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Suboxone (Buprenorphine) For Treatment-Resistant Depression: Partial Mu-Opioid Agonist

Suboxone (Buprenorphine) is a medication that is used by people withdrawing from narcotics (opioids). It helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and most people end up able to experience a smooth withdrawal while on this particular drug. In people that have either extreme or treatment-resistant depression, many have turned to trying a variety of drugs besides that of SSRI’s, TCA’s, and MAOI’s. Some individuals have discovered through personal trials and research that the drug Suboxone can have profound antidepressant effects.

However, it is considered a Schedule III substance in the United States and is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. In order to get your hands on this substance for the treatment of depression, you’d either need of have a comorbid opiate addiction or you’d need to have a very liberal psychiatrist and prove that absolutely nothing else works. In most cases, people explore other, more proven and studied treatment options for depression as Suboxone is a highly unorthodox option.

Suboxone (Buprenorphine) for Depression: Research

Recently, researchers have began to take a look at whether this medication could be used to treat depression. In the mid 1990’s, Harvard Medical School conducted a clinical trial and demonstrated that in individuals with non-psychotic, major depression that was unresponsive to a traditional antidepressant or electroconvulsive therapy, Suboxone successfully treated their symptoms.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7714228

Although the use of narcotics is not approved for the treatment of depression, some doctors are starting to realize that they do have antidepressant effects in their patients. In cases where patients are non-responsive to traditional antidepressant treatments, they need other options. Some would argue that it’s better to feel happy and be addicted to a medication like Suboxone than it is to be depressed, unproductive, and highly suicidal.

Research has shown that both mental and physical pain are regulated with the same chemical networks in the brain. Many people who are depressed also report feelings of pain. Newer medications like Cymbalta – attempt to address both physical pain and mental pain associated with depression.

Suboxone acts as a partial agonist against the mu-opioid receptor which releases both serotonin and dopamine in the central nervous system. It should be noted that these neurotransmitters are released to a lesser degree than full agonists.  Some would hypothesize that the antidepressant properties of Suboxone can be derived from the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Taking Suboxone for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Obviously if you are taking Suboxone to treat depression, you either have a comorbid opiate addiction or you have a very liberal psychiatrist. At one point when I was feeling really depressed, I talked to my psychiatrist about testing this medication. He actually is a licensed Suboxone doctor and he advised that I explore other options. At the end of the day I’m glad I didn’t end up on this stuff because my depression did improve with other treatment.

This medication is not approved as an antidepressant and is considered to be a pretty potent drug. My psychiatrist did acknowledge that maybe one day this would be a valid treatment option – but it needs to first be approved. With that said, most people who end up taking Suboxone for their depression end up having positive experiences. I would classify this as an unauthorized, last-resort type treatment if absolutely nothing else works to pull you out of your black hole.

Why consider Suboxone for treatment-resistant depression:

  • No other relief – If you can’t find any other relief via other drug classes (SSRI’s, TCA’s, MAOI’s), have explored electroconvulsive therapy, tried adjunctive treatments such as (Lithium and Adderall) talk therapy, etc. and nothing works.
  • Highly suicidal – Feeling highly suicidal is a huge problem.
  • Coexisting opiate addiction – In individuals that are having a difficult time coming off of heavy opiates, this may be ideal to help treat both the addiction and depression.
  • It works quickly – Most people that try this medication report that it works very fast.

Benefits of Suboxone for Depression

1. Improved mood: Many people report an immediate improvement in mood upon taking Buprenorphine. It works as a partial agonist on the mu-receptor and increases serotonin and dopamine – both of which are linked to mood improvement.

2. Increased pleasure: It is common for activities to become more pleasurable as a result of taking this medication. Since the pleasure chemicals are increasing in your nervous system, it makes sense that you’d have an increased sense of pleasure.

3. Feeling normal: Some people take this medication and report that they feel “normal” for the first time in years. If you have significantly low levels of serotonin or dopamine, this can help boost them.

4. Decreases anxiety: In some people, they report decreases in anxiety and increases in relaxation. This is in part due to the fact that it acts on the mu-receptor in the brain and increases both serotonin and dopamine.

5. Increased wellbeing: Some people report overall improvement in wellbeing. They are able to be productive members of society, wake up in the morning, be social, and positively interact with the world.

Why you may want to avoid Suboxone for depression

Even if you are gung-ho about trying Suboxone to treat your depression, and end up with a prescription, there are some things you may want to think about. As with any drug, or medication, it is important to know how it will affect you, how powerful it is, and the long term effects. If you ever want to come off of the medication, the withdrawal process must be properly understood.

  • Strength: Some people may want to stay away from this medication because it may make them feel “too good.” Many people that use this medication for depression have reported feeling a sense of euphoria. If you are feeling “too good” it may be a sign that the dosage is too high.
  • Feel “high”: Although not everyone reports feeling “high” on a drug, this is a medication that could give a non-opiate user a “high.” Despite the fact that this may be pleasurable, it may not be what you need in order to function normally in society.
  • Dependency: Due to the production of serotonin and dopamine and this drug’s effect on the mu-receptor, people can easily become dependent. There are many cases of people that have become so psychologically and physically dependent that they plan on using it for life.  Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11408600
  • Long term effects: What are the long term effects of Suboxone? We really don’t know. This is a major problem because if there are detrimental side effects, it may affect your decision to use this medication in the first place.
  • Side effects: As with any drug, not all side effects are going to be feelings of pleasure and joy. Some people may not respond well to this medication and may actually end up more depressed. Even though this seems to be pretty effective at treating depression, some people end up with bad experiences.
  • Withdrawal: The withdrawal associated with this medication is extremely difficult. It typically requires a gradual “weaning” process depending on the dosage. Some people claim that the withdrawal is so difficult that they plan on staying on Suboxone forever.

Suboxone for depression verdict: More research needs to be conducted

I suggest that further studies be conducted in patients with opiate addiction and comorbid severe depression to determine the effectiveness of Suboxone. Additionally, further research needs to be conducted regarding the long term effects of Suboxone. If this medication really works well in cases of severe and/or treatment-resistant depression, it may be very beneficial to use.

We aren’t sure about the long term effectiveness of this medication either. Does it eventually stop working or “poop out” like most antidepressants? Do we have to keep increasing the dosage over time? These are some questions that need to be addressed. With that said, I’d say that the rate of SSRI dependency is pretty high for people.

Most people that end up on SSRI’s stay on them for as long as they work – which could end up being for a lifetime. Researchers should further explore Suboxone. There were some clinical trials with Suboxone for treating depression in the works. If you have used Suboxone to help treat your depression or noticed that it helped you, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.  Also be aware of the new formulation of ALKS-5461 for depression, which is very similar to Suboxone.

Source: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01407575

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{ 77 comments… add one }
  • Kira April 24, 2014, 5:52 pm

    I have a severe depression resistant to SSRI/SNRI’s, Wellbutrin since 2010. Prior to then I have never been depressed. I also have generalized anxiety disorder since the age of 19. I am 53 now. It is being treated with Klonopin. I also have chronic pain and was on narcotics for several years. I have tried stopping them, went through withdrawal, and had horrendous worsening of my depression at 2 months. Because I was opiate dependent I was able to be placed on Suboxone., which I have been taking now for about a year. I have had a great experience. My psychiatrist and I both consider the idea of Reward Deficiency Syndrome to be fascinating and potentially valid, and I believe I suffer from it. Suboxone makes me feel normal, gives me a sense of well being and happiness, gives me resilience. It is how, I think, normal people feel. I feel more energy and able to do more. I still suffer from lack of focus and concentration, brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, which can be a result of other medical conditions, but I am being put on a stimulant to deal with these issues, psychological and physical. I am also on Prozac and Welbutrin. I believe Welbutrin will be stopped once stimulants are started.

    • GLOOM April 24, 2014, 6:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience Kira. I’ll bet that many people have improved their depression inadvertently with Suboxone treatment. You are an ideal fit for this medication since you have a history with chronic pain and narcotics. Yes it would make sense to stop Wellbutrin once you are on stimulants. I’m surprised you are also on antidepressants if the Suboxone is working well enough to alleviate depressive symptoms. Nice to hear from you.

  • Rachid April 26, 2014, 2:41 am

    Hi, I have been struggling with depression and low mood for many years. I am 42 years old now and when I was 15 years old I was very unhappy and depressed due to lot of domestic violence off-course I did not know I was depressed then! so in order to cope with the insomnia I first discovered Cannabis which was magic cure to my problems at the time but after years of taking Cannabis my depression eventually got worst this lead me to using alcohol for another number of years resulting in me having a drug an alcohol problem with a much worst depression.
    I ended up in the hospital where I was detoxed from all alcohol and cannabis and put on antidepressant, I can honestly say that all of the different medication I was on for about 3 years hardly scratched the surface.
    By then I was in my thirties and still depressed as ever I have tried therapy NA 12 steps and my life started to get better but my depression was still remaining a major issue. After a while and a long struggle with depression I ended up using heroin which seemed to take care of my mood and depression instantly but again this only worked for a short time as my tolerance to heroin went up very quickly and the guilty feeling of using heroin did not help my depression plus the risk of OD was a constant red flag.
    So after few years of another made journey with self medication I decide to stop heroin and try to get on with my life as best I can meaning Clean without any drug use, However, in-order to come off heroin I went to detox clinic where I was put on a subtext program. initially they started me with (Buprenorphine) 8 mg which I found was to strong for me and after few visit to the clinic to work out the wright does I am now on 2 mg of (Buprenorphine) daily. Guess what? I can honestly say that my mood has improved to a point that I am convinced that 2 mg and no more is probably the wright does for treating depression, I mean the result is instant I have been taking this medication for 2 month and I have not once felt the need to drink Alcohol or even smoke a cigarette since, most importantly I feel NORMAL. I now truly believe that my addiction to drugs was purely a result of my depression that I was not able to treat with antidepressants.
    If I only have known about(Buprenorphine) long a go I would probably have saved my self and my family a lot of grief !

