I have been in a relationship for seven years with the same person (cohabiting for six), and I thought we were very open with each other. We have each other’s passwords and all of that jazz. I just found out (accidentally) that he has been prescribed Paxil. I wasn’t snooping to find out this information; he has his prescription information on my CVS online account, and he wondered if another prescription he needed was ready, so I checked. (I’ve ordered his prescriptions in the past, with his permission, while he was busy at work). I mentioned that his two prescriptions were ready, and he became really weird and quiet about it.
I feel so stupid because I didn’t realize that he had emotional issues. He said that his doctor prescribed them for some chest pain issues that he’s been having, but I don’t think he realizes that I recognized the name, since it was a generic. I don’t know how to bring this up. Is not saying anything the best plan? I had to seek counseling last year, which he knows about that, so I don’t think shame is the issue here. My first thought is that maybe he’s unhappy with me, because he’s pretty solid at work and his band is becoming more popular on a local level. He has no real stressor in his life at the moment, which makes me think I might be the problem.
Should I just pretend I never found out this information? I honestly don’t know what to do. I’m really afraid that he’s keeping something big from me. Another part of me wonders if the reason that he’s withholding this information from me is because he knows that I am very wary of anti-depressants because I know so many people who have fundamentally changed and lost all sex drive while on them. — Rx Blues
No, no, no — do not pretend like you never found out what you discovered. Communication is always the best policy. Because what you don’t know here is much scarier than what you do know and as long as you remain in the dark, the not knowing is going to eat away at you and your relationship. There are lots of possibilities for why your boyfriend is on Paxil and why he hasn’t told you. I’m not a doctor and don’t know much about that particular drug, but perhaps it truly was prescribed for something other than depression and anxiety. But even if he is taking the drug to treat psychological issues, it doesn’t mean that you are the cause for his problems.
You mention that your boyfriend has no stressors in his life, but in the same paragraph you say that he’s “solid” at work and that his band is taking off at a local level. What a lot of people aren’t aware of or don’t truly understand is that success can be just as nerve-wracking and stressful as failure. It’s true. With success and everything it entails — more work, a tighter schedule, less time for yourself, more pressure, more responsibility, more people counting on you — comes stress. Perhaps your boyfriend is feeling some of that. Or, maybe his issues are unrelated to his work. But that still doesn’t mean they are related to you. But even if they are — even if you and your relationship have somehow caused him to crack and seek help from a professional — don’t you think that’s something you ought to know about and discuss with him? And if he isn’t coming to you to talk, you need to go to him.
Don’t pussyfoot around this. Come right out and tell your boyfriend you know he has been prescribed Paxil and it’s your understanding that that’s a drug that treats psychological issues. Refrain from being accusatory. I’m sure he knows where you stand on anti-depressants and that’s part of the reason why he hasn’t openly discussed this with you yet. So don’t confirm his fears that you are someone who will judge him for needing help. And don’t make this about you. It’s not. This is about your boyfriend’s health, so approach it from that angle. Be compassionate and understanding. And keep your judgment about anti-depressants to yourself until you have a better idea why your boyfriend is taking them and what his plan for treatment is. And remember: There’s no shame in taking medication if it’s necessary to be well.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 9:19 am
It’s true that sometimes antidepressants can be used to treat pain, although I don’t know anything about that particular one. My guess is that he really is just embarassed for you to know. Sometimes depression is more of a chemical imbalance than having any significant stressors in your life, and not necessarily something you missed. A lot of guys tend to see themselves as fixers, and see it as a sign of weakness to have to ask for help. Which might help explain why it was ok for you to see therapy, but not for him.
I think the important thing is the lack of communication. After 7 years together, you guys should be able to talk about these things. We all go through rough patches, and sometimes we need to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just tell him you know, let him know you love him, support him, and are there for him. And then let it go. I think this is one of those cases that pressing the issue isn’t going to do anyone any good, especially if he’s feeling ashamed about it.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 9:25 am
anti-depressants are sometimes used to treat “pain”, but only in the sense that non-specific pain is often a symptom of depression. So if a person frequently complains to their doctor of non-specific, not localized, but interfering with their day-to-day life “pain” and there’s no other cause for it, a doctor might look to depression as being a cause of the pain and treat accordingly.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 9:38 am
Oh ok, I never really knew what the science behind it was. My only experience with it was when they put my mom on cymbalta to treat fibromyalgia. But this was a few years ago, I think before fibromyalgia really had a name…
That being said, it didn’t work. And the doctor took her off of it without weaning her off properly, and she had some really, really nasty withdrawl symtoms from it. So for her, the treatment ended up being worse than the cause. But I digress…
fast eddie February 22, 2012, 9:52 am
I take a low dose of Trasadone, another antidepressant, as a sleep aid. It let’s me get to sleep without knocking me out.
jlyfsh February 22, 2012, 9:57 am
My Mom takes trasadone as a sleep aid as well. The funny thing is our family dog takes it too, but for doggie anxiety. Thunderstorms are scary!
Emsz February 22, 2012, 11:35 am
No, that’s not entirely true. SSRIs are able to help with Neuropathic pain, which is the result of a nerve lesion. ‘Normal’ pain is nociceptive pain, that’s when the receptors for pain in your skin go crazy because something is stimulating them. For that you take an NSAID or tylenol/paracetamol.
Astronomer February 22, 2012, 12:14 pm
Anti-depressants can be used to treat “real” pain as well. I have trigeminal autonomic cephalgia, and my neurologist gave me the option to choose between anti-depressants and anti-seizure medication in addition to prescription NSAIDS. Both can alter the brain’s chemistry to change how we receive pain signals (or something like that). I personally went with the anti-epileptic because the side effects seemed less intrusive to me, but anti-depressants were a 50/50 option. From what I was told and through my own research, I’ve come to understand that anti-depressants are fairly commonly prescribed by neurologists to treat things like recurring migraines and cluster headaches.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com February 22, 2012, 10:00 am
Dabbler, you said pretty much everything I was going to say. Depression can be biological, genetic, etc and doesn’t necessarily need a trigger. For all she knows, this has been a life-long issue. And if he’s managing it successfully with medication, well of course she wouldn’t see a problem.
I agree too with the pressure many men feel to be strong. I think the best possible thing she can do is let him know that she is perfectly ok with this. This is a great opportunity to get closer and win his trust. And that’s what love is about.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 10:09 am
I also think its important that she sees that this is actually a good thing. He sees a problem, and is doing something to fix it, or at least work on it, rather than just letting it go and destroying his life. Depression is a real thing, and it’s not something you can truly understand unless you’ve been there.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 10:57 am
YES! I am kind of confused about why she is making this about her. If I was struggling to keep my head above water and my SO came to me and was wondering if it was something he did it might just push me right under the water.
LW – this is probably not about you. But you can find that out by asking him about it. I have a feeling he didn’t mention it to you since you are “wary” of anti-depressants. I interpret that as judgmental. My SO went through a really stressful time for a year when he was extremely physically sick. It made him frankly a grouchy stressed out dick. I would have LOVED if he had made his emotional/mental health as big of a priority as he was his physical health. Maybe this is just a short term thing he has discussed with his doctor. You won’t know until you *lovingly* and *nonjudgmentally* ask.
Jess of CGW February 22, 2012, 5:02 pm
Excellent, excellent point.
MsMisery February 22, 2012, 2:05 pm
I don’t know about Paxil, but SOME kinds of anti-depressants are used to treat SOME kinds of pain. I was on one years ago (so I don’t remember the name) for chronic tension headaches. It didn’t work, which brings me to my next point: now I am on an anti-psychotic/anti-seizure medication. I am neither clinically psychotic and have never had seizures, but sometimes a Rx will be found to work for unofficial things once it’s been out in the people-pool a while. So it is possible he is using this med for chest pains. Please do not jump to the conclusion that he is unhappy with you/your relationship.
bethany February 22, 2012, 9:21 am
One thing that Wendy missed is that depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance, not by some sort of life event. So it’s very possible that his depression is caused by his chemistry, not by you.
That aside- Do what Wendy said. You’ve been together for 7 years. You should be able to talk to him about this.
MissDre February 22, 2012, 9:30 am
I am one of those people. Chemical imbalance, so it’s important for me to stay on my medication even when life is wonderful. I’ve been feeling wonderful (for the most part) for the past two years, but my doctor still won’t let me come off my medication. He lowered my dose to a maintenance level, and it’s likely something I’ll need to be on for a long long time. No shame in that.
kerrycontrary February 22, 2012, 12:43 pm
Thank you bethany! Some people are more likely to suffer from depression due to things like family history/genetics/seratonin imbalance. It ahs NOTHING to do with what’s going on in their life. We also need to keep in mind that many people may seem to have it all going for them, but happiness is relative. I would say I’m 90 percent sure this gf didn’t “cause” her bf to be depressed.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 9:30 am
I have HUGE problems with people “who have issues with anti-depressants” in the same way I have problems with people who are “wary/ take issue with hormonal birth control”. I understand that for you, or for your friends, those drugs didn’t work. I understand that for some people, there were serious negative side effects. I think it’s smart to do your research, read up on the drugs you’re prescribed and ask your doctor knowledgable questions. I even think it’s smart to seek things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or other types of therapy as an alternative to anti-depressants/ anti-anxiety meds. But if those drugs didn’t work for you or your friends? YOU are not a universal entity. For every person who didn’t like the side effects, there are people for whom anti-depressants have literally saved their life, people for whom lithium for bipolar disorder or anxiolytics for severe anxiety disorder have allowed them to function at a level where they can be almost “normal”. So don’t be so quick to hate on prescription drugs. Because for some people, they are life savers.
jess February 22, 2012, 9:39 am
Actually there are a lot of skeptics when it comes to SSRI’s and for a pretty legitimate reason. They aren’t shown to be much more effective than placebo for treating depression. There’s actually a fair amount of controversy over them in the medical field. Particulary with Paxil in fact.
