Antidepressants should not make you numb

My depression is severe. Paralyzing. There should be no doubt that it needs treatment for me to function. But it’s not uncommon for people to offer advice based on their experience with antidepressants which I hear make them feel numb so they quit taking them and feel better. First of all, it’s dangerous to discontinue antidepressant treatment suddenly and secondly if you feel better after you quit them than you did before you started them, I question whether you needed them in the first place. Doctors seem to hand them out like candy. General practitioners usually not psychiatrists. Who actually know how to prescribe them.

I’ve heard these type of drugs compared to pouring gas on a car and hoping some gets in the tank. This is not an exact science. There’s a lot of guess work involved, seeing how one reacts and adjusting dosage or replacing the drug itself for another one.

Effective treatment for me doesn’t make me feel numb. It’s also not a cure though. It feels like the natural inclination of my brain, what I should feel, is the kind of paralysis that I need to avoid but there’s a chemical wall in place halting the slide into that state. I might still feel bad, but I know I don’t feel as bad as I should or can.

Diagnosis is a tool to help the doctor predict which drug will be effective. If you have mild situational depression you may need a temporary low dose of zoloft or Prozac. If you have major depressive disorder or bipolar depression, you probably need a stronger dose and maybe an augmenting mood stabilizer such as abilify or Lamictal.

Your diagnosis is not a label that defines who you are or an identity that determines how you should act. It’s a medical condition that a professional can use to help treat you. That’s all it is and there’s no shame in being ill and needing help. Listen to the doctor. Take the medicine as prescribed. And don’t take amateur medical advice from anyone because they have no idea what it’s like to be you.

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