Depression used to be well managed - now keeps coming back, even on meds

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I'm 70 years old (having a hard time with that) and have had depression for most of my adult life. Have been on antidepressants more or less continuously since I was 30, and for most of that time they have worked really well - enabling me to have a successful career, move from the US to the UK, get married and have a child (who is now 30). I had to come off the meds that were most helpful (imipramine, a TCA), because after all those years I started having severe gastric side effects. Nearly 4 years ago I went on to citalopram, which seemed to be working ok for a while. Then 18 months ago I got adult whooping cough and was ill for 2 months; it was a nightmare. It's been downhill ever since. My mood flip-flopped for months. Then last summer I started experiencing severe, scary anxiety symptoms - palpitations, sweats, unable to eat or sleep, fear in the pit of my stomach... The GP said I couldn't go on to a higher dose of citalopram (I was on 20mg) because of my age, so she switched me to 50mg sertraline. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist as well, who upped the dose to 100mg and added 300mg pregabalin. There were 8 or 10 weeks of hell (feeling sick, depersonalisation, sleep problems...) before all the meds finally kicked in - but gradually they did, and I was fine for a few months. Then about 6 weeks ago I could feel things sliding down again. I've never ever had another downturn so soon after recovering from one. I'm now seeing an NHS psychiatrist every 3 mos (I paid to see someone privately last summer). He upped my sertraline to 150mg, which made me feel so sick that I had to take the dose back down. I'm now trying 150mg every other day. I feel bleak, low, scared, and wondering why, after so many relatively stable years, I am now having these crashes so close together. I am struggling to find the motivation to do anything at all, much less the kind of active, creative life I used to have. And my poor husband is struggling as well. I do see a therapist, who is great - but I am wondering if this is how it has to be for the rest of my life? Has anyone experience anything similar? 

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  • Posted

    That's the problem with meds sadly, especially long term. Often they mask the root cause, which is better dealt with with therapy, with meds too if you prefer, i would see about a therapeutic approach

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  • Posted

    Hello Ronne

    Like you I am getting on a bit, sixty seven in August, and have been taking AD medications for about 17, on and off in my twenties and from my mid thirties I have been on Citalopram 20mg. I also take Amytrptalene at 50mg for a Chronic Medical Condition to suppress my pain and nerve/tendon damage.

    This year I had reduced the Amytryptalene from 75mg to the aforementioned dose, my own decision.

    As we get older we do not generally need the high doses of medication we had when younger. I take a varying dose of Opiates and even there if possible we reduce the medication dose, this also can lead to a reduction of NSID medications as well

    The problem you seem to have now is medication doses, the variaton and the changing of medication could be affecting you as you bounce around varying doses and medication changes.

    You have been on AD medications for a long time and your body will be reacting to not only your age also dose, in one way I suppose your body is addicted in some ways to the drug you have been taken since your thirties.

    You do not mention if you take other medications for example me for my PsA. this can also affect and react to the AD medications you are also taking.

    You would most probably benefit from a mediation review if other medications are taken and also a reduction to new levels because of age. This may be problem because of partial withdrawal. Only your Doctor or Therapist can help with this and you nee to discuss this with them

    I am not a Doctor I am a Patient like your Husband, I was informed to review my medications and I was trained in Pain Clinic for my Opiates etc.

    My ideas seem to fall on the point that a reduction as we get older may be a good idea as we do not know what is going to happen to us as we get older


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  • Posted


    Im sorry to hear about your battle with depression. I just turned 21 and have had it for a few years now. This is scary to think that I will still be battling with it for decades. (I lost my son to cot death)

    I went on Fluoxetine last year for a good few months, worked well for me. Then I decided to stop them because I didnt want to have to live off them long term. Now my depression is unbearable, pretty much back to square one.

    I wish depression just didn't exist, it is so complicated and deep rooted. I'm sorry I have no answers, I am going to counselling soon in the hope it will ease mine.

    Good luck to you


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    • Posted

      Hi Debz,  I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your baby boy; that's a devastating shock, and depression is a normal reaction to it. I'm wondering if you came off the meds too soon - I think they recommend that you stay on them for at least 18 months to prevent a recurrence. It's better to take medication than to have to live with depression, and there is no shame in it. 

      Debz, everyone is different, and there is no reason to think you will be battling with it for as long as I have. My depression did not arise as a reaction to an event, like yours did - it seemed to come out of the blue, though when I look back now I realise I was probably depressed in my teens and maybe even earlier. I grew up with a depressed and mentally ill mother, so there might even be a genetic predisposition. Everyone is different. It's really good that you are going to counselling. Talking through your feelings and exploring them with a counsellor can really help.

      Good luck, Debz - go well. xxx

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    • Posted

      Thank you ronne,

      I think I was the same, had some form of depression throughout my teen years too. You don't realise you have it when you are so young!

      You are probably right about taking the meds consistently for over a year at least, I didnt even think because I dont remember my doctor telling me that.

      I've started to think depression could be linked with genetics also, dads side of the family have a history of it.

      There doesnt seem to be a straight answer or reason when it comes to depression, I hate it! You can guess but everyday is an uphill battle, people dont know until they have it.

      I am so ready for counselling because lately I can't stand my mothers attitude on top of losing my son. I am going to go back on my meds for long term this time to see how things are, hope you find peace and a solution to ease your troubles!


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    • Posted

      Life can deal us some pretty nasty cards sometimes -- but hopefully learning how to deal with them can help us grow stronger. Good luck with everything, Debz. I wish you peace and fulfilment too. xx
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