I’m just saying, with the whole “do your research” thing… that goes both ways. I wouldn’t compare skepticism about SSRI’s (I’m not talking psych meds in general, just this one type) to being skeptical hormonal birth control.
Try googling “Are SSRI’s effective?” or “SSRI controversy” and you’ll see what people are saying about them.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 9:52 am
Wikipedia? Is not a reliable source. Skepticism can go both ways, but it only goes both ways if the other side is grounded in real, actual science and not whackaloon conspiracy theory. Peer reviewed literature generally shows that a combination of CBT + medication is the most effective course of treatment for some disorders, but not all.
And like I said, for every person that it doesn’t work for, there is one that it saved their life. So does it even matter if it’s no more effective than a placebo in that case?
jess February 22, 2012, 10:16 am
It’s not a conspiracy theory sweety. I work for a pharmaceutical company in drug development, and I was biochemistry major. We learned about it class and its a big topic in the industry.
That wiki thing was about the lawsuits against GSK… pretty sure they didn’t make up the info about the lawsuits. If you’d like to check out some peer reviewed journals, there is plenty of that research available. I’ll try to find some online links to the actual journal publications that show this info, but usually you have to pay to access those databases.
I agree with what you’re saying about the placebo… that is a BIG thing in clinical trials right now, here’s a really interesting article about it:
The problem with SSRI’s is that there is no evidence to suggest the lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression… in fact one of the times serotonin levels in the brain are lowest is when people are in love. So there is really no medical basis for why SSRI’s should be effective, and in clinical studies, they barely are.
Lots and LOTS of PhDs and MDs and experts in neurology are very skeptical of SSRIs, and believe they cause more harm than good. Statistically “for every person that it doesn’t work for, there is one that it saved their life” is not true. Not sure what source you’re getting that ‘information’ aka opinion from and how reliable it is…
Again, I am not saying thing about all psychiatric medications, just SSRIs.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 10:23 am
sweetie? Right. I’m doing a master’s of science in Epidemiology. My undergrad was in molecular biology and genetics, and I too worked at a pharma company for a co-op term. I know what of I speak.
I know SSRIs are problematic because science doesn’t yet understand exactly HOW they work. But clinical relevance vs statistical relevance are two very different things. Again, the problem is when people try to generalize their poor experience to everybody. It is.not.applicable. Bottom line? The medications you take are between you and your physician and NOBODY ELSE.
jess February 22, 2012, 10:28 am
I’m confused with your background how you’re not aware of the controversy with SSRI’s and why you would call it a conspiracy theory. You don’t have to be on either side of the debate, but I think someone with your background would be aware of it. Why are so upset about this? I’ve taken SSRI’s myself, I don’t have anything against them.
KarenWalker February 22, 2012, 12:19 pm
I’m a nurse and I’ve never heard of this controversy either.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:29 am
bottom line? The medications you take are between you and your physician and NOBODY ELSE.
jess February 22, 2012, 10:32 am
That’s not in disagreement with what I’m saying. However, there are a lot of medications that were approved by the FDA, prescribed by doctors, and then later pulled because continuing research found them to be harmful. Again, I took SSRI’s, I had no problem with them and I still don’t. I’m just saying the LW has the right to feel the way she does (about herself and the medications she herself takes, not to get judgy about her bf)
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 10:54 am
She most adamantly does NOT have the right, having NEVER TAKEN ANTIDEPRESSANTS to prance around saying “I don’t believe in them” and telling people that crosses her path that she’s “skeptical” of them (despite having no first-hand experience with them). Because she has no experience with them. If in the future, her doctor suggested them, she could talk to her physician about CBT or an alternative method to figure out what is best for her. Also, to me, expressing your “I don’t believe in anti-depressants” beliefs (again, with no personal experience of taking them), slides dangerously close to “the reason I don’t believe in them is because I think depression is all in your head”.
Leroy February 22, 2012, 11:02 am
Of course she has the right. You’re hurting your case here by being so vehement.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 11:04 am
She isn’t prancing around saying she doesn’t believe in them. She says she’s wary of them. Big difference.
kmentothat February 22, 2012, 12:53 pm
I doubt she’s being actively lobbying against antidepressants or been overtly judgemental about them…she just said she’s wary based on what she’s seen happen to those close to her. I have struggled with depression, panic attacks, and mild OCD since I was a teenager. I grew up watching both my parents on a variety of medications to treat depression and anxiety and didn’t like what I saw, therefore, it hasn’t been an option that I chose to use for my treatment. And I have every right to not believe in antidepressants, and I have the right to change my mind about them later.
The old “can’t knock it till you try it” argument just doesn’t work here. People have the right to believe what they’d like, but I do think LW needs to be open minded because her values are not necessarily his and to be very careful not to try to make it about herself or find out “why” he’s depressed if that is indeed the case. The last thing he wants is to be treated like a broken toy or like he “got caught.” Come at it from the angle of wanting to support him and his health and be a part of his happiness.
june February 22, 2012, 10:37 am
haha, I love the patronizing “Sweetie;” it reminds me of, “Well, bless her heart…” preceding a backhanded compliment.
jess February 22, 2012, 10:45 am
i know, that was mean. I guess I got annoyed when she called all the studies that show type 2 errors SSRIs as a “whackadoodle conspiracy theory”. Like when I get annoyed when republicans say climate change is made up. I just generally get annoyed when people don’t respect/bother to understand the scientific process.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 10:55 am
yeah and I get annoyed when people tell me I don’t respect or understand scientific process.
jess February 22, 2012, 12:29 pm
If you discount the results of a scientific study as “whackadoodle” and a “conspiracy” just because it says something that you don’t want to hear, than what else can be said? Respecting the scientific process means being open to learning about whatever is discovered through valid studies, whether it goes for or against what you’ve previously believed.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 11:02 am
Just so you know, I’m with you on this – I say this as someone who has been prescribed four different medications to treat depression and anxiety.You can’t abuse birth control pills the way people abuse xanax. I see what caitie_didn’t is saying – you shouldn’t judge people just because they’re medicated. But it’s totally reasonable to feel wary of them when your firsthand experience of people on them are negative. Especially when you find out the person you live with is on them – sex drive and mood changes would directly affect her. Even though she has not right to tell him, for example, that he shouldn’t be taking them – that is completely between him and his doctor – she has every right to her own reactions. Until there are thought police, anyway.
I’m not sure why people are jumping down your throat on this issue. Although, yeah, the sweetie thing was pretty condescending.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 11:13 am
Well clearly they aren’t affecting his sex drive or giving him mood changes if she hasn’t noticed a difference and thinks everything is rainbows and butterflies with him.
I have never been on anti-depressants (yet) but the thing is – if you’re wary of them – don’t take them! But don’t judge other people for doing it. How is it her business to be wary of him taking them? That is his business and something he clearly discussed with his doctor. I’m full blown married and don’t ask permission from my husband to get on certain medication.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 11:18 am
I’m really surprised everyone isn’t saying this. And I’m rarely surprised on DW.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 11:24 am
It doesn’t sound like she’s judging him. It sounds like she’s wary of mood-altering drugs and I think she is completely entitled to her opinion. Wary does not mean disgusted or repulsed or offended. It’s silly of her to think it has anything to do with her at all and it’s not her business whether or not he takes them. But telling her she isn’t allowed to have reservations now that she does know? Who are we to judge her? Frankly, I’m wary of mood-altering drugs, too! I have a healthy respect for anything that changes the chemical makeup of my brain. We should be wary of them! It’s not, “I have a headache, Imma take an asprin,” you know what I mean?
jess February 22, 2012, 10:25 am
I want to add that I have nothing against SSRI’s personally, I have taken them in the past myself. I just feel the need to put the correct information out there.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:29 am
So as a doctor, which I assume you are since you think its your job to put the “correct” info out there (out there being an internet forum???), wouldn’t better advice be go talk to your doctor about it to obtain the correct info? Or do you think everyone should just google it?
jess February 22, 2012, 10:35 am
All I was saying is that there is a big controversy over SSRI’s in the medical field. I’m sure your doctor would be happy to tell you all about it if you asked.
I can see I’ve hit a nerve with some people, not sure why. All I was saying is that being skeptical of SSRI’s is not the same thing as being skeptical of birth control pills.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 10:45 am
Well you struck the nerve with me with the whole “sweetie” thing. No need to be patronizing and degrading.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 11:31 am
Oooh did anyone see the info about it not being the serotonin so much as the glutamate? And they’re doing a study about people using ketamine to treat symptoms of depression?
