted to be happy. And it has worked great to this point don't get me wrong. But I can't face the inevitable anymore. I cannot haves sex on this shit.

I'm sorry if it's too much information but it got to the point last night where my girlfriend literally said "are you ever going to finish?" And I thought to myself...nope I probably won't. Just not gonna happen. Not because I am suddenly not attracted to her or anything...it just WONT happen.”

Conclusion: If you’re okay with a possibility of losing your sex drive then this drug will be really suitable. Very little people report any other major side effects.

 

Paxil, Seroxat (Paroxetine)

Yet another SSRI group drug. It paroxetine works with the chemical balance in your brain that might be wrong for people with depression. It is used for other disorders as well like anxiety and PTSD.

Effectiveness: 7/10

Time to take effect: ~5 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Medium

Drowsiness: Medium

What mostly is being said: For a lot of people it has been a great experience. Some say that the withdraw process is horrible, if you, for example, forget to take your drugs for a few days. But this is mostly an issue with all SSRI group drugs. Some also talk about little foggy memory in the first weeks.

Great experience:

Redditor tarnin on Paxil

“[…]. I remember going to my first job interview while on Paxil and being nervous but ok. I did fine, got the job, left and it struck me. THIS is what it is like for everyone else! Pre-Paxil I would have been in a huge argument with my wife about how going to an interview is a waste of time, what a bitch she was for making me go, and I would have felt physically ill to the point of throwing up.

For someone like me, this drug was a life and home saver. I can go on vacation and not feel out of place. When I go to a water park with my kids I feel ok going down the slides with them. Calling for a delivery is ok. Flagging down a waiter isn't an issue. I'm more active in their school and social life. I'm more active in my home and personal social life.”

Bad experience:

Redditor skittlebrau8 on Paxil

“[…]I started taking it in 1999 when I was 17. It helped me "get going" for a while. But as time went on, every few months my psychiatrist would nudge the dose up a little when I would report trouble with anxiety again (I was seeing a therapist during this entire time.) fast forward 7 years to 2006, and I was on the max dose (80 mg) and fucking starving all the time. I gained 30 pounds. I took myself off it in 2012 (bad mistake) which triggered a major depressive episode. I found a new psychiatrist who reinstated the drug, and the same old song and dance happened again. I would feel better relatively quickly (within 2 weeks) and then have a bad depression again. I found yet another psychiatrist and he replaced the Paxil with Effexor (initially). No side effects this time because I was adding a replacement simultaneously. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible otherwise.[…]”

Conclusion: Overall most of the people agree that it is a good choice, no horrible side effects. It either works or it doesn’t. It takes time to kick in and might have some cognitive disturbances at the first weeks.

Viibryd (Vilazodone)

Another SSRI group anti – depressant. It is mostly used to treat major depressive disorder. But can be used for other purposes as well, depending on how the doctor sees it.

Effectiveness: 7/10

Time to take effect: ~3 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Medium

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: A common side effect that people mention is stomach related – feeling sick and nauseous. Also a common issue is insomnia and anxiety. But there is a bright side, Viibryd increases cognitive functions and some even mention increase in creativity. A good way to get around the side effects is to take it right before bed.

Good experience:

Redditor Duffamongus on Viibryd

“I started taking Viibryd about 8 months ago. It did have some side effects, but I was able to get through them by adjusting when I took it. Taking it before bed helped with stomach and sleep problems. Splitting it up into a morning and evening dose helped with some other side effects. I did this for a couple weeks until my body adjusted to the medication. I now take it first thing in the morning with no problems. These were done after conferring with my prescriber.

Since I have been taking Viibryd I have had no anxiety or depression problems and have been more motivated and functional. It has helped me sexual also due to the problems depression caused being eliminated. I can't say it will work for everyone, but it has been perfect for me.”

