Now she has a friend who had had panic disorder/OCD, she's had it years and is literally destroying her quality of life, so my relative chimes in "you do know that now that you've started taking psych meds you can never get off of them bc they change your brains chemistry.
Yes, they change brain chemistry, mostly reducing the amount of serotonin made and used in parts of the brain associated with anxiety and depression, however, this is not what produces the therapeutic effect. They work by encouraging the growth of new brain cells
to replace those killed, or prevented from growing by chronic stress hormone exposure. They also affect the density of some receptors. These effects reverse when the meds are discontinued.
Long term antidepressant use can have health benefits too. They slightly 'thin' the blood reducing the risk of heart attacks and ischemic stroke. There is also some evidence that they may protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Anxiety disorders and depression are often chronic conditions that wax and wane but don't completely go away, so you may require treatment from time to time. This is the case whether they are treated with meds or therapy.
Now that in itself frightened me, meds for life?,
They are no different than any meds. I've been taking antidepressants pretty much continually since early 1987, so a bit over 27 years, and my brain hasn't dissolved ye.....oh, bummer....
or when I get pregnant, do I still take them ugh..
Apart from Paxil (paroxetine), there is no clear evidence that antidepressants harm the fetus. Some studies have found increased incidences of rare birth defects, however, these have been mostly small scale and there is little consistency in the defects found which suggests the findings owe more to statistical 'noise' than an effect of the meds.
You need to also be aware that uncontrolled maternal anxiety and/or depression can harm the baby too, both immediately and in the longer term. Babies born to anxious or depressed mothers tend to have lower birth weights (PDF
), be born prematurely
and have impaired neuronal development (PDF
). As children and adults they are more prone to asthma
and to have learning difficulties
. They are also much more likely to develop anxiety disorders and/or depression later in life.
If you're planning to start a family I urge you to thoroughly explore you options with you family doctor and either an obstetrician or gynecologist.
someone help I'm really feeling discouraged about this.
There is no need to be. You can still lead a high quality life doing pretty much whatever you wish to. I'd much rather have my anxiety disorder than most of the maladies than plague humanity.