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 11:37 am
Here it is! Off topic but super interesting!
Alena February 22, 2012, 10:16 am
This comment wasn’t here when I originally started writing my comment, so I kind of want to copy and paste what I said in my comment up here.
“Also, beware of doing your “research” about any sort of medication on the internet, especially on forums. Typically, people who don’t have extremely strong feelings on something won’t take the time to review or talk about it. And from what I’ve seen, people who are feeling more like their “normal” selves often don’t feel like spending a ton of time talking about it on the internet unprompted, they want to move on with their lives. So a lot of the time, the people who are left are angry and feeling poorly about their results, so they spend much of their time trash-talking the medications, saying what horrible things they are, etc. If you look up most any medication online, you’ll find terrible stories about them.”
I’m not a “yayyy! medication!” sort of person. I avoid it when possible. I highly encourage people to try to figure out issues in other ways before they turn to medication. A lot of the time when I go on medications, I’ll go look up scientific studies about them, just because I can, and because I want to see what the science behind them is.
SSRI’s are controversial, but you have to take into account that what they are treating is *abnormal brain chemistry.” Not everyone’s brain chemistry is exactly the same anyway, but when it gets into the “abnormal” category, it varies even more. Finding a SSRI that properly treats the issue a person is struggling from can be hard. A person may have to try 4 different medications before they find one that both effectively treats their issues and doesn’t have overwhelming side effects.
SSRI’s are not controversial because they’re bad in most all cases. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have them. They are controversial because some people can’t find a medication with positive effects that outweigh the negative, AND because there are some people whose lives are dramatically improved. Without both sides it wouldn’t be a controversy.
I can tell you that if it were not for SSRI’s, I would not have two of my good friends, and I probably would not have a mother. Sometimes it takes effort and a good bit of trial and error to find a medication that works effectively, but for a lot of people that is worth it. Every medication has effects. Sometimes you can’t have the good effects without getting one or two bad ones. Occasionally it’s worth it to keep taking the medication for the good effects, sometimes it’s not.
bubbacats February 23, 2012, 9:04 am
Thumbs up, well spoken.
MissDre February 22, 2012, 9:44 am
It took me 4 different medications to find the right one. Sometimes it’s trial and error. But I had a really patient, understanding doctor who encouraged me not to give up, and explained the ways different medications worked. The first 3 made me so so sick, so I can understand why a lot of people would be quick to stop taking them.
But I finally found the right one, and I’m so so glad that I’m finally a normal person again.
SpyGlassez February 23, 2012, 9:40 pm
Likewise – I thought one was working really well, until it was pointed out to me that my thoughts were stuck in repeating patterns; I thought another was working great until I started out of the blue having sudden panic attacks. The one I’m on now works wonders. For once I feel free and clear, I can think, I don’t forget things or feel tired all the time….but you can bet that if that changes, I’ll go back to talk to my doctor.
Another thing that a psychiatrist told me once was that generic drugs are NOT always exactly equivalent to the name brand ones. They are supposed to be, but they’re not necessarily. So you may think you’re getting 100 mg of your med, but since it is a generic, it may actually be anywhere from 75-125 or something like that. So you may not even be taking the dosage you think you are taking, which can cause problems.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 9:51 am
I was hoping someone would touch on this, mine was starting to get lengthy.
I kinda think of it in the same way that when you have a headache and the sniffles and you go on webMD and it diagnoses you with brain cancer and 48 hours to live.
Ok, maybe I exaggerate, but that’s kinda my point. A lot of those cases are worst-case scenarios, and can’t be applied to the general public.
Yes, be wary, do your research, but take it with a grain of salt.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:31 am
Ha! You are so right about webMD.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 10:42 am
Thank you Caitie! You said everything I was going to say. It always irks me when people say they’re “wary” of anti-depressants. Great! Then don’t take them. But don’t judge other people who get by in life because of them. It’s degrading and minimizing their struggles.
MissDre February 22, 2012, 11:45 am
I always love reading your comments. I like you!
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 12:50 pm
We’re kinda like DW bff’s.
MissDre February 22, 2012, 2:03 pm
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 3:23 pm
Thanks 🙂 I didn’t realize that my comment would spark such a debate, but I 100% agree with you. Skeptical of anti-depressants? Cool, talk to your doctor and work out something that will benefit you. But you don’t need to share that viewpoint with other people, expect people to take your “wariness” and personal anecdotes as the gospel truth AND you most certainly don’t get to judge other people for taking them.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 4:16 pm
You’re completely right. I agree with your above statement 100%. The only part where I don’t think we see eye to eye on this is I don’t see where the LW is doing that. At all. She talks about drugs in one sentence of her letter and all she says is: “Another part of me wonders if the reason that he’s withholding this information from me is because he knows that I am very wary of anti-depressants because I know so many people who have fundamentally changed and lost all sex drive while on them.” I don’t read any judginess or disbelief in the efficacy at all, just a wariness of side effects.
caitie_didnt February 22, 2012, 6:46 pm
hmmm…..see I got a very different feeling from that sentence: my take was that if he’s wary of telling her, it could be because she’s expressed views that he *perceives* as being against taking anti-depressants and/or judgemental of people who take them. Because she’s obviously expressed general “wariness” about them. Was that in the context of choosing therapy> medication? Or was it just “so and so is taking anti-depressants, I don’t know why so many people rely on these terrible drugs?” I don’t know. This is just the scenario that came into my head…I mean, there’s 1 million other possible reasons why he’s not telling her, up to and including “it’s none of your damn business” but this is what immediately sprang into my mind.
Also a good friend of mine takes a low-dose antidepressant and hides it from her live-in boyfriend because he “doesn’t believe in depression” or some such nonsense, so I’m admittedly biased that way.
So in conclusion, agree to disagree. hooray for intelligent discourse!
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 8:31 pm
ChemE February 22, 2012, 9:43 am
Maybe it’s something he has been taking since before you met. I wouldn’t assume you are the problem.
My mom had to take medication to level her moods. She would be a huge bitch for no reason (literally, she walks in the door and I say hello and that set her off), but taking the medication, it helped her level out. Sometimes the medication changes them for the better.
Like Wendy said, you should ask him about it. He might be embarrassed by it, but try keep your wariness at bay. If he was on it before you met, he’s the same guy, and if he started after you met, you didn’t indicate any changes in his personality, so your experiences with other people don’t apply to him. Make him feel comfortable and talk about it.
LW February 22, 2012, 9:58 am
I had similar issues with my mother and her mental illness, which is part of the reason I was drug wary. She was always taking various psychiatric drugs, but they didn’t seem to do much except exacerbate her mood swings and make her take out more stuff on me. I know it’s weird, but I don’t think of that as my first “issue” when it comes to psych meds, but I’m sure that it is after reading your comment.
Yammy February 22, 2012, 1:27 pm
Given your history, I think it’s understandable that you would be nervous about you SO starting on a medication. Perhaps he didn’t tell you when he started because he wanted to avoid stressing you out, or he wanted to see how he would tolerate it without any added pressure from anyone else.
FWIW, I doubt he’s hiding much else from you, because he was really bad at hiding this from you. Hell, it seems like he forgot that he was hiding it from you, possibly because he’s not used to hiding things from you. Saying it was for chest pain or whatever was probably a half truth, as some people are known to experience chest pain along with anxiety. Half truths are pretty shitty but perhaps you could start the conversation there, with the aspects of his illness that he feels a little more comfortable sharing with you.
camille905 February 22, 2012, 12:36 pm
Well LW mentioned that she’s filled prescriptions for him before so surely she would have noticed before now.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 12:42 pm
It does sound like a new thing to me, too. And if it is a new thing, he’s probably still adjusting himself. If the LW has been vocal about being anti-drug before I understand why he would be reluctant to tell her, especially at first.
Lindsay February 22, 2012, 9:43 am
If he knows that you don’t approve of anti-depressants, then obviously he’s not going to want to tell you. (Sidenote: A lot of drugs have side effects, like basically for everything, so I imagine it’s more than that — unless you shun every prescription there is, too.) Anyway, you should talk to him about it. There are a lot of reasons people could feel anxiety or be depressed (isn’t Paxil also for anxiety? which could also cause chest pain/panic attacks?), sometimes for what looks like no reason. So, don’t assume it’s you. I’d take a look how you express your opinions in the future, though, because if someone you’ve been with for that long is afraid to tell you about his Paxil, then that might be a problem.
princesspetticoat February 24, 2012, 12:44 am
Absolutely. The fact that he said he was prescribed the medication for chest pain made me think immediately of anxiety. I get chest pains quite often in connection with anxiety.
LW, I don’t think he was lying or anything when he said it was for chest pain. Maybe that was the symptom he was concerned about when he went to the doctor and the doctor suspects anxiety as the cause of the chest pains.
EricaSwagger February 22, 2012, 9:46 am
I’m with you, LW, when it comes to antidepressants. I’m never thrilled when I hear that people I know have been prescribed an SSRI, especially if it was prescribed by their physician (who really has no grounds) or by a psychiatrist who isn’t ALSO working with the client in therapy.
