Can SSRI's backfire on you?

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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1185
   Posted 5/8/2007 8:58 AM (GMT -6)   
My old doc put me on Zoloft, mostly for fibromyalgia, it's not a "normal" medication for it.. but has been known to help with the pain. I took it for close to two years maybe. I was given medical leeway to adjust my dosage on my own, up or down..(I was wayyy under normal dosages, so this was not dangerous). I started out at 12.5mg, then up to 25, then up to 50. I *thought* my pain was better at that dose. But I started noticing that I was *flat*. My emotional responses to things were not the same as they used to be. I don't think it did anything for the pain, I think it just messed with my head, which is the point of the medication. So I bumped down to 25mg. Took it for a couple months, and decided that small of a dose wasn't worth remembering to take it. So... while attempting to have another child.. I just quit taking it. Went through a small bit of withdrawal...more physical muscle stuff than anxiety.
Now, my head seems clearer, I can get my pain under control a little easier, and I am sleeping better. Is it possible that if you do NOT need a medication like that, that it can backfire? I do not have depression, have never been depressed.. do not need medication for depression, but that is what an SSRI is.
It DID seem to help a bit with anxiety, but more towards letting me get my own handle on it, than taking any away. Maybe that's the point of the "flat" emotions? Anyway.. I know at some point, the new doc will throw up his hands and suggest another SSRI, because there are not many treatments available for fibromyalgia. I know you will respond differently to meds, but honestly... taking a medication that is intended for a condition you do not HAVE, isn't it possible to make you worse?
I'm not procrastinating----I'm still doing yesterday!!!! 
I have no medical training, any medical opinions expressed in my posts are just that....opinions.

Co-Moderator for : Chronic Pain, Fibro

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Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 2433
   Posted 5/8/2007 9:35 AM (GMT -6)   
I think its safe to say that, like many medications, if you don't have the actual problem sometimes the medication will backfire. A good example is people who don't have ADD who take adderall (i.e. students who think it will help them focus), and then it just ends up making them wired and jittery. I think the same might be true for SSRI's, because its trying to fix a chemical imbalance, and if you don't have one, it could have some not so great side effects. I do know, however, that some people who take SSRI's for depression or anxiety to say that they feel more "flat" too, so maybe its just a normal effect of the med. Anyways, I know fibro is such a hard thing to treat - have you done the tricyclic antidepressants yet? I have heard those have better pain dissipating properties. My doctor prescribed amitriptyline to me when I was having bad neck and shoulder pain.
Good luck with everything :)
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 5/8/2007 5:00 PM (GMT -6)   

I dont think it will hurt if its not needed but I guess the only way to see if its needed and helping is to stop taking it to see what if anything happenremember we can get a strong placebo effect from all meds


recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 5/8/2007 5:20 PM (GMT -6)   
I've read in several places that SSRIs are bad about making anxiety worse initially, and that some doctors will even prescribe valium to help out until the adverse reaction wears away. Long term I don't think they're supposed to make anxiety worse but I guess anything can happen. Everyone reacts to drugs differently.

This isn't a medical opinion at all and certainly shouldn't be taken too seriously, but I've also heard it mentioned more than once that SSRIs just aren't good for anxiety. "Big pharma" influence supposedly had a lot to do with winning approval for these drugs to be indicated for Anxiety. But I don't know. I do read about a lot of people who have been helped by them, and the side effect profile (long term) is pretty minimal.

I believe Prozac is the only SSRI to be made available as a generic at this point...this is still a pretty new class of drugs. More will come out in the future. Until then (and even then) you just kind of have to play it by ear.
My Brain: My friend, My enemy: A blog to chronicle my attempt to recover from anxiety/panic disorder

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 5/8/2007 10:49 PM (GMT -6)   
My doc gave me Xanax to take through the really ugly start up period on Zoloft. It's really insidious, but debaser is right - at first you may feel worse on the Zoloft. That first 6-8 weeks can be hellish, and you need lots of support.

But Zoloft has been very effective for my anxiety disorder. My psychiatrist frequently prescribes SSRI's for anxiety.

I've experienced a bit of the flatness - but I'll take a little flatness any day over the hell I experienced with anxiety. : )

I'm pretty sure that Zoloft is now available as a generic.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 5/9/2007 1:10 AM (GMT -6)   
In the US, all are found in generic form except Lexapro. Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft,Luvox are all found in generic. Zoloft (sertraline) being most recently found in generic form.

Can SSRIs work against you? Sometimes. Can it make things worse? Certainly in the beginning it can make things worse. I am currently taking klonopin to help relieve anxiety as I have raised my dose to 300 mgs of Luvox for OCD. The side effect anxiety can be a problem for some.

Doctors who allow patients to adjust dosages without consultation are (I'm being kind) lacking in understanding. You must develop a steady state before increasing the dose. varying the dose will prevent the steady state from being achieved.

Again, no doctor. However, been through these issues doing my own research along with a Pdoc who is the Chairman of the Dept. of Psychiatry at a major teaching hospital. I truly believe an individual needs to see a Pdoc and not depend on a general practitioner when dealing with these issues.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1185
   Posted 5/9/2007 9:06 AM (GMT -6)   
But, the point of the medication, is that it was NOT prescribed for anxiety or depression. It was prescribed for pain relief. I dealt with the panic/anxiety caused by the fibro with Klonopin and education.. I no longer take any medication for them. I was taking a medication designed for depression, with the side of effect of sometimes helping anxiety, and some people get lucky enough it helps with the pain of fibromyalgia. I wasn't that lucky. My question, was the damage that can be done from something like Zoloft being taken when NOT needed, technically.

My doc gave me the option to go up from 12.5mg of Zoloft, to 50mg, in as many baby steps as I needed, until I hit a point that I was "comfy". I don't think he was lacking in was a trial..which didn't work. I was never hitting anywhere near a dosage to be dangerous. I just didn't care for the side effects, so I bumped it back down and stopped.

I just wanted other's opinions on whether trying another SSRI would be worth it. I haven't done a lot of research on them, my research has been mostly into pain killers, benzo's at this point. I'm leaning towards not worth it, the doctors have NO clue what will really happen... fibro is incredibly hard to treat and manage.

A PDoc would be worthless to me in this situation, really. I'm not medicating for anxiety, I'm medicating for pain. (or..not medicating in my case). My anxiety/panic comes from my muscles being tensed up constantly, and locking into spasms, and refusing to work. I have gone thru therapy a bit to deal with the acceptance process.. and even the therapist agreed I was pretty much in a hole as far as the anxiety.. mine I have to live with. As long as the physical condition exists, so will the anxiety.
I'm not procrastinating----I'm still doing yesterday!!!! 
I have no medical training, any medical opinions expressed in my posts are just that....opinions.

Co-Moderator for : Chronic Pain, Fibro

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