    • GLOOM April 26, 2014, 2:27 pm

      Great to hear that the Bupe is alleviating your depression and that you feel normal again. After struggling for that long, you deserve to feel happy with life. Hopefully it continues to work and you experience the antidepressant effect. Unfortunately it is not well-researched as a depression treatment because it is a powerful controlled substance. I’ve noticed that many people don’t get relief from standard antidepressants and psychiatrists throw other antipsychotics and mood stabilizers into the equation… which in many cases further complicates things. 2 months may be quick to judge whether this will work long-term, but I sincerely wish you the best.

    • Sam December 8, 2015, 8:01 pm

      I also have severe long lasting depression. After starting buprenorphine 0.4 mg within 2 days I had a relatively better week. Mood, energy and cognition. But then it suddenly stopped. Dark mood and crying spells again. Don’t know what to do next. Stay with buprenorphine at higher dose or quit. All studies are referring to a max dose for depression of 2.0 mg.

      • Shawna June 21, 2016, 4:02 pm

        Ditto… it’s June now, what’s your status?

    • Rob Rabin July 23, 2016, 12:39 am

      I’m now 61. I started to feel “being depressed” at age 19. Initially, although (this is the mid 70’s) I was seeing a Freudian psychiatrist (sucked completely) & started to take (pre- SSRI antidepressants, e.g. Prozac), my depression continued, over the years to get worse & it was becoming harder & harder to get anything done, without the utmost effort (I now know that my fatigue/lethargy were just getting worse too).

      Notwithstanding my constant depression & lethargy, I still went to & graduated law school, passed the FL Bar exam & went on to be an attorney for 20 years. Throughout all these years, I constantly continued to “suffer” from depression & increasing fatigue. But for 9 “miracle” months, when Prozac first came out (circa 1988) when I was virtually depression free, had access to long lost energy & came back to life.

      The positive effects started to wear off & for approximately the next 13 years, both under a host of psychiatrists, I started the phase of unsuccessful treatments which now consisted me of taking any & every combination of: anti-depressants; atypical anti-depressants & psychostimulants, until at age 48, my depression became so debilitating that I had to quit practicing law & go on F/T psychiatric disability (which I’ve now been on for the past 13 years).

      Depression had destroyed my life & to make matters worse, I underwent ECT (2) times (no success) & was now diagnosed as having severe chronic (here comes the nightmare) “treatment resistant” depression. In conclusion, I’m 61, still depressed & lethargic. Out of desperation, over the last 4months, I underwent (2) series of 6 Ketamine infusions. After the first set of 6 infusions back in 3/16, I had a relatively depression free 3 months (which after 13 years of disability).

      It was nothing short of amazing, being free of my mental paralysis (I equate depression as being in a “mental concentration camp”). Even though, the “coming back to life” phase wore off (because I’m planning to get married in 9/16) despite the “criminal profit motive” of taking infusions at $500 per infusion, in 6/16, I went back for another (6) infusions (which are not yet FDA approved for depression & are only being given on a clinical trial basis), unfortunately, I’m not having another life altering experience.

      But I have some good news (can you believe it?). I’m always researching, on the net, any & all research on alternative treatments for severe TRD. I came across a couple of medicinal websites, although not yet FDA approved for treatment resistant depression (but there have been successful clinical trials) in relieving the mental anguish of treatment resistant depression, using a medication called Suboxone (which is currently FDA approved as a means for outpatient detox to people w/opioid addiction). But based on my nightmare lifelong experience w/depression (the anti-life).

      I am willing to try/take anything that might relieve me from suffering from depression. Well I took my first (sublingual strip) of Suboxone & in about 1 hour later, it kicked in & no more F’n depression, I felt GREAT!! Same for today, day (2). Well, I’ve long forgotten about talking about cure. I can only hope that “feeling alive” may last for some serious time.

      If you’re interested in trying Suboxone for your depression, I’d recommend that you google Dr’s that prescribe Suboxone, in the county you live in. Wishing you a happy & satisfying life, Rob

  • Mm May 7, 2014, 3:23 am

    Ive been on Sub for 5 years due to addiction to Vicodin & Percocets. I got off of it a few times in detoxes, and every time– I could not STAY off of it. It helps me feel normal, & helps with depression.

    • GLOOM May 7, 2014, 1:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • thomas c. varevice May 24, 2014, 11:46 am

    I, myself, have just come out of a seven day withdrawal from buprenorphine and I must profoundly attest to the solid fact that it is pure living hell on this planet. My symptoms were crippling depression, a complete lack of interest in participating in the human race, deep physical pain all throughout my body for no reason and a sense that I am “floating away” from the planet or becoming catatonic. That being said I am not in protest against the use of buprenorphine for depression caused by Endorphin Deficiency Syndrome(EDS), I embrace its use. I have never felt right until I first took an opiate. I have been through the gamete of anti-depressants only to find my condition to be worsened(severe anxiety, worsening of depression, even a sort of dissociative effect). Opiates with a long half-life(i.e.-buprenorphine/methadone) are the way to properly manage my EDS. Unfortunately, until the DEA/FDA finds a way to properly manage their time in lieu of their totalitarian grip on doctors across the USA, people who suffer with EDS will never properly be managed. Opiates are not for everyone, but for the people who do need them they are life savers.

  • Helena Mayle June 2, 2014, 8:34 am

    I noticed when I stoped the suboxone for about 4 days I thought my antidepresant was nt working again, sometimes I have to take a small drug holiday because of poop out. Then I decided to take my 4 mg suboxone and feel better. I just got up and straighted the house up a little bit after not moving from this bed for a week. So I know it helps. Thank you for this article cause I have been wondering why it seemed to help. I want to show this to my Dr. THANKS AGAIN

  • Hilary Long August 20, 2014, 10:51 pm

    There are FIVE very good reasons listed here, that argue the obvious point. .. of course “we” should be looking at suboxone (stand alone) for depression. 50 years battling this illness; there is absolutely nothing that compares with the benefits of this drug. I despise the fact that people who have no idea what depression is about, are the same people who are deciding that “feeling high” is off limits.

    If I do feel “high” on a medication it never lasts long (Prozac combined with Welbutrin was the 1st). So at the mercy of the FDA; doctors and psychiatrists; courts and law enforcement; I have been denied even a chance at feeling my “mood improve”. My persistent feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness – leading to suicidal thoughts, is believed to be a better alternative than for me to feel “pleasure”; to feel “normal”; less “anxious”, and generally to have a sense of “wellbeing”. Nope… people like me struggle.

    We remain quiet and compliant; never complaining to those who are here to help us….Don’t want them to think we’re drug addicts; God forbid. Who actually wrote the law that says, happiness is off limits in pill form? Suboxone works wonders for depression.

    • Mary January 17, 2016, 9:36 pm

      Agreed!

      • Howiecat January 29, 2016, 3:23 am

        Right on!!

        • Bonnie July 25, 2016, 2:40 am

          I suffered from severe unexplainable back pain for over twenty years. I was always depressed and mostly a nonfunctional human being. I had been given every pain killer that existed at one time or another. They would help for a time but then would stop working or I would need higher and higher doses. When I moved to a new state fifteen years ago I was on fentanyl patches. While on them I just felt like a zombie most of the time.

          I had no interest in anything. Then I went to a wonderful new pain specialist and he said that the first thing he would do is get me off all the opiates and other drugs that I was on. I remember bringing a shopping bag of drugs to his office. He sent me to a psychiatrist who was also an addiction specialist. He diagnosed me as bipolar and He started me on a suboxone drug withdrawal plan.

          Within days I felt like I had never felt in my life. I think it was the first time I ever felt normal. I have been on a combination of suboxone 8/2 plus 60MG of cymbalta for five years now. I no longer go to the psychiatrist as he sold his practice. I get the medication from my pain specialist and must get the suboxone approved every six months by my insurance company.

          I am a totally new person which is validated by my daughters and husband. I have gone back to college, taken numerous ongoing art classes, have become a well known artist, I just love life for the first time ever. Too bad this didn’t all happen until I was 69 years old! I am 74 now and plan on staying on suboxone forever. It quite literally changed my life for the better.

          • Newton September 13, 2016, 10:50 pm

            Well let me know who your doc is lol. I have suffered from depression my whole life, I made it work though. I still went to college, military, great job but always miserable always a little obsessive and always negative. About 4 years ago I’m a 10 month period I lost my dad, aunt, grandmother, brother in law and my coworker shot himself. A few months after my dad died I had a heart attack and a stroke.

            I guess all that combined with 80 hrs a week and having to lay off employees was too much. Now mentally disabled with treatment resistant depression etc. I am in a downward spiral in my late 40s and afraid there is no return. I had a stomach surgery last year and when they put me on percocet I felt human again, happy, not obsessing, not over eating, getting things done.