It makes me crazy with rage when physicians just hand them out; a friend of mine once texted me: “I just got back from the doctor… I joined the Prozac Nation!!” Why are you EXCITED about being on an antidepressant? It’s totally messed up. These drugs are SO serious, and it really bothers me when people don’t treat them as such.
Anyway, about your issue. I wanted to throw in some info about Paxil (or generic Paxil, in your case). It’s actually chemically different from Prozac and Zoloft and other “depression” drugs (meaning you take it differently and there are different rules). It’s used to treat depression AND anxiety disorders, so don’t jump to the conclusion that he’s depressed. A lot of people have anxiety disorders and don’t even know they have them.
Of course talk to him about it. He shouldn’t be keeping this secret from someone he’s lived with for 6 years, and as long as you’re going to be open and understanding within reason, he should let you know what’s going on.
ChemE February 22, 2012, 12:42 pm
I don’t think it’s excitement about being on medication so much as its excitement that they might have a chance of it working and life might get back to normal.
Personally I hate taking medications, but if I’m feeling bad enough to go to my doctor about it and she prescribes something that might help, you damn well believe I’ll take it and be happy that there’s a chance it will help.
EricaSwagger February 22, 2012, 1:58 pm
My point was that when you’re excited to join the “prozac nation” then clearly you think it’s like some sort of hip cool thing to be on antidepressants.
Also, your physician should refer you to a psychiatrist, not prescribe you an antidepressant just because you say you’re feeling down or anxious. You should be DIAGNOSED with depression or an anxiety disorder before you’re given such an intense medication.
The thing that bothers me is that people take them for the quick fix. They think, “oh, I’ve been feeling down a lot lately, thank goodness for this medication, I’m glad I get help feeling better.” When really… they aren’t depressed at all and they shouldn’t be given a drug to treat something they don’t have. There are a lot of fixes for mild depression that don’t involve drugs at all. People who hop on the antidepressant bandwagon really should just take responsibility for their own unhappiness and fix it. Try therapy first. And if you think “oh I’m not depressed enough for therapy” then you’re not depressed enough for medication, either.
Krissy February 22, 2012, 3:26 pm
ouch, generalize much?? I think most people think long and hard before filling up on prozac. It seems pretty harsh to judge other peoples depression based on how depressed you perceive them to be. You’re implying that people who use medications to treat their mental health disorders are weak minded, and that just seems cruel… Not to mention, it’s pretty hard to find a psychiatrist that does therapy as well (especially that you won’t be paying upwards of 150 dollars an hour to see!) Psychiatrists are not therapists, and most are unqualified to provide therapy. Everyone has different health priorities, and its between them and their health team to decide if they would like to pursue therapy or not. Therapy is not the end all be all of behavioral health. If someone wants to pursue medication and not therapy, we don’t need to be placing our beliefs on their health decisions regarding their own bodies.
EricaSwagger February 22, 2012, 3:53 pm
No, I’m not saying that drugs are never the answer, I’m making a point about the insane amount of people that are on the drugs who actually don’t need to be. Or the amount of people who would “get better” whether they were given the real drug or a placebo. The fact is that there are hundreds of thousands of people on antidepressants who should not be.
The big problem I have is PHYSICIANS prescribing antidepressants. A physician, an MD, your family doctor, your gynecologist, an ER doctor… is not required to take more than a couple of undergrad psych classes. These doctors have no grounds to prescribe antidepressants and truthfully, should not legally be allowed to.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 4:21 pm
Well this is my thing – why does it matter? I tried going to therapy before Xanax, and the one hour I had to “waste” every week in therapy made my anxiety even worse. Like I could be doing a million more productive things to get rid of my anxiety during this time. Plus I felt like everything she was saying to me were things I had said to myself – if my anxiety was something I could talk myself out of I would have done that already.
I think what you’re missing is that the last thing people need is more interference with their bodies. If I want a pill vs. therapy that’s MY choice. (Well and my doctors, but clearly he thought it was fine). How is this any different than making women go through a million loop holes to get an abortion? It is THEIR body. What exactly is your problem with in your opinion – doctors over prescribing anti-anxiety medication? How does this affect YOUR life? If you don’t want them don’t take them. I do.
slamy February 22, 2012, 7:00 pm
My MD prescribed me lexapro last year for depression and *really* bad anxiety. I used it for two months and it really helped me through an incredibly difficult time. I don’t take it anymore. I still have a prescription for ativan that I can take “as needed” (which has been two times in the past two months – pretty damn good considering I cried EVERY DAY for a long time). I feel offended reading your comments. I experienced few side effects, other than being able to finally take care of things that needed taking care of.
For mild depression and anxiety, I feel a doctor should (AND IS) totally able to prescribe these “light” medications. It’s not like I was had a psychotic break and needed to see a psychiatrist – I was just having trouble managing my emotions and I needed a little help. Everyone deserves to be happy whether or not you agree with their way of finding happiness.
I *did* have all the symptoms of this. I’d known it for a long time. I was sad and anxious enough to go talk to my doctor about it. Was she wrong to give me these drugs instead of referring me to a therapist? No fucking way!
kwyjibo February 22, 2012, 9:15 pm
Are you an MD? Are you involved medical education at the undergraduate, graduate, and/or attending level? I hope you take the time to inform yourself before you put forth blatantly false “facts” such as “A physician, an MD, your family doctor, your gynecologist, an ER doctor… is not required to take more than a couple of undergrad psych classes.” First of all, undergrad psych is not even a requirement to become a doctor. Furthermore, in the first two years of medical school, you take pharmacology classes to educate you on the mechanisms and potential side effects of these drugs. You take a behavioral science class that educates you on the diagnostic criteria for psychiatric disorders. Then you have to take a test that covers these topics and pass it before you can move on to the next 2 years. There is a required rotation in psychiatry where you interview patients and learn diagnostic criteria, and you are REQUIRED to pass this rotation to graduate from medical school. And you don’t just learn about psychiatric drugs on your psychiatry rotation. How many of the patients on oncology floor do you think are depressed? If an oncology patient is feeling (understandably) depressed, having trouble falling asleep, and experiencing loss of appetite, should that patient be required to also see (and pay!) a psychiatrist when I KNOW that I could give that patient mirtazapine? Learning for a physician doesn’t stop after medical school or after residency. We have to keep up-to-date in areas that are relevant to our patients, and YES, depression and its associated conditions are relevant to an ER doctor, a family physician, an internist, an oncologist, a neurologist, a gynecologist, and just about any other field.
EricaSwagger February 22, 2012, 4:00 pm
Also, need to throw this in…
I’m not trying to say I know people’s “depression” better than they do. Don’t tell me I’m belittling how people feel. What I said was that if a person does not meet the symptoms to be DIAGNOSED with a depression or anxiety disorder, they should not be given the drugs to treat something they don’t have. A person can swear up and down that they are so depressed, (people say this all the time), but that doesn’t mean they actually ARE by definition, depressed. The criteria for diagnosing psychological disorders are in place for a reason. You should have to meet the criteria to get the drugs.
SpyGlassez February 23, 2012, 9:46 pm
My physician prescribed my antidepressants. She put me on them because I went into the office wearing a sweater in summer because I had started cutting for the first time in my life. I was on for a couple years, took myself off, and when the darkness returned, I went right back to the doctor and she put me back on them. The first kind didn’t help any more, so we tried others…I mentioned that above. Finally we found something that worked, and both the darkness AND the anxiety are gone. I feel like myself again. I had been gone for nearly 10 years. A physician can most definitely tell when a patient needs something and often knows the patient better than a therapist who has only seen them once or twice might.
cmarie February 24, 2012, 1:18 am
Most docs don’t throw anti-depressants at people. They do have guidelines they go through, that’s why your family doctor has you fill out the depression scale questionnaire every year. Your doctor wont just prescribe you pills without confirming a diagnosis with the DSM and it has to be documented in your chart. Your insurance won’t provide the medication without a valid diagnosis. It’s insulting to the whole medical profession to imply that doctors prescribe any medication willy nilly without confirming that you meet the criteria to be diagnosed. I had to be depressed for 6 months before my doctor would prescribe the lowest dose of wellbutrin. Just because you don’t think someone is “depressed” doesn’t mean they aren’t. That’s why you’re not a doctor. FYI, if you’re depressed from a chemical inbalance, all the therapy in the world isn’t going to help your depression. Everybody reacts differently and needs different things to feel better, you can’t generalize mental health. That’s why doctors work hard to find the right combination of meds for the individual patient.
ReginaRey February 22, 2012, 9:51 am
I’m so glad Wendy spelled it out – COMMUNICATION!!!!
You cannot; simply CAN.NOT. have a healthy, serious relationship with someone if you can’t talk to them about the difficult things (like depression). I don’t want to beat this LW up, but I’m really almost mind-blown at the sheer number of people who are afraid or hesitant about open, honest, serious communication!
And quite honestly you, LW, aren’t the only one in your relationship who seems to be hesitant about open and honest communication. Maybe this is a personal preference, but if I’ve been with someone 7 years (that’s a common law marriage, where I’m from!), my boyfriend should be telling me things like “I’m on this new medication that treats psychological issues.” I almost don’t blame you for wondering if it’s about you; I might wonder the same thing if I found out that my boyfriend wasn’t telling me something of that magnitude.
