The manufacturers of antidepressants are not required by the FDA to do long-term trials of their products. I suspect there is no reliable source of information to answer your question. No one is really quite sure how antidepressants work, anyway, just that they do make people feel better, usually. As a long-term antidepressant user I am in the same situation you are.
You may get plenty of individual replies citing personal experience but testimonials are highly suspect by their nature.
I took Effexor XR for 4 years and didn't have any problems with it.
I had to stop taking it after the fourth year and switch meds because the Effexor slowly stopped working and I started feeling just as you said; "I am going off of it because all I want to do now is sleep or sit on the couch and watch tv. I have no motivation or desire to do anything, and have no goals for the future."
( the above symptoms were my depression returning because the Effexor was no longer working )
That wasn't because of the Effexor, but simply because it had stopped working for me and I needed a med change.
I am actually supprised you got 13 years from Effexor. Usually it stoppes working long before then for most people.
As for it being toxic and dangerous over the long term. Hard to say, bet Effexor has been around for about 8 years (maybe longer) and there are no wide spread reports of adverse health problems associated with it's prolonged usage.
I have no doub't that for us people that take any Antidepressants for life, that they may slightly shorten our lifespan. They are drugs and anything we put in our bodies that is a drug has a cause and effect.
The main issue is, does the potential for future health issues justify taking antidepressants? If you are like me and simply can not fuction without them, then yes it's worth it. Even if my meds take 10 years off my life then it's still worth it to me.
For me it beats the hell out of living life like the walking dead with no medication. So I die at 70 rather than 80. I can accept that fact.
There are drugs that absolutly are hard on the body. Lithium being one. I used to take Lithium and it is very toxic and hard on the Kydneys. I would probably not want to take Lithium over many years.
I think it all just depends on the person. I've known people that are drug free, never smoked, they exersise and eat right, and live a perfect healthy lifestyle...... and I have watched them drop dead at 48 from a horrible disease. (my mother in law being one of these people)
Then I have seen people that eat like garbage, smoke, and drink heavy that live until 87 like my grandfather. Look at people like Ozzy Osbourn, the guy is almost 70 years old and he has done enough drugs in his life to kill and Elephant, not to mention the drinking.
Look at George Burns, died at 98 and he smoked like a chimney, and drank like a salor his whole life.
I think it all just depends on genetics. Some of us are long lived and some of us are not no matter what.
You're so right!
My great-grandfather smoked cigarettes he rolled himself, chewed tobacco, and dipped snuff - sometimes all 3 at once - and yet he lived to be in his 90s. My Dad lived a much healthier life, and yet he died in his early 70s. No rhyme or reason; each person just has to be "prepared" to go, whenever that time is! One of my students was only sixteen when her mom's ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and then shot her in the head! And a really sweet person she was, so, like I said, no rhyme or reason to longevity.
From what I have read, though, depression if left untreated will shorten your lifespan anyhow, as stress is so deadly to the body.
I have been afraid for years to treat my anxiety/depression, but after the last time I fell into a hole and couldn't get out, I decided it was time to find out if I could be helped. And I am better for now, which is good! Tho of course, like most, I have days that are not the best and sad days too. Still, sometimes the sun shines brightly, and I enjoy it, and that is a blessing!
By the way, I've been on Effexor for over a year, and sometimes if I turn my head too fast, it zaps and feels like it is going to keep on spinning like that girl in the Exorcist, but except for that and days of no motivation whatsoever, mostly I do fine on it! And I'll take the spinning over that hole I fell into last time! Couldn't climb out of it without help that time!
A quote from Dr. David Healy helps to summarize this fundamental manipulation of evidence by drug companies (and their allied “independent” academics):
It is clear now that the companies must have known that a certain proportion of these patients re-randomised to placebo, who subsequently complained of depressive and anxiety symptoms, will have been suffering from withdrawal problems. These withdrawal problems however appear to have been used as a basis for claiming that continued SSRI intake had a prophylactic effect against nervous and depressive problems. Based on such studies companies sought and have received licences to make these claims regarding prophylaxis.
In other words, because SSRIs and similar drugs (e.g., Effexor) have withdrawal symptoms that sometimes lead to depression, it looks like they are effective in preventing depression because people often get worse shortly after stopping their medication. The drug companies (Wyeth, in the case of Effexor) would like you to believe that this means antidepressants protect you from re-experiencing depression once you get better, that they are a good long-term treatment. A more accurate statement is that antidepressants protect you from their own substantial withdrawal symptoms until you stop taking them.
See No Withdrawal, Mention No Withdrawal: I do not say this as a personal affront to Keller, Kornstein, or any other academic who has made public statements regarding the long-term efficacy of antidepressants, but it seems odd that anyone, particularly anyone with research credentials, could ignore the solid evidence that there are substantial withdrawal symptoms associated with antidepressants. Many researchers apparently continue to toe the line of the drug companies that “it’s the depression, not the drug” that causes depression to return.
The Current Verdict on Long-Term Outcomes: Depression is indeed a nasty condition that often returns after it is successfully treated or after it just vanishes due to the passage of time. So yes, we should treat it. However, let’s keep in mind that antidepressants are barely more effective than a placebo in the short-term and, as we see here, can lead to problems in the long-term, where one can either choose to stay, for years, on an antidepressant (perhaps indefinitely) or have a good chance of risking some heinous withdrawal effects. Psychotherapy is much better in the long-run for depression, but it still does not positively impact many people. Like it or not, psychotherapy for depression has the best (though limited) success rate, perhaps due solely to its lack of causing withdrawal effects, or at least causing them at a much lower rate than meds.
Posted by CL Psych at 1/22/2007 11:33:00 AM
I have been takin effexor for 12 years and it still works for me. I do have som memory loss ,but I wouldnt have nt have it any other way im greatful for effexor.
What did you end up switching to after the Effexor wore off?