Chemical Dependency ~ The Legal Kind (Part 2)

Last week or so, I read my e-mail newsletter from trainer Jillian Michaels of “The Biggest Loser.”  Much to my chagrin, I read how hormones can affect your weight (I already knew that), but it went on to explain that those hormones could be adversely affected by taking SSRI’s (taken for anxiety and/or depression).  Now, I’m by no means obese, but in the past few years I’ve packed on about 15 to 20 extra pounds despite the fact that I eat less and exercise more than I ever have in my life.  This bit of info really sucks.

When my anxiety peaked about six years ago and I spoke to the doctor, he asked me what had seemed to help my dad’s depression.  He explained that often what worked for a patient’s family member may be likely to work for the patient.  When I told him what seemed to help dad, though, he said he wouldn’t prescribe that for me because it’s been known to cause weight gain.  Bless his soul.  He instead prescribed Lexapro, another SSRI, that he said had few side effects.

I started off on the lower dose of 10 milligrams.  I still went in to talk with the counselor, and I didn’t notice any big changes, although I was crying less and able to sleep again through the night.  After a couple weeks, though, I started noticing very subtle changes in my mood and outlook.  Things didn’t seem that difficult anymore.  Things I had dreaded doing seemed like tiny bumps in the road.  Hubby and the kids noticed changes in me more than I noticed myself.  I seemed calmer and happier, they insisted.  After about a month, they increased my dosage to the current 20 mg.  I actually was looking forward to challenges that months before had seemed like obstacles I could never overcome.  I knew I’d finally become the serene person I was meant to be when I watched Oldest Son scrape Big Daddy’s car right into the side of my van (there was nothing I could do to stop it) and I didn’t freak out.  I didn’t shriek.  I just went over to inspect the damage and find out if he was all right.

Let me assure you, this drug does not produce a high.  It does not mask my emotions.  What it does is allow me to finally be who I really am.  I’m not encased in a web of fear and anxiety.  It’s easier for me to live up to my potential because I don’t feel the need to run away from challenges.  I’m able to meet them head-on.  Had I felt like this twenty years ago, I would have snapped at the kids less.  Hell, I could have become the president of the United States, if I had wanted such a lousy thankless job.

When I mentioned Jillian’s newsletter to Big Daddy, whining about how I was never going to lose weight, Mr. Practicality said “You’ll just have to work harder.  Either try to work harder at managing your moods without the medication, or keep taking them and work out harder.”  Then in a nanosecond he amended that statement by saying I’d better just do some harder workouts.  I think he’s scared of bitchy anxious Mama coming back.  And I think he realizes what other people need to realize.  You just can’t wish away chemical depression or anxiety.  But like many illnesses today, modern medicine has provided treatments.

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6 Responses to “Chemical Dependency ~ The Legal Kind (Part 2)”


  1. 1 Cyndi July 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Great post Les. Lexapro did NOT work for me. It had the opposite effect. I had the only full-blown panic attack of my life after taking it once! I know others who have had results similar to yours though.

    The only one that works for me is Effexor, and I tried many of them. It has sexual side effects at high doses and significant withdrawal symptoms but tapering off of it gradually works just fine and you avoid some pretty horrific withdrawal symptoms that way. I wished it away. I was up to 300 milligrams at one point just to be able to function in society. Once life got less stressful I gradually decreased until I was completely off of it for about 6 months.

    I recently realized just what you have. It doesn’t make any sense to live with the excessive anxiety when there is a solution. I’m back on a much lower dose now and it has made all the difference. Having said all of that, and this may not be true for everyone, I believe that I will eventually be off of this medication for good. I was never this anxious before and I hope that working through the issues that bubbled up to the surface 2 years ago will eventually even me out. I could be wrong, and if so, I will stay on the SSRI.

    • 2 les@mamaneeds2rant July 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Your experience, Cyndi, is why it’s so important to work with a qualified doctor to determine just what will work with one’s particular body chemistry. Like with any medication, some work for some people while doing nothing for others. Some produce unwanted side effects in some patients while others are fine. My anxiety was never due to anything specific. It was caused by something my body lacked, much like a diabetic that lacks sufficient insulin. Now that I know how I should feel, I’m afraid to ever go back to how I used to feel. Even if I do have an extra 15 lbs. to work off.

  2. 3 Cyndi July 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Why can’t anything we need or that is good for us have LOSING weight as a side effect?! 🙂

    • 4 les@mamaneeds2rant July 9, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      I know, Cyndi. It sucks. In fact, if it’s something we need or like, it will not only be fattening, it will cost too much money and probably end up not being healthy for you.

  3. 5 James July 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Hi… Thanks for this great post. A good friend of mine used Lexapro with very good results. Her experience are very much like your. No high or other signs that she is on Lexapro.


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