But no matter what, both of you need to come to terms with communication. Open, transparent, honest communication; not passive-aggressive or indirect reaching comments – an actual conversations where everything is laid out on the table. And it’s not just you, LW, it’s SO MANY LW’s on this site…and so many humans, in general. I’m sorry for taking out my frustration with this epidemic on you…but it struck a chord with me.
AK47 February 22, 2012, 9:56 am
I can see where your boyfriend is coming from, if it’s been a chronic condition for him. You should definitely speak to him about it, though.
On the surface, I seem to be a very happy, successful person. I have close friends, a great job, and just finished up my degree at a good school with decent grades. I’ve had chronic, fairly severe anxiety issues for about 5 years. I take a very low dose of a mood stabilizer, and between that and therapy it manages my condition very well. I always feel very awkward with a new guy when it comes to my medication–partly because the prescription I take can also be used to treat schizophrenia in much higher amounts, so I don’t want them to think that’s what I’m dealing with, and also because since it’s well managed I don’t want to cause worry/alarm that I’m a crazy lady. My current partner has been wonderful about this, but there have been a couple of guys in the past who have treated me completely differently when they found out I was being treated for anxiety.
You definitely need to talk to him about it, and try not to bring your own prejudices against anti-depressants into it. While some people may change a lot and lose their sex drive, you don’t mention these issues with your boyfriend. While some people handle certain medications badly, for many psychiatric medications give them the gift of being able to manage their illness while leading and maintaining a happy life.
Alena February 22, 2012, 9:58 am
I was almost prescribed anti-depressants for muscle tics (twitches, basically) in the past, and one of my friends was prescribed some for her muscle tics in her torso. Muscle tics can get painful. If the muscles that are twitching are ones in the chest, they may just seem like pain, and not a noticeable muscle spasm. Doctors are not completely sure on what causes tics (though they have a basic idea), but anti-depressants have been shown to help with them. So there is a possibility that his chest pains were the reason he was prescribed anti-depressants.
I also have to agree with catie_didnt. It really bothers me when people say they “have issues with anti-depressants.” I don’t have an issue because they changed my life though, in fact, I was on anti-anxiety/anti-depressants for a few years, and they did nothing for me, other than make me sick and give me headaches. HOWEVER, I know so many people whose lives were dramatically improved because of them. Some of them probably wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for their anti-depressants.
Also, beware of doing your “research” about any sort of medication on the internet, especially on forums. Typically, people who don’t have extremely strong feelings on something won’t take the time to review or talk about it. And from what I’ve seen, people who are feeling more like their “normal” selves often don’t feel like spending a ton of time talking about it on the internet unprompted, they want to move on with their lives. So a lot of the time, the people who are left are angry and feeling poorly about their results, so they spend much of their time trash-talking the medications, saying what horrible things they are, etc. If you look up most any medication online, you’ll find terrible stories about them.
anon February 22, 2012, 10:03 am
“You mention that your boyfriend has no stressors in his life, but in the same paragraph you say that he’s “solid” at work and that his band is taking off at a local level. What a lot of people aren’t aware of or don’t truly understand is that success can be just as nerve-wracking and stressful as failure.”
YES. It always surprises me when people think, oh this person has everything together so there’s no reason for them to be stressed. I think that for a lot of people who are prone to depression/anxiety (I truly believe that it is chemical and hereditary) everything going right is just as stressful as everything going wrong. How else would you explain the number of people with “successful” careers who have depression issues? I can’t tell you how many people I know from college and law school who have been on this type of medication at one time or another.
Like someone else said above, if LW didn’t notice any side effects or change in her boyfriend’s personality, then I don’t think the drug itself is a problem. There’s nothing wrong with getting help, and I bet that his doctor did prescribe the drug because he complained of chest pain/pressure. I’ve had that exact conversation with my doctor.
LW just needs to talk this out with her boyfriend.
oldie February 22, 2012, 10:10 am
LW has seen her bf’s behavior and experienced his level of sexual desire. If she had no hint of any problem before accidentally finding out about the prescription, then she seems to be worrying overly much about the potential side effects.
Muffy February 22, 2012, 10:43 am
I agree with this completely. If you haven’t really noticed a problem with him then I wouldn’t get all caught up in it. I am on anti-depressants and I can understand if he was nervous to tell you. I once told a boyfriend of mine who broke up with me shortly after finding out I had depression because he “couldn’t deal with it”.
You could just ask him about the drug and don’t judge about being on the medication. Clearly if his sexual drive isn’t low then he hasn’t experienced that side effect.
Also LW: what made you think it was you? Have you done anything that would send someone into a state of depression?
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:25 am
I didn’t realize so many DW commenters were doctors.
Anyway, I’m grumpy this morning. I think LW has bigger issues than this if they’ve been together 7 years and she can’t say what she saw, not that I necessarily think its any of her business. I don’t find myself required to tell my SO about everything I do/get at a doctor’s office.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:25 am
Also, wikipedia is not a valid source. Do people really not know this?
Addie Pray February 22, 2012, 10:30 am
It is too a valid source. That is where I start a lot of my legal research. Ergo, it’s a valid source. See how that logic works?
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:32 am
🙂 i heart you addie pray
MELH February 22, 2012, 10:56 am
My first year of law school, the buzz among people that read about our assigned cases on wikipedia instead of in the book was that our teacher argued the case we were reading in the supreme court. I mean, he was a brilliant guy, but he didn’t scream supreme court litigator to me. When he opened the discussion of the case with “I don’t really understand the underlying facts, but we’re reading it for this civil procedure issue”, I was sure someone was just messing with wikipedia users. Then someone actually asked him, and he confirmed that he did not argue the case. And somewhere, some 3L was laughing their ass off over it.
MELH February 22, 2012, 10:53 am
When I was interning at a magazine 4 or 5 years ago, we interns fact checked the writer’s stories. I was always amazed how many times their facts were backed up with a wikipedia article. We then had to go find a genuine source for those facts or ask them to cut it. One day one of my coworkers freaked out and yelled at our boss ‘How are these people employed in journalism? I am smarter than this and these morons are taking up jobs!” Luckily our boss was very laid back and thought her outburst was hilarious.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:57 am
Makes you wonder how they would’ve done back when the internets didn’t exist, right? I can’t judge though, the dewey decimal system scared me as a child.
Christy February 22, 2012, 11:13 am
Wikipedia can be a good STARTING point for research, to familiarize yourself with a general topic before delving into it in-depth. Trust me, I wanted to hate wikipedia too. I wrote my admissions essay for library school on the evils of wikipedia and how I wanted college students to use real sources. But if you’re just looking for a basic, NON-AUTHORITATIVE introduction to a topic, then wikipedia is fine. You just have to back it up with something verifiable.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 11:20 am
Britannia February 22, 2012, 12:58 pm
I often use Wikipedia’s reference links at the bottom of their articles as a jumping point when I have no idea of where to start.
Fabelle February 22, 2012, 11:26 am
Just jumping in to sort of expand on that statement because I’m seeing a few people totally bashing Wikipedia as if it’s some kind of tabloid-y, made-up source of information. Though it’s obviously not valid to quote for hard research, it DOES compile its info by using many linked, legit sources.
Zepp February 22, 2012, 12:16 pm
lets_be_honest, i know you’re referring to the wikipedia link I posted about the lawsuits again GSK about Paxil. Here is a link to a new york times article about it.
“Glaxo to Pay $750 Million for Sale of Bad Products… GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints that the company for years knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant —”
Of course I would never use wikipedia for a source for a formal paper, but I think it’s okay for a forum post. I’m not sure if you would consider the Times a valid source, but I think most people would.
Again, I am not against Paxil, but I think its fair to have all sides of the issue talked about.
jess February 22, 2012, 12:26 pm
here’s another one more specific to the placebo problems, the page is the daily beast, but the article was originially publsihed by Newsweek magazine, which is a valid source of information:
“The Depressing News About Antidepressants
Studies suggest that the popular drugs are no more effective than a placebo. In fact, they may be worse.”
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 12:30 pm
My comment about wikipedia as a source was only about exactly that. I wasn’t saying anything about paxil or whether I agreed or believed anything anyone was saying about it.
Fabelle February 22, 2012, 12:43 pm
I agree– not sure if this was meant to be directed at me? but my post was basically defending those who posted links to Wiki articles & got slammed for it. I think it’s fine to use on a forum! I mentioned that it links to outside sources (like NYT, which yeah, is recognized as valid) to show how it’s inaccurate for people to be painting it as some total bullshit site.
Fabelle February 22, 2012, 12:44 pm
Oh duhr, nevermind Zepp– I see now you’re addressing let’s_be_honest. I thought you were actually just saying “Let’s be honest…”
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:38 am
You know the “You might like” box above with 3 or 4 other letters? One was Should I tell my boyfriend I had an abortion? I remember most felt she did not have to and it was none of her boyfriend’s business. Anyway, found that interesting since a lot of us seem to think his meds are her business.