            My wife and daughter were amazed. Since then of course same old depression. Wellbutrin does nothing nor do any of the other 20 meds they had me on. Ugh who do I see? I just got a new doc but he like the rest not willing to try or do anything new.

            I told him about the percocet and he just ignored me. Isn’t it possible my brain is not producing what it needs since I have been depressed since childhood? I mean why won’t my doc even try suboxone?

  • april l daugherty September 4, 2014, 9:07 am

    To make a long story short suboxone has literally saved my life. I have had severe clinical depression for twenty years, also having multiple kidney surgeries I became addicted to opiates, tried suboxone after going through a three day detox and my depression and anxiety are completely gone I do not live in bed anymore I can take care of my children, I’m not suicidal, which I was. I now have a reason to live but it’s very hard knowing I want to stay on suboxone the rest of my life, but its only approved for opiate addiction so as of now I will try everything I can to stay on it, hoping and praying it’s approved for chronic depression one day.

  • Jim September 20, 2014, 7:22 am

    I suffer from treatment resistant depression and I also take suboxone for opiate addiction. I still have bouts of depression that are severe enough I can’t help but accept the fact that it’s just a matter of time. Speaking for myself suboxone seems to help the depression but not enough to survive. I’m sure you know sub is a “opiate blocker” so you can forget getting “high” aka relief from any opiate.

    Sub has a long half life and it is not easy to come off of. A very small dose is easy to slowly taper down to, the hard part starts when you “jump off” to absolutely none. I have mixed feelings about sub. When I go into a severe depression the only relief I used to get is now blocked. Anyone who suffers from TRD knows firsthand you are on your own.

    • Helena Mayle September 26, 2014, 3:12 pm

      Dont feel like writing much but i totaly relate Jim

  • Hopeful September 27, 2014, 9:39 pm

    Buprenorphine definitely treats depression. I would not get overly hung up on the fact that a patient may feel ‘high.’ In proper low doses this should not occur, or in any event, should not be any more likely than with other widely used medications like Xanax or Adderall. Adderall is amphetamine, a potent dopaminergic agonist and thus one of the most addictive substances. Amphetamine will create a ‘buzz’ or ‘high’ in any human or animal, so I’m somewhat surprised this article encourages trying it before buprenorphine. I would bet money that the average depressed patient would feel less ‘high ‘ on buprenorphine than the average anxious patient on Xanax. Besides, the state of being ‘high’ as with all mood states is subjective. To a suffering patient, sudden-onset relief may be indistinguishable from a ‘hign.’ But I digress.

    Buprenorphine is habit-forming, as is Xanax. It doesn’t cause euphoria like full agonist opiates, ie heroin, fentanyl, vicoden, percocet, or the buzz of amphetamines, but if used constantly the body will become accustomed and then show signs of withdrawal if treatment is abruptly terminated. The withdrawal is not dangerous like with xanax, klonopin, and alcohol, which can lead to seizures, but it is unpleasant. Even at low doses the withdrawal is like a mild stomach flu + a case of the blues. So buprenorphine should only be used in cases of active addiction or treatment resistant depression with no history of addiction. You don’t want to make a recovering addict become addicted to a new substance.

    I’d encourage psychs to write subutex (not suboxone with naloxone, which can be harmful for women) for mature, adult patients who are really suffering from depression or anxiety, who have no history or tendency towards addiction, and knowingly accept the risk of taking a habit-forming treatment in exchange for enhanced wellbeing. Ideally, the decision to take subutex should be considered over time, and discussed with family. It shouldn’t be made impulsively or during the darkest lows or times of crisis. I’ve seen it help many people, mostly depressed patients with co – morbid addictions.

    Admittedly, I haven’t seen many people stop taking buprenorphine, but I haven’t seen many stop taking SSRIs, either, except if/when the SSRIs stop working effectively, as the article mentions. Patients keep taking a treatment if they feel it is helping. So the longterm treatment with buprenorphine could be evidence of addiction, but could also be evidence of enduring efficacy.

  • Hal October 3, 2014, 6:10 pm

    I can genuinely attest to the anti-depressant effects of Buprenorphine. After a few years of abuse of prescription medication and then the supply ‘ran dry’, I fell into significant withdrawal symptoms to the point where I felt as if I was going to die. Finding a Suboxone clinic, I began treatment and one of the first things I noticed was a complete relief from my major depression. I never felt better and cried because I felt ‘normal’ for the first time.

    After a few months on Suboxone, I convinced my doctor that I was no longer craving pain medication because, realistically, I was using the pain meds to escape depression not for the high. We then converted to Buprenorphine which was prescribed for chronic pain (which I experience) but the depression as well. I have been using Bupernorphine for over three (3) years. I moved to the Portland, Oregon area from Central Florida where I was receiving this treatment.

    I have now been without medication for a week (I was purposefully tapering down from 8mg/day to 2mg/day in order to give myself time to find resumption of treatment here. But Portland is completely different in treatment. If you can find a provider, it is extremely expensive and prohibitive. Now I find myself in withdrawal and depressed. I lack the energy and ‘thrive’ that I had while on treatment in Florida. What is absolutely puzzling and disappointing is the fact that there seems to be no protocol in place for those in my position.

    I am sure there are others in my predicament and dependent on this medication and going through withdrawal due to unavailability of medication and the many health providers I have called here in Portland seem not caring of my situation. I wonder if the FDA, DEA and other agencies who approved this drug, implemented it and ‘addicted’ so many people on it thought of the scenario I find myself in. I would have hoped that a protocol would have been placed in action to help those who found themselves without medication which helped so much for me and others now without recourse and must suffer tremendous mental and physical pain.

    • Kirk September 13, 2015, 11:39 pm

      I’m 56 and I also have experienced withdrawal from prescription medicine from a back and hand surgery two years ago and found myself very happy and “normal” while on Percocet. Haven’t used this for more than a year. I do realize the drug did two things – helped with pain and more so with depression. Not realizing I was going through life depressed my good friend gave me some Suboxone 8mg/2mg he had gotten from a family member for depression treatment. Once I took only 1/4 of the film I realized there could be a way to be more productive and be at least happy again without the stigma of Percocet abuse. I’m also from Portland and just wondering what I can do to make this a part of my life going forward instead of feeling used and depressed. -Kirk

  • Ricco Pitts October 5, 2014, 7:48 pm

    I can say for sure 100% sure, that buprenorphine has saved my life. Beginning in 1995 I started having problems with depression. Went to a dr took every anti-depression med known to man kind and only got worst. One day when I was so depress and couldn’t get out of bed a friend gave me a pain pill. Next think I knew I had my life back and was so happy, then the pain pills stopped working.

    Now not only was I in a state of major depression I was addicted to opiates too. The next ten years were the worst of my whole sixty years. Methadone for the opiates but nothing helped with the depression. Then in June 2010 I went over to buprenorphine to get off the methadone knowing nothing about how it was helping depression. It was a new day for me. It was like being reborn again.

    I know if I had been treated with buprenorphine back in the 1990 the opiates use would have never came to be. It is so sad that this is not approved for depression, because it works. I am alive today as proof. I thank God each day for his help. I am so grateful for finding this med. It works and could be saving the life of other people with depression.

  • Frank October 8, 2014, 8:01 am

    This works! I was given the gambit of anti-depressants & felt no better. I suffered with depression for over 40 years, masking with pain-killers. I stumbled onto Suboxone, while detoxing from pain meds. It’s the 1st time in my life where I have felt happy, normal, engaged & now enjoying life. I do not want to ever return to those dark days I endured for many years. I could care less that I’m “addicted” to Suboxone. Up to several years ago, all of my adult life was battling depression. The trade off is a no-brainer & this must be approved by the FDA as an anti-depressant.

  • maydaymayday October 13, 2014, 3:14 am

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I know your suffering, My lifelong struggle of many decades w/ severe Treatment-Resistant Depression that never lifts…will be over soon as I can no longer endure it. I’ve tried all of the anti-depressants TCA’s, SSRI’s, SNRI’s, MOAI’s, etc; plus Talking, Hypno, EMDR, Sound, etc therapies as well as mindfulness and meditation over & over & over again for many decades to no avail.

    One month ago I finally found a Dr who does Ketamine Infusion Therapy for TRD …..sadly; after 4 Infusions there is no improvement. Another painful, exhausting, expensive dead-end. BTW…Don’t think I could get a Suboxone Rx as I don’t have any alcohol/addiction/drug issues… although I do suffer shoulder, arm, hand and back pain (20 yr) and have chronic fatigue & cognitive (foghead), focus/concentration issues that are making life/work impossible now. My lack of motivation, drive, joy coupled w/ my depression & anhedonia are the major issues that leave me no desire to live on.

    I try to hide my depression from other’s due to the great stigma surrounding mental issues and that in itself is exhausting. Just posting this reply is taxing my energy & capabilities I’m ashamed to say. Reading about this med is intriguing & painful as it’s ‘not available’. Would love to be hopeful and make one more last effort (Ketamine Infusions a month ago!!!) but don’t even know who to contact or ask about this off label use of suboxone, subutex for depression. PLEASE share any info, additional experiences you have. It will be so appreciated. I am in Western USA. Do I even try again…and if so, how? Sincerely; maydymayday

    Each of your stories touched my heart. I too have never felt normal & now have a name for it: Reward Deficiency Syndrome & EDS. Thank’s for the validation as the stigma is so great.

