• Jessie Huang

PTSD Diaries: Prozac Edition | Part 1

While I've been in therapy to address my traumas and resulting PTSD for well over a year now, some aspects of the disorder became too much to handle. E.g. intense shame, social and professional isolation, panic attacks, days-long flashbacks and hypervigilance.


Finding myself unable to perform my functions at work became the straw that broke the camel's back, in terms of my decision to add medication in conjunction with psychotherapy.


I brought it up to my therapist, and she supported the decision.


And so began my quest to find a medication that works for me.

Not sure if it's common knowledge, but psychiatric medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are notorious for being highly unpredictable and variable by individual. E.g. Zoloft may work wonders for Person X, but may make Person Y suicidal.


Effects can even change over time. E.g. Paxil may work wonders for Person Z in the beginning, and then "poop out" or produce horrible side effects years later.


All this is to say—it's a professionally monitored crapshoot. Which is the main reason why I refrained from trying meds for so long.


But alas, the time came where it all became too much to handle for me.


I gritted my teeth, set aside my nagging feelings of weakness, and made an appointment to see a psychiatrist—which was alarmingly hard to do in NYC.


The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (P-NP) I saw prescribed Prozac (along with Lorazepam and Ambien), after a semi-long session wherein I had a panic attack or two. We decided it would probably be the best first attempt option.


I'm about a week or two deep, and so far so ok... here are some positives and negatives I've noticed, thus far (~2 weeks in). Note that SSRIs typically have a "ramp up" period of 4-6 weeks where side effects can present strongly, then taper off.


Benefits

  • Increased sense of well being. Could be placebo?

  • Easier to direct thoughts elsewhere when flashbacks occur.

  • Slightly more open to socializing with other people. Hope this increases with time.

  • Shame intensity dialed slightly back. Still pretty strong, though.

Undesirable Side Effects

  • More panic attacks. Weird, given the increased sense of well being. Will ask P-NP Nurse Practitioner about this at follow up appointment.

  • Insomnia. P-NP gave me Ambien to combat this, but still—no restful sleep is really starting to become unbearable.

  • Major fatigue. Decreased after the first few days. More yawning during the day, too.

  • Feelings of boredom and less productivity drive. I wonder if this is just what it feels like to not be in flight-or-flight mode 24/7, though...?

  • Headaches. Advil and Tylenol, often.

  • Eating food isn't as pleasurable. As an Asian (food culture), I'm sad about this.

  • Jaw clenching. Mama's sore.

All in all, I'm happy I took action. Will continue to document.

Follow Jessie on Twitter or email her at hitherejessie@gmail.com.

©2019 by One Survivor Story.