Really worried about Setraline, help please

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I'm a 61 year old male, very fit physically and on no medication. A recent event has caused me to become anxious and depressed (I've had anxiety and lowness issues at times for years).

I saw my GP today, having decided that I need to confront some major issues that have really blighted my life in some ways for more than 50 years, of which the very traumatic ending of my parent's marriage at a critical stage in childhood was just one.

Just having someone else know about things (I gave her a written account to read because I felt I'd be too overwrought to tell her verbally) has made me feel a bit better. (Yesterday I rang the Samaritans before I could decide how open to be with the GP, being worried about her being unsympathetic).

The GP was actually really kind and said she was amazed I'd been able to hold things together for so long in the way I had, bottling things away for so long. She is referring me for counselling which she says I could find very hard, and she has prescribed Setraline 50mg/day.

I've now read the leaflet and don't know whether to take them or not. It lists insomnia as a common side effect. Insomnia is something that has helping get me into my current state, I think, something I don't handle at all well. Moreover, I have never seen a more horrendous list of possible side effects, quite a few of which are things I'm prone to (eg dry mouth, swallowing anxiety). I know that she is very keen for me to take them, but I don't know what to do.

I would be very grateful for reassurance from anyone who gets on OK with this medication. I'm to see the doctor again in 3 weeks time.  

Thanks,

Dave

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  • Posted

    Tyr it. See how it works for you. They have to write side effects down its for liability issues not really for the patient at all. They never had leaflets when we were young. They just gave you medicine and said feel better. Rememeber that?  In terms of side effects you might get none. Do you drink soda? Are you aware of the side effects of that? They are horrific. Jittery, ulcers, nausea, it pulls calcium our of your bones, it can even remove rust off a car, anyway you get the point? Tylenol never would have been made public if it was developed in this decade it has so many potential side effects..Everything has side effects. And yes some are more likely to induce them then others. There only one way to know if this medicine is the answer for you and that is to try it. I have never used this medicine, but i will tell you i get scared the same way you do because we deal with so much already who wants more, but what if it works? Because if that one glimmer of hope id say go for it. Give it a few weeks or however long it takes to build up in your system and allows your system to adjust to it and see how you feel. You can always wean off it. I feel meds are a last resort and if this is where all this anxiety has taken you see if it works.
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    • Posted

      Thanks lisa.

      I'm sure you're right really. I have taken antibiotics in the past for infections, and I know that some of them list really bad side effects, and I was OK. I also know that my father takes enough different tablets to stock a pharmacy, but seems generally OK.

      I used to treat patients for cancer, using radiation, which is a really scary  thing to many people, but also really useful and effective, and I used to (hopefully) manage to reassure patients that it was worth having.

      I suppose maybe it's partly that I'm now having to admit to myself just what point I've reached to now be taking this medication. I will give them a try

      Dave

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  • Posted

    Everyone reacts differently to medication but I have been absolutely fine on sertraline. My GP said to take it in the morning to offset potential insomnia. Even if one person has had a side effect, they have to list it on the information so the major ones will be very rare.

    The side effects tend to only last a few days so I would recommend starting them when you've got a few days with nothing major planned, a quiet weekend or something.

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    • Posted

      Thank you kaff80. I'm sorry I've not replied sooner, wanted to reply last night but I had computer problems.

      Thanks for your reassurance and advice, I'll try them tomorrow, when I don't need to drive.

      Best wishes,

      Dave

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  • Posted

    Hi there, Dave.

    I'm a nurse and have also been on sertraline myself, for about a year. I now take 200mg at night and I actually find that it helps me to sleep.

    Those little leaflets that come with medication are mandatory. Basically, the drug companies don't want any lawsuits, so they list all the possible side-effects.

    Yes, I'm looking at the list right now, and it IS horrendous. However, the vast majority of people don't get any of the side-effects.

    I myself had a dry mouth for about a week while my body was adjusting to the sertraline - then that stopped.

    For a short time, as well, I had very slight difficulty with focussing, but that went away, too. I mean using my eyes, not focussing on problems.

    Never had any of the other listed side-effects at all. Remember that everyone is different - you are unique - so you may very well get one or two of the side-effects associated with sertraline, but unless they persist for more than a couple of weeks, try to tell yourself that this will be temporary.

    I started on 50mg, too. None of these meds work till you give them a month to let your body get accustomed to them. Indeed, you may feel slightly worse before you feel better. I went back to my (very supportive) doctor and gradually got up to 200mg of the sertraline.

