732519 tn?1232268423

medication & creativity


I'm getting off paxil (for depression and anxiety)- quit cold turkey- I know that's not the best method at all, but I've tried tapering a few times and I finally just had to do it. it's only been a week, and today was finally an okay day, as my negative physical side effects were not as strong. I did have a terrible few days, but knowing that I had made the promise to myself to get off it helped me through, and I'm fortunate enough to be going to school with some really understanding teachers, and got to take a chunk of time off to just SLEEP the badness away.

I go to an art university, and I'm taking drawing and painting, and one of my main reasons for getting off paxil was that I felt it really deadened my senses and creativity- which I kind of need! I have noticed that I react more strongly to things even today then I did a week ago, which probably has a lot to do with my body going through the stress of no medication, but it still is nice to feel actually HAPPY, and even cry if it's for a good reason.

I have only been on paxil since the summer- and right before that, I was on effexor (terrible sleep!). I don't want to think about it now, because I'd like to live a medication-free life, but I was wondering if anybody has any experience with any medication that does not really stifle creativity? or do the ideas of 'being on mood medication' and 'feeling and being creative' just seem to be complete opposites, like I'm afraid they are?  

I'd like to know in case I do, eventually, need to be back on medication- we'll see for now. on medication, I did not feel I needed to do anything extra to help myself, which is really not the case. eventually I started to work on other aspects of my life that would help my mood, and continue them today: I do yoga weekly and meditate daily, I've worked on my diet and now mostly eat fresh, raw, and organic, and no meat; and, quite helpful, I get to go to school and paint, which means I'm forced to do creative things, even if I don't feel like it- and a 6 hour long model session does wonders for your mood- or at least means you'll be tired and have a good sleep!

well, thanks for listening to my rambling. I look forward to hearing about anybody's experience with meds that let your creative juices flow, or to see if it really is just a silly thought ;) and if anybody finds the things I do to help me, helpful to them, then I'll be really pleased to spread the good energy!
13 Responses
365714 tn?1292199108
If you want creativity, I found I was the most creative on Remron, but unfortunately I couldn't keep it up because of the weight gain...  That's a serious problem to that med.
585414 tn?1288941302
Yes but the medication I am on is an antipsychotic that's still in Phase II FDA study but it actually enhances creativity as it helps in that area of my brain. As for mood stabilizers I'd say Lamictal has the least problem in that area. But for anti-depressents, honestly the side effect profile for each varies and its different for each person as well. Google "Depression Central" and get an overall perspective of each medication and make an informed decision when speaking to your psychiatrist. But as for anxiety some people find Klonopin to be sedating but I've never had a problem with it and I've taken it for 10 years. There are new classes of anti-depressents in development all the time so you should be able to find something helpful but that doesn't cause cognitive side effects (the problem you encountered). Just do some internet research on medically reliable sites and that's one for a start. Good luck. And definitely do go back on medication as it will help stabilize other aspects of your life that impair your functioning in other areas you may not be aware of. And better next time than going off "cold turkey" speak to your psychiatrist about a prescription change. Discontinuing medication without a provider's consent and not under their supervision is never a good idea.
Avatar universal
I take Zoloft and I am a teacher.  I do need to be creative at my job on a daily basis, and I haven't known it to affect my creativity. Paxil was the first med I was on after being diagnosed about 10 yrs ago.  I didn't like it at all.  It helped with the depression but made me feel terrible physically and also I gained 25 pounds. (from 108-133). I switched to Zoloft and liked it a lot better, and lost the weight within weeks without even trying.  It helped with the depression, and I had less aches and pains.  You really shouldn't take yourself off meds completely, but if you do be fully prepared to look for warnings signs and go back on as a precaution.  I missed the signs both times I discontinued Zoloft, was fine each time, and then suddenly relapsed after 2 yrs each time.  Had to go back on of course...
Avatar universal
I have to concur, Zoloft is awesome, I didn't have much anxiety like many in this drug class can do. Weight gain possiblity seems to be a common theme with these drugs, BUT it sounds like already eat well, so I would presume it would affect you. Folks get carb cravings. The med I'm on isn't in the same class, I was warned about the same thing, I'm vigilant, I don't eat much sweets and rarely touch anything like fast food.  The only thing I would watch is, jaw clenching or bruxism can occur, make sure you pay attention, that was the only issue I had. I would have stayed on the drug if it didn't poop out on me. (found out I'm bipolar, not unipolar so it tends to poop out on Bp's) Some folks are on it for years, when they aren't actively suffering they may drop the dose to a maintenance level, and if they feel it coming on again, up the dose, but never stop it.
Hope this helps!
479581 tn?1317757488
I wish I was creative....but I'm not...however my sister-in-law is an artist and she had the same "deadening of creativity" that you mention.  She stopped taking Effexor and is now painting more that ever.
Avatar universal
"You really shouldn't take yourself off meds completely, but if you do be fully prepared to look for warnings signs and go back on as a precaution."