    • Angel January 5, 2015, 7:30 am

      Go to Southwestern Research Clinical Trials in Beverly Hills…they are doing a suboxone trial for treatment resistant depression.

  • andre October 21, 2014, 12:21 am

    So far all experiences related to use of Buprenorphine are very positive. I hope caring psychiatrists seeing how well patients function with help of this med will promote and seek approval for wider use as a medication of choice for endogenous depression related to not being able to experience life like most people can without it. THE BRAIN AS ANY OTHER ORGAN HAS A DISORDERS WHICH HAVE TO BE TREATED FOR LIFE TO MAINTAIN WELL BEING.

  • Jim October 23, 2014, 2:18 pm

    How can ANY medication that keeps a person alive be wrong? Side effects? Addiction? Tolerance issues? LMAO. Suicide is a pretty serious reaction to it being with held I would think. The reasons they use to deny approval of opiates to treat “treatment resistant” depression defy common sense. Who cares if they are “clean and opiate free?” They are still just as dead if they commit suicide because the very medication that helped their condition was with held for no legitimate reason whatsoever other than a group of people who have never experienced the living hell that comes with it say so.

    The government knows around 1 million people a year commit suicide and have the gall to ignore what has been proven to work for many people. A doctor in Tennessee (author of The Opiate Cure) has treated endless patients with treatment resistant depression and bipolar by using opiates and it WORKED! I myself am well aware if I depend on doctors for my survival I will not live long. If they refuse to help then I will do what I have to do to survive and have been doing exactly that for years. If you suffer from “treatment resistant” severe depression you are on your own. That is a fact I learned the hard way.

  • Dave October 24, 2014, 10:26 pm

    I have been battling depression and anxiety since my early teens with out finding any long term success. I too have run the gamut of anti depressants and now no longer tolerate SSRI’s. In my mid teens I turned to marijuana which helped for a while but only led to harder drugs and alcohol. For a long time I was able to managed my anxiety and depression by self medicating but with most addictions they eventually stopped working all together and I was at risk of killing myself. I have also had a long history of chronic back pain due to disc injuries.

    After my last injury I became addicted to hydrocodone which finally led me to Sunbonnet which I have been on for 4 weeks. For me Suboxone is a miracle drug as for the first time in my life I feel normal. I have an emotional confidence that I have never known to where I feel I have a innate sense of resiliency or buoyancy. I keep thinking to my self that this must be what “healthy” people must feel like all the time. I am still getting used to it but for me to feel separate from my emotions, and to be able to experience them without worrying about loosing control or being sucked in is a miracle. Honestly I would consider staying on this the rest of my life if there are no undiscovered health risks involved.

  • Melody October 26, 2014, 3:05 am

    I am a single mother of three. I was diagnosed manic depressive wIth an anxiety disorder, at a very young age. This illness had clouded nearly all of my 20’s and followed me darkly into my 30’s. On and off of just about every medication known to man, seeing numerous doctors I never seemed to find that right medium to just be “normal”. I secretly self medicated with pain medication to be able to function. To be able to pull the curtains open and complete or should I say, begin daily activities.

    After nearly a year of opiates I began to fall again. To be normal I paid a far higher price when withdrawing. Back to the beginning on the journey to find my cure I discovered suboxone. I’m not sure it this is my answer to my depression but I do know for now I’ve found my cure. I have regained a strength to be a cheerful, loving mother who wakes up and can face each day. This medication has done wonders for my family and our lives. I’m normal for the first time in 32 yrs. I say this with tears of joy. And so happy to have read each comment to know I am not alone.

  • Peter October 29, 2014, 2:25 am

    Hello to each of you. I have been depressed for 6+ decades, self medicated since ~age 16-17, found, as so many of us do, that a fairly small dose of an opiate brings my mind and body to “normal.” For the past few years I’ve used Tramadol to get relief but not only is this med now federally scheduled thus more difficult to obtain, but it’s just not the best answer due to tolerance build up and a kind of “hangover” effect. Two doctors with whom I’ve discussed this both write off the good effects of Tram as “you’re just getting high”… they not knowing that the very well spoken, clear mined, sober, and reasonable person in front of them was, in fact, under the effects of that very med at the time.

    But back to the subject of Bupe. I’m encouraged by and very happy for those who have had such success with finding a willing doctor and getting long term relief. What’s left of my time on the planet I’d really like to LIVE as opposed to fighting daily just to get by… just to get my mail… just to get groceries, to wash a dish or talk to a neighbor. You guys know. With the right treatment maybe I can make a positive mark before I’m done rather than hiding out and seeing bed making as an Everest attempt. The genetic factor has become glaringly obvious in my family as well. At least my dad, me, and my son.

    With this form of endogenous depression we pop out of the womb weighted down, punished by an abnormally low count of the body’s own opiates, endorphins, enkephalins, etc.. I have also been through the dozens of tricyclic A.D.s, SSRI, SNRI, talk therapy… none of which does a thing besides mess us up with the side effects(med-wise). Because none of them are dialed in to the area of direct cause. Sorry to go on and on with things most already know or believe. I actually do have a question! With Subutex there is no ceiling effect, meaning a person prone to addictive behavior could be inclined to the “this is good, more must be better” thought and go for it, creating obvious problems.

    Does anyone know this: A person taking an appropriate antidepressant dose of Suboxone, with the ceiling effect, is having his or her opiate receptors dosed first with the Bupe, then saturated with the antagonist Naloxone. My concern being that should the Subox user have any kind of situation where pain meds were a necessity (a serious accident, an emergency surgery, etc.) would the Naloxone block whatever anesthesia and/or pain meds were administered? Would this be a real problem and dilemma for EMTs, surgeons, the patient? Should a medic alert bracelet be worn?

    Or, and I hope this is the answer, is the amount of Naloxone in a quite small antidepressant sized Subox dose not enough to interfere with an estimated body weight morphine injection? I’ve read you can shoot heroin over Suboxone and feel nothing. Kind of frightening but perhaps that which I read was in reference to a much higher detox therapy. Again, the very best to everyone out there. Much appreciation for this blog/forum, and thanks in advance to anybody who might help with my question and concerns. (yes, trams are helping enable me to compose this…) Love, recovery, life. -Peter

    • DR April 10, 2015, 12:36 am

      Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in all the formulations does have a ceiling effect at around 30 something mgs. The naloxone is not absorbed sublingually. It is only in there so people don’t inject it. Buprenorphine will block other opiates. It is a partial agonist that binds tightly to the receptor so other opiates will not bind. I have had surgery when I was tapering and was on about 4 mg and I was in pain despite the pain meds. The Percocet wore off quickly and I had withdrawals.

      (I stopped the Suboxone the day of surgery in order for the pain meds to work) so I opted to discontinue the Percocet a couple days after surgery and go back on Suboxone. I know someone that had surgery and the doc gave her some form of oxycodone instead of Suboxone prior to surgery so she did not have withdrawals and could get pain management. Basically it’s the Buprenorphine that blocks other opiates because the naloxone never gets into your system sublingually. It’s only to deter people from injecting it because then the naloxone will give you withdrawals.

  • Laura October 29, 2014, 6:56 pm

    I was diagnosed with severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after suffering two jarring events (lived at epicenter of big earthquake, then lost my husband in a plane crash and found out on the evening news). There was no drug to treat my panic attacks, and severe depression. Every single one gave me horrid side effects. One day my doctor sent me for DNA tests and we found that due to a mutated gene (about 20% of the population may have some form of this), I don’t process medication like normal people do – my liver seems to shunt it out into my bloodstream very quickly. All my life I wondered why I could never drink caffeine and had to take children’s doses of any kind of cold medicine… I know knew why.

    Armed with this information, my doctor realized that only certain drugs are appropriate for me. He zeroed in on the one SSRI that my body could tolerate, and added a very small dose of suboxone. With experimentation, we found that a pediatric dose of Paxil and 1/4 of a 2mg Suboxone film in the morning (I know, crazy small doses!) was all it took. I have lead a completely normal life since! The Paxil alone, does not do it for me. I need that teeny, tiny little snippet of Suboxone – which makes ALL the difference in whether I can fulfill my duties as CEO of a company, or feel agitated, hopeless, and lethargic. Finding this drug has saved my career and my sanity.

  • Jerry Goodwin November 14, 2014, 1:25 am

    I have been using Buprenorphine for refractory depression and chronic pain for the last 9 years. I can report that it has changed my life and everything said about it here is accurate. After 15 years of failed experiments with other anti depression medicines and pain killers, I found the buprenorphine to be unique and unrivaled in efficacy. It is not about getting “high”, it’s about stopping from feeling “bad”, and it is perfect for that reason. I hope that I never have to stop taking it, as the alternatives are very unpleasant and I have been through it already. I would have altered the whole outcome of my life if I had gotten the buprenorphine 15 years earlier and avoided a lot of unnecessary suffering.

  • Jason November 17, 2014, 12:11 am

    I am a 43 year old male that has suffered HELL on Earth for most of my life due to Depression, Anxiety, associated Phobias, Insomnia, opiate addiction / withdrawal and pretty much every negative feeling that a human body can experience. The ONLY reason I have not killed myself is due to an embedded belief in Christianity, uncertainty in what happens after, pure ol’cowardness to finish it and my 4 boys. With the exception of electroshock therapy, I believe I’ve tried everything.