    I am so much bettter now that I'm going to make an appointment to start coming off them.

    One other thing - sertraline is only one out of a host of anti-depressants.  If it doesn't work, there are loads more that your doctor can prescribe, so don't lose hope.

    I'm 59, so much the same age as you. I strongly suggest that you get some therapy as well as the sertraline. It has been shown in many studies that depression and anxiety get better much more quickly if the patient engages in therapy as well as taking the medication.

    I see from your post that your GP is already on to this, so that's excellent.

    I'm sorry you're feeling so awful at the moment. Message me any time you like if you want to. Love Tess

     

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your kind message, Tess. I wanted to reply last night but only had access to my (very old) iPad, which doesn't seem to allow me to use this website properly (I can't type in the message box for some reason).

      I felt quite OK for a while after the great relief of finding my GP sympathetic, but was very upset again later, and then had an awful night, hardly any sleep, crying and then my mind working overtime. At one point I decided to decline treatment, but I have now managed to talk some sense into myself. My real worry was that the counselling or whatever it will be might change so much about me that I've adjusted to for some 50 years, that what would remain would not be me!

      I've managed to convince myself that I would still be the same person that people already know, at least in the important respects, still hopefully empathetic and compassionate. I have never managed to let anyone come close enough to me to form a very intimate relationship. I honestly don't think it will happen now at my age, but if I could just fully comes to terms with the death of my mother (who died 15 years ago!!!), I think I'd feel much better. I am so sad that I felt estranged from the mother I worshipped as a small boy and didn't get the chance to properly forgive her before she died, for wrecking my parents' marriage. If I could come to terms with this, I'd be quite happy to live alone, possibly with a dog for company. (I normally get on fine on my own nowadays, really enjoy cycling and even holidaying alone). Oddly, whilst I'm certainly a loner in some ways, I find it easy to talk to strangers nowadays (what a change from me up to about age 40!) - or patients when I was at work. I was actually popular and well thought of at work, quite a laugh most of the time. I just clam up if conversation starts to probe too intimately. If I could manage my severe cleithrophobia, it would be a bonus. (This was ostensibly the reason I sought treatment, before I really opened my "can of worms").

      When I was desperately lonely at university in my 20's, still longing for a "significant other", I could listen to Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony and burst into tears and feel a great deal better afterwards. But I really must accept that what I am experiencing now is so much worse and I will start the Setraline tomorrow (had to drive to the shops today and so didn't try it today). 

      I hope I've not upset you writing this, and apologise if I have. I have no-one other than the GP at present that I've told this to.

      Many thanks for your reassurance regarding side effects,

      love,

      Dave

       

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    • Posted

      hi Dave

      of course you haven't upset me - not in the slightest - except I felt sorrow when you were describing your relationship with your mum.

      You've really opened up today, and the more you do this, whether it's on this site or with a therapist, you will find it benefits you.

      Love Tess

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    • Posted

      Hi Tess,

      Thank you. I do find it helpful to unburden here to focus my thoughts, i just wouldn't want to put anything which might be upsetting to anyone.

      I had a better day yesterday and debated hard about starting the Sertraline (managed to spell it right at last- perhaps I 'm fosusing better!). I was a bit concerned that my mood improvement might be temporary, so took the first one about 10pm.

      I thought I noticed a few sensations, but hardly anything. I read as normal (a light read) and fell asleep fine. The prostate woke me as usual and I was awake for a while with some sad thoughts and just a bit weepy. I had quite bad flatus, but was thinking that overall, I was very happy with how the tablets were affecting so little me.

      I woke up with the most tremendous start, as if a bomb had gone off under the bed. I often wake with a bit of a start, but as nothing compared to this. I had the most overwhelming feeling of terror I've EVER experienced, and my heart was pounding and arms really agitated. (Maybe a reall bad nightmare I've forgotten?). This stage passed fairly quickly, but was soon followed by nausea, and then I felt an urgent need for the loo.

      I somehow managed to get downstairs to the loo (I didn't want to wake my dad by using the one upstairs). I was very unsteady on my feet. By the time I was downstairs, I was colliding with things and barely able to stand.

      I had a bout of diarrhoea and propped myself against the wall feeling extremely giddy, and then, though my forehead was cold, i began to pour sweat from my forehead. I always sweat quite a lot when hot (It often drips from my cycling helmet on a hot day). But again, this was as nothing I'd ever experienced before. It was absolutley gushing and loudly hitting the floor. I managed after some time to get to lie down. Just a queasy stomach an heavy legs now.

