Blog changes

Thanks to everyone who followed Training Because I Can! over the last nine years. This blog started with Addison's Disease, hypothyroidism and a crazy idea of doing an Ironman distance triathlon. My life has changed and so has this blog. I am using this blog strictly for Addison's Support topics from here on out. I hope to continue providing people with hints for living life well with adrenal insufficiency.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Migraines, antidepressants, Addison's, feeling like $h!t

Sunrise over the Grand Teton, this picture has nothing to do with the story below

As a move of desperation to avoid my regularly scheduled migraine, I opted for the first time to try a prophylactic medication for my migraines. My migraines seem to be caused by a serotonin deficiency (there are many, many causes for migraines, yours may be caused by entirely different things) and female hormonal fluctuations.

My GP suggested that I try fluoxetine otherwise known as Prozac for a couple of weeks of my cycle. Prozac keeps serotonin circulating for longer in the brain, theoretically avoiding a serotonin deficiency and the monthly scheduled migraine. After reading about it and the side effects, I decided to bite the bullet and try it. I've had migraines for 30 years and I'm tired of them. Some potential side effects of Prozac seemed appealing to me, energy, weight loss, helps with OCD (I'm not diagnosed with OCD but some say I have some OCD behaviors) and help with PMS. GREAT sounds like a miracle in a pill! I overlooked the other side effects and decided that they would not happen to me - nausea, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue...

10 days into the Prozac experiment I decided a migraine or two a month would be better than the way I was feeling and acting on Prozac! The Prozac brought me back to the days prior to diagnosis where I thought I was going to die from exhaustion and gut problems. The only difference between prediagnosis and Prozac was that my body felt fine, no aches or pains and the nausea wasn't as severe. All I could do was watch TV, wanting to sleep on and off all day and then go to bed early at night. I had no motivation, no short term memory, gut problems galore and I didn't give a crap about anything. I also didn't get a migraine on day 23 of my cycle, wahoo! It was not worth the wasted week feeling like a zombie.

The way I felt on Prozac, depressed that my life was passing me by and exhausted to the point of napping a few times, made me wonder if there were other Addisonian's who:
  1. are feeling like crap, prediagnosis crap
  2. are on antidepressants
  3. can't figure out why they feel so bad when they are doing everything else they can to feel well
My experience with antidepressants is limited to these 10 days BUT the effects were blatantly obvious to everyone around me. I was a different, lazy, boring, sleepy person.

This may not be your experience and antidepressants may not have the same effect on you BUT if you feel bad, have Addison's (or not) and are on antidepressants, you may want to consider them as a potential cause for fatigue, depression and/or generally feeling like crap.

I hesitate to post this because of the stigma of antidepressants. I hope that it gives people with Addison's who feel like crap another option to explore on the road to feeling better.


Unknown said...

Around my 19th birthday I was felling unbelievably down. I'd yet to come to terms with the diagnosis and was living in denial and depression. Knowing better than to just bottle it up I sought help.

Naturally, as soon as I walking into the psychologist's room I burst into tears and then told him my long tale of woe. He put me on some antidepressants.

I took the antidepressants for all of 3 days. The fact that I could not motivate myself out of bed and suffered terrible headaches during those three days was enough for me to decide this wasn't the route for me. I carried on seeing the psychologist for a while, til I felt I was getting back on my feet, but I didn't take the rest of the pills.

Honestly, it's a personal choice. There are a whole range of medications that need to be tried before ones says, "no, antidepressants don't work" but it's up to you whether you want to go through the whole hassle of trying them all.

I've actually found the homoeopathic "adrenal gland" works way better for relieving headaches and low energy and mood swings. But, again, it's a personal choice.

Debbie said...

Dusty, I've been on Zoloft for about 10 years. I never considered that it might cause some of the Addisonian symptoms. Your description of watching TV all day and sleeping off and on and no motivation, etc., sounds like my every day "usual."