Not everyone has a relapse, although the odds are in that favour. Not everyone needs to be on them all the time, so if you are feeling strong and your doc agrees that you are ready to quit, I think you should,
Avatar universal
I agree not everyone has a chemical imbalance, but usually the telling sign is relapse. Brains are so complex, and there are no tests to check for depression. I know they have found a gene or two in the large Genome Project, but as far as a sure fire test there isn't, I don't think they have come out with a full proof genetic test yet.  It would be nice to know which one a person has so they don't stay on or off meds depending on the tests. Hmm.
Avatar universal
I have to agree that essential fatty acids can only be found in meat. I worked in a health food store before I went to Uni, and many veggies(what we called vegetarians) we're not the healthiest, though they swear to it. If you are a vegetarian, at least take Omega 3-6-9 as an addition to your diet. jr-med is quite right with the stats, so it's important to be self aware. :)
Avatar universal
Hey doc.

I appreciate your depression stats and remission comments, as it is similar to what I had read before, but it isn't on pill bottles. I am a Celexa poster-woman, as last February it cleared my 6+ month depression and strong anxiety. 20 mg couldn't totally do the job so I took 30 for a month of success, then tried to cut back to 20 and had problems very quickly so went back to 30 which quickly got me out of the depression and anxiety again. Those reactions don't sound like a placebo effect.
I stayed happy on 30 all summer so experimented and went off it a few months ago, so I am very interested in the monitoring issue. I read a lot of Buddhism over the last 16 months, and try to maintain my emotions in accordance with their guidelines, although I constantly wonder if that is giving me a temporary but unsustainable boost that depression will push to the side at some point.
I read Let Go by Martine Batchelor, which said that there are only a few remarkable individuals that can overcome the lows of a depression after it has had time to set in. She said it is important to pull yourself up to normality asap during a depression, as a depression keeps pulling you down to new lows which are harder and harder to come back up from. She said that meds are about the only solution (other than for the few remarkables above) to get back from those lows but afterwards, barring those recurrences you mention, that it is helpful to have the right approach to maintain  drug free normality.
Anyone interested in this, visit my site, post here if appropriate, or inbox me.
Avatar universal
When I said "quickly got a reaction from the changed meds", I meant it still took over a week to notice anything from the changed dosage. Putting it in hyper-perspective, one week in depression and anxiety for a person is an eternity if it is like the nag that was hitting at me every minute of the day.
So me talking about a week above being a "quick time" is wildly overstated, considering how painfully long even one hour actually was.
732519 tn?1232268423
thank you everyone- your advice is all really appreciated :)

I'm still off the meds, and doing very well. I still continue therapy, so I didn't completely drop out of getting help.

I want to answer to a few points. I actually am not worried about ever gaining weight from medication, because I'm naturally underweight and I really work to gain it (having pointy elbows isn't as fun as it sounds!). I stopped eating meat while living in residence and eating their food and never got back to it, and I can't really stand it now, and I do take various vitamins everyday on the advice of my doctor.

I totally understand the point about thinking you're well enough to get off the meds, only to really realize it was the meds that made you feel that way and you weren't completely 'cured'- I have gone off them in the past thinking that way. because this time I knew I was not 'cured'- and did it for a different reason that thinking I was done with them- I believe it's helped me deal with feeling bad much better. if I do feel bad, I realize it is not 'failing' in any way.

I've always believed in the connection between creativity and mental illness. and because I'm more at peace with myself right now then ever before, I try and think of my moods as a part of something that allows me to be me. which is not to say I wouldn't mind not feeling them so intensely!- but I don't try and deny them, and instead work with them in a more positive, peaceful way.

and sometimes, I can try and think of it as a bit of a gift, because it helps me see things in many different ways, which I can then channel through my art- and maybe I wouldn't be so creative if I didn't live with this, and I don't think I would ever want to trade :)
Avatar universal
The other point I read in that book is the quicker you relapse, the greater the chance of it becoming a habitual condition. Anyone hear an update on this?
728101 tn?1235338117
I totally relate as I am an art major myself (double in psychology) and I have always been a very creative person and some of my best writing and art has come from "the lows".  I have been on many many anti-depressants and they do help when I am at my worst, and I know now when I need them, but I also feel they dull my creativity.  I also do meditation and yoga and find them tremendously helpful.  It sounds like you eat very healthy and I know that can have a huge impact as well.  I go through spurts of eating too much fast-food and that really messes with my moods.  The sugar highs and lows are horrible.  So, after years of dealing with depression, I also have come to a point of accepting it, and it doesn't run my life anymore.  If I am still capable of creating something from my feelings, I embrace the process and when I don't want to do anything, I head to the doctor.  I have also found that medication makes me something of a space cadet-it's nice to not care about anything, but I can't focus and I forget things and my work and school suffer.  I feel like I have been able to somewhat harness the intensity and honesty of my emotions.  One more thing :-), it's great you are still going to therapy.  There have been studies that show that therapy can have the same or better effects than medication when treating depression.    
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