Bad experience:

Redditor FreakyBee on Viibryd

“I had a terrible experience on Viibryd. Massive headaches, gained weight because I was constantly snacking to keep some of the headaches at bay, extreme dizziness, and my stomach problems worsened. My symptoms just got worse after the first couple weeks - I also got much more agitated. Would definitely recommend trying something else - it sounds like you're going the same route I did.”

Conclusion: A LOT of people are saying that when they used Viibryd they had stomach issues and some other side effects, like headaches and some anxiety. Although most of them also mention that those side effects subsided with time. Besides that this is a great drug.

 

Prozac, Sarafem (Fluoxetine)

SSRI group anti – depressant. Fluoxetine is again one of those chemicals where no one really knows how it actually works. But in a lot of cases it does and does it effectively.

Effectiveness: 7/10

Time to take effect: ~6 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: High

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: Medium

What mostly is being said: It makes you not overthink things. People are saying that it made their lives simpler. You don’t stress about anything. This one probably has one of the worse pre-effect period. Heavy nausea, tiredness and headaches, you name it. But after it kicks in serves its purpose really good.

Good experience:

Redditor m_queen on Prozac

“It's different for everyone obviously but Prozac was honestly like a fucking miracle for me. I was wayyyyy past mild both depression and anxiety, in fact I was prescribed it in the hospital after my second suicide attempt […]

I was shocked at first actually when I noticed my mood improving, after almost a year of feeling hopeless things just suddenly seemed okay again! Maybe even.. good!

I stayed on it for around 8 months and when I came off things didn't get worse again and I'm still doing pretty well 🙂 My mood is a bit more unpredictable than when I was on it but other than that I am doing really well still, 2 years later.”

Bad experience:

Redditor LinzDarling on Prozac

“I took prozac in high school, at first it was helpful, then I became more and more depressed. After about 6 months on prozac I got my 3 month worth refill and took them all at one time. I should honestly be dead right now, all I ended up doing was vomiting then passing out.” (My note: this is a great example on why you NEED to tell your doctor about your side effects! Good thing it ended well.)

Conclusion: It takes really long to start working, all the SSRI group anti – depressants are supposed to start working only after about 5 weeks, but for Prozac it is really visible, because with some other medicine you can feel some effects before. Another big issue is the side effects in the adaptation period that 80% of users report. Most of them also say once you’re adapted the chemical, it works great and the side effects go away.

Zoloft (Sertraline)

Zoloft is a SSRI group anti – depressant. If you’ve been reading through this entire guide, you might have noticed that it takes around 4 – 6 weeks for the SSRI anti – depressants to work.

Effectiveness: 7/10

Time to take effect: ~ 5 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Medium

Loss of sex drive: Medium

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: Medium

What mostly is being said: Some stomach problems might occur at the very beginning. One thing to avoid that is eat before you take the pill. Zoloft might also cause insomnia in some cases, but from the research of the reports, that happens in very rare cases.  This is also one of the drugs with many reports, that the adaption period is rough.

Good experience:

Redditor stumpleg on Zoloft

“It changed my fucking life. I used to have this feeling that I had no personality because I never had much to say to anyone. But now that I don't feel too panicked to think when I talk to people, I realize I actually have a lot to say. I'm able to actually make friends for the first time since age 12 (I'm 18). I went to a party where I only knew one person - not only did I not feel terrible shame and panic, I had fun. When I say something awkward to someone, I used to get flashbacks to that where I felt such intense shame and self hatred, but now it doesn't seem like a big deal. When I see strangers I no longer feel like they feel hostile or judgmental to me. Basically, I feel like Zoloft has opened my eyes to see the world clearly for the first time, and without the anxiety clouding my vision it is a nicer place then I could have imagined.”

Bad experience:

Redditor johndoe89 on Zoloft

“I took Zoloft for 2 months. The 3rd month I began getting real sick. Chest pains, vomiting, feeling of blacking out, the zoloft zaps, and much more. After three trips to the emergency room I figured out I was allergic to zoloft. I tapered off of it cutting dose in half twice, i was taking 50mg. Now I have been off zoloft completely for 39 days, and still feeling some of the effects of it, just not near as severe.”

