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I have taken medicines for my mental illness since I was fifteen years old but I have usually found it difficult to sleep. The medicine I found most harmful to my sleep was Lexapro and when I was on that and even Celexa at the initial starting dose I could barely sleep. I also had extreme difficulty sleeping when I was on Abilify and I only took Lexapro for about two-to-three days and Celexa one day and Abilify five days. I started to get anxiety symptoms that were physical around age fourteen-and-a-half and my primary care doctor prescribed Ativan and then my psychiatrist prescribed Klonopin short term. Those medicines weren’t that good for me because they didn’t help me sleep that well and they didn’t do much for my anxiety. I was concerned about taking an SSRI since I thought I may have some bipolar symptoms but the psychiatrists didn’t think so but then I just took Buspar and when I needed to I took Benadryl. When I spoke to most of my psychiatrists over the years, I always got the same response, Buspar doesn’t work for anxiety. However they were willing to prescribe it because I didn’t want an addictive medicine and because I was unwilling at that time to take an SSRI. One time when my psychiatrist was on vacation before the Jewish holidays, I felt nervous and saw my primary care doctor and he gave me Lexapro and I told him I can’t afford it so then he changed it to Celexa and meanwhile I had a hard time sleeping those few days and the psychiatrist was concerned and he thought a small dose of Seroquel may be better. The good thing about Seroquel unlike some of the antipsychotics is that there is minimal risk for Tardive Dyskinesia. Which is very important. I did pretty well on Seroquel but I also was overweight and pre-diabetic and my favorite foods were Pepperoni Pizza, Orange Chicken and Chow Mein, Ferrero Rocher, Ritz Crackers, and Potato Chips and Diet Coke. I was a happy person and I didn’t feel very sedated from the medicine. My weight was an issue and because of the fact I was diabetic, my doctor wanted me to be on Depakote which is actually a good mood stabilizer for irritability. However, it is harder to fall asleep and sometimes I need to take Benadryl. I try not to take it unless it’s necessary.
Dawn writes a weekly column about symptom management for Painted Brain News