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Why Antidepressants Stop Working + Solutions

Many people are taking antidepressants to treat major depression or one of the many other conditions (i.e. anxiety, PTSD, OCD) for which they are prescribed. Antidepressants are clinically effective based on scientific research, which is why they are accepted as being first-line treatment options for depression. For certain people, taking antidepressants have improved their life to a significant extent.

Those that were previously crippled with overwhelming anxiety and/or hopelessness are now not only able to function, but are able to thrive. A major problem occurs though when someone who had been relying on an antidepressant to help them function suddenly realizes that their medication no longer works. A person may experience feelings of panic, returning sadness, and unwanted anxiety.

Why do antidepressants stop working? Tolerance.

Most medical professionals claim to not know why antidepressants stop working, even some psychiatrists. They claim that there are unknown reasons why antidepressants stop working for some and that it must be a result of “bad luck” or “individual differences.” While we know that antidepressants may work for a longer period of time in certain individuals, it is likely that they have diminishing returns over time – this applies to nearly every drug.

In reality it is relatively easy to figure out why antidepressants stop working. They stop working because a person builds up “tolerance.” In other words, your nervous system and brain become tolerant to the effects of the chemical that you have ingested over an extended period of time. Though the drug may work great for the first few months, eventually the drug will have rewired your brain functioning.

Specific reasons why antidepressants stop working

The most obvious reason that these medications stop working is that your nervous system becomes tolerant to their effects. This leads to a diminishing effect over time, thus requires either more of the drug, or a period of time off the drug for future benefit.

  1. Tolerance: This is the number one reason why your antidepressant medication may have “pooped out” or suddenly stopped working out of the blue. You may have been doing great on the medication, but seemingly out of nowhere your depression suddenly returns. When tolerance is established, not only could your original depression return, but the antidepressant side effects may become more prominent.
  2. Brain changes: There is evidence that taking an antidepressant is capable of changing the way your brain works within 3 hours of taking it. That’s right, the first dose of the antidepressant that you take is already rewiring your brain and making profound changes. Over time, the antidepressant medication has created so many changes, that your brain functioning becomes different, and eventually it stops working.
    • Activation: There may be changes in what parts of your brain are activated and how your brain functions compared to how it functioned prior to you taking the antidepressant. Due to the fact that most doctors will not bother to look at activation changes, you won’t really know what is different, but you can bet that the functioning of certain regions has changed.
    • Brain waves: There is a very good chance that your brain waves have also changed as a result of differing levels of neurotransmitters as well as changes in activation. You may have more slow wave activity in certain regions that require faster wave activity and vice versa. These brain wave alterations may have been influenced by the drug.
    • Neurotransmission: The levels of various neurotransmitters become altered over time when an antidepressant is used. Let’s say you’re taking a medication that’s mechanism of action involves inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. Over time, your serotonergic functioning and serotonin levels become altered (possibly depleted) because extra serotonin is being used up. This is why the medication may stop working; it no longer has the fresh supply of serotonin like when you first started the drug.
  3. Adrenal fatigue: Some antidepressants (e.g. Paxil) are thought to essentially mine the adrenal glands over time. In other words, due to the potency of some SSRIs and the increase in serotonin, the body responds by increasing the amount of adrenaline secreted. Over time, the adrenals essentially burn out, and the beneficial effects of the drug wear off. When a person stops taking the medication, they may experience significant levels of fatigue as a result of the adrenal burn out. It will take time for the adrenals to recover if in fact the medication you were on resulted in adrenal depletion.
  4. Hormonal changes: It is thought that antidepressants can change a person’s level of hormones. Although the specific hormones that change may differ based on the individual and/or medication, some speculate that cortisol levels may increase throughout treatment. In any regard, some people end up with altered hormonal functioning while on antidepressants, which may influence the reduction in efficacy over time.
  5. Nervous system changes: There are possibly other changes that antidepressants make to our central nervous system. While we do know the mechanism of action behind the medications, we do not know all the specific changes that occur within the nervous system throughout treatment. Any drug is likely to alter homeostatic functioning over time and antidepressants do this to a significant extent, resulting in withdrawal symptoms long after a person has quit taking their medication.