Conclusion: Quite often people report weight gain. That is one of the things to look out for. There might be also some sex drive loss. It is very similar to other anti-depressants that have already been mentioned here – a rough experience while you adapt, but then it works fine. Couldn’t find a lot of bad experiences with it.

Wellbutrin, Zyban (Bupropion)

Wellbutrin is manly used to treat major depressive disorder and has showed some great potential.

Effectiveness: 9/10

Time to take effect: ~ 3 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: This is one of the most praised anti-depressants on the internet. Almost no bad experiences only stories on how much it helped people to improve their lives. A ton of people are saying that their cognitive abilities skyrocketed!

Good experience:

Redditor underwood95

“[...]

Just the other night I was here posting about how shitty I felt and how thoughts of suicide kept creeping into my mind. Recently I started taking Wellbutrin in the morning, and holy shit. I haven't felt this good in a really long time. Things don’t bother me nearly as much, and I'm 100X more productive. I don’t have trouble getting out of bed in the morning anymore and I'm actually eager to go about my day, a feeling I haven't had in months.”

 

Bad experience:

Redditor Isera on Wellbutrin

“I (female, late 20s) was prescribed wellbutrin by my doc a while ago for my depression and anxiety. I had a really bad experience - increased anxiety, worsening of depression where everything seemed completely hopeless and I just wanted to die (called some friends and had them watch me, I was really afraid of being around my kitchen knife). These side effects started on day 2 of taking it and stopped the day after I stopped the drug - the only other thing I was taking were a multivitamin and coffee.[…]”

Conclusion: From all the experiences that I’ve read, this would be my first “go to” anti-depressant if I would ever need them again.

Effexor, Lanvexin, Viepax, Trevilor (Venlafaxine)

Effexor is from the SSNR drug group. To put it simply it works with all the chemicals in your brain to bring back balance.

Effectiveness: 5/10 (because of the addictiveness)

Time to take effect: ~ 4 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Medium

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: High

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: It might not be addictive in the direct meaning, but people are saying that the withdraw symptoms are so morbidly horrible that they just don’t want to stop! There are also numerous studies that show that Venlafaxine has the most horrible discontinuation symptoms. Even missing a dose might bring horrible suffering. But on the bright side it works really well!

Good experience:

Redditor RustlerRun on Effexor

“Saved my life. I have tried a slew of different meds. SSRIs, anti-psychotics, atypical anti-psychs etc. but none of them worked. 300 mg Effexor and I can think again. I can breathe again. I function and want to live. There are still bleak days but life is no longer a haze of anxiety and fear.

It takes getting used to and the dose I am on is higher than what most people need but it has been a game changer for me. When people used to ask me where I saw myself in 5 years all I could honestly say was dead. But now, I say maybe a masters program, maybe earning a PHD.”

Bad experience:

Redditor Gingerz on Effexor

“Effexor was awful. I experienced horrible, nauseating vertigo to the point where I couldn't sit in a chair. It made my chest feel compressed as if I couldn't breathe.

I was on it for 1 week. It took 3 weeks for me to be able to withdraw from it fully. I couldn't drive and was barely awake at work because of all the sleepless nights crying.

Withdrawing from Effexor was 10x WORSE than when I stopped taking Benzo's.”

Conclusion: I think addictiveness and the inability to stop taking a specific drug is the worse side effect that there is. But some might disagree. From all the reports that are on the internet it works really well and besides the addictiveness it might decrease your libido at the very beginning.

Cymbalta, (Duloxetine)

Another anti-depressant where they don’t really know how it works. They (the guys that research it) just know that it works.