Muffy February 22, 2012, 10:44 am
I also agree with this. If it hasn’t affected your relationship in any way then there really is no reason to pry LW.
jlyfsh February 22, 2012, 10:45 am
i don’t know that i think his meds are his business. although it is helpful to know in case of an emergency (speaking from experience after a trip to the er where my husband was out of it but i was able to give a list of what he took).
i think really this issue is more about not being able to unsee something and how she should be able to talk to him about this after 7 years.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:49 am
Yea, I agree. Very weird to be with someone that long and not be able to share that info.
Addie Pray February 22, 2012, 10:45 am
Inneressing point. Didn’t that LW have the abortion prior to her relationship and wasn’t the relationship new? I need to find the letter but I have a feeling the timing of things was different in that case.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 10:49 am
It wasn’t the same relationship. I just still thought there was an interesting connection there. An abortion is not your boyfriend’s business (assuming the baby was not the boyfriend’s) but your boyfriend’s meds are your business? I don’t see the point in hiding what meds you are on, personally, but if you want that private, then I think it should be private. I’m surprised people think she has a right to know or he should’ve told her.
But then again, I also think its weird they’ve been together that long and he wouldn’t feel comfortable telling her.
iseeshiny February 22, 2012, 12:27 pm
It was before their relationship officially started, but he was the father. They’d had a fwb thing the year(two years?) before.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 10:46 am
I don’t think it’s so much that people are saying that his meds are her business, but more that there’s something significant going on in his life, and they’re not able to communicate about it.
bethany February 22, 2012, 10:59 am
It’s her business because they’re essntially common law partners, and he’s taking a drug. What if he started having some sort of crazy reaction to it, but she didn’t know he was taking anything? What if there was an emergency and they needed to know what medications he was on? I feel like whoever if your “contact in case of emergency” person (and I’m assuming she is this, since they’ve been living together for 6 years) should know this kind of stuff about you.
jlyfsh February 22, 2012, 11:06 am
after a trip to the er last year this is why my husband and i both know what each other takes. we also have a card with the list of drugs, dosage, etc as well as our attending physician’s name and contact info. i know it’s partly because of the anxiety i felt during his trip that i made him do this, but i feel better knowing that even if we’re not with each other doctors/nurses in the er will be able to find out that information quickly. my husband’s also a diabetic which i think makes knowing what he is taking in case of an emergency even more important.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 11:22 am
Who ends up hurt in your example though? He does. Its his choice to play it safe and tell her or keep it to himself.
I’d venture to guess she is NOT his i.c.e contact if he doesn’t even want her to know about this.
bethany February 22, 2012, 12:03 pm
If you’ve built a life together (as it seems these two people have), then you both get hurt when one parther gets hurt.
If my husband were on medication for an illness/condition/whatever and went out of his way to hide it from me, I’d be upset. Maybe we have a different level of transparency in our relationship than most people do, but it works for us. It seems like the LW and her boyfriend have different ideas of what is appropriate to share in their relationship, which is what their problem ultimately is.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 12:12 pm
I’d tell my SO if I were on something just because I would. Doesn’t mean I’m required to though. But I totally agree that the real problem here is communication. Its pretty bizarre to me that you could spend 7 years with someone and not be able to just ask about something if you are curious.
Meadowphoenix February 22, 2012, 2:53 pm
No one’s required to do anything, if they’re willing to face the consequences. But saying that there shouldn’t be a question of whether he should tell her or not because he’s not required too is overstating it. He doesn’t have to tell her, but let’s not pretend that that couldn’t become a grave disservice to her, him, and their relationship.
CollegeCat February 22, 2012, 4:07 pm
THIS! I feel like we could answer every letter with YOU/HE/SHE/THEY ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DO ANYTHING. But who would that help? Giving advice is about weighing options and examining different sides of an argument not just stating what someone does/doesn’t have the right to do and moving on. The LW already deduced that he doesn’t have to talk to her about it, considering he didn’t tell her and she happened upon the info. Now she is wondering if SHE should start a discussion since its already out in the open. Just because YOU don’t have these problems because YOU don’t feel the need to tell your SO everything does not mean it isn’t a legitimate concern to the LW!
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 4:17 pm
My point was its not really any of her fuckin business. But yea, I would absolutely answer every letter with “you’re not required to…” That’s certainly what I was saying. Great advice, right? Ughhh.
Obviously he is willing to face the consequences. He’s chosen not to tell her. Not sure how thats a grave disservice to anyone. If someone wants to tell you something, they will.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 4:28 pm
I got yo back boo! I think people equate good communication in a relationship to you have to tell them every fucking thing. I disagree. I have great communication with my SO and I don’t send him a text every time I pop a Xanax. Also I think people are totally over exagerating the seriousness of perscription drugs. Some are really serious (I am in the camp of how many celebrities have to die from some combination of ambien before they outlaw that shiz) but some are not a big deal nor are taken everyday. I actually have two perscriptions in my house right now I take “as needed”. I didn’t need either today, or this week.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 4:32 pm
This is a personal thing. Personal does not mean you and your SO. It means you and only you.
Addie Pray February 22, 2012, 4:45 pm
Well, you, only you, + us on Dear Wendy.
Lili February 22, 2012, 5:49 pm
Teehee. I wish i was too. Happy national margarita day indeed. Wait. Is it weird that it comes after Fat Tuesday?! Coincidence or pure genius?!
Lili February 22, 2012, 5:45 pm
THIS. Iwanna your quote:’ I think people equate good communication in a relationship to you have to tell them every fucking thing. I disagree.’ is pure solid gold knowledge. I USED to think this, because I am of the over-share personality type, and I made life VERY hard for my more personal ex at times, wanting to know every single boring little detail in an effort to ‘communicate better.’ Now I’m realizing that just because I like to tell people everything doesn’t mean the ones who don’t love me less, they just have different styles. Its that simple. If I want to only be in a relationship with an oversharer that is my choice, but I have to keep reminding myself that some people are just private. its about THEM. NOT ME.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 11:01 am
Yeah I didn’t realize this was common practice. Obviously I would have to tell my husband if I was on pain killers or something serious that can’t be mixed with stuff – but every single thing i’m on? That seems kind of personal. We’re married – not the same person. I don’t have to share every single monotonous thing with him. If it’s not dangerous or can be mixed with anything why does he need to know?
I guess different strokes for different folks but I am just not comfortable sharing every single part of my life regardless of the fact that i’m married. I don’t shave my legs in front of him or do other lady grooming in front of him either. Is that necessary as well?
dabbler February 22, 2012, 11:15 am
But there’s also a difference between hiding something significant (the depression/anxiety more so than the drugs, in my opinion), and simply not sharing every mundane aspect of our lives.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 11:24 am
See I think this is part of the problem. People talk about depression and anxiety in hushed whispered tones like the grim reaper just walked in spraying everyone with aids. It’s not that big of a deal. For some people it is. But some people have really mild forms of depression or anxiety. I have Xanax. I think I was perscribed 30 maybe like 5 months ago. I think I have most of them left. I don’t need to be babied about it nor do I think it’s something I should be embarrassed about. So yes – depression and anxiety can be a huge deal – but not for everyone. I don’t need anyone to tip toe around me or look at me with sad puppy eyes because I have Xanax. It’s not a huge deal. I just feel overwhelmed during huge life changes (quitting my job and starting law school I needed it – now ending law school and stepping into the unknown – I need it again). It doesn’t have to be this big life crisis that he’s on anti anxiety medication. I told my husband but more because I was proud of myself – like look honey isn’t this great – hopefully I won’t start crying today because my car got dirty in the snow yesterday and that is just one more thing that is out of my control in life.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 11:54 am
I don’t disagree. I don’t feel like depression is a shameful secret. My opinions come from my own experience. I had no energy, no motivation, I was miserable and not myself. And people could see it in me. I had a professor that used to tell me that i had lost my sparkle. I still think about that on mybad days. And i had no valid reason for any of it. So I had guilt for being so miserable in my relatively charmed life. (I think someone posted this the other day, but hyperbole and a half has a great illustration of this kind of depression.)
But none of that made the way I felt any less real or dibilitating to me. It didn’t break me, I will always get through it, but I needed help, and I needed support. I couldn’t do it alone. I still have my moments, we all do. One of the things that gets me through is having those people to lean on, especially when my feelings aren’t always rational. I don’t feel the need to advertise my issues, but I do rely on those closest to me when I need help, or just a sympathetic ear, and I want to be able to do the same for them when they need it.
mcminnem February 22, 2012, 2:08 pm
I had exactly this too, dabbler, I’d say 75% percent of what was causing me to be depressed was the gross guilt that we heap on ourselves. It felt like, “everything is perfect, why aren’t I happy? What’s wrong with me?” Fortunately for me I found out pretty quickly that it was being caused by my BC, and it cleared up pretty quickly once I switched pills. But I know I caused things to be a lot worse than they would have been, by feeling that I had no right to feel angry and sad when there was nothing I could do to stop my feelings.
Also, I <3 Hyperbole and a Half. 🙂
*HmC* February 22, 2012, 2:43 pm
Oh my gosh you guys, she is the best!
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 11:16 am
Feel the same.
