Anti-Depressants for Carers?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Grannie G, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,594
    Kent
    I`d like to know how many Carers have had to resort to taking anti-depressants themselves.
    I know it`s very personal and I wouldn`t blame anyone who preferred not to answer, but I`m feeling exceptionally low today and don`t have the strength to humour my husband or try to make him feel better.
    Common sense tells me to hold out as long as I can, as I would hate to become dependent on them. I`m also nervous of side effects.
    This is the first time I`ve felt I`m losing it, so would welcome any advice.
    Thanks, Sylvia
     
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    As a well-medicated depressive I'll give you my take on this.

    If your fuse is so short, you explode in your own face, if you can't sleep, or can't do anything but sleep, if you feel like you've got the flu or have had the flu for months perhaps you should consider anti-depressants.

    I really do feel that many forms of depression are due to a lack of seratonin or similar, and therefore it makes sense to take an anti-depressant to correct that imbalance. It's just like a diabetic taking insulin. It pretty much a no-brainer when your life situation is fine, but you feel like above. However, the tricky thing is when your life situation ISN"T fine. I would say it's enitirely appropriate to feel depressed, and I'm not certain that in that situation an anti-depressant is either a good idea or effective. I know that I've had depressing things happen to me since I've been medicated, and I don't think I felt any better about the specific situation. On the other hand, I personally have found that my responses when on medication are more rational, if you know what I mean - I have the ability to work out ways to cope, rather than retiring to bed.

    Anti-depressants are not "happy"pills - would that they were, and if you take them when your seratonin levels are normal (here I'm talking about seratonin reuptake inhibitors or SRI's) you can get odd side effects. As an example, I have to lower my dosage over the summer - if I don't I get incredible sugar cravings (whole jar of jam anyone?). Having said that, with one exception, I have never had any truly distastrous side effects - dry mouth, slight headaches when starting a new medication, but that's about it. Dependance - you definitely shouldn't stop taking these things suddenly, and some (I particularly dislike effexor) have fairly poor withdrawal profiles (i.e. it can take a long time to taper the dose) but you're not going to get the shakes or anything. But to not take them if you need them because of a concern over dependance is as silly, in my opinion, as a diabetic not taking insulin because of a fear of dependance. If you need the drug, you need the drug. While you may think it's "common-sense" to hold out as long as possible, I would disagree - symptom management of any organic illness (and that's what depression is) is much more difficult when you've reached a crisis. Even worse, if you really hit the wall, you may not be capable of getting the help you need.

    Just my personal opinion, you understand

    Love

    Jennifer
     
  3. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,594
    Kent
    Thanks Jennifer, I hope this is an isolated incident, as it`s the first time I`ve felt like this, rather than an `illness` as such, and that`s why I`m trying to be `sensible`.
    I asked for advice to test the waters really. I know I`m more distressed than depressed, but time will tell.
    Love Sylvia
     
  4. twink

    twink Registered User

    Oct 28, 2005
    265
    Cambridgeshire UK
    Hi Sylvia

    I've been on Prozac (Fluoxetine) for the past 8 years or so since our grandson died. I take it every day, the dose has never been upped and I think it suits me fine. I lost my Dad almost 2 years ago and now Steve is very ill and not coming home and I cope very well with everything which is thrown at me. Maybe it's the way I am, maybe it's got something to do with the Prozac, I don't know. I have a friend who felt worse on Prozac but I also have a couple more who have taken it for about 3 months and come off it cos they've been ok, it has helped them through whatever difficult period they were going through. I will get my GP to wean me off it at some point and you do have to be weaned off any drug that you've been on for a long time as you will know. I don't feel I'm dependant on them but do I really know. See how you feel in a few days time, this might be a blip, you might feel much better soon. Do you have a support worker you can chat to?

    Sue x
     
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,594
    Kent
    Thanks Sue, I`m hoping it`s a blip. It`s the first time I`ve felt out of control of my emotions.
    We have no external support because my husband is such a private person, we have refused any help so far. I`m not so private, and will certainly seek help if I feel I need it.
    Till then, I`ll take your advice and give it a couple of days and see how it goes.
    Thanks again. Sylvia
     
  6. noelphobic

    noelphobic Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    3,452
    Liverpool
    Hi Jennifer

    As someone who has had frequent bouts of depression, but is resistant to the idea of medication for various reasons that I won't bore you with, I have to say that most of what you say actually makes a great deal of sense. However, as the mother of an 18 year old son with type 1 diabetes I have to disagree somewhat with your comparing anti-depressants to insulin! Yes, I am sure that anti-depressants can literally be a lifesaver in SOME cases. However, most people will not die if they don't take anti-depressants, apart from the minority who sadly commit suicide (although I believe that in some cases the anti depressants are actually their tool to facilitate this). Someone with type 1 diabetes WILL definitely die if they don't take insulin as there is no other way of dealing with this condition.

    Having said all that I am not in any way opposed to the use of anti-depressants when appropriately prescribed and taken.

    My particular 'cocktail' of choice at the moment is St John's Wort, Vitamin B6, Omega 3 Fish Oil, Gingseng and Gingko Biloba.

