Pharmaceutical Groupie

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hard To Swallow

A little back-story on my history with taking pills. When I was younger - like, waaay younger - I started this habit of holding whatever I was drinking in my mouth and swishing it around. I don't know why I did it, but I did it nonetheless. I remember, a little farther down the timeline, attempting to swallow my first pill. I placed it on my tongue, took a sip of water...and held it in my mouth. The pill, of course, disolved and tasted 400 differents kinds of awful. I spit everything out in the sink and vowed to stay on liquid medicine for the rest of my life.

That, of course, didn't happen, but I've never been able to swallow a pill without some sort of aid. I took to wrapping the pill in a piece of "fruit by the foot" (shut.UP) and using it as an extra layer of coating. Extra coating = no disolving. Now, I usually just wrap it and dry swallow. No biggie.

Fast-forward to this morning. I'm getting ready to take my pill...and there's no "fruit by the foot". I tear through the cupboards but nothing is found. I've been awake for all of ten minutes, and my coffee is still brewing, so I take to whining. Finally, my mom, being the wonderful woman that she is, drives to the market and returns home with two boxes of "fruit by the foot". I take my pill and suck down my coffee.

Rx Groupie = 1
World = 0

Hee.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Wellbutrin SR

Today's appointment went well. My doctor prescribed Wellbutrin SR, which is a twice-daily antidepressant. I only take one pill, in the morning, for the first week. After that, I continue with the morning pill and start taking one after dinner as well.

I asked about the side effects; specifically fatigue. He said that Wellbutrin does not cause fatigue, and I was relieved to hear that. Wellbutrin's main side effects include insomnia, headaches and "the jitters". I'm not sure what "the jitters" include, but I'm intrigued to say the least.

The medication won't fully make its way into my system for two weeks, so I've got three weeks before my follow-up appointment.

I thought I'd include some basic information on Wellutrin SR. Rather than quote it all here, I'll provide links to different sections of Wellbutrin's website.

  • About Depression - a general overview in helping to diagnose depression. (Please remember to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.) also includes treatment options and resource links.

  • The Benefits of taking Wellbutrin - includes information on how Wellbutrin works, as well as explanations on why there's no risk of weight gain or sexual side effects.

  • Taking Wellbutrin - where to go once you've begun treatment. includes information on starting and continuing with Wellbutrin, as well as an explanation in the differences between Wellbutrin SR and XL.


For a full list of side effects, I'll refer you to Wellbutrin's page on one of my favorite sites, crazymeds.org.
Wellbutrin's Typical Side Effects: Agitation, anxiety, insomnia, weight loss (bupropion is undergoing trials as a weight loss medication), headache, dry mouth, nausea, constipation, dizziness. Most of these are transitory, but the weight loss, agitation and insomnia tend to stick around. Wellbutrin is often used to counter the side effects of other medications.
These aren't all the side effects possible, just the most popular ones.

Wellbutrin's Not So Common Side Effects: Strange body odor, sweating, nervousness and tremor. Basically Wellbutrin could make you look like the guilty party, so you better have a damn good alibi at all times in case some big, unsolved crime goes down.
These may or may not happen to you don't, so don't be surprised one way or the other.

Wellbutrin's Freaky Rare Side Effects: Change in hair color. They swore Lady Clairol wasn't involved! There was also new hair, possibly in unusual places. Some men reported painful erections, unusual ejaculations and outright impotence, which are just one some of God's little jokes when you combine those with Wellbutrin's tendency to make you hornier.
You aren't going to get these. I promise.

As a pepper-haired 22 year old, I'd welcome a change in hair color. Just sayin'!

As always, there are health risks associated with Wellbutrin. From the Wellbutrin official website:
Important Safety Information About WELLBUTRIN XL
WELLBUTRIN XL is not for everyone. There is a risk of seizure with WELLBUTRIN XL which increases with higher doses. Taking more than 450 mg/day increases the chance of serious side effects. Don’t use it if you’ve had a seizure or eating disorder, or if you abruptly stop using alcohol or sedatives. Don’t take with MAOIs, or medicines that contain bupropion. When used with a nicotine patch or alone, there is a risk of increased blood pressure, sometimes severe. To reduce risk of serious side effects, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems. Other side effects may include weight loss, dry mouth, nausea, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, or sore throat.

WELLBUTRIN XL is approved only for adults 18 years and over. In some children and teens, antidepressants increase suicidal thoughts or actions. Whether or not you are taking antidepressants, you or your family should call the doctor right away if you have worsening depression, thoughts of suicide, or sudden or severe changes in mood or behavior, especially at the beginning of treatment or after a change in dose. (see Patient Information (.PDF File): What is important information I should know and share with my family about taking antidepressants?)

I'm leaving in a few minutes to pick up my precription, which I'll start tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck! :)

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Comatose

I hate that this blog's remained comatose for so long. Monday is fast approaching though, so PG should be receiving regular attention soon.

I'm almost excited for my appointment. I was nervous when I called for it, but I think I'm finally ready to take that first step. I'm only apprehensive towards starting a new medication so close to my start date work. I begin on Wedenesday, and assuming that I'll be given a prescription on Monday, that leaves me a day and a half to get a feel for any side effects I may have. I do a lot of driving, so I've got my fingers crossed that fatigue and nausea aren't prevalent.

