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Antidepressants may have saved this woman's life

Her struggle and pursuit for the right drug

Three Popular Antidepressants

by Krissie Rutherford

"I hated my life. I had suicidal thoughts."

Four years ago, Sarah Holden - whose named has been changed at her request- decided it was time to get help.

She broke down in her doctor's office. "I was bawling - I was overwhelmed," she says. "Anxiety, panic attacks, heart break, excessive sleeping, crying, depression, the works. I wasn't thriving to do anything. I had a lack of excitement for life."

A family history of depression coupled with a recent death in the family and the break up with her boyfriend of two years brought the 19 year old to the lowest she had ever been.

She went into her Toronto doctor's office knowing what she needed. "I said, 'I need help. I need medication and a psychiatrist.'"

Four years later, the recent York University graduate says her life has turned around.

The answer was Celexa, but it took her two years to find it.

Sarah left her doctor's office that day four years ago with a prescription for Paxil and appointments with a psychotherapist.


"I'm not surprised he gave me antidepressants that same day. I've known him my whole life - I think it was obvious that I needed immediate help," she says.

The printout she received about the adverse effects of the drug was the last thing on her mind. "If I had to fill out a survey on what the drug does and how it works right after I first spoke to my doctor, it would be blank. I just wanted help," she says. "I know it was a quick fix, but I was happy to hear it could possibly be the answer to my problems."

And at first, it was

Paxil immediately reduced her panic attacks and anxiety. But it also made her emotionless. "It took away my impulses and my feelings, and it also made me really tired."

After about a year on a heavy dose of Paxil, Sarah went back to her doctor's offce and back to the

drawing board. The answer this time: Effexor.

"When I started taking that, my sleeping patterns got back to normal, so that was great," she says. "But I stopped eating. And the worst part was my moods - I think Effexor made me more up and down- not manically, but I was either really happy or really upset - there was no in-between."

Back to the drawing board again.                                                             

"That's when Celexa came up, and that's the winner," she says. "I named the drugs Paxil Pete, Effexor Eddie, and Celexa Celeste."

They sound like superheroes, because for her, they are.

"There was a time when I didn't want to get out of bed and face the days ahead of me. I mean, these drugs probably saved my life. I feel like I'm living a normal life again. I'm how I was before I started the bouts of depression and anxiety."

After four years and three different drugs, Sarah has only positive things to say about Celexa. "Right now I feel like I'm not on any drugs at all. I'm not having panic attacks, I'm not really depressed all the time, but I'm not on cloud nine all the time either - I have normal moods now. I can be mad, and I can be happy, just like before I got depressed. My personality is back to normal and I forget that I'm on medication all the time."

Though she doesn't know of any long-term effects of the drug, she says she's not going off it any time soon. "In terms of effects on my liver, for example, I have no idea if this could cause problems down the road. All I know is that I feel like myself on this drug, and isn't that what matters?"


*Note: Experiences with antidepressants vary.

Another Personal Experience:
One Woman's Battle

Read an FDA report about the negative effects of paxil on adolescents.