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Staying sober is an accomplishment in itself, and don't overlook the power you have within yourself to be where you are today.

As for medications, psychiatry is a difficult science because what is known is still vastly exceeded by what isn't. There's a lot of trial and error involved, because by it's nature, psychiatry simply can't be precise. What works for many people sometimes will backfire on a few.

I experienced this with Effexor, which I was prescribed for depression. It worked for a number of years, then sent me on the worst emotional/mental ride of my life. I became suicidal and filled with depression and rage and not much else. I decided to quit it on my own, and while experiencing the withdrawal symptoms (you can find discussion of these on numerous threads here), I began researching the drug online. In my digging I learned that in a small but measurable minority of cases, what happened to me on Effexor had been documented in other patients. One study I found was like reading the previous five years of my life.

I go to PubMed, Mayo, Harvard, British Medical Journal, and similar sources for health information, not Reddit and Facebook. I advise you do likewise. You want factual peer-reviewed info, not rants. That way you'll become a well-informed informed patient and can have more productive discussions with your doctor. You are your own best advocate.

I had been prescribed Effexor by a family doc long ago, and it passed through other providers over the years. As things turned bad and grew worse though, I kept my growing struggles to myself (big mistake) rather than try to figure out if I needed to make a change. I assumed I was failing, not that the drug was failing me. I only found a psychiatrist after landing in the psych ward (a place you want to avoid if at all possible). She initially kept me on the drug, but subsequently took seriously my opinion that I was in that small minority (+/- about 1%) of patients on Effexor who flip. I don't feel angry that she had kept me on it, I just think it was what we both now agree was a bad call. Doctors aren't perfect, they sometimes make mistakes, but they do want to help you. We tried something from a different medication class which so far seems to be working quite well. But even within about a week of quitting Effexor, and well before I got up to speed on the new drug, the suicidal depression that had dominated my life for nearly five years eased considerably, and the rage I had been experiencing (uncharacteristic for me) simply went away. I'm 100% convinced at this point that the drug was the driver of how bad it got. That doesn't mean it's a bad drug, it works for many people. But there are exceptions, and I was one of those. You might be in a similar boat with what you're dealing with. Everyone responds to each drug in their own way.

I'm telling you all this because I feel it's important to listen to yourself, something I didn't do for far too long. If you feel something is not working for you, or that the side effects are outweighing the benefits, discuss this with your psychiatrist. It sounds like yours is listening to you, but if you feel you're not getting anywhere, it might be worth finding a second opinion (and if you're seeing an M.D. but not a psychiatrist who specializes in this area, it's probably a good idea to find one). I would not advise taking yourself off a drug on your own like I did. It proved to be the right move for me, but it's risky. And with some drugs it can be dangerous. So go slow, but keep moving forward until you find the right balance. Do some research about what you're being prescribed on your own, but again, stick to credible sources. Avoid Reddit threads and the like. A lot of misinformation appears there, and you could easily put yourself into a worse place. Also, reach out to others. This is a good forum for discussion, because people are really helpful, and it's hosted and monitored by one of those credible sources I mentioned. The anonymity of online forums can help you open up to a greater degree than you might be able to do face to face, and you'll quickly discover that you aren't alone. Also, therapy and support groups are valuable. See what's in your area. And recognize that it might take a few dead ends before you find the road that works for you. But keep pushing towards it. When you're in the funk, it can be hard to even find the energy to do that. Believe me, I know. But keep trying.

Finally, I've linked this site on a number of threads here: https://emoodtracker.com. It's a free mood tracker where you can keep a log of your daily ups and downs. There's a spot for notes in addition to the graphs, and you can quickly build a data base on yourself and spot your cycles, and over time begin to see patterns and figure out what might have preceded a bad spell. Then you begin to recognize the warning signs. I've given my counselor access to my account and it's really been a benefit on that end in addition to giving me a better sense of what goes on in my life. She sees things I might have forgotten by the time the next session rolls around.

And when you're feeling down, remind yourself that you've been sober for six months. That's huge. A lot of people struggle to get that far, and many don't make it. You've got determination in you. Let that be your guiding light. And know that pretty much everyone who has found there way to this page is behind you.

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Replies to "Staying sober is an accomplishment in itself, and don't overlook the power you have within yourself..."

Very well expressed!

Thanks for the suggestion to use reliable, trusted references and avoid the social media nonsense.

That’s a lot of great information. Thank you. I will definitely take into account.

great response, going to check out mood tracking you mention

@depressedbutnotdead Thank you for sharing your experience and for your helpful recommendations and advice. There is a great deal of wisdom in your post and I plan to refer our Mayo Clinic Connect members to it when this issue comes up in other discussions.

I hope you continue to feel more the person you know you are. It is so important to listen to yourself and find the providers who will listen and work with you - just as you did.

Excellent story and good to think about many things. I too belong with the Mayo group and believe they help in many ways. I am a retired nurse and know it is important to get a second opinion. Thank you for sharing.