    Brenda
     
  7. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Sylvia,

    I'm sorry you feel so low, but I'm afraid it's another horrible side-effect of this disease.

    I had a bad episode two years ago, when I was physically below par and thought I couldn't cope any more. The trouble with me was that I felt totally isolated, as John has severe communication problems.

    The solution was to get Crossroads in for two afternoons a week, and join two U3A groups. That way, I get to talk to people with similar interests, not just people with similar problems.

    I realise from what you have said that your husband might not like having someone in, but the Crossroads manager talked to us both, and chose a carer with similar interests to John. She brings art or travel books to discuss with him, and sometimes takes him to galleries. Meanwhile, I can switch off completely, and come back refreshed.

    Hope you feel better soon, Sylvia, but if not do get some help. You need all your strength to cope with this disease.
     
  8. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Sylvia,

    I'm sorry you feel so low, but I'm afraid it's another horrible side-effect of this disease.

    I had a bad episode two years ago, when I was physically below par and thought I couldn't cope any more. The trouble with me was that I felt totally isolated, as John has severe communication problems.

    The solution was to get Crossroads in for two afternoons a week, and join two U3A groups. That way, I get to talk to people with similar interests, not just people with similar problems.

    I realise from what you have said that your husband might not like having someone in, but the Crossroads manager talked to us both, and chose a carer with similar interests to John. She brings art or travel books to discuss with him, and sometimes takes him to galleries. Meanwhile, I can switch off completely, and come back refreshed.

    Hope you feel better soon, Sylvia, but if not do get some help. You need all your strength to cope with this disease.
     
  9. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    No, perhaps a trite comparison. Perhaps a better one would be drugs that people take for chronic, but non life threatening illnesses, such as arthritis.

    Lets's not forget, though, that people die of untreated depression everyday. It's not just the suicides - poor life choices also contribute to this.

    Obviously this is a sensitive subject, and I'm not trying to "have a go", but if you are resistant to the idea of medication, why take the St John's Wort? It's pharmacologically active (current research suggests it acts as an SRI, like most modern anti-depressants). Simply because something started life as a plant doesn't make it any less powerful than something made in a lab. Look at all the heart drugs derived from Foxgloves (digitalis). Which is not to knock St John's Wort - I think it can be effective for some cases of mild depression, but only because it is, in fact, a drug.

    Jennifer
     
  10. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    3,453
    Giya Grannie G,
    Sorry that you are having a bad day
    If you continue to feel down, over a prolonged period, then you do need to be seeking professional help. I know our GP will send people for counselling, believing that talk therapy is often useful. Might it be worth getting a CPN involved, so that you have someone to talk your concerns over with?

    I have been on anti depressants in the past - they helped me deal with day to day living, until I was able to change the situation that I was in.

    It may wll be that you are having an 'off day' - tired of having to deal with someone else's needs and demands, and just need a bit of space for yourself. Try and give yourself some little treats this week - you are important.
    Take care.
    Love Helen
     
  11. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Sorry, don't know how the duplication happened. Think my touch pad may be dodgy.
     
  12. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    18,972
    Derbyshire
    Hello Granny G - I too have had a low today and do not feel like 'humouring' anybody least of all my husband.

    I have many lows - my usual remedy is to meet friends - last Monday we went for a walk and it did the trick. I may do something similarly tomorrow.

    I agree with Skye - make sure you have time to yourself, an opportunity to be with other people - maybe a laugh or two. If you are unable to get space then maybe you should channel your energy into finding help to give you time off from caring. If all that fails then a talk to your GP who in the end will decide whether you should be prescribed medication or not.

    Hope you feel better tomorrow. Best wishes Beckyjan

    (PS we are just rehoming a beautiful cat - Oscar - he is so relaxing and takes my mind off human beings)
     
  13. Rosalind

    Rosalind Registered User

    Jul 2, 2005
    203
    Wiltshire
    I don't suppose any of us want to become pill poppers, so for what its worth, try exercise. Since doing 30 minutes resistance exercised 3 times a week I have found myself better able to cope, and sleeping better. Endorphins (nature's ecstasy pills) are released when you exercise.
    I have a friend who was seriously clinically depressed for 30 years, and constantly drugged by doctors. When threatened with diabetes, he did some exercise for the first time in decades. He kept this up, and within 3 months was off all anti depressants. 5 years later he is still hugely enjoying being back in the real world, rather than in a fog of pills, is much lighter, and is still without any depressed symptoms.
     
  14. noelphobic

    noelphobic Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    3,452
    Liverpool
    Hi Jenifer

    I agree that untreated depression can be devastating and sometimes deadly. I believe that some studies have shown St John's Wort to also be effective in cases of moderate and severe depression. The reasons why I am personally resistant to anti-depressants are complex and hard for me to articulate. I do also think that, like most drugs, they are not without their potential dangers. For many people the positives outweigh the negatives which is fine. I would not rule out ever taking prescribed drugs for depression, just I am somewhat hesitant to do so for various reasons. One of them is the fact that my mother took anti-depressants for many years and has Parkinsons disease, and there is believed to be a link. As her dementia may be Parkinson's related it is not something I would personally wish to risk, especially given our genetic link.