    Just to use one of the most extreme examples of my illness, I once went 29 DAYS without ANY FORM of sleep. In that case, I did overdose on pills but woke up 3 days later in ICU. Just typing this makes me a bit anxious. HOWEVER! I will repeat it here in writing like I have to so many people and doctors…I NEVER FELT “WELL” OR “NORMAL” UNTIL I WAS PUT ON SUBOXONE!!! NEVER! That was 3 1/2 years ago and I’m still going strong. I could write a book on everything we all are talking about but I just wanted to give my ringing endorsement to the subject of treating Depression and Anxiety with Suboxone/burenorphine.

    I’ve been around a lot of sick people. I and my doctors consider my case to be one of the worse cases of Major Depressive Disorder/GAD that a person can have (without psychotic). Although, I was sick enough at times that I did have canatonic/psychotic episodes. Please, somebody, everyone do everything you can to get our message out there. There are millions of people in America suffering that don’t have to be. This medication MUST be approved for treatment of our disease!

  • Jason November 17, 2014, 3:04 pm

    I never felt well nor like a “normal” person until I was placed on Suboxone. I’ve suffered from Chronic Severe MDD and GAD all of my adult life and empathsize with most of you. However, I would like for the host and the forum to know that I did some research after reading this informative article. For those of you that don’t know, Alkermes Drug Co. is on the FDA Fast Track due to fantastic Phase II results and is now in Phase III trials of a new Antidepressant that has Buprenorphine and Samidorphan as the active ingredients.

    The formulation and study is called ALKS-5461 and is scheduled to hit the markets by 2016 for TRD. It will be approved by the FDA thus 1)verifying the fact that Buprenorphine IS very effective as an anti depressant 2) we all don’t have to worry about the whole “Suboxone” process any longer. Come 2016, we will be able to get this new formulation of Buprenorphine as an uncontrolled medicine, just like any other antidepressant.

    • John February 13, 2016, 2:55 am

      I had this hope as well, unfortunately 2 Phase 3 clinical trials failed for ALKS-5461, the CEO says they will continue with research and I have hope it will come out because I know Placebo controlled studies do not work for depression… which IMO is a shame they use them for that.

      • Savvas November 6, 2016, 1:34 am

        21/10/2016. ALKS-5461 successfully completed the FORWARD-5 study and data from more than 1,500 patients to date, researchers have established a strong foundation of evidence of ALKS 5461’s clinical utility in the treatment of major depressive disorder. With these data now in hand, researchers will move forward rapidly to meet with the FDA to determine the appropriate next steps toward a regulatory submission for ALKS 5461, with a goal of bringing this important new medication to patients with MDD. ;-)

  • Jake S November 17, 2014, 11:18 pm

    After reading the article and subsequent replies, I am very optimistic. I have a slightly different experience. After being recently referred to a new psychiatrist, he suggested the use of suboxone for a very chronic and increasingly worse issue of depression combined with generalized anxiety disorder. I too have had a number of surgeries and experienced feeling ‘normal’ while on the pain killers. No SSRI/SNRI ever worked for me.

    This referral to a younger perhaps more progressive doctor who is one of very few who can prescribe suboxone cued in when I mentioned that I seem to feel an immediate cease of depression when I was taking pain meds. He hypothesized that my endorphin production could be low, and I should mention I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year- given tramadol to treat the pain. For me, depression always manifested itself in the pain area. Now, after taking suboxone for a week, I feel ‘normal’ again, and the depression is very low, if non existent.

    I’m relieved needless to say. I do not think my doctor is treating me for opiate withdrawal, so I was to assume that this therapy was at some point approved for treatment of severe depression? Honestly I don’t care what it’s approved for. I’ve tried every darn combo of anti dep meds and am hyper sensitive to the class of the usual treatments. I do not feel high, I just feel like my old younger self, sans stifling depression that had me bed ridden as well. I’m pleased to hear that ALKS-5461 is scheduled as well, thus verifying that this drug does indeed work.

    My dose is 2mg 3x a day. And that seems to work for now. I have experienced horrible withdrawal in the past from cease of use of SSRIs. I have taken narcotic pain meds in conjunction with major surgeries. Ceasing those class drugs was not even close to the severity of withdrawal from the likes of cymbalta. At any rate I am optimistic, for the first time in years. Depression runs in my family. To have it finally under control by means of suboxone, is fine with me.

    I was told that I’d have to manage it just like any other disease, say Diabetes for example. If one had Diabetes, would they not take insulin or whichever treatment for as long as they needed? I never ‘liked’ the idea of being dependent on any drug. As a former athlete, it was humbling to come to terms with this condition. That being said, if I have to take it for long term, again, it’s better than laying in bed. Good luck to all of you.

  • Patsy Keller November 28, 2014, 3:47 am

    It works! Very very well for depression! I have first hand experience. I took it for Opiate withdrawal and noticed my mood stabilized and I felt NORMAL! Luckily I have a good psychiatrist who is also a licensed suboxone doctor. I hope this message gets out to those who are struggling with major depression. Try it!

  • Red Eileen December 29, 2014, 8:24 pm

    In the state in which I live Suboxone is expensive and must be paid for in cash. Is this a universal experience folks, or is it attributed to my spotty insurance coverage? If Suboxone successfully treats depression in a self-medicating individual, must that person also take an anti-depressant and wean off of Suboxone eventually? Many anti-depressants I tried did not work, made for more anxiety, or just stopped working. Suboxone is like a miracle drug. Just sayin’!

  • Vi January 10, 2015, 5:36 pm

    I have battled depression for years but had the bigger issue of addiction and chronic pain due to birth defects. I was recently put on a low dose of Suboxone to treat my opiate addiction and my pain. I immediately noticed that I was no longer depressed. I feel so normal no cravings, my pain is reduced considerably. Plus I am no longer depressed! I can’t help but feel I found a miracle drug that is meeting all of my needs.

  • JOE January 11, 2015, 1:08 am

    Hello folks, I have been on over 30 different meds. nothing and I mean nothing worked. I have always had a job with a large corporation’s and hide my illness for 30 years with self medicating. Then one day I went to the dentist and he referred to a oral surgeon to remove only one of my wisdom teeth, by the time he got the tooth out he had broken it in half which was a terrible pain so he prescribed me Percocet and after taken 2 I thought to myself where have you been all my life.

    I had not felt that good every, also I developed a dry socket and had to go back in his office which was fine because he gave me a script for more Percocet. Well after they were gone I had a buddy that had his back operated on and he started selling me OP 40s next thing I know I was taking 35 to 40 every month. He was cut back by his doc, so left me out in the cold. Then I had read there were several methadone clinics close to my home. Long story short the DR. decided to put me on Buprenorphine and wow this stuff not only took the cravings away but took GAD and major depression away that day… simply unbelievable!

    That has been over 2 years ago and still feeling normal. I read all I can about the new treatments and they do sound promising however getting this on a fast track to the FDA can be only a start. What we need to do as a whole is to write your Congress and Senators and the FDA to hear us all. How many more of us need to commit suicide before they realize to approve these treatments? But until then, we need to pray for all to end these lives of misery. Carry on my brothers and sisters.

  • Michael January 22, 2015, 8:12 pm

    I’ve been depressed for two decades and like many of you have taken every SSRI available and many more for “augmentation”. It’s a merry-go-round of failures, withdrawals and ultimately the helpless feeling that nothing will help. Not so good for depressed people. But Suboxone can provide immediate relief for depression.

    I was able to enjoy a couple years of my life until I landed in the office of a psychiatrist who wanted me to “get clean” from addictive substances. That was a year ago and I’ve felt worse than ever. He rushed me through the detox process and I still feel symptoms of opiate withdrawal, like extreme sensitivity to temperature. Along with the return of a disabling, suicidal depression.

    Yet each psychiatrist offers the same basic formula. An AD augmented with something and maybe a little something else for anxiety. The fact that I haven’t killed myself yet or tried lately shouldn’t be “good enough.”

  • Chris February 13, 2015, 7:22 am

    I’ve been on suboxone for 12 months for a previous longer term codeine addiction. Upon starting Subs my desire for opiate pills, ssri anti-depressants, muscle relaxant pills, you name it; immediately stopped popping all other pills. My chronic nerve/muscle spasms around my sacram/glutes never returned after commencing Subs. The other wonderful thing about Subs is the ceiling effect and the fact that less is more with this drug.

    I went as high as 24mg and almost over night cut back to just 2mg. For this reason I don’t think people will “poop” out like other medications including ssri’s. It gets challenging weaning under 1mg but my pain is still blocked and any dysphoria is minimal. Finally, Subs is a powerful drug and I know that when I wake up each morning my brain is screaming for the buprenorphine which is the main activating ingredient. But that can be the case with many drugs. I would like to see it formulated as an antidepressant and more readily accessible for when other AD meds have not worked for people with chronic depression.

  • H.D. Garver March 9, 2015, 3:29 am

    Suboxone (Buprenorphine) works very well as an augmenter to reduce depression. Been able to reduce my other meds to small doses. Bupernorphine is safe as an AD – especially since its antidepressant power is reduced with higher doses! (Usually over 2mg). For me, 1.5mg is the magic #. New studies of its efficacy have been completed (& more are ongoing) at the U of Pittsburgh. However, studies showing its AD ability have been around since the 80s. Doctors need to know that this is a very safe medication that can save lives.

