Prozac Summer, Part 2: Timing’s Everything

by Bill Brenner on May 27, 2010

The author has a meeting with Dr. Prozac, and learns a couple things about dosage and timing. Turns out the two are connected.

Mood music for this post: “Show Me How to Live” by Audioslave:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVXIK1xCRpY&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

So I’m back from an appointment with Dr. Prozac, who I introduced you to this morning. I’m staying at the lower dose of Prozac until Aug. 1, then she wants