Aa
A
A
A
Close
Depression Community
10.5k Members
Avatar universal

Anti-depressants and memory/concentration

About 4 years ago I was going through a tough time - a breakup of a 4 year relationship. Until that point, I was not a real emotional type of person. I had a demanding job and was going through the breakup. I found myself going through crying fits - VERY out of the norm for me. For the first time in my life started to ask myself if there was something wrong with me. I went to see my family doctor about the situation. I was "diagnosed" with depression and put on Wellbutrin and Lexapro.

Within 6 months, I began experiencing a high level of confusion, lack of concentration, lack of memory, lack of coordination and  . . . what I can best describe as dizziness? I also experienced a lack of motivation and periods of "zoning out" as well as uncontrolled muscular movements (whole arm, hand, foot or leg).

As I began to notice these conditions, I went back to the doc who said these are not common side effects of the medications. Stated it must be some other physical issue. We did all the blood tests TWICE (came back ok), an MRI and an EEG - looking for issues in the brain (no fault found there either). I was sent to a psychiatrist - two visits with him resulted in the conclusion that it was NOT a psychiatric issue. I was sent to a specialist to evaluate cognitive ability - I was said to be all good. ALL of these tests say I am fine - but I KNOW for a fact that I am NOT fine. I MAY meet "the norm" for the average person on all tests but there has to be something that is not normal for ME. Of course we never took any of these tests OF ME when I was well. We have only taken tests of me when I am not well and then compaired the results to that of other people. In the end we did end up changing the meds - as I recall, I was then on Provigil for a short time and then Cymbalta. I was on Cymbalta for a couple years but went off of that about 9 months ago and have NOT BEEN ON ANY anti-depressants since.

I decided to go off ALL anti-depressants because the ONLY effect I got from any I took was the side effects - everything from MASSIVE night sweats, to a TOTAL elimination of my sex drive AND all of the previously mentioned issues relate to cognitive ability. Did any of these meds help with the original issues of sadness related to the breakup? WHO KNOWS? I was so distracted with all the "new problems" once on the medications, the sadness / moodiness was actually LESS of a concern for me. Trying to keep my job of 12 years became much more important - even though I LOST THAT JOB because I could no longer perform the job which required multi-tasking ability which I simply no longer had. Additionally, it is hard to tell if the meds helped with my original concern - for the fact that you have to wait through the "ramp up" period - maybe I would have just rebounded on my own within the 6 months and not had any of these crazy side effects.

Fast forward to today. I have been off all meds for 9 months and have been HOPING my cognitive ability will get back to what it once was. That has not happened. Confusion, lack of memory, lack of ability to prioritize and follow through are all really big issues for me to this day - although BETTER than three years ago. I have been in and out of the doctor’s office more times in the last 4 years than I had ever been to the doctor in the previous 30 years of my life - all to no avail. I have lost my job, I have gone bankrupt, I have ended up living with family and currently have no job - no income - no insurance. I can't even play the game anymore - even if I wanted to.

The way I see it, there are two possible situations - #1 I had a MAJOR mental melt down 4 years ago and the fact that the timing was exact, on the dot when I happened to start taking anti-depressants was nothing more than a coincidence OR #2 the anti-depressants CAUSED all these issues. I am not 100% sure which it is but I can honestly say that if I had known then what I now know about anti-depressants, I would have NEVER started down that road. I believe they have ruined my life. The ironic thing is, if there was ever a point in my life I SHOUILD be depressed, anxious and having crying fits, it now but I'm not(!?).

Question is, does ANYONE out there know what the correction is for what either Wellbutrin or Lexapro (or the combination) has done to me? Will I ever get back to "normal"? Can anyone help?

Sincerely,
Confused
31 Responses
Avatar universal
Man, where to start..... Your problem is complex. I understand that you have tried Welbutrin and Lexapro for your diagnosed depression and they did not offer any relief for you. It may be possible that these just were not the right meds for you.

Can you try to explain in exact detail what symptoms your now experiencing?
Your exact symptoms can tell a lot about what AD meds you should be on, or if you even need them. Are you currently under the care of a Psychiatrist that has experience in treating depression related illness?
1 Comments
Im so sorry you lost your job. i was on a certain anti depressant a year ago, went for a job interview, got the job. They offered me double my current salary, but because i KNEW i couldnt concentrate with the meds, i declined the offer..I have left those anti depressants and went on Miradep. Im so  sad that i let that opportunity slip, but i had no choice at the time. Now with Miradep im much more focused, alter, aware of my surroundings..only thing is im gaining weight, but i guess that is the case with all these drugs..Im also using Reli-slim s6 for my weigh, as i would like to lose a few kg's..and surprisingly the two meds doesnt clash with me..i dont think i will ever try out another antidepressant. Miradep 30mg isnt too strong, you feel better, and your not in a zombie-like state
Avatar universal

To answer the questions . . .

The combo of Wellbutrin and Lexapro were the first run - that is where all the cognitive issues started for me. Those issues were the reason I was changed over to Cymbalta. I went off Cymbalta for 3 main reasons: #1 I believe this medication made me VERY tired and made me not really care about things I SHOULD have cared about (like the fact I was going broke/bankrupt), #2 This medication made me sweat in my sleep A LOT - like soak my bed so bad I had to replace my mattress twice in a year and #3 I could no longer afford to pay $140.00 a month.