Solutions: How to Make Antidepressants Work Again

First off if you are depressed, it is important to realize that while you may be depressed, antidepressants are not generally a great long term solution. Sure they may work for years in some people, but eventually a person is going to build up tolerance and need to either: increase the dosage OR withdraw from the medication to allow their body to recover.

Most people want the quick fix, so they increase the dosage. While there is nothing wrong with increasing the dosage, it doesn’t always work and/or may result in significantly more side effects. There are ways to make antidepressants work again, but you must be 100% sure that you want to take medication to treat your depression.

1. Increase dosage

This is the most obvious way to make an antidepressant work again. Let’s say you started at 10 mg of Lexapro and it stopped working after 6 months. The logical thing to do from the doctor’s perspective is to increase the dosage to either 15 mg or 20 mg. If you want to get the most benefit from an antidepressant, you should always be taking the lowest possible dose, and titrating up as slow as possible.

If you increase the dosage too much, the serotonin reuptake may be initially too powerful and may not result in the effects that you want. Titrate up to the next available dose and if that doesn’t work, then try an increment of another 5 mg up to 20 mg. There is no guarantee that a dosage increase will work, but there is a good chance that for most people, they had just become tolerant to the dosage that they were on.

Over time, the brain’s natural supply of serotonin and the influence of the medication has made significant changes. In order to bring back the initial antidepressant “spark” of efficacy, a dosage increase will likely be warranted. Like any strategy though, there are both pros and cons associated with merely upping the dose. A major “pro” is that it may work immediately, but a major “con” is that withdrawal will be significantly more difficult if you do eventually quit.

  • Pros: May work immediately, antidepressant relief, simple solution
  • Cons: Side effects, difficult withdrawal (if you ever want to quit), diminishing returns, may not work

2. Unrelated class of antidepressant

Since most antidepressants that demonstrate clinical efficacy in studies are serotonergic in mechanism of action, trying another serotonergic medication is less likely to be effective. Sure it may help mitigate the effects of low serotonin related to coming off of the medication that stopped working, but it will merely act as a patch for the low serotonin. If you give your brain and nervous system enough time to withdraw from the medication that stopped working, your serotonin levels will reset back to homeostasis.

Unfortunately this takes time (sometimes a really long time) and people with severe depression generally demand immediate relief. They can get immediate relief sometimes by switching to a completely unrelated class of medication. In the meantime, this will allow the depleted serotonin from the first medication to rebuild themselves. Let’s say now a person takes Wellbutrin which solely affects norepinephrine and dopamine – and it works.

Now the person can get relief from their depression, and not worry about further depleting serotonin. Of course they will face the dilemma of low norepinephrine when they quit Wellbutrin, but then essentially they maybe could switch back to their original serotonergic medication once they develop tolerance to the Wellbutrin. This may sound a lot like an addict replacing one drug with another, and the concept is somewhat similar, except in this case it is more consciously calculated.

Keep in mind that I am in no way suggesting that everyone is going to respond to a non-serotonergic class of medication. In fact, many people may get poor relief from atypical antidepressants, but some may find these other classes effective. One such example for the future will be ALKS 5461, which sounds promising.

  • Pros: New class may work well, allows serotonin levels to rebuild
  • Cons: New class may be ineffective, neurotransmitter chaos

3. Withdrawal / Drug-Free Period

The most difficult option to pursue on this list is that of going through complete withdrawal from the medication that stopped working and having an extended drug-free period. This would involve staying off of the medication for at least as long as the period for which you took it. You would want to work with your doctor and conduct a gradual taper off of your medication, and then do your best to function without any medication.

People that are pursuing this option will want to optimize their dietary intake, exercise habits, and stay as busy as possible. For those with serious depression, making it through an extended period without medication can be pure hell. However, on the flipside of the coin, assuming no medication that the person tries in the future works, they may end up feeling even more depressed than they would’ve had they just withdrawn.

Trying medication after medication with no break is like playing neurotransmitter roulette with your brain. Things are being altered, and you get thrown on another medication until something provides relief. Unfortunately in many cases nothing does provide relief and you continue trying medications that don’t really work. By taking an extended drug-free period, you allow your nervous system to heal and your neurotransmitter levels to rebound.

This strategy is akin to an alcoholic taking a break from drinking to lower their tolerance. By going for a significant amount of time without the medication, you are essentially resetting your functioning back to homeostasis or “pre-antidepressant.” As you fully heal, you will be able to go back on the same drug and should theoretically experience the same relief that was originally obtained.

