Posted by Tomatheus on September 5, 2012, at 0:02:42
In reply to What has helped me the most... Meds + Herbs » Tomatheus, posted by AlexCanada on September 4, 2012, at 20:06:43
Thank you for your reply. It does seem that both of us suffer from some of the same symptoms. Ten years is a long time to endure an unrelenting melancholic depression, and I think that it's courageous of you to keep fighting this enemy that we're up against with the various tools that you have at your disposal. It's too bad that the success that you had for a while with some of the treatments that you've tried has been short lived, but I think it's good that you've had treatments that have done some good for you and restored at least some of your vitality for at least a few weeks before becoming ineffective. Yes, I too have had temporary successes with medications and supplements, some great and some mediocre, and while I treasure the opportunities that I've had to try to rebuild my life when I haven't been hampered by my symptoms, it's always so frustrating when one of those opportunities ends and a good treatment response fades. And I think that I was definitely showing some of that frustration in my opening post of this thread.
To answer your question regarding what treatment has helped me the most, there is no doubt in my mind that what's helped the most has been Nardil. To this day, Nardil (which I took with the sleep aid doxylamine succinate, or generic Unisom) remains the only treatment that's significantly turned around both my depressive symptoms and my functional impairment for more than a few days at a time. For me, both Parnate (the Goldshield version from the U.K.) and Marplan worked like Nardil did for about three days before losing their effectiveness, and selegiline did something similar. On Paxil, I had an inconsistent response, cycling back and forth between euthymia and vegetative depression on lower doses, and going back and forth from hypomania to vegetative depression at higher doses. I managed to respond partially to a combination of Parnate and SAM-e (which I wouldn't recommend because the two substances are contraindicated) for about three months before I completely derailed the course of my life by throwing aminoguanidine into the mix (more on that in a bit), but my response to Parnate with SAM-e was weak at best, as was my response to a combination of Wellbutrin and lithium. Nardil, when taken in combination with doxylamine succinate, was really the only treatment that adequately relieved my vegetative depression for more than three days, but even Nardil had its problems, some of which may seem unbelievable. I found out that if I took Nardil as it came to me in the bottle that the benefits of the medication only lasted for about two weeks at a time, but when I tried putting the contents of my Nardil tablets into enteric capsules, I was able to not only get the benefits of the medication to last longer but also to eliminate some of the side effects that I was experiencing. I also found out that if I tried taking Nardil without the doxylamine succinate that I was taking with my antidepressant that I would experience a full relapse of symptoms the day following the night when I didn't take my doxylamine. But even with the enteric capsules and the doxylamine succinate, my responses to Nardil didn't last beyond a few months. I think that my eventual relapse on Nardil was most likely caused by a bad batch of the medication because I experienced severe agitation like I had never experienced before along with other side effects and a loss of effectiveness when I started taking tablets from the suspected bad batch, but whatever the cause of my downfall on Nardil was, my response to the medication didn't last.
After I lost my treatment response to Nardil in the summer of 2006, I tried other medications with no long-term success until I started on my Parnate/SAM-e combo the following winter. Three months into my trial with Parnate and SAM-e, I tried aminoguanidine in an attempt to combat the agitation that had been a problem for me since I had taken lithium a few years prior to that point. And the response that I had to aminoguanidine the day that I took it is mostly beyond words, but the medication basically seemed to destroy my cognition. I took aminoguanidine before heading into a medical school library to retrieve some journal articles, and I simply wasn't able to do any of the reading that I was hoping that I was planning to do at the library. I later went to a cafe that served coffee and sandwiches and tried to read some Web pages on my laptop while I was there, but I found that I could no longer absorb the information I was trying to focus on. I left the cafe in frustration and returned home, hoping that the effects of the aminoguanidine would subside with time. I remember noticing the next day that the cognitive impairment that had come on from taking aminoguanidine was not gone, and it wasn't long after that that I basically became psychotic. The colors of most everything in my environment seemed to be brighter than usual, and things started to appear to be different from the way that they really looked. The songs on the radio seemed to be directed at me, I started to think that some of my thoughts at the time were profoundly significant, and I also started to think that everything going on around me was a message from God. I didn't know it at the time, but it certainly seems in retrospect that I had gone psychotic overnight. Some of my psychotic symptoms are much less intense now than they were when they first came on, in part because of the Abilify that I'm taking, but the psychotic symptoms are not completely gone, and neither is the cognitive impairment that I experienced upon taking aminoguanidine. Somehow, my vegetative depression actually became less severe around the time that my psychotic symptoms emerged. So, now, instead of experiencing the extreme slowing of thought that I used to experience, I experience my "vegetative" depression more in terms of having difficulty concentrating, along with the hypersomnia that used to plague me before I took aminoguanidine. Some supplements that I've taken over the past few years have helped to boost my concentration and reduce the severity of my hypersomnia, but nothing that I've tried has come close to addressing all of my symptoms or turning back my functional impairment like Nardil did before I took aminoguanidine.
So, at the moment, I'm taking Sytrinol, a supplement that somebody on another site recommended, along with my Abilify and five other supplements (folic acid, coenzyme q10, Korean ginseng, liquid vitamin B12, and liquid SAM-e), and I'm certainly improved over my baseline state. My hypersomnia is under control, my concentration is better than usual, and my energy and psychomotor retardation are less severe than usual, and those are all good things. Unfortunately, I don't feel like my overall cognition is anywhere close to being like it used to be before I took aminoguanidine, and that's probably the main reason why I'm not functioning on the same level that I was functioning on when I was taking Nardil or before I started experiencing depressive symptoms. And as much as I'd like to completely fix my cognitive impairment and psychosis, I'm not sure that that's going to happen. I do think that because I've experienced relief from my depressive symptoms in the past that perhaps I can experience that relief again, and that's why I keep trying different treatments (mostly supplements) with energizing properties. I have tried some other medications besides the ones that I mentioned earlier in this post, but the vast majority of the medications that I've tried since taking aminoguanidine (including all of the antidepressants that I've tried) have turned out to be intolerable.
Well, I'm going to bring this post to a close before it gets any longer, but I hope that what I've written gives you at least a glimpse into what successes and failures I've had treatment wise and where I stand now as far as my treatment is concerned. Thanks again for responding, and feel free to provide me with any feedback that you might have.
Dx: schizoaffective disorder
Treatments: Abilify, 6 supplements, & counseling