As far as symptoms I NOW have, I wouldn't say I have any symptoms that would relate to depression. The issues I am concerned with now are related to changes that occurred in my cognitive abilities that came about 4 years ago shortly after going on the combo of Wellbutrin and Lexapro. Although there has been SOME improvement since I went off those meds, I am not "back to normal" - FAR from it. Memory is very poor, NO multi-task abilities, no energy (NEED naps and really COULD sleep continually), poor coordination, involuntary muscular movement, I still tend to "zone out" like just stare off without focusing on anything - I still do really DUMB things like stop at green lights, turn the left signal on when turning right, sit at stop signs (apparently waiting for them to turn green?!), driving off with my coffee cup on the roof of my car, driving away from the gas pump with the nozzle still in the car, forgetting what things are called, forgetting names of people I have known for a very long time, typing wrods that ryhme with the word I mean to type - just very very absent mined things. It is almost as if I have had some kind of a stroke (that is why they did the MRI). NONE of this is a joke - this is 100% serious and really NOT funny. You don’t know me so you will have to trust me when I say, this IS NOT me. I WAS a very with it person - very independent with an extremely strong work ethic. I was financially secure - made good money, owned my own home plus a rental, owned two nice vehicles free and clear. I worked 60+ hours a week and made OK money. That has ALL changed - everything I had worked for in my 20's is now 100% gone - sort of like what happens to people who get into drugs BUT I have NEVER done any drugs and since the age of 22, I rarely drink at all. Very frustrating to realize that even after putting 100% faith in the docs, they have NO answers. I guess it’s true - they call it a practice because thats exactly what they are doing and we have to be patient while they practice because it will take them time to figure it out. Well, unfortunately, my insurance, my time, my money and my patience all ran out at the same moment and I am left in a dysfunctional state.

No, I am no longer under the care of any doctor - I have no more money and have no insurance.

I hope that answers some of the questions . . .

Avatar universal
The way you described your current symptoms is exacty how I felt before I started taking AD medication. My Depression made me feel exausted, forgetful, Anxious, and dark all the time.

I also had tried 3 months on Cymbalta and it did little for me too. What other meds besides Welbutrin, Lexapro and Cymbalta have you tried?
Avatar universal
For the most part . . .none. The doc put me on Provigil for a short time - I think in an attempt to increase energy but it had LITTLE effect no matter how much I took. I used up the samples but never filled the prescription due to lack of any bennefit. Other than those meds, thats all I have been on. I talked to the doc about changing meds but he said Cymbalta was the very best for the combination of concerns - given the fact it was supposed to decrease sleepiness and I think because I was no longer feeling "depressed" he may have thought it was working for me as far as sadness related concerns - but I was 100% clear that I felt MESSED up and found it far more important to address the other, more important issues. What did you find that works for you?
476009 tn?1211470589
Let me start by saying that my own personal experience with ADs is limited.  My daughter is tapering off Lexapro that she's been on since Oct 07 so not a really long time.  Because of her being on it I've read everything I can find on Lex including through several forums.  

First I'll say that it is hard to figure out how much is "you" and how much are the meds.  With my daughter it's especially true since her problems with depression and anxiety began because of an illness and were worsened by a break-up.  

Here's what I will say.  From reading many people's experiences with Lexapro what you are describing are common complaints.  The other thing seems to be that (from how I understand it) the changes in brain function caused by the ADs can take a long time to truly recover from.  Your own body chemistry has to take over and it can be a slow process.  The time period I've been reading is up to 18 months with improvement along the way (though some ups and downs).

My daughter is taking supplements that are supposed to help somewhat and I don't think will hurt.  She is taking Omega 3 fish oil, magnesium, lecithin, inositol, Vit C, and whey protein. A good diet and avoiding the obvious such as caffeine and alcohol are supposed to help too along with some exercise.  

It's of course important to rule out the physical possiblities and consulting doctors when in doubt.  

Best of luck to you.
Avatar universal
I think your doc was way wrong when he told you that Cymbalta was the best medication for your symptoms. The symptoms of my Depression are VERY much like the ones you described and Cymbalta actually made me worse. That doctor was making that assumption simply because Cymbalta is a more energizing AD med because it's an SNRI. Your not the first person I have talked to that has gotten bad results with Cymbalta. It's way over rated IMO.  

When I don't take my meds I feel exactly like you described. Dull minded, fuzzy, forgetfull, exausted, fatuged, sleepy, absent minded, and just out of it.

For me Effexor worked very well at eliminating these symptoms. After 4 years on Effexor it slowly stopped working and I was switched to the Tri-Cyclic Antidepressent Nortriptilyne which has worked VERY well too.

Do a Google search on "Neurephinepherine depletion in the brain."
This is my depressive condition and I have found ways to combat this imbalance with Medication and Amino acids as well as specific vitamins and Omega 3.

I just mention this because your symptoms sure sound a lot like mine. BTW if Neurephinepherine Depletion is your problem, then it's no wonder that Lexapro didn't help you. Lexapro is an SSRI medication and does not effect Neurephinepherine Reuptake in the brain.

Keep in touch and I will share with you what has worked for me. Maybe your suffering from the same issue as me. It took me a long time to figure it out and trust me the Doctors were little help.

Have an Answer?
Top Mood Disorders Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Discover the common symptoms of and treatment options for depression.
We've got five strategies to foster happiness in your everyday life.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.