  • Pros: Can reset the brain and nervous system back to homeostasis
  • Cons: Can take a long time, people underestimate healing time (and wonder why it doesn’t work), no other drugs can be taken during this time

4. Augmentation / combination treatments

For many people, an antidepressant medication stops working and their psychiatrist “adds” something to their treatment. Adding another medication is known as a “combination” treatment or antidepressant augmentation strategy. Essentially what is happening at this stage of the game is the person whose medication stopped working is now staying on their current medication because coming off of it would lead to further depression from low serotonin.

Additionally staying on their current medication will still work as a patch for the serotonin system to keep it running as it has been. The new medication will likely work on some other neurotransmitter in attempt to alleviate the depression. For many people this works initially because the new drug is essentially mining a different neurotransmitter.

Eventually the combination treatment may wear off and a third, fourth, or possibly fifth medication may get thrown into the psychotropic prescription arsenal. At this point, the person is likely overmedicated, but without their medications, they cannot function. The major problem though is that the person may not be able to function very well while on the vast number of medications.

Discontinuing multiple medications will be an even more difficult hell than coming off of just one. This is why withdrawal and a “break” earlier may have been a favorable strategy to experiencing absolute neurotransmitter chaos as a result of withdrawing from multiple medications. Like all strategies, even combination treatments have a shelf-life of efficacy before they stop working and/or doses need to be increased.

  • Pros: May work well initially
  • Cons: Creates further neurotransmitter chaos, most difficult withdrawal, extreme side effects

5. Antidepressant roulette

When I’m saying “antidepressant roulette” here I’m referring to a psychiatrist essentially testing you on all other medications in the same class, and then if those don’t work, trying a bunch of other medications. While this strategy could certainly fall under the headliner of trying “unrelated antidepressants,” in many cases psychiatrists will first try drugs related to the neurotransmitter that was targeted by the first medication.

This strategy may be temporarily helpful for some, because they may notice that a new drug provides a little bit of help based on a differing mechanism of action. In other cases, switching to a drug like Prozac may mitigate the transitional effects of the first medication and may in fact help make a person numb to their depression. Even drugs within the same class work differently, so therefore a new drug could work – this is what your psychiatrist is hoping.

The only problem with this strategy is that for many people, drugs with the same classification are not going to provide any relief. In the best case scenario they will provide a little relief, while in most cases they may not change anything. Sure they will help keep serotonin levels up to prevent a crash you’d experience during withdrawal, but they will not generally provide the relief you are seeking.

  • Pros: May be helpful, may act as a “patch” for serotonergic systems
  • Cons: No relief, may feel even worse

6. Psychotropic roulette

Lastly, a psychiatrist will likely engage in psychotropic roulette. If nothing is working, psychotropic substances will be thrown at you, some of which will be relatively potent (e.g. antipsychotics). Ultimately it is up to you to decide what you take and what you will not take. Personally, I would never take an antipsychotic medication due to the significant health risks and dangerous side effects.

In any regard, you won’t know what you’re going to get because each psychiatrist will handle things differently. One may want to try a mood stabilizer, another an antipsychotic, and another may be interested in trying a new antidepressant with an adjunct of T3 thyroid hormone. At this point it is neurochemical chaos in your brain and your nervous system has become extremely fragile.

You can only hope that something will eventually provide relief, but something that does may elicit unwanted side effects. Had you conducted a gradual taper off of your initial antidepressant that stopped working, you may be ahead of the game. But at this point you are so far deep in neurochemical warfare, that it’s difficult to even make decisions – so you just follow recommendations from your psychiatrist and pray.

  • Pros: Something usually will help
  • Cons: May not work, side effects may be awful

Which solution / strategy is the best?

There is no “best” option as there are benefits and drawbacks associated with each one. For most people with serious depression, coming off of a medication is tough to do because people believe that there will always be some sort of psychotropic relief available. In many cases of “refractory” depression, medication fails to provide benefit. In some of these cases, a person had initially found medication to be helpful, but then it stopped working and post-first-medication, nothing worked.