      I am not taking any more of the tablets. I will ring the GP on Monaday to explain.

      Since unburdening myself to her, I have felt vastly better about myself. I now remember that I used to be able to acknowledge to myself that I had good reason to feel compassion for myself. I think this was somehow lost due to the guilt I've felt since my mother died, over not fully forgiving her (forgiving intellectually but not with that vestige of a hurt 10 year old's mind the deception I was implicated in). 

      I'm feeling positive and am determined to cope without the meds and fully heal with the talking therapy.

      (Sorry this has become so long-winded!)

      Love,

      Dave

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  • Posted

    Hi Dave

    I've just starting sertraline and like you read the leaflet and worried about the side effects. Anyway I started taking them a week ago and they really have helped with my anxiety and depression. They do say they take a while to kick in but I'm on day 9 and already feeling the benefits. The side effects have been bearable, slight nausea a bit dizzy slight headache first thing in the morning - but no insomnia and no dry mouth - everyone's different though so I would say try them and see. I felt I had no option as I was feeling so bad and had tried other anti depressants. I'm glad I did. I'm hoping in a few weeks that my anxiety goes away and I can start to get back to some form of normality. Feeling anxious all the time is exhausting and feeling depressed is no fun. Good luck.

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    • Posted

      Sabrina, I'm so glad you posted this. It just goes to show that we are all, indeed, different.

      I'm also glad that you're feeling benefit from the sertraline already. That's good news. Love Tess

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    • Posted

      Many thanks Sabrina, and apologies that I have not been able to reply sooner. It is very reassuring that you have not experienced the side effects which I am apprehensive about. I am going to start with a dose tomorrow morning and keep my fingers crossed.

      Best wishes and I hope you are soon feeling much better,

      Dave

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  • Posted

    Hi Dave, I started taking sertraline last September due to ongoing issues with stress and anxiety, I started at 100mg which was too strong for me so I dropped to 50mg I am going to be honest and say it was hell for about 8 weeks until they kicked in, it heightened my anxiety big time but other than that I had no side effects, I slept really well and it has take the edge off things but I also take propanranol along side these as and when for when I am having a really bad day! If I were you I wouldn't read the side effects as for someone suffering with anxiety it will only make things worse and you'll end up having all of them xx
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  • Posted

    Hi Dave, I have been taking sertraline since September last year and I'm not going to lie it was hell to begin with it took about 8 weeks to get into my systems and those 8 weeks I felt like I was walking on the edge, the tablets heightened my anxiety big time but I stuck with it and now I am no means cured but I feel a little better, I also take propanranol as and when to just to help! I never used to suffer with anxiety until I had a few health issues.

    I wouldn't recommend reading the side effects as your already anxious and reading them will only make things worse and you won't take the tablets or you'll be looking for the side effects and think you have them and your gonna die (been there done that) you need to take them and see for yourself how you react we all react differently! Other than my anxiety being made worse and night sweats I had no other side effects in fact one good thing is I slept really well which was amazing as I was never a great sleeper before x

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    • Posted

      Many thanks for this, Emma.

      I felt not too bad mood-wise yesterday, and wondered long and hard about starting the tablets, but finally took one at about 10pm, worried that I might have been lulled into a false state of security and that the sooner I got them started, the better

      .

      I thought I noticed a few sensations around my face, and some women on the TV seemed to have grotesque faces, but I don't know whether it was my imagination, or whether it was visual disturbance.

      I fell asleep fine, but woke in the night as I usually do (aging men's waterworks!) and was then awake for a while, but felt fine apart from quite a lot of wind. I thought, "great, I'll be fine with these things

      I then woke with an immense start with the worst feeling of terror I have ever experienced, someting I hope never to feel again, and the next half hour or so was hell physically, though nothing compared to the terror. I am not taking any more of the tablets.

      I admire you for persevering with the medication, to my mind that takes real guts, and I just wish that those individuals who sometimes find it difficult to empathise with those of us who suffer psychological conditions could appreciate what guts it really takes.

      I was beginning to feel somewhat better before I took the tablet because my chat with the doctor on Thursday had been such a huge help to me. I will now ring her on Monday to tell her that I've stopped the tablets and will cope and look forward to my talking therapy.

