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Patricia B

Medication

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If this topic exists and I somehow missed it, my apologies. Also, if is considered off limits for some reason, just let me know. Wanted to bring it up, share, and perhaps get info from others.

Throughout my life I have periodically battled occasional problems with depression and anxiety. For many years I have been fine with just a maintenance dose of an anti-depressant. I always told my husband that I wanted to go first because I doubted I could handle it the other way around. Needless to say, that is not what has happened and I was and am so very frightened of sinking beyond "normal" grief. Without him to support me it is terrifying to imagine.

I do have a psychiatrist and he has given me a prescription for xanax. He had given me enough for one month at a certain dose. I have not exceeded that but that month is coming to a close. Don't know what he will do when I ask for a refill. My past problems have gotten worse when I was unable to eat or sleep properly. The xanax allows me to do both. In that sense it is valuable to me.

Is anyone on any type of medication or supplements to help them through this awful time?  If so, what have you found helpful. I do not want to exchange one problem for another.

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4 hours ago, Patricia B said:

Throughout my life I have periodically battled occasional problems with depression and anxiety. For many years I have been fine with just a maintenance dose of an anti-depressant.

Patricia, my dear, I'm sure you will hear from several of our members who have experience with antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, but for now I will tell you what I think. Given your own history of depression and anxiety, along with the fact that you are barely one month into your grief journey, I don't think this is the time to take yourself off any medications you've been used to taking. By all means, please discuss this with your psychiatrist as well as your primary care physician, both of whom will know your personal health history and can assess your need for medications of any kind and whether or not some changes are indicated. I also think it's important to recognize and understand that depression and grief are not the same, even though they may "feel" as if they are. In and of itself, grief is neither an illness nor a pathological condition, but when you have a history of both depression and anxiety, it's bound to affect how you experience and cope with grief.

I can point you to some articles that I encourage you to read before you meet with your doctors, as doing so may inform whatever questions may wish to bring to them. (Notice too the links to additional articles listed at the base of each):

Seeing A Specialist in Grief Counseling: Does It Matter?

Interview: Are We Medicating Normal Grief

Using Medication to Manage Grief

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Hi Patricia,

I have not had any experience with the drugs that some people have to use but I do know that it is so important to recognize that we are each one of us individuals and what works for one may not work for another. Grief is NOT a sickness. It is a reaction to what we have lost. During early grief, some people need help with sleep and anxiety and only the person experiencing these things understand that. Our Primary Care Doctors or other qualified doctors can guide each one of us. A qualified grief counselor can direct us on this path. If there are medical issues involved we follow what the doctors tell us. I am a little over five years into my grief.  The most traumatic death I have to deal with has to do with the loss of my beloved husband, Jim, of forty years.  There isn't an emotion that I have not experienced during this time. Grief does not follow a one, two, three pattern. We never 'get over' grief we only learn how to navigate through it. 

I have found that the more I understand grief the better I am able to cope.  There are hundreds of suggestions 'out there' that people offer to us but the ones that fit you depend on your circumstances. My personal experience has been three-fold ~ I read and learn what is normal in grief, I meditate (mostly guided meditations), and I do crafts like coloring. My Jim loved music. I listen to music more than I have the TV on. I spend time outdoors even in the extreme heat we have had this summer in AZ! I have always written in my journal, I am now volunteering a little more than I used to. I think it depends on your age, your commitments, and your circumstances. No two people grieve in the same way and there really is NOT a right or wrong way to grieve. 

Sending hugs to you,

Anne

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Patricia,

I'm on a low dose anti-anxiety medicine because I have GAD, but I wasn't on anything for the first few years after George died.  I think sometimes I made it harder on myself for trying to tough it out.  My thinking was that this wasn't something anyone could fix, nothing that would go away, so I may as well get used to dealing with it.  However, in looking back, I have had GAD all my life and probably should have been on anti-anxiety medicine years sooner than I was.  I also should have accepted my doctor's offer of sleep aid because trying to go to work on an hour's sleep and think/function all day, especially with the long commute was not a good situation.  I needed my sleep.  That said, if I had it to do over again, I'd accept the offer of sleep medication to at least use on the weekend, I was afraid if I took something I wouldn't be alert enough for the drive and the job.  Those are concerns worth sharing with your doctor if you do get something.

I wasn't depressed before losing George.  Any depression symptoms I have are to do with my loss and the change its made in my life.  However, as was pointed out to me by a physicist, when you are in a depressive state even from grief for a long period of time it can change your brain so that a person might need an antidepressant.  The problem is, most doctors are not knowledgeable about grief to understand the difference.  I wish doctors and grief counselors would work together in assessing a patient's situation and what they need.  It'd certainly warrant a phone call between them, in my opinion.  I might consider a low dose antidepressant, sometimes they have something that works for depression and anxiety, but I wouldn't want anything strong.  I want to be able to feel, even pain, because pain does have purpose, it alerts us to something we need to work on, it calls our attention to it.  I wouldn't want to mask how I feel as a way to survive.  There are so many tools for dealing with grief!  Grief is a journey that doesn't have an ending, the day George died, I might as well have embraced grief then and there because it is my constant companion.  I've learned not to fight it.  It's not all bad, one of the benefits is all of the things I've learned on this journey.  That's pretty tough for a person new in grief to understand though, it's taken me much time to give myself an entire perspective on it.  I think in the beginning I just wanted the pain to stop.  And of course it'd be nice to get breaks from the pain.  There are so many things a person can do to help themselves  through grief.  Meditation, journaling, reading and expressing yourself here, reading books and articles on it, seeing a grief counselor, attending grief support groups.  One of the most important things I've done is try to see good in each day, view life as a gift, appreciate what is rather than focusing solely on what isn't anymore.  A person's mindset is so important, and learning to help that mindset has been worth my time and energy.

Triggers come randomly, we can't prepare for them, but they do taper off the longer you're on this journey.  I have learned to ride the waves of grief as it comes rather than fighting it.  Learning to befriend my grief has helped, but that may not make sense to someone newer in this.  I know it's here to stay, although it's evolved and has not stayed the same nor in the same intensity.  What is left is the missing him.  But I've also learned to carry him inside of me, and I can reach for him whenever I need to, I draw strength from his comfort and encouragement and the things I learned from him.  I draw strength from his love, which continues still, so in that sense he continues with me.

It is good to have a full discussion with your doctor, but bring a list with you of the things you want to talk about with him/her, any concerns you may have.  

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