In order to really allow your nervous system / genetic homeostasis to reset itself, you likely need to spend a significant portion of time off of medication. For people with major depression, this is a counterintuitive option and one that may not be smart for everyone based on the degree of difficulty. However, assuming most other pharmaceutical treatment options don’t work, staying off of them and giving your body time to recover would put you in a more favorable position than creating further neurochemical chaos.

The body and brain are amazingly resilient and will recover to their pre-antidepressant state if given enough time to heal. However, the time they need to heal is highly individualized – therefore no specific timeline can be stated. It is ultimately up to you to choose your destiny and what you believe is the best option for dealing with your depression in the current moment. If given enough time to recover from the drug that “stopped working,” your tolerance will reset itself and eventually the initial dose will have the same effect that it had when it started working.

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23 thoughts on “Why Antidepressants Stop Working + Solutions”

  1. I have been on Zoloft for past 12-13 years. Started 50 mg and moved up every few years to now 150 mg for past 5-6 years. It has again began to lose effect. Psychiatrist recommended adding vyvanse as she says Zoloft can deplete dopamine and that may be why I have experienced this “poop out”. I am uncomfortable taking a stimulant every day and possibly dealing with a new medication that I will become addicted to.

    I cannot function without the antidepressants due to major depressive episodes and strong family history of depression. Feeling very overwhelmed by these decisions and feel like my psychiatrist does not understand the hesitation to try these new meds. Very frustrating.

  2. I’ve commented here before (on June 14th) and I wanted share my thoughts on the ‘poop-out’ process. My ‘drug holiday’ from escitalopram started on the 22th of August this year. This SSRI didn’t seem to be working anymore last April, so I increased my dose from 2,5 mg to 15 mg. This seemed to alleviate symptoms (I have a single intrusive/unwanted thought) for about a week but then it stopped working entirely.

    I was on escitalopram for about 6 years. Before that I was on fluvoxamine, which worked very good, but when I stopped it the intrusive thought came back after a few months. When I restarted it didn’t work anymore. I think the situations are similar as 2,5 mg of escitalopram isn’t much.

    I decided to try without meds, but six months later I’m still going up and down in mood and frequency of unwanted thoughts. Despite mindfulness meditation, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and generally taking good care of myself. I’m anxious about starting a new med as I’m afraid it won’t work.

    I got a prescription for sertraline, but maybe 4 months without medication isn’t enough. I can’t find anything about online, except for this article, which says you might have to wait as long as the period you took it. Well that sounds like a horror-story, waiting 6 more years!

  3. I have been on bupropion the generic for Wellbutrin for quite some time now and have really been wondering if it works anymore. Two points I want to make. First, while generics are supposed to be identical to brand name, in the case of bupropion there is much anecdotal evidence that with this drug anyway that may not hold true.

    I remember hearing a report on NPR talking about this. One of my friend’s psychiatrist’s even brought this up. He compared bupropion to Wellbutrin as comparing cheap dollar store paper towels to bounty paper towels. I want to experiment this on myself.

    The second point relates to doing thirty minutes of moderately intense cardio each day, not just leisurely walking. There is something that it does to your brain. One of my psychiatrists never stopped stressing this. He said it is more powerful than the best antidepressant out there.

    • I have been on Wellbutrin SR for 20 years at doses between 600 and 200 milligrams. Still on 200 milligrams. I make sure that the pharmacy I go to can get the name brand which is sometimes hard to do. The generic form doesn’t work at all. I’ve had this checked by other people knowledgeable about pharmacology and they say the fillers in the generic form are different thus making it act differently. You will get a lot of blowback from people saying it’s the same medicine. Don’t believe them – it is not. The name brand is a lot more expensive but completely worth it.

  4. Hi, I’m on these medications – seroquel, abilify, paxil, epavil, synthroid, I also take omega 3’s daily along with remeron which is an anti-depressant. Now I started to take remeron only recently (I’ve been on these meds for about 5 years) and at first it worked wonders for my anxiety and obsessive/intrusive thoughts. The next day it was still working but a bit less well, then the next two weeks it is only slightly working compared to the first day.

    Is this because of the fact that remeron works with my serotonin as does my other meds also? I am worried I might lose some effect of my other meds if remeron stopped working like that. I even tried one time to increase the remeron dose but its been a day and a half and I’ve had no change. If you can let me know what you think id appreciate it! By the way your article is gloomy, but really intelligent and cool. Thanks!