      Very best wishes,

      Dave

       

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    • Posted

      That's one of the main side effects of the tablets it will make your anxiety worse and it will make you want to chuck it all in cos the anxiety before was no way as bad as what it was before you started the tablets believe me I know how you feel! But it just means that it's doing something it is working!! Somehow you have to tell yourself that you feel this way because of the tablets it's hard really hard because your mind won't let you believe what your head is telling it.

      If I were you I would take the tablets in the morning as by the end of the day you should feel a lot calmer! I take mine at 8.30 every morning, I once was on another anxiety tablet and I used to take that at night and that made me feel terrible, I used to get heart pulpertations, sweats, shakes and wake up with a start if I managed to get any sleep that was!!

      The hardest part for all anxiety sufferes taking medication is getting through the first few weeks it's extremely difficult but it's worth it.

      X

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your support, emma.

      I am convinced that I do not need this medication and that in my case it was prescribed incorrectly, despite the GP's best intentions.

      She was originally going to describe a beta blocker for a specific anxiety issue (as far as I can deduce), but on seeing me for the second time, she must have decided, because of the state that I was in, that I had depression.

      The reason I was in the state I was in, I have now realised, was extreme distress that I had no-one I could unburden to (absolutely no-one), and that in raking into my past, I had opened unhealed wounds. Having, at times, extremely low self-esteem (I can seem confident, but it doesn't take much to knock me flat), I was in a state of anxiety about what to tell the GP. Would she judge me, think I was a drama queen, or narcissist? 

      She was very kind (which I am so unused to, chiefly because I usually never give people the chance to be nice, fearing rejection!) that I "lost it" again), and told me that I'd done amazingly well to hold things together given life events I'd had. This reminded me that I was once able to believe this myself (at a time when I was generally happy and pretty well-balanced). I used to believe in myself more, not because I'm a braggart, but because I acknowledged that probably many others would have ended up in the same boat as myself in the same circumstances, (instead of telling myself I'm a total failure, a thought that can come too easily).

      The GP's sympathy made me feel much better, so much so that I wasn't sure whether I needed the Sertraline. But I decided that maybe I'd better try it because she wanted me to, and I trusted her, and because I wasn't sure if my better mood was deception.

      After I had the terrible reaction to the drug, I gave myself a talking to, telling myself that my body deserved better than this horrendous treatment.

      I am pretty confident that I suffered serotonin toxicity. I take a lot of exercise, far more than the amount suggested to achieve a good serotonin level. I am convinced therefore, that I suffered a serotonin overdose due to the Sertaline. (According to what I've read, I should actually have gone to A & E).

      Much self-examination, helped by the awfulness of the experience, has, I am convinced, revealed the source of my problem. I was still feeling suppressed guilt due to events surrounding the death of my mother, 15 years ago, which I'd hidden from myself but not resolved. As a cancer treatment professional, I blamed myself for not realising that she had ovarian cancer (in fact, even consultants, scans etc missed this often very difficult-to-diagnose disease) and I blamed myself that I was not there when she died, (I'd left the hospital about an hour before, for reasons too complicated to explain briefly) and felt I was a coward. Mercifully, I had already said goodbye, and healed the painful rift which had grown between us (as I felt). Sadly, I did not see her very peaceful end: my memories are of some rather distressing events in preceding days. To see her fall asleep peacefully was sadly, a comfort I unwittingly denied myself and might have saved me much disterss (I hadn;t expected her to pass away so quickly).

      All of these things are clear to me now. I think I've become a better, more insightful person over this awful journey of the past few weeks, and am sure that further counselling will mend me, without the drug.

      I am not at all trying to suggest that Sertaline is not a great thing in appropriate circumstances. I just don't think it was appropriate in my case.

      Very best wishes,

      Dave

      (sorry this is so long!)

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    • Posted

      Hi Tess,

      It was only 50mg, but I can only assume that it must have been due to the fact that my serotonin levels were actually OK (I'm assuming you can OD on serotonin if you don't have a deficiency of it, but I don't really know. It seems intuitively right).

      I had got so worked up about "opening up" to the GP. The advice on mental health websites is "take a friend or relative to the consultation", but I had no-one. In fact, I feel that I've done damage (not too much hopefully) by raking up things with my father and sister about my mother, whose death also hit them very hard (and my father had been divorced for 35 years when she died).

      I've just been really cheered up because my half-brother (ringing to wish my father "Happy Birthday": he calls him Dad and thinks far more of him than his biological father) has told me to ring him whenever I need.

      Many thanks for your best wishes, I'll get there!

      love,

      Dave

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