    I do agree that just because something is 'natural' doesn't necessarily mean it is safe and always advise that anyone approach 'alternative' treatments with caution. It also needs to be remembered that women taking the contraceptive pill should not take St John's Wort as it can reduce the effectiveness of the pill, with obvious results!
     
  15. roann

    roann Registered User

    Jan 19, 2006
    17
    notts
    depressants for carers

    grannieG you helped me yesterday with your message. sorry you are feeling down today. I know how hard it is somedays to keep trying to get motivated to meet their needs let alone make them feel better. my feller cannot move without a hoist or feed himself and some days hes just lost and that when you feel most alone. people think because they are with you then you are not lonly. we know thats not the case. i see a counceler from the carers uk and that helps keep me sane. it does not cost anything. but my sitter,taxi. for that one hour i feel i can be honest how i feel and not feeling guilty for some of the feelings we all get . that are we doing the right thing .are we doing enough for them. are they happy. I would say talking to a counceler has helped me. just a thought. I send you a big hug . take care. God bless. I have put you on my prayer list.
     
  16. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,594
    Kent
    Thanks everyone for posting.
    It`s been a very difficult day for both of us. Usually I can prop my husband up, but today, for some reason, I couldn`t. I was just sick and tired of the whole business and full of self pity.
    Because I distanced myself from my husband, he thought he`d upset me and kept apologising. of course that made me feel worse, because I was still unable to help him.
    I`m feeling a bit better now, but he`s still low, trying to work out what`s happening to his brain.
    I know exercise helps. We`ve been exercising together and it`s made us both feel good. The last couple of days, I have been unable to get any enthusiasm or motivation fior exercise, I`ve just felt drained and lethargic.
    Crossroads sounds good, but I know my husband would try to encourage me to go out and leave him, rather than have a stranger in, at this stage. Unfortunately, our one and only experience with a CPN was a disaster.
    Anyway I`m OK now. I`ll see if it happens again before I see the GP.
    Love to all. Sylvia
     
  17. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Sylvia, I'm glad your feeling a bit better now. You don't think you could be coming down with something, do you?

    Take care of yourself, anyway

    Love
    Jennifer
     
  18. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    9,519
    Frinton-on-Sea
    Really hesitate to say "been there, got the teeshirt, done that" so why do I start with this trite remark.

    I lost my husband, after 35 blissful years, so I have 'done' that side of things..........Been through the last 10 years of dear Lionels journey through Alzheimers'.....so I would say:

    If it helps you though a particular time "go for it". We all respond to situations in our own strong way. What works for one etc...........

    If you need help, take it, be it medical, physical (i.e.gym etc) or even Voodoo. if it works for you....go for it.

    Together, we will get through this journey, just take the props on offer.
    (Sorry, mine tonight was a bottle of wine....always my weakness).

    My love to all,
     
  19. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    Dear Sylvia

    Just another slant on this …. Several months ago when I came crashing down at mum’s mooted diagnosis my own GP (knowing all my own medical background, family stuff, past PTSD , blah blah…… offered me a ‘sick note’ to take two weeks off work - (like that was the best thing to do -allow me to wallow without focus?)….. fair enough he knew me and anti-depressants didn’t ever make a good cocktail….

    Return to GP two weeks later (worse wreck than before) to find a locum - who LISTENED……. who picked up the phone there and then and arranged for me to speak to a counsellor within a week - who encouraged me to speak to mum’s GP - who referred mum to a consultant who referred me to a Carer’s Outreach service…..

    Long winded way of saying I usually expect to visit a GP and come out clutching a piece of paper (prescription drugs or ‘sick note’ on mine or some one else’s behalf)… sometimes… they can offer other alternatives…… but, as always, it seems we have to do some asking and ‘ferreting’ … and not just ‘bow to their wisdom’……God bless that locum! As a consequence, have rallied so much ‘professional’ support since.....

    Best of luck…. you know yourself and your own needs and desires….. my error was not to express them to my own GP and ‘settle’ for the first thing he offered……

    Love and best of luck, Karen, x

    (PS: Connie, I did try for wine on prescription but it didn’t wash:( )
     
  20. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    Grannie

    have you heard of SHANTI ?
    Email :tahashaniti@aol.com
    Tel 0208 811 1501/ fax 0208 811 1502

    The Asian Heath Agency They also have Asian Day Centre .

    I am sure you said that your husband is Asian , if not I must of got it wrong ?? !!

    SHATI offers a holistic and culturally sensitive day care service for Asian elders and aduts with disabilites who are unable to look after thenselves without surport, are dependant on other for their daily living , are isolated or suffering from depression.All the Centre staff speak a range of Asian languages and are therefore ensure that personal and discreet needs of both Asian men & woman are met . SHANTI -provides individually tailored care support plans to meet the Individual users personal needs whilst respecting and validating religious and cultural values .
     

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