  5. Wow, thank you so very much Gloom for the excellent knowledge/information!!! I am at this moment in a critical life situation deciding what direction to take while stuck between the 2 evils — withdrawal and tolerance from Lexapro. I have been on Lexapro for a tension headache to start with in 2009, hooked after 2 weeks sample even since. 2.5 mg for the first couple years on-off using like a pain killer, then up to 10 mg for 3 month late 2012-early 2013.

    After realizing the true problems of all meds induced, I started weaning off myself down to 2.7mg later 2013. got the first ever panic attack, scared to hell then hold at 2.7, restarted micro tapering 2014 until now down to 2.2mg (upped dose couple times to 4.5mg somewhere) and speeding tapering due to severe and sudden drug reaction (poop out?). The reaction is getting so severe (throw me into coma like status with each tiny drop of the liquid Lexapro) that I feel I have to get rid off the poison ASAP, but at the same time withdrawal is catching up quickly on the other side.

    I have been struggling these days every minute wondering if go for another drug (Prozac as the #1 recommended for future tapering consideration), or just continue the quick taper to stop. its so hard even I know the basic cons and pros of each anticipating complete disability giving up my job. I am more clear after reading your article and will just bite the bullet and ride it out without continuing messing up my brain.

    I hope you would consider to share your story when you feel so to help all those still in the deep hell suffering and feeling lost. Thanks! lex_anger2

  6. Thank you so much for this article! My GP (I’m Dutch) never heard of the term ‘poop-out’. I don’t see a psychiatrist at this moment, so I can’t ask anyone but I’ve found enough stuff about it on the internet.

    I’ve been on escitalopram (Lexapro) for 6 years. I have intrusive thoughts (actually one thought, a sort of ‘mind-pop’ which got me depressed and anxious). 8 years ago I started with fluvoxamine (Luvox/Fevarin) and took this for 1,5 years. When everything was great again (I was in therapy as well) I tapered off. But a few months later I relapsed and started with the drug again.

    After 9 weeks on a high dose I noticed that it wasn’t doing anything for me, so I went back to my GP and switched to Lexapro. It got me back on my feet after 3 weeks, which was amazing. In the last 12 months I’ve had a lot of stress in my personal life. Got a little depressed, but my intrusive thought stayed away. When things got quiet again I had a major relapse.

    My intrusion was back! I panicked and increased my Lexapro dose from 5 to 10 and then 15, but nothing happened. I did experience side effects like suicidal thoughts, I cried all day and my muscles twitched. Couldn’t sleep either. It’s been almost 6 weeks ago and I don’t feel any better.

    My new GP isn’t too happy about me taking this kind of drug and asked me if it was an option to taper off. Wasn’t sure, but after reading your article I’ve decided to lower my dose to 5m and eventually try to stay off it entirely. It seems there’s no use in switching to another SSRI. I’m afraid of side effects from drugs like Effexor or Anafranil and I don’t think I want to take this.

    Tomorrow I’m going to see a psychologist. I really want to work on my anxiety and intrusion again. I’m wondering, can I take 5-HTP and/or Rhodiola or do I need to get back to homeostasis first? I don’t want to go back to SSRI’s or other pharmaceuticals, because I think the poop-out will occur again sooner or later.

  7. Thanks for the bleak but frank article. It seems to me there is a wall of denial around these drugs, censorship even. Believe me, whenever I have raised the topic of withdrawal on supposedly “legit” forums the comments are instantly deleted. The only places I see the reality discussed tends to be personal blogs.

    I have been taking Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat) for over twenty years. I started to get suicidal thoughts in the fifteenth year. I am now in the sixth year of tapering. The past five years have been Hell. The latter three years worse than the preceding ones. I took it for OCD but the symptoms I had were limited and mild whereas now I am a wreck, barely able to function to the point that I even experience hallucinations.

    I have almost every type of symptom, even ones I had never imagined possible. I started seeking medical help with this in 2013. I live in the UK. On the British NHS there is no such support. Nothing. Nobody will even discuss the notion that withdrawal has done this to me. It’s surrounded by a wall of silence, or just disregard.

    All that I am offered is more of the same or different drugs. The drug roulette you describe. I have been agonizing over whether to start a different SSRI. But my side effects will be back and I don’t want these years of withdrawal to have been for nothing. I am offered no advice on this from the medics. One gave me a prescription for Citalopram in one appointment saying I should take it then in the next meeting, a month later, told me I was right not to take it!