I know a few above are arguing that its safe for her to know in case of an emergency. I agree of course. BUT, thats a risk he has a right to take by not telling her.
AND, the whole common law marriage thing, they aren’t married. Almost, practically and pretty much married is not married.
dabbler February 22, 2012, 11:30 am
Honestly, neither of those things would have even crossed my mind, although the emergency thing is a valid point, even if I have nothing more scientific than House reruns to back that up with… 🙂
But having struggled with depression, and having been on medication in the past, I would want to be able to lean on my partner for support during a difficult time, and I would hope he’d be able to do the same with me. I just don’t see the medication as that big of a deal, personally. For me, the not being able to talk about the underlying issues would be the bigger problem.
*HmC* February 22, 2012, 3:11 pm
“AND, the whole common law marriage thing, they aren’t married. Almost, practically and pretty much married is not married.”
Agree with this sentiment.
lets_be_honest February 22, 2012, 3:28 pm
Thank you! I don’t ever understand that argument. If he/she wanted to me your husband/wife, they would ASK and you would get a ring and a marriage certificate.
Iwannatalktosampson February 22, 2012, 8:47 pm
3rd’d. So annoying. Everyone wants all the perks of marriage without having to make the commitment. You’re either married or you’re not. If you’re not because you don’t want to (obviously this doesn’t apply to same sex marriage – that’s a whole other can of worms) that’s fine – but then don’t act like you should get to act like you are. You’re not.
GatorGirl February 22, 2012, 1:38 pm
I would say your spouse should at least have access to a full list of medications you take. What if you were unconscience and he didn’t know what you took and the docs gave you something that interacted with your daily meds? In my experiance the first person they try to contact in an emergency is a spouse, and if they don’t have all the info then…
silver_dragon_girl February 22, 2012, 11:31 am
Agreed. I’m a chronic over-sharer, and I tend to tell my boyfriend way, way more than he needs or wants to know. It’s something I’m working on, and one of the big things is medical issues. I think this is the guy’s business. If he didn’t tell her, he didn’t tell her. It’s not like she found AZT or Abreva and needs to know if she’s at risk for some disease.
But I also think that she should just talk to him about it if it’s bothering her. Just remember, LW, that this is NOT ABOUT YOU. You can’t “cause” depression. Clinical depression doesn’t usually have a “cause,” and if things were so bad with you that he was clinically depressed about it, I’m pretty sure his psychiatrist would have advised him to talk to you and work it out or break up before putting him on meds. So please try to relax.
jaybro February 22, 2012, 1:09 pm
Hmmm. I’d consider the situations different because the abortion was in the past whereas the meds are current. And the relationship is 7 years old. If the “Should I tell my bf about my abortion” LW had asked if she should tell her current boyfriend of seven years that she was going to get an abortion this week, we might have given a different answer.
Fabelle February 22, 2012, 11:12 am
To the LW- yes, talk to him about it. I would stick with fact-based questions, like maybe “Oh, when did you start taking this?” Also, like Wendy said, don’t make it about you. I understand why that would be a concern, but it’s going to sound self-centered and obtuse if it’s one of the first things you ask (I say this because my boyfriend has a tendency to always ask “Is it me??” whenever I’m upset or annoyed, and it’s pretty exasperating)
As a more general comment, I just want to say that I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be wary about taking SSRIs or concerned if someone you know is prescribed them. Obviously, they help many people, but the medical controversy surrounding them is a real, actual thing. HOWEVER, the LW still needs to keep her personal opinion out of the discussion when talking to her boyfriend.
GatorGirl February 22, 2012, 11:33 am
I wanted to echo what some of the other commentors said about Paxil specifically not being prescribed for depression but rather for an anxiety related issue. It can be prescribed for OCD, PTSD, generalized or social anxiety disorder, etc etc. Don’t jump to the conclusion it is for depression.
I took Paxil for about a year when I was dealing with intense panic attacks due to social anxiety disorder. I’ve been off the medication for over 4 and a half years and while on the meds and since I’ve learned who to cope with the anxiety in other ways. It has been difficult to talk to my BF about my anxiety issues, but you have to communicate in a relationship!!
Talk to your BF in a nonconfrontational way. Clearly he already knows you saw the prescription on the CVS account…so just talk to him.
One other note- there are some pretty scary side effects when going off of Paxil. Make sure if he does decide to stop (now or in 10 years) that you consult a doctor before and monitor his symptoms.
cmarie February 22, 2012, 11:49 am
Anti-depressants aren’t always prescribed for just depression. Tricyclics are used for neuropathic pain in cancer patients, trasodone is sometimes used as a sleep-aid, wellbutrin is sometimes prescribed to help kick-start weight loss. How is it being prescribed: is it a tabled, capsule, liquid, extended release, modified, etc. While in my experience Paxil isn’t usually prescribed for chest pain, it’s not completely out there that his doctor would have prescribed it for something other than depression. Paxil is used to treat more than depression. It’s sometimes prescribed for diabetic neuropathy, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (although that seems to be a very unlikely reason for him). Point is, you can’t assume that it’s depression when that drug treats more than that. He’s in a band that’s getting more popular, probably playing more shows; maybe that makes him anxious. Maybe the pressure to perform well is causing panic attacks. Is he diabetic? Maybe he is just depressed and knows how you feel and doesn’t want to tell you. I don’t know about you, but I can feel when someone is judging me. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for almost a year now, I had a lot going on in my life and wasn’t dealing very well. It gave me more energy so I wasn’t sleeping so much so allowed me to get out more which allowed me make friends and have fun and get back to “me”. Sometimes anti-depressants save lives and sometimes they just provide the kick you need to get going on your own. I know who supports me and I know who judges me because they’re “wary” of anti-depressants. Remember this: just because it’s not right for you doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you want your boyfriend to talk to you, you need to approach him as a loving, supportive partner who believes he should do whatever it takes to deal with whatever is going on in his life and who would never, ever judge him based on her own (founded on second-hand stories I have to say) opinion. Most likely, he wants to talk to you, he’s just afraid you will judge him, which definitely won’t help whatever issues he’s dealing with.
*HmC* February 22, 2012, 11:59 am
“I had to seek counseling last year, which he knows about that, so I don’t think shame is the issue here.” -LW
Just because you have experienced issues with depression/anxiety and he knows about them, doesn’t automatically mean he feels no stigma about bringing up his own issues to you. Unfortunately, these issues still carry a great deal of shame for many people, and it runs deep. I’m not saying he definitely is ashamed, but don’t discount the possibility just because of his reaction to your issues. It is often easier, I think, to support others and not judge them harshly than it is to do the same for ourselves.
“My first thought is that maybe he’s unhappy with me…He has no real stressor in his life at the moment, which makes me think I might be the problem” – LW
It’s weird to me that this is your FIRST thought. First, I think it’s a weird jump in logic to assume you are the problem because he happens to not have other problems that you can think of. Are you guys having major issues or something you didn’t mention? Otherwise, don’t make someone else’s issues about you until you have an actual reason to do so.
Second, I’m not a therapist, but I doubt that prescribing anxiety meds is the first thing mental health professionals do when they hear that a patient may be having relationship issues. I think that if he was given a prescription for anxiety meds, it’s *possible* that the drugs are to treat something other than anxiety itself (not sure what other ailments it helps with?) but I don’t think “bad girlfriend” is one of those ailments.
Lastly, maybe I’m just super open in relationships, but I don’t understand how you get to 7 years with someone without being able to just talk to them. Communication in a relationship is, like, the point of being in a relationship, for me. You don’t have to always say the exact perfect thing and talk like a diplomatic politician- this is someone you have loved and shared a home with for years! Yes, he acted a little weird when he realized you saw the Paxil. But, cat’s out of the bag! No snooping was involved, and he knows this. If it were me, I’d just be like, “hey, why are you on Paxil anyway?” I’m all about privacy and not snooping, but snooping didn’t happen here. At this point, not talking about it would be secretive and dishonest, which is not healthy for a relationship. Anyone who would be super offended that their significant other would be curious about their mental health wouldn’t be the right match for me anyway.
mcminnem February 22, 2012, 2:26 pm
Actually, you just made me think of something, HmC – NOT bringing it up could come across has having a problem with it. Like, “Oh noes! Let’s never talk about this again because it’s shameful and embarrassing!” I think the best thing would be to do exactly what you said, and just bring it up as casually as possible. Serious Conversations ™ are for Serious Issues, so if you don’t want this to be a Serious Issue then have a casual conversation about it. The more you treat it like it’s no big deal, the less it’ll feel like a big deal to your boyfriend and allow him to be more comfortable talking about it (and other things like it in the future.)
*HmC* February 22, 2012, 2:40 pm
Serious Conversations ™ <———- hahahaha!
Yes, that is a good point! I think for me (and in most good relationships, I imagine) people can tell when something is bothering their significant other, so if you don't bring something up, it just builds and becomes more serious than it needs to be. And in the meantime, you make the other person worry about why you're holding back.
