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Will I Have To Take SSRI my for rest of my life?
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Anon_26275 posted:
I know that most of the issue is my OCD trying to create more
anxiety for something. My psychiatrist prescribed me prozac for my intrusive thoughts as well as my compulsion acts (which are not the "if I don't do something something bad will happen". Its more of the "I have to do this or else I will obsess on it by thinking of it or my body feels as if something is wrong". So I was prescribed that,but a part of me feels so scared for my life,no exaggeration. I have read about people that start taking meds and have to depend on them for the rest of their life to stay normal and if they miss a couple days in a row bad things can happen. Now, I know some of you, my fellow sufferers,are saying to yourself "whats the issue,if you have a possible treatment to your problem, who cares if you have to take for life?" Its not that simple for me, I don't want to be considered as "psycho" for life, I know that we are normal just like others but let's be real, when society doesn't understand something, we label it as "crazy" or "special". I just am so worried that I will have to forever take this pill once I start it.

One other worry is that I will take the pill and my whole demeanor and personality will alter. I had a friend who was normal and then around 18,19 he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and every since then his medication has made his mood and personality so different. He was an outgoing funny guy,now he is extremely reserved and he says he thinks it is his meds. I guess my questions to you are 1)Do I have to take SSRI forever once I start taking this pill? 2)Will the SSRI change my personality and 3) How long have you been taking SSRI and how has it improved your OCD symptoms (specifcally intrusive thoughts and compulsions if you suffer from this)
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Whether or not someone has to take medication and for how long is really determined by both the diagnosis and the symptoms. In your situation, I would wonder why you have not been referred for cognitive therapy to help with your anxiety disorder. Research has shown that medication alone is not the treatment plan of choice because medication cannot teach you anything; cognitive therapy can. You can learn different ways to help yourself and that's something medication cannot do for you, either.

The choice of medication is, again, highly dependent on what works best for you. Some people have felt that medication gave them their lives back while others have felt that medication has, in some ways, held them back from being emotional (not overly emotional, just emotional) and they felt it made them rather flat.

Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric disorder and the medications used to treat it may be somewhat sedating and can change the way someone feels or expresses himself. However, without the medication schizophrenia's symptoms cause serious disruption in people's lives.

Usually, anyone on medication, regardless of their diagnosis, would continue to work with whoever is prescribing the medication for them so that they can take a dose that is at their own best level. I say their own best level because there is no way to know what dose is appropriate for each person and it is, unfortunately, a trial-and-error process.

So, the usual thing that is done is that someone is prescribed the lowest dose for the shortest period of time. Some people may be able to taper off the meds and others will require it for a longer time or the rest of their lives. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not the medication enables you to live your life as best you can. Anxiety can be a shackle that holds you from enjoying your life and those around you, so you want to work on it with both medication, if required, and cognitive therapy.

If you'd like to try some things on your own, we do have two things that I would suggest in our Tips column; the relaxation breathing video tutorial which I prepared and the self-help video which I also prepared. Both of these have proven helpful for a number of people and may be of use to you too.

I hope you find this helpful and I do hope that things improve for you very soon.


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