  • Heather March 22, 2015, 7:28 am

    Wow, can’t believe how far I had to scroll to comment! I am in tears with everyone’s story. I too have suffered with depression, social anxiety, since childhood. I lost my father to depression/anxiety in 2008, and I went downhill from there. My family psychiatrist gave us all Valium after his death, and my addiction began, since 18 I’ve tried every antidepressant, anti anxiety medication, nothing worked, except opiates.

    Problem was I couldn’t get a grip and my tolerance couldn’t be controlled. I suffered ulcers, which started diladid in the hospital, methadone upon release mixed with other medications that made me gain 80lbs, and I could not keep my eyes open. I found an amazing doctor that suggested buprenorphine, I’ve been on it for 4 yrs now, I’m 37, had perfect blood work, opened my own business, got married, lost 100 lbs, I’m smoking hot now!! Haha! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

    I don’t get high from the medication, I do though have issues at the pharmacy, be a use I’m prescribed for opioid dependence, they treat me like a criminal, wherever I go. I just want to be normal, and leave the “addiction” part of my life behind. When will the FDA realize this medication works! I have no side effects after 4 years, and my dose has remained the same. We all just want to be happy.

    • Peggy May 19, 2015, 4:30 pm

      This reply is specifically for Heather. Like you, suboxone works great for me and I plan to take it for the rest of my life. I had just one remaining thing that bothered me that was that I was treated like a criminal at the pharmacy when getting my suboxone filled. My suboxone doctor told me to try small, individually or family-owned pharmacies. I found one and they have no judgement; they are just happy for my business. I really lucked out because their price on suboxone is a little more than HALF what I was paying. I live in South Florida. Good luck!

      • Mary January 17, 2016, 10:49 pm

        I too feel like the lowest life form on this planet when filling my script! Why does it have to be this way? Is it a crime to want to feel normal and happy, legally? I recently had to get a new doctor and he started writing the words “for addiction treatment” in big letters on my script!!! Why??? I felt so ashamed!

        I told him that I was no longer at risk for relapse, that I take it now to manage my depression, after almost 3 years. That’s when he started writing this on the script! Rediculous! People need to get educated especially the government and FDA on this medication and treatment for depression!! That’s why I am trying to speak out and tell my story! :)

  • DR April 9, 2015, 11:55 pm

    I have suffered from anxiety and depression since I was about 11 years old. I started using drugs in my teens and quickly became addicted. I started on an antidepressant when I was 18 and felt so good I decided to go back to school. However I continued to use drugs and my mood disorder became progressively worse. I took Suboxone to get off opiates but continued to use cocaine. In 2007 I stopped using cocaine and in 2010 my mood disorder was under control and I discontinued Suboxone.

    Over all those years I had taken different antidepressants, anxiolytics and mood stabilizers. Most worked in the beginning, but eventually my symptoms came back. Finally in 2011 I decided to go on a MAOI. I started on Nardil and it worked great but I gained about 40 pounds and slept 3-4 hours a night. So I switched medications again but nothing worked. My depression and anxiety progressed into daily panic attacks and my doctor did not know what to do. He had mentioned that low dose Suboxone has shown improvement in treatment resistant depression.

    But I really did not want to take it for that reason. Finally in early 2014 I was in his office crying. I could not live like this any longer if there was a chance that something could improve my quality of life, because at that point I had none, I needed to try it. He started me on 2 mg of Suboxone and I immidiately felt better. Life was no longer a struggle and my anxiety was gone.

    I started doing things I enjoyed in the past again. It has been a year now and I still have things I need to work on, but Suboxone has improved my quality of life so much. I hope it continues to work. I am no more “addicted” to Suboxone than someone who is taking Prozac. I have some knowledge of pharmacology and have read that it’s antidepressant effects are due to its action on the Kappa subunit of the receptor. Kappa dysregulation can be found in people that have no history of addiction.

    Antidepressants are only 60 percent effective. There needs to be options for those of us that they do not work for. And once a drug is FDA approved for a condition it can be used off label to treat another condition that it has been found useful for. In fact many percentage of prescriptions are being used off label. I am almost 40 years old now and have finally found relief from what I have suffered from most of my life.

  • anonymous April 28, 2015, 12:50 pm

    So I wanted to comment, even though it’s something I never do, but I think it’s important to add my experience so this topic can be taken more seriously. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life. Not knowing the title of my struggles until I was older, I just thought I was strange and different than most of my peers growing up. I felt different. I was never motivated or excited like other people, I never was able to speak publicly and had fears I knew that weren’t normal. But I did my best to manage without medication. After I had my son my thoughts became irrational and I fell into a bad post partum.

    Due to television and more public awareness of depression I knew that I might have something deeper wrong with me than just being weird. So I sought out help. I was put on several antidepressants that did not help and most made me feel even worse. I got so defeated I stopped treatment. And months later I spiraled to the lowest I had ever been. I then found myself writing a suicide note to my then 3 year old son, asking for his forgiveness and that I needed to be gone so I wouldn’t be a burden on my loved ones any longer…my husband came home early that day and intercepted my plans for termination on life. He immediately called help and I saw a new doctor.

    After trying so many antidepressants I was certain she couldn’t help me. But going through so many doctors I was able to express myself better and understand my symptoms more. So she put me on wellbutrin. And within 2 weeks my life had never looked so bright. I had felt a way I’d dreamed of feeling. There were moments that I felt like I was on drugs that I didn’t particularly like but it wasn’t bad enough to stop taking. My life took an immediate turn. I was motivated, I got into the best shape of m life, my sex life was alive again, my husband felt loved again, I was an awesome, present mother…life was great. For about 9 months.

    Then I slowly started feeling some old emotions creep back. Oh let me rewind and add I was also on a low dose of Valium because it did trigger my anxiety more. But I didn’t even take as prescribed, meaning I took less, my Dr made it very clear the danger in benzos and the possible addiction. So I only ever took as needed. And yes, I did need it and it helped me a lot. But just like the wellbutrin, in time, the low dose just wasn’t effective anymore and it wasn’t a medication I wanted or was willing to increase. So I eventually thought, well maybe it stopped working because I don’t need it anymore. So I went off. And I was back to my old self.

    I was past my post pardon and thoughts of suicide, but my gloomy old self was back. The lazy unmotivated worthless partner and mother. And it just wasn’t acceptable. I just refused to continue on living with hopelessness. So I did some online research. I read about people taking pain pills to treat depression and I tried that. It was probably the best anti depression I had ever taken. Better than the wellbutrin, but the down side was the high effect I didn’t like. The itching, the coming down when I was out, enjoying the buzz a little too much, I knew that wasn’t the way. But between the 2 being depressed or on pain pills, I’d rather be happy productive and addicted than the other. But my search wasn’t over.

    I knew there had to be some balance of depressed and high. I just wanted to be happy. My friend came to me when she heard of my story and told me about suboxone so I did some research. I thought, why not. The first time I took 4mg and felt amazing. I did puke and felt I took too much but it lasted all day. It had all the pros of pain pills without all the cons of pain pills. It lifted my spirits and I finally had hope again. I didn’t feel high but I felt happy. I felt the way I knew I wanted all along. The feeling I had been searching for. It wasn’t a buzz but I knew when I had taken some and when I hadn’t.

    I just had an overall sense of well being. And excitement for life. As if I had just won the lottery. I have now been taking it over a year now. With my dosage varying from month to month. But never more than 6mg. And that a very high dose for me just to get through a tough patch. It’s normally about .5-1mg at a time, 3-4 times a day. I’m torn on what to do. I’m on such a low dose that I could ween off in weeks and be fine. I’m in no way fearful of withdrawal. I’m fearful of being sober again and back to my hopeless self. But I am taking these illegally because there aren’t any doctors here that would even believe my story.

    It’s such a new drug and so many people abuse it that it’s hard to have a doctor with an open mind and heart willing to hear you out. I’m not ready to quit bu i hate the way I have to get it and I certainly hate having to depend on something to get me through the day. The upkeep does get annoying and it isn’t cheap. I can say after all this time I have noticed that I don’t get any euphoric feeling, but it I like my cup of coffee in the morning. I can’t drink caffeine because my anxiety and can’t take any kinda booster, they make me feel worse. So I don’t get that extra boost like most people that I so desperately need.

    So for now, I’ll continue the subs until I feel I need to stop or just can’t get them anymore. But I’m hoping if more people speak out more research can be done and people like me can get the kind of help we deserve. If an addict can be helped, I should be able to get the same kinda help. I was born this way and had no choice in the matter. I’d love for more research to be done and hopefully before I die I can see a change in the health care department that starts taking depression more seriously and making it a priority to save more lives. I could be dead right now. I have suboxone to thank for giving me a few more years with my loved ones.

    • congrats September 23, 2015, 8:53 pm

      Congrats on being able to live your life fully! I would like to offer a word of warning, coming from a multi-year Suboxone user: the withdrawals are MUCH worse and last MUCH longer than anyone thinks. Even taking as little as 1mg a day can cause extended periods of withdrawals if not done right. Weaning down slowly over months is the right move. I have first hand knowledge as I was on a dose of .5mg for over 1 year and still head withdrawal symptoms up to 5 weeks AFTER taking my last dose. This time I’m weening off much slower. Lesson learned.