This LW didn't snoop and she isn't demanding information- she's merely curious about something she stumbled upon in a totally legitimate way. As far as the debate going on above, I don't really think that I'd want to be in a relationship where I was demanding to know personal things and becoming pissed off if they weren't shared. I can't imagine being happy with someone that felt the need to consistently hold back information about themselves, however potentially embarrassing. I personally need a level of consensual, happy, mutual transparency in any relationship that I would be comfortable in.
AKchic_ February 22, 2012, 12:05 pm
“chest pains” can be a symptom of panic attacks. You say you’re wary of anti-depressants, and if he is stressed out/depressed, he doesn’t want a lecture or an argument – he wants help, which is probably why he started taking them and kept it from you. My 2nd husband is anti-medication and blames his younger brother’s issues for it. After a long talk with my former MIL, it turns out that the brother wasn’t getting the help he needed, and wasn’t really even on medication in the first place, but my 2nd husband wasn’t really around and was too young to understand that, but automatically blames medication and is wrongly blaming medication.
When I needed medication, I took it. When our kids needed medication or faced being expelled from school (and I can’t just stop working to home school them when I was a single mom), I ignored him and put my kids on medication. My ex may not like it, but since he is across country and sees them once every 12-18 months, I know what is better for them than he does at the moment.
Talk to your boyfriend, but be open-minded. You may be wary, but you have probably always had a partial view of things, or skewed view because you’ve never been the one taking the medications, or never have known the full circumstances of everything.
GatorGirl February 22, 2012, 12:17 pm
““chest pains” can be a symptom of panic attacks” YES!
LW if it is in fact a panic disorder he is being treated for please try to be understanding and learn about it. When I have a panic attack I litterally feel like I drank an entire pot of coffee in one gulp (my blood feels like its racing, I get shake-y, need to use the bathroom) and that the entire world is coming crashing down. They often happen for no reason and with out a trigger. It’s a hard thing to understand from the outside and a hard thing to live with. It is amazing the physical symptoms that can occur.
MELH February 22, 2012, 12:58 pm
Exactly! I had a friend in college who went to the hospital 3 times in one quarter with severe chest pains. After doing all the testing they could think of for heart conditions, they started exploring anxiety as the root of the issue. They gave him anti-anxiety meds, and the pain went away. His anxiety manifested as full blown chest pain. While he was aware it was an anxiety problem, he wasn’t necessarily blatantly lying to you. And if he doesn’t really get what the doctors are doing with the medication, he may really think thats what the medicine is for.
Oh, and the friend in college was doing well in his classes, had lots of friends, was in a relationship and seemed happy most of the time….and he still had anxiety issues.
moonflowers February 22, 2012, 2:28 pm
That’s the maddening part about anxiety issues – once you’ve had one attack, your risk for having another one is substantially higher. By the time you’ve had three, you are at risk for random attacks out of nowhere, which is pretty frustrating.
ele4phant February 22, 2012, 12:07 pm
Is it possible that you are over thinking this? Is it possible that he’s not lying to you – that he was in fact prescribed the drug for the reason he told you?
Granted, I’m not a doctor, nor am I familar with Paxil and all its uses, but I take a particular prescription that can also be used as an anti-psychosactic or as an anti-depressant. I am not pyschotic, or depressed, but if my boyfriend didn’t know why I took it (he does), and he googled it, he would see a whole litany of possible reasons for taking the drug, some mundane, some distrubing.
If you want to bring it up with your boyfriend, I fully encourage that, but from my own view point, it is possible you could be over-reacting to this.
rangerchic February 22, 2012, 12:18 pm
I think, like most everyone here, communication is key. I also don’t understand not telling your SO (especially if you’ve been together for a long time and/or are married) about significant happenings/feelings in your life. Your SO is supposed to be your partner, someone you can trust and support you in your time of need – who you can confide in, etc. If you are going to be on a medication, especially for an unknown amount of time, I think it is important your SO knows about it. Why would you hide it? Why would you want to?
Al-AK February 22, 2012, 12:30 pm
I didn’t *laugh* about this issue, but it kind of struck a note with me. I take acycolvir to manage chronic shingles. If my boyfriend found out I took it without hearing how and why from me, and he subsequently did a quick Google search he’d think I have herpes. Wendy is right, what you don’t know is much worse than what you do. LW, this is someone you love, be kind and nonjudgmental and ask what’s up.
KarenWalker February 22, 2012, 1:16 pm
First, here’s my advice:
At this point, I do think it would be appropriate to have a conversation. He knows you know and you know he knows you know. If I were you, I would ask how his chest pain is since he started taking the new medicine. Mention you were surprised to see Paxil for chest pain since you know it’s commonly used for treating depression and anxiety. Give him a chance to open up; if he’s not ready to talk, remind him he can tell you anything and you won’t judge him; let him know you are available when he is ready to talk and that you just want to see him get better.
Now, here’s my two cents:
LW, I am a very private, guarded person who tends to internalize. In the past I have gotten really depressed to the point of having been hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Even then, I was unwilling to discuss the problems I was having. I would rather suffer in silence, then open up & expose myself like that to another person even though I know better and I don’t think there should be any shame associated with mental health. I know how dumb that sounds, but that’s just the way I am. Maybe your BF is like that, too? If I were to seek medical/psychological help, I most likely would not discuss it with my SO, but it would be because of him that I am actively seeking ways to get better. Again, maybe your BF is the same way?
Since we don’t know why Paxil was prescribed or for how long he has been taking it, it’s hard for us to say whether or not he should have already discussed this with you. The fact that he had it filled on your CVS account was dumb on his part if he was trying to hide this from you so maybe he was planning on talking about it when he felt ready. Knowing your opinions on antidepressants might have convinced him to wait & see how it would work for him before discussing it with you. Keep in mind that anxiety attacks can cause symptoms similar to a heart attack so maybe he is telling you a very simplified version of why he’s taking this medication.
In addition to being used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders, Paxil is also used to treat chronic headaches, tingling in the hands and feet caused by diabetes, and certain male sexual problems. LW makes no mention of their sex life, but if the bf is facing “certain male sexual problems,” perhaps he is trying to fix things while sparing himself the embarrassment of having that conversation with his gf.
Bossy Italian Wife February 22, 2012, 1:24 pm
Nothing has to be particularly stressful or sad for someone to feel depressed or anxious. My husband has depression and people would always ask me, “why is he depressed?” There is not an external reason “why” he is depressed–he has a chemical imbalance. We chose not to go down the medication route and instead chose to go with therapy, vitamins, and exercise. It was the subject of many discussions before we came to this conclusion, though.
Doctors, in my personal opinion, hand out depression medication like it’s candy, which is why I think you need to bring this up with him. I was misdiagnosed as “depressed” for over 8 years when really, I was just anxious–two different beasts altogether which (unfortunately) are so often lumped into the same category. But what you shouldn’t do is make it into a big deal, or make it into a “me” fest–don’t even bring up if you are the problem. Maybe he didn’t tell you because he didn’t want you to think you were the problem….
You need to discuss this, but you need to be sensitive as well. Depression that needs to be treated with medication can be pretty serious and you guys need to have an open communication line.
Zepp February 22, 2012, 3:26 pm
I’m sure other people have made this point, I haven’t read through all the comments, but I would say the chances of you being the problem are very slim.
The kind of unhappiness that comes from being with the wrong romantic partner is not the kind that anti-depressants would help. Having been both clinically depressed and in a bad relationship/bored with my partner I would say they are two very different feelings/situations. (If there was a pill that could make people happier with a bad/boring LTR or marriage I think it would be the most popular drug out there!)
Also with the chest pains comment and the situation about his band getting more popular I would place my bet on anxiety/panic attacks.
But its been 7 years, you really should be able to talk about anything at this point. You saw the prescription, there’s no unseeing it, just bring it up. Approach it with an open nonjudgmental mind, and don’t pry.
Sandimae February 23, 2012, 3:34 am
Boy was a can of worms opened on the SSRI issue! I think that the attitude expressed by many folks about how “there’s no such thing as depression” or “therapy doesn’t work on men” (heard that from my ex-husband, or that too many people take SSRI, shows why mental health issues have been stigmatized for so long. Yes I agree that this country pops too many pills, but if after/during therapy it is suggested that SSRI’s can help – why would strangers even begin to think that they have an opinion to offer. They don’t know the situation, they don’t know the medical history. It kind of reminds me of being pregnant – every woman (young and old) felt free to tell me that I should do natural childbirth or no I should take all the drugs – it’s my choice! Same way with mental health issues. Yes there are problems – I personally know someone who started on meds ended up very nearly killing himself, but a good Doctor knows this is a possibility and should warn their patients. I also have special people in my life that are alive now because they had SSRIs. It is an individual’s choice and as my wise mom says – “walk a mile in my shoes”!
It’s kind of like being a vegetarian or vegan – it’s a personal choice and I would respect it and would accomodate you the best I could at a dinner party, but don’t be getting in my face telling me I shouldn’t eat meat.
As the LW wrote in asking for help/opinions – I would say – for gods sake don’t make this about you. The fact that he went quiet when you told him that his two prescriptions are ready and that he know’s you are wary means he felt he had to keep it secret. After 7 years I would think that you would trust him to tell you what’s going on and that he would trust you that you wouldn’t be judgmental. If that’s the case I think some relationship re-evaluation is in order