One thing I've done to hinder any negatives effects is quit smoking. I didn't smoke the entire time I was on Paxil, and I plan on doing the same with whatever antidepressent I'm given this time. I know that, in general, it's detrimental to my heath, but I also know that the health risks are double-fold when you add pills to the mix. I smoked my last cigarette the day I started this blog, and I haven't lit up since. I've become a bit of a monster, but my friends have been understanding of my behavior. Friends are amazing to have.

I'll end this now because I'm mid-process in a wall-to-wall cleaning of my room. Where did all of this stuff come from?!

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Therapy

cmce left a comment asking:

have you gone to a therapist yet? As much as I sometimes dread the old theraparista, it has helped.

I've tried therapy twice.

I first went to therapy when I was ten years old. It was family therapy, and we went shortly after my brother's attempted suicide. I though the entire experience was a farce. The therapist had this glitter baton that he'd pass around and whoever had it was allowed to speak. I remember looking at my father and the incredulous look on his face. If we're as much alike as I've always thought we were, he probably felt as patronized as I did. When I was handed the baton, I told the therapist that I thought this was a stupid idea and that I should be able to speak my mind without the aid of a twirly stick.

We never saw the baton again.

My second experience was during high school. I was a sophomore, and my parents were in the midst of their seperation. I went because I thought I'd like to talk with someone who had an unbiased view on my family. I only stayed for a few sessions; I enjoyed having her to talk to, but I never returned home feeling any better about the situation.

I don't doubt that therapy is anything less than helpful, but what both my experiences have told me is that it's not helpful enough for me.

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The Doctor is NOT In

I called this morning for an appointment with my doctor. My favorite nurse, Deb, answered and informed me that he is currently on vacation. Slightly bothered, I asked for the soonest available opening.

August 28th.
My big day.

I was hoping I'd have the last week and a half of my vacation to allow my body to work through the initial side effects of the antidepressants. Unfortunately, I'll have two days at most. I'll work through it though; I always do. (Do I have any other choice?)

While I'm here, I want to thank everyone who's commented. It was nice to log in and see some familiar names. Your support means the world to me, and I'll respond to your questions ASAP.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Depression: My Introduction

I've fought depression for most of the twenty-two years I've been alive. When I was younger, I thought my feelings were merely reactions to specific events, such as my grandmother's death and my brother's attempted suicide; an extended period of sadness. It never crossed my mind that my feelings were similar to the ones going through my brother's head while he was tying his noose.

I know better now, of course. I also know that, like my brother, my depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Research suggests that depression may be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Scientists believe that certain medications can help balance the levels of two of these neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinepherine.

- from Wellbutrin XL

(Not all sources of depression are chemical, however. Certain symptoms can be triggered by poor health and diet, and I've always advocated trying alternative treatments before talking to your doctor about prescription medication. Often times, a healthier diet and exercise can alleviate those symptoms.)

In 2002 I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, commonly known as chronic depression. I refused medicinal treatment. My mom and brother were both on it at different points, and I didn't like the personality changes that occured. I opted for the alternative treatments. I joined Curves, a fitness program for women; I also made regular appointments with my school's counseler and visited with her during my study breaks.

After graduation, I no longer had my school's counseler to talk to. While regular exercise was helping me physically, I was still struggling with my emotions. Fed up, I decided to consult with my doctor.

After my doctor suggested that my depression was likely triggered by a chemical imbalance, I was given a prescription for Paxil and started me off at 10 mgs. I noticed a change immediately. The biggest change was my lack of fatigue. After a week on Paxil, I didn't feel tired or drained at all. I also noticed that I wasn't as apprehensive in group situations as I once was. I was a good feeling.

I found out, however, that the good feelings wouldn't last long.

About four months into what I now refer to as Paxil Hell, my fatigue returned, and it was worse than ever. It literally returned overnight. I woke up one morning, and I could barely keep my eyes open the entire day. I also couldn't fit into my favorite pair of jeans. I was told that there'd be possible weight gain, so it wasn't completely unexpected.

Two weeks after that, I was falling asleep at work nearly everyday.

One week after that, I was almost 30 pounds heavier than I'd ever been. For a 5'2" girl who normally weighs under 105 pounds, that extra weight did a lot of wear and tear to my body.

It was during my two-week Christmas vacation that I decided to quit Paxil, cold turkey. I had had enough. While I was feeling slightly better emotionally, I was also feeling extremely tired and bloated. I continued exercising at Curves, going four times a week instead of my normal three days. I also forced myself into a regular sleeping pattern, giving myself eight hours of sleep a night; ten hours on the weekend.

I eventually lost most of the weight, and I'm just bearly managing my fatigue. I was feeling okay without the aid of medication for awhile, until late 2004/early 2005 when my life was once again rattled my triggering events, in rapid succession:

  • My grandmother stroked and was put in a nursing home in late November. She was diagnosed with dementia soon after.

  • A friend hung himself a week after New Year's Day. I was brought back to my brother's attempt when I was ten years old.

  • Two weeks later, my father died of kidney failure. This one doesn't really need an explanation.


Naturally, I've been hesitant to give medication a second try, but my last-ditch efforts in alternative treatment have done nothing in granting me emotional relief. Tomorrow morning, I'm making an appointment with my doctor and diving back into the world of antidepressants. Let me state for the record that it'll be a cold day in Hell before I go near Paxil again, but I'm ready and willing to give others a try.

I'll do my best in making regular updates, but I can't make any promises. ;)


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