Since you wrote about feeling "usual" a while ago, I've been trying to accept this awful, awful, awful existence with all its lethargy. I could never figure if depression came from the Addison's inactivity, or the Addison's inactivity came from the depression. But, recently, I've been trying to accept this as my "usual" per your advice, because I had been feeling like my life was being wasted because of the day-after-day existence on the couch.

Now, you've got me rethinking . . . maybe I would be better off without the Zoloft. I do remember tho' that it took about 2 years to finally find an antidepressant that seemed to balance the serotonin level. It was very frustrating and costly (I do not have insurance).

Maybe you just need a different antidepressant. Maybe I do, too.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Do your research everyone. There is lots out there that show that - over time - that drugs such as Prozac alter the seratonin in such a way that it makes it worse than it was originally. So instead of a slight chemical imbalance you end up with a major one.

Look at diet, look at vitamins like B6 ... and do your research ...

Pip said...

Hmm, I too did a brief stint on anti-depressants around 10 years ago, well prior to my diagnosis. I too hated the side-effects, and quickly went off them against my doctor's advice.

Unknown said...

Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences. I was a little afraid to post about antidepressants because of the controversy and the stigma attached to them but I'm glad I did. I like hearing other's experiences.

Debbie, I hope you can figure out what makes you feel better and your "usual" does not have to be like my "last week". I can't imagine living like that day to day! I'm not so sure I could accept that. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to research for you before you go to your next doctor visit. You deserve to feel well!

:) Dusty

Debbie said...

Thanks, Dusty, for offering to do research. At this point, I'm not sure what to research anymore. Seems like I have done it all. I don't want to resign to this way if life, but I don't know what else to do.

Yesterday I took my 84 year old mother shopping, and she had to go get the car (far away from us) to go pick me up at the closest door because I was feeling so badly. One minute I felt fine and was helping her, and the next minute I could barely focus and was shaking. I think I was dehydrated. I usually take salt water everywhere with me, but had figured I would be home much earlier. I don't know. I can't figure it out.

Earlier in the week I was out and feeling terrific. The same kind of thing happened, but I was alone. Oh, my gosh. By the time I got home, I crawled into the fetal position for several hours. I called my doctor and asked if I should give myself more hydrocortisone or fludrocort. She just told me to go to ER, which I cannot afford to do. Again, maybe I was dehydrated. I don't know how to tell.

I remember that you had written one time that you have dehydration problems. How do you prevent and how do you rectify?

Unknown said...


"I remember that you had written one time that you have dehydration problems. How do you prevent and how do you rectify?"

Here's what I did about my dehydration problems:
a) increased my florinef
b) increased my salt supplementation (I use SaltStick or Thermotabs to avoid excess calories)
c) drink fluids throughout the day. I typically drink about a gallon of fluids.

Sorry about your shopping trip debacle. Your mom is quite a tough woman! It's great that she can help you out when you are in need.

When I "crash" the way you are describing, I take extra HC and drink gatorade. I usually only go to the ER if I've thrown up a couple of times and I'm too chicken to give myself a shot.

Debbie, I know you'll be able to figure something out and improve your quality of life. We've got so many option and so many different things to try.

:) Dusty

Debbie said...

What are SaltSticks and Thermotabs and where can I buy them?

How much Florinef to you take daily? When you increase it for an "exercise" day, how much do you take then? I take .2 mg every morning.

Unknown said...

Hi Debbie!

I take .05 mcg of Florinef (1/2 of one tablet) daily and .1 mcg on an exercise day. Do you have low potassium on .2 and/or high blood pressure? I'm not sure if I would double my florinef if I were on .2.

Thermotabs are salt pills and I get them at the local drug store. Saltstick is also a salt supplement NO FINANCIAL INTEREST IN EITHER PRODUCT.

I prefer the SaltStick because they generally don't dissolve in my mouth leaving a gross salt taste!

Debbie said...

Wow, I guess I'm taking a lot of Florinef. I wonder if I should try cutting back a little. I've never had my potassium tested, but I don't have high blood pressure. Thank goodness, because I drink salt water all day long. Thanks for the information about the salt sticks, etc. I will definitely see if my local CVS sells them. That may have helped me the day I was shopping with my Mother.