Effectiveness: 4/10

Time to take effect: ~  4 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: Low

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: High

Drowsiness: Low

What mostly is being said: When you’re just starting out with this drug it is common to experience nausea and heart rate spikes. The drug, judging by all the reviews seems to be less effective than Effexor but still maintains the same addiction levels, since they are from the same group. Very heavy withdraw symptoms and if you skip a dose you’re in for a bad ride.

Good experience:

Redditor nixnaught on Cymbalta

“I am on the maximum dosage of both Wellbutrin and Cymbalta, and they have done a world of good for me. I've been on them for... man, I don't even know how long now... maybe 10 years? So I don't remember exactly what it was like when I first started taking them, but I do remember being hyper for the first couple of days after beginning the meds. I have not experienced the lack of appetite, but that seems to be a pretty normal side effect when starting new medication, so just ride it out for a bit, and go and see your Dr if it persists (I doubt it will though).”

Bad experience:

Redditor madisonave325 on Cymbalta

“honestly? you couldn't pay me to take cymbalta again. like someone else, i took it for depression/anxiety, but didn't notice any help with pain management at all. still got headaches & migraines. and going off of it was hell for me. i spent a couple days barely able to move my head because of the "brain shocks", but i think my dr might've had me taper off too quickly. but that's just my experience.”

Conclusion: There is a big difference on how it works between people, I didn’t see any consistency in the reviews. For those that it worked it was a last resort because all the previous medications didn’t work. If you’ve tried everything and haven’t done Cymbalta, try it, but get ready for a long term game, since you probably will not be able to stop using it fast if it doesn’t work.

Remeron (Mirtazapine)

The more I look into it, the more I understand how much we still don’t know about anti-depressants, because Mirtazapine is another chemical compound that works, but no one knows why.

Effectiveness: 7/10

Time to take effect: ~  4 weeks

Chance of gaining weight: High

Loss of sex drive: Low

Emotional numbness: Low

Risk of addiction: Low

Drowsiness: High

What mostly is being said: This is a great drug to turn to if you’re experiencing insomnia and are eating too little. Some people are saying that they on some occasions feel way too drowsy during work hours.

Good experiences:

Redditor loqi0238 on Remeron

“Mirtazapine, or remeron, was the last med I took. I loved it. I had insane dreams, and the best sleep of my life. Other than the dreams and a little weight gain, I had no negative side effects. It was one of the 'less is more' meds for me, as I started at 7.5mg, went to 15mg, then 30mg. At 7.5 and 15, it was a wonderful sleep aid, and had me feeling absolutely wonderful all through the next day. At 30, I had trouble sleeping, and felt sort of sedated the next day. So I went back to 15mg. After a while, I felt like I was 'cured' as often happens when a med actually works, and I stopped cold turkey. No withdrawal issues, and I haven't taken a med for depression or anxiety since. This was like 5 or 6 years ago, and I'm still fine.”

Bad experiences: (I couldn’t actually find a solid bad experience with it, but here is something that looks like it, if you’ve had a bad experience, please add in comments)

Redditor remrn on Remeron

“I started an internship this year as part of my study, and to help me get through it, I decided to try some medication for the first time to treat my years-long depression. My doctor gave me Mirtazapine (15mg), mainly because I told her I do not want the decreased-libido side-effects that all those SSRIs have.

The first couple of weeks on it were pretty good, however the last 2 weeks everything just started to go downhill. For the first time ever I was having serious suicidal thoughts, which felt totally coherent and logically inside my head (which is totally weird because actually I really do not want to die). I am sure this is caused by Mirtazapine.”

Conclusion: If you want to sleep and eat a lot, go for this one. There are some really good results as well.

Wrap up

Remember, if you have any complaints about your anti-depressants any weird side effects, always and I mean ALWAYS talk with your doctor, he will probably have the right answers.

I was thinking about how we could end this Ultimate guide on anti – depressants and then it came to me. It probably isn’t complete. This could be a guide that is constantly continued and improved.

I encourage you to participate in improving this guide by posting any questions that you still  might have in the comments and I could find and include the answers in this post.

Comments are closed.

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