  • Josh July 12, 2015, 9:37 pm

    I’ve been on suboxone several different periods this one being the longest. Outside of an addiction I also suffer from severe generalized anxiety and manic depression with PTSD and other mental issues. After reviewing myself and taking my treatment more serious than at any other time. I’m realizing that not only has it calmed my addictive desires but it has as well performed miracles to my mental health state. If anyone would wish to contact me concerning this feel free because I’d love to share the benefits I have received through this medication. I feel better now than at any other time of my life. All thanks to suboxone and my fortitude to stay clean and happy!

  • Zeek July 13, 2015, 8:29 pm

    I accidentally found suboxone to treat my TRD during recreation use. It made me feel so normal and feelings of well being. I was trying to get sober at the time from alcohol. I started buying it on the street. I told my therapist how well it worked. Come to find out that my primary physician was licensed to prescribe sub’s. It really changed my life. But after being on it for two years at the highest dose its effects have worn off. So my doctor has me on sub’s, wellbutrin, and adderall was just added. I weaned myself off sub’s then restarted again. This combo is working great… O:-)

  • zeek August 6, 2015, 3:50 am

    I’ve been on suboxone for two years now for TRD. My doctor was very liberal and also had put me through the ringer of antidepressants. It no longer works, but was the best thing that helped me. Now my doctor has put me on adderall and it does nothing. I’m wondering if because the subs made my tolerance so high or depleted it all together. Back to where I was two years ago and that’s not good. If anyone has experienced this I’d like some feedback or opinions why adderall won’t phase me.

    • Mary January 17, 2016, 10:30 pm

      Are you taking both suboxone and adderall together? I take Vyvanse 40 mg first thing in the morning, then suboxone 8mg around 4 or 5 PM and Wellbutrin 300mg before bed. Together they are perfect for me! I could probably quit Wellbutrin, but I am too scared. I like how I am now and don’t want to change it.

      But I have to do it in that order, I feel like Suboxone overrides the Vyvanse if I take together. Maybe try that?? You may need a bigger dose of adderall? Or talk to your doc about Vyvanse, it’s a longer lasting form of adderall. But definitely take them at different times of the day! Good luck! :)

  • joanne August 15, 2015, 2:46 am

    Hi it is truly amazing to find this site and read about all of your experiences! I have suffered depression/BPD since my early teens and have been on every antidepressant known to man. Nothing helped so I started to self medicate, I am 38 now and have suffered alcohol abuse and heroin addiction all in the name of wanting to feel normal!

    I know you guys can appreciate how truly one can go to the extreme of trying anything even hard drugs for some relief. Being put on a subutex program to come off of heroin was a revelation. I’ve never felt so at ease with myself and the world around me. Wonder drug. I’m also lucky that I’m in London and you can get this on prescription whilst engaging in a recovery program. Love and light to you all.

  • Tim September 8, 2015, 7:05 pm

    There is no doubt in my mind suboxone is a powerful antidepressant. While I personally use for opiate issues I can see the use for battling depression. It’s benefits are powerful at low doses <2mg on the long term; as well as it's ability to continue working (me 7 years). One word of caution to non-opiate users or those wanting to use for only its antidepressant nature…if you can, wait for ALKS-5461 to be approved.

    Suboxone's high affinity for the mu-opioid receptor gives a long half life (good for its purpose) bad for when you don't have any. While the withdraw is less than say heroin by a good magnitude; it lasts much longer (maybe months), and PAWS can be even longer. I personally would love to see some research into ALKS-5461 use with long term users of Suboxone; if a viable replacement. Most long term users use only to feel 'normal' and would love to use without the fear of WD's. I myself volunteer! ?

  • Susan Bonacorsi November 19, 2015, 2:49 pm

    I have been very very sad for years actually to the point of being suicidal. Suboxone has given me back hope and my smile… it works.

  • Kathi Hepp December 3, 2015, 2:23 am

    I’ve never felt better than when I was taking Suboxone. Right now I’m really struggling to find an antidepressant that works. I’m suicidal. I really wish I could be prescribed Suboxone… As it is now, I basically have no life. Will Suboxone ever stand a chance of being prescribed for those who have tried everything under the sun to no avail? Just wondering…

    It would be a dream come true. Plus it helps with my back problems. Why doesn’t the FDA work for what people such as myself who suffer day after day. Some days never leaving my bedroom while I contemplate making my suicide appear accidental. I have no life. Suboxne would be a life saver. -Kathi

    • Alison February 25, 2016, 4:33 am

      Have you looked at the suboxone website and called that number? Maybe you can find a licensed psychiatrist or physician to prescribe it to you.

  • Sam December 11, 2015, 7:40 pm

    Dear sir Bodkin, I am from the Netherlands an interested in your research concerning TRD an buprenorphine. I am resistant for about 5 years. No medication helped me. I am on 50mg of parnate. I have no addiction history. My psych is very liberal and we tried 0.4 mg (2x 0.2) of temgesic/subutex a day. After 1 day I had 50% relief. A godsend.

    This lasted 5 days and now I am in the place where I was. I understand the possible addiction, so I am now in a dilemma. Should I quit, wait longer, up my dose? This because every day contributes to the addiction and withdrawal I have to face when it is not working. I would appreciate if you from your experience could give me some advice.

    The most people who have success have that from the beginning and are not crashing within a week. So what are my chances if I continue? Could e.g. 1mg do the trick? I will give myself an honest chance, but don’t want up ending with a necessary withdrawal. Now after 2 weeks I still have a quick way out. Greetings.

  • DG January 13, 2016, 2:56 pm

    Suboxone would be a great medication to treat not just treatment resistant depression, but depression as mentioned from substance induced disorder. Some people may become prone to bi-polar disorder, which either the drugs triggered it to come to fruition or the actual disease was worsened through drugs. What suboxone does for many is aid not just with opiate withdrawal, but through the specific mechanisms on neurotransmitters but also a specific receptor called dynorphins.

    Too much dynorphins can cause extreme dysphoria, which many addicts, especially methamphetamine users have. This is why suboxone must be studies more as to the effects of whether it aids on an acute level in dealing with the methamphetamine detox and withdrawals or even longer term use in preventing the depression, anxiety, irritability that comes with stimulant use disorder. Suboxone could have many many positive outcomes for those suffering from severe forms of both substance and non substance induced depressive disorders. It lowers anxiety, has anti-psychotic properties (indirectly) and decreases extreme stress levels.

  • Mary January 17, 2016, 10:16 pm

    Suboxone has saved my life… It pains me to think back at my life without it. For as long as I can remember, going back to my adolescence, I have been an angry, sad, high strung, moody person. My drive to be perfect, unlike everyone else in my family, addicted to some form of drug, led me to become a very depressed, anxious, angry woman. Depression and drug use runs rampant throughout my family and ancestors.

    Many suicides and overdoses leading to death my family, even in 3 of my 20 year old cousins! I was completely against drug use as a teen and young adult. So much that I isolated myself from my family because they had some form of addiction. As an adult, I began to have problems socially and at work due to my anger, perfectionism, and depression. I tried EVERYTHING, many combinations of depression treatment with no success.

    I ended up self medicating with opiates, despite my aversion to drug use. I had a series of major surgeries that lead me to pain pills. I found that for the FIRST TIME in my life, I could feel JOY! But of course it was only temporary, and lead me to needing higher doses to feel the “joy” I longed to keep feeling. After a few years of this I went down a dark road, I can’t even bring myself to talk about it with anyone.

    I am so ashamed of my behavior but it eventually led me to Suboxone. That’s the good part. I have now been on it, along with a stimulant for well over 2 years almost 3. I cannot begin to tell you how “normal” I feel! At least this how I think normal people feel??? I am applying for nursing school this month, my family relationships have drastically improved, and I am HAPPY!

    For the first time in my life I am honestly happy. I can live a normal life, I can function in society, and acompish my goals. It feels so good to say that. I have just turned 36, I am married, and a mother of 2 boys. I feel as though my life has just begun. As for the future, it scares me to think of being on this medication for life, but at the same time I DON’T want to go back to life without it!

    I know everyone is different, and this medication is not for everyone, but I KNOW what depression is and if you are struggling, and have tried all other avenues, this may be worth a try. It angers me that the government has such control over everything! There are too many success stories of depression and suboxone treatment that have worked so extremely well to be IGNORED!!!

    A doctor I first went to told me that other countries have been using this drug to treat depression, with success, for many years. Why is it that in the United States of America, one of the best countries in the world, it is being denied to people who could benefit from it? The only down side to this medication, is the stigma that goes along with it. I hate how people treat me when they find out I am on it, and how the pharmacists that fill my script every week, treat me.

    Another downside is how CRAZY strict it is regulated! Why is it that you can obtain pain pills so much easier than this medication??? It makes no sense to me! I am sorry this is so long, I just wanted people to know my story and how it has helped me. I truly am a better person inside and out! I am a better wife and mother, I feel content. No anxiety, no sadness, no despair, and no anger! Thanks to Suboxone, I am happy to be ME! :)

  • Howiecat January 29, 2016, 4:01 am

    Anyone know if taking naltrexone with subutex (buprenorphine) or even with suboxone – would basically mimic Alks-5461? In theory, the naltrexone should act just like the samidimorphan (or whatever it is called?) in Alks-5461. Thanks for any help.