    Complete contradiction. Every so often I look online to see if anything shows up. This time I found your piece. Arising out of it is a question. Based on what you say… recovery takes as long as the time taking the drug… does that mean I will take twenty years to recover?

    As things stand the only thing I can contemplate is suicide. But I would like to see the truth about the prescribing of these drugs exposed before I do it.

    • A problem is that the professionals are going by the available literature on these drugs, and unless they’ve used them first-hand, they fail to recognize that withdrawal severity, side effect severity, long-term effects – are all likely underreported and/or blatantly disregarded. They aren’t conspiring against patients, they just don’t have the truthful information because it’s not published. As a professional, it wouldn’t make any logical sense to go by anecdotal experience of the patient, so they claim that these adverse events do not occur.

      To answer your question, I would speculate that recovery to pre-drug state would not take 20 years – especially given the plasticity of the human brain. An extremely nutrient-dense diet, strict sleep regimen, daily exercise, fresh air / sunlight, supplements, stress reduction, and psychotherapy will likely expedite recovery efforts. I would strongly recommend finding a psychotherapist (that you actually like) and avoid believing that your situation is hopeless.

      Additionally, working with a *competent* and *empathetic* psychiatrist (that you actually trust) could make a huge difference and may help you find a lower-risk, and effective medication that helps you manage your current state of affairs. Wish you nothing but the best, appreciate you sharing your experience.

    • I was on Remeron ativan and wellbutrin for 20 years before I went into withdrawal with the Ativan and the Remeron. I guess they stopped working, but more like went paradoxical or even toxic giving me months and months of suicidal depression out of nowhere. So I thought I would get up in the morning and want to kill myself for the first 2 hours scream at the sky for help and suffer.

      The first day I went cold turkey off of the Remeron was the first day in 9 months I didn’t have to fight myself out of that hell for the first 2 hours of the day. I stopped it cold turkey and I’m almost done week 3. It’s been absolute hell, but I’ll tell you what I can take anything but the severe depression. I mean there’s been horrendous itching and body aches where I can’t get out of bed and other horrid things.

      The depression didn’t come for about a week into the withdrawal. I thought I had it made it. I have now started a low dose of Seroquel in the evening and we’ll see if that will help with the withdrawals. I put myself in the hospital earlier this year where they tried to hack my Ativan down 1 milligram every 2 days.

      The DT’s were unbearable so the psychiatrist prescribe Seroquel to help. In hindsight I was still on the mirtazapine or also called Remeron so it probably wasn’t acting the way it should. It makes me tired like mirtazapine. Today it seemed to help with the withdrawals some. Tomorrow I go see my psychiatrist and hopefully we’ll get some more answers. I think about suicide every day.

      I don’t think this article was bleak at all. I think it was one of the most informative articles I’ve come across in my months and months of searching the internet for answers. I don’t think that it will take our brains 20 years to heal. Especially if you are eating properly and taking care of yourself the best you can.

      I wish you the very best. This is a worldwide pandemic – it is no fault of our own. The best people we can turn to are the ones that have gone through it or who are going through it.

  8. While your article was remarkably dismal, it had some good information. Hey, sometimes reality isn’t “fun,” right? For those of us with major depressive disorder, it usually isn’t, so let’s throw even more hopeless stuff our way. Yay! I’m one of those “difficult to treat” people. I tend to have very bad reactions to most medications with the added effect of them not actually working either.

    The first time I took Wellbutrin it was brilliant for about 4 weeks… until I broke out in nasty hives all over my body. Fast-forward 20 years, ten different failed medications, mountains of therapy, giving up and doing nothing and worsening depression. I try Wellbutrin again because it’s one of the only things that ever worked (Effexor was the other one, but gave me nasty lesions).

    I increased the dosage super slowly to try and avoid the hives and it worked! Sadly, the medication itself doesn’t seem as effective. Now keep in mind that my body had YEARS to “reset” itself between very brief (two to six weeks) stints on antidepressants. I’d always get very discouraged when something didn’t work and give up for a long time. Doing nothing clearly doesn’t work and things got SO bad suicide started sounding really peaceful.

