Jun 25, 2012  •  In Depression, Personal

Experimenting with Drugs

One of the most frustrating factors in dealing with depression — at least for me — is finding the best medication (or combination of meds) for yourself. Back in my early twenties, I had tried various meds before finding the combination that worked best for me: Prozac and Wellbutrin.

This time around, since it had been almost a decade since I last took antidepressants, and because what worked in the past may not always be the case now, we are once again beginning the experimentation. Both my psychiatrist and I agree that trying the Prozac & Wellbutrin combo first is probably our best bet. But because starting with less drugs is always preferable to more, we have decided to try just Wellbutrin first.

Over the past two months, we have slowly increased my dosage of Bupropion XL (the generic form of Wellbutrin XL) — starting with 150 mg at first, then 300 mg, and now, at 450 mg which is the maximum recommended dosage. The reason for the increase is because I did not feel much difference with the lower doses…and now, at 450 mg, I do feel somewhat different.


(image source)

As with all drugs, Bupropion XL has brought with it a few side effects. The ones that I have noticed include:

  • dry mouth — this is actually good for me, since I never drank enough water in the past and now I am drinking lots
  • slight constipation — this isn’t much different from the constipation I experienced during pregnancy, so I just continue taking daily fiber supplements
  • occasional insomnia — once again, this is similar to what I had experienced while pregnant. Unisom, the sleep aid my OB had recommended, has worked for me in the past so I just pop one whenever I can’t sleep.
  • increased libido — J has enjoyed this tremendously ;-)
  • vivid dreams
  • decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss — but the weight loss could also be attributed to hot yoga

The above are all side effects that have been reported by others who take the drug, and they are all easily manageable so we are not too worried.

But what about my mood? Is Bupropion XL doing what it’s supposed to do?

I do feel a bit of a difference. I have more energy and my mood is slightly elevated. However, the contrast is so slight — less than we had hoped for and much less than what I remember from my past experience of taking antidepressants — that we will probably introduce fluoxetine (the generic form of Prozac) into the mix at my next doctor’s appointment.

I am fully aware that antidepressants — like many drugs — may only treat the symptom and not the cause. And I believe that in my case, antidepressants have, and hopefully will, help get me to a point where I can more easily diagnose and tackle the cause of my depression.

Let’s hope that the Prozac & Wellbutrin combo will once again be the best for me.

7 Responses to “Experimenting with Drugs”

  1. z:

    My sister has long struggled with depression and anxiety disorders, much of which has been in dealing with the medications that sometimes end up doing more harm than good in the search for the correct dose/drug. Since I’ve become her defacto caretaker, I am quite sensitive to the long-standing stigma surrounding any/all forms of depression and mental illness and their subsequent treatments. I really appreciate your candid thoughts on your own journey with anti-depressants.

  2. Stephniie:

    I’ve been a lurker on your site for quite some time now, but I couldn’t resist responding to this post. First of all, thank you so much for talking/writing about this so openly. Since a couple of months i have been ‘diagnosed’ with depression. My depression stems from my extreme fear of failure, and since this schoolyear it just started being unliveable. I have a constant anxiety in me, a feeling of being extremely nervous, constant hyperventilating and jsut yeah. It got so bad i was practically paralysed. I didn’t even dare getting up just to get food, it was horrible. I started going to a psychiatrist who eventually prescribed me antidepressants and i’m very grateful for that. But the thing is, i’m too scared to really talk about it with friends or family because of the weirdness of it all. People just assume that you are crazy or something when you tell them you’re on medication, or they just think you’re being a big baby and that there’s actually nothing really wrong. It’s just been tough :) and that’s why i really appreciate these post… Though we are in a completely different situation, me still being a university student here in Belgium and all, but i just feel like… Like I’m not alone, you know?

    • I too experienced this when I was first diagnosed with depression, leaving me to feel isolated, alone, and everything else you’ve described above. This time around, people seem to be a lot more understanding and sympathetic. I’m not sure if it’s because I have gone through it before, or because American society is so much more accepting of depression and antidepressants now than they were 10 years ago. Whatever the reason, I am truly grateful to have the support, and I wish you the same. :-) Thank you for de-lurking!

  3. Your post made me think of cases in which generics don’t work as well as brand names- just something for you to keep in mind as a possible reason why the meds aren’t working as well this time?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15218354

    Hope you find the combo that helps you shake this.

  4. Your post made me think of an experience I had with someone I know.

    He went to see a psychiatryst for depression and she took note of all his symptomps, which included how he felt about different things, frustration and anger etc and then started him on meds.

    After about two months she asked how he was doing and he said that he wasn’t feeling all that much better.
    She then started going through the list she had made originally and surprisingly things had improved quite a lot, just not noticibly in his mood.

    Please don’t think that I’m trying to minimise what you are feeling with my comment – it was just an interesting observation that we had with my friend – and it helped him feel “better” about his mood not improving all that much (mood isn’t really the right word to use, but yea)

    Good luck with this journey.

    • Coincidentally, at my last session with my therapist (I am seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist — the psychiatrist is mostly for meds and the psychologist is for more regular and frequent psychotherapy sessions), we were talking about all the progress I had made. And I am well aware that we’ve made progress — for example, I am no longer crying as much — but we both agree that we still have a long ways to go. Thanks for the encouraging story though. :-)

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