  • Charlotte February 19, 2016, 11:59 pm

    I can’t believe what I am reading here – it. echoes everything I have said to my prescribing clinic but they just won’t listen. After 10 yrs on subutex 12mg to 1.2 now, they are forcing me to quit and I cannot find anyone else in UK to prescribe. Like most of you I suffered crippling depression – it killed my mother as. no meds/treatments worked for her but because I was an addict I came across subutex by chance and found it a revelation – no high just suddenly engaging in life.

    Now however I am in total panic as I find it tough at 1.2 compared to the 2mg which was ideal and I know I can’t cope with losing my only lifeline left. Does anybody know of any Dr who will prescribe long term in the UK. My doctor in Cornwall says he wants me off within 3 months as I was an addict 20 yrs ago and it is not legal to prescribe it as an anti-depressant. I have begged him and explained that other long term drugs are prescribed for sleep issues and valium which is equally addictive, so why not subutex when it is the only drug that works but he is adamant that the guidelines must be abided by – surely if I choose life on subutex as opposed to a life devoid of all meaning and isolation without it.

    I should be able to make that choice. I understand 100 per cent that I have been able to function and work solely down to this one drug. I also have tried normal a/d’s as my mother did and they make me feel abnormal and strange – subutex does not make me high it just balances me into being able to function enough to get by and when I was on slightly more, made my life engaging. I also underwent interferon/ribaverin treatment for HepC which heightened my depression during treatment and left me afterwards feeling far worse than I was before the treatment.

    This treatment exacerbated all my problems and left me with major issues which once again can only be helped by the subutex. It is so isolating as you cannot talk even to friends about this issue due to stigma and people without depression are on another planet so simply don’t get it, it means having to act out all the time and never share your true distress and is a very scary and lonely place to be.

    This forum just resonates so much and I found it by chance looking for a doctor to prescribe for me. I don’t want to risk buying online as you could be buying anything – how would you know it was safe?? Good luck to us all and lets pray the Dr’s listen to their patients and start to prescribe a drug that works when there are no real answers out there in the drugs they offer as AD’s now.

    We are made differently and if this helps us when nothing else can – please stop judging and do the decent thing and be guided by our own findings on using this drug for the right reason. Don’t then take it away from us!!!

    • SYLVIA ROWLEY May 20, 2016, 5:44 pm

      Hi Charlotte. I also live in the UK, have been prescribed for around ten years & have used buprenorphine for approx 15 years. I have exactly the same issues. I have to attend a substance misuse service in order to obtain a prescription which is to treat depression/anxiety, despite not being a substance user.

      As you are aware, this is due to the rules around prescribing. I have recently had my dose of 4mg daily reduced to 0mg overnight due to doctors negligence & error. They expect me to go a full week, to suffer full on withdrawals, only to see me next week (the earliest available appointment) to re-prescribe me the drug. The rules are backwards, unaccommodating & deeply unfair.

      I too need the drug to function, work & lead a normal life. The way I am treated is disgusting. I too am forced to look elsewhere which puts me at risk. It bothers me that the people writing my prescriptions hold the strings to my life & that getting a prescription is becoming increasingly difficult.

      The current service treating me since 2015 is a private company, government run which is paid on results. Very concerning. Any drug can be prescribed ‘off label’ if there is clinical evidence to support it’s continued use even if it is prescribed for a use not intended. Your doctor is not entirely correct. This is the route I am going down in order to secure the drugs that work for me.

  • Shawn February 28, 2016, 8:49 pm

    Like many others I tried all the usual bogus ADs and none worked. In fact many of them made my life living hell. I found comfort in opiate pain killers and spiraled into a life of addiction. After many years I finally went to treatment and found the one true AD thats works for me… Suboxone! I just cant believe that this isn’t a more common AD. The conservative republicans and psycho tea partiers have attached so much stigma to something that they couldn’t begin to understand. “It’s an opiate so it must be from satan.” Addicts aren’t bad people, we are SICK PEOPLE.

  • Shannon March 4, 2016, 12:46 am

    In 2008 I was diagnosed bipolar and like most struggled with medication. I also had an addiction to pain medications. I started taking Suboxone daily in 2010 and still take it religiously today. During this time I have not needed the bipolar medications. I am a productive citizen that works a 40 hour job and I care for my husband and 2 kids successfully. Occasionally I have some up and downs, but for the most part Suboxone has kept me stable and functional! I would LOVE to join some type of study that researches the benefits of Suboxone in bipolar patients! I know that it truly has saved my life and several friends I know!

  • ABDUL MAJID March 12, 2016, 9:02 pm

    Suboxone lowest dose is very desirable for humans who have pains in their bodies along with their low mood. This medicine raises energy, focus, concentration and stamina to face life challenges. Naturally subo balances the brain/heart biochemistry. This is the gift which every body should struggle to achieve; may be through medication which balances and stabilizes human personality. With best regards.

  • Amber September 4, 2016, 7:33 pm

    Hi. I recently started taking Zubsolv for opiate addiction but I also got on it because after taking it off the street, I realized that it helped my depression. Although, I also realized that after a few hours after taking it I begin to feel sad. Not sure what’s up with that.

  • Car_guy September 27, 2016, 11:55 am

    I just typed for an hour and the link crashed. So disappointed. I’ll try to re-write it and post later. Ugh. Have a great day. In my experience it has a dramatic effect for someone struggling as myself with the “black hole” when nothing else works or cause more issues from normal treatment plans. If your doctor has never experienced your pain find another one.

    Most of the doctors out there don’t even read the package inserts and just do whatever the pharmaceutical Rep tells them. (Picture a cute young blonde sorority girl from the south). Not exactly who I want messing with my neurochemistry. Lol. I’ll be back soon. Gotta do my morning prayers, meditation, reading in the Big Book, gratitude list (5 things). Love you guys. I wish I could be there to go through this with you.

    So I’m going to leave you this prayer. God, I offer myself to thee. To do with me as thou will. Relieve me of the bondage of self so I can better do thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bare witness to those I may serve through thy power, thy Love and that way of life. May I do thy will always. Amen, Amen, and Amen.

  • sharon larson October 16, 2016, 4:59 am

    God bless each of you. Suboxone didn’t help my depression, so I appear in the minority… and once again I have to live with the fact that AGAIN, IT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME. But I am very happy that it gave nearly all of you the miracle that many of us have been praying for decade after decade. Maybe the unforgiveness in my heart is what is causing me not to receive God’s miracle.

    • Kyle November 12, 2016, 2:08 pm

      Sharon, it’ll happen, maybe not when we want it too? But just keep searching. I wanted this 15 years ago, only now are things coming together. Don’t lose HOPE, please hold on to it and when you’re not expecting things, that’s when it’ll change.

  • Kyle November 12, 2016, 12:59 pm

    I’ve been on the subs for about a week and in my opinion it is saving my life… MY LIFE! I really can’t believe how much it is helping me with my addiction and depression. Obviously my doctor and I will see what the future holds, but as of now, good God it feels good to be alive again. Not high mind you, I just feel well. I’m optimistic about my future and that hasn’t been something I’ve felt in 15 years or more.

  • Nancy December 4, 2016, 1:14 am

    I am astonished, and so very hopeful after reading all the positive testimonials here. I am 54 and have suffered from MDD, GAD, panic disorder agoraphobia for 20+ years. I am homebound for nearly 10 years. I have isolated myself from friends and family. Although I certainly didn’t know it at the time, I suffered from anxiety and dysthymia as a child and teen.

    I knew that I was not like the rest of my friends and peers, which in itself was very painful. I was once told as a young adult by my brother’s psychiatrist that I was one of the most painfully shy persons that she had ever met. I was about 16 when Quaalude use and addiction was becoming an epidemic. When I tried my very first one, I finally felt what I thought normal should feel like.

    Gone was my daily persistent anxiety and social awkwardness. I used whenever I had the opportunity. I didn’t know that I most likely suffered from low endorphin production or something similar. Later in life, after suffering from the above mentioned diagnoses, I had a major surgery and was given Morphine in the hospital and a prescription for Percocet.

    Through the years, I had been prescribed nearly almost all of the tricyclics on the market, the SSRIs, the SNRIs and other medications by this time with little to no relief. The side effects and adverse effects were unbearable at times. I came to realize that I have TRD, although no doctor spoke those words. I seriously considered ECT. My daily life consisted of, and still does, moving from bed to couch several times per day.

    I have become indifferent to life. Suicide is not an option, although I will say that I’ve played out several scenarios in my mind. I’ve even wished for an incurable disease to take my life, one for which I would seek no treatment. This is embarrassing and painful to admit. Life is supposed to be cherished, a precious gift. To the point, the Percocet prescribed after surgery drastically changed how I felt on a daily basis.

    I have a family member who sympathized with me and kept me supplied for 4+ years until recently. The Percocet quit working way before I finally decided to detox. I was sick and tired of being dependent on something that was no longer working for me, and withdrawing on my own scared me. I was proud of myself for detoxing, but immediately went back to those dark times x 10.

    I did consider Suboxone prior to detoxing, but why substitute one drug for another just as addictive? Had I found this forum earlier, I would have opted for the Suboxone, no doubt. One way or another, I will go this route in the near future. I do hope that the FDA continues with the trials and does the right thing and acts in the best interest of us mentally ill human beings who deserve quality of life.

    Can you imagine how many lives that will be saved from suicides? Thank you all for sharing such intimate and private information. I wish the best for each and everyone of you.

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