    When I turned out NOT to have cancer I was kind of pissed that my death was “stolen.” Weird, right? Anyway, I wonder what people here think of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Is this likely to simply be a scenario where I’d be frying my brain and essentially lobotomizing myself? The last thing I need is to be depressed AND stupid.

    • Al, Discuss ECT (Electro Convolsive Therapy). I know it sounds scary, but they have come a long way with this treatment. If you go to the Mayo Clinic web site, they have a very informative article on how ECT is administered. They claim an 80-90% success ratio with this treatment.

      I have not had it performed on myself, but my doctor has suggested it as a safe and viable option since I am on several meds at max dosages. If going “Cold Turkey” without meds is not working and your body cannot tolerate meds that do help, this might be an option to consider. I hope you feel better soon.

      • ECT had me like e zombie after 6 of the 12 treatments I was supposed to take. A year later, still med resistant, they “offer” it again. I cried. Again, only 6 of 12 treatments. Only this time I’m sitting on the sofa and seriously, staring off into space DROOLING! My husband called the doctor who performed the treatments.

        Anxiously, he said, oh, no, she shouldn’t be doing that! No s*** Sherlock! Now most of my short term memory is gone. So just ask yourself, which percentage do you want to be? I certainly wasn’t even in the 80%! I only tell my story because it was FAR from worth it to me! Don’t do it!!!

        • I had 12 treatments of ECT 12 years ago. While I stayed at a hospital for a month. It lifted my depression for only 2 weeks, and then it came back. I can’t recommend it to anyone. I now have problems with my short term memory and my friends have noticed it. It’s like that part of my brain, just doesn’t remember information as well as it used to.

    • It’s not weird at all feeling disappointed at not having cancer. I’ve been on some form of antidepressant or other longer than I haven’t throughout my life. 5 different forms and times of counseling (it’s really rubbish here in the UK). I have pursued a slow self destructive path in the hope that something will happen as I’m not *strong* enough for suicide.

      It’s a very sad and lonely life to live with heavy depression that you cant seem to shake no matter what you try. I really hope with all my heart that you find a way out and happiness. After 25 years of this I’m so tired I know no different.

      Self indulgent? Yes, definitely, but I’d sell my soul to feel different.

    • Have you looked into l-methylfolate? Google l-methylfolate. Some people cannot process folate into the activated form that crosses the blood-brain barrier and forms neurotransmitters.

  9. Maybe more people need to learn to deal with their problems the old-fashioned way, by actually improving their lives. Drugs that promise to improve your mood are generally bad in the long run, whether they’re antidepressants, opiates, or even alcohol. No judgment on anyone who chooses any of these (I’ve been on antidepressants for years), it just might not be a great solution to what is a very complex problem. This motivated me to talk to a doctor and start tapering off these meds.

    • Yeah, I tried just “bucking up” for a decade. I ended up in the ER on suicide watch. And you want to know the bizarre thing? I’m a major optimist. I have a great life, a supportive family, maybe not wealth, but I have enough. Seriously, I’m someone who looks at the sunrise in wonder every morning, loves to hear the birds tweet and all that.

      I run several miles a week, eat (mostly) healthy and meditate regularly. I can practically FEEL the chemical imbalance in my brain. Just like others can feel a hot flash, I can recognize a bad hormone rolling through me or neuron firing in a faulty way. No one has yet been able to figure out what is wrong but even my therapist agrees that this is obviously largely physical. So what’s the answer for people like me?

      • Thank you for this comment. This is me to a T. Right now I have started a tapering off of CymGen and it is very difficult. The thing is I have only just recently realized that the medication had stopped working some time ago. I wish you all the best.

      • Hi Al, I just found your post and I know it was from 2012, but it sounded just like me, and I was wondering if you are feeling better and if you are still perusing this site?

  10. I have been on some sort of antidepressant, antipsychotics or whatever since age 12. This article makes sense. I plan to speak with my Doctor and try to take a break as long as I can. I’m in a very bad state at the moment but feel like there is no where else to go. I feel that this is the ONLY way! I will Pray for help and strength, my best hopes for all of you. -Janet

  11. Hi, found your blog through looking for reasons my meds had stopped working. When I started getting great results from my meds I thought I’d finally got things together, until that all changed. Glad I’m not the only one. Now reducing so I can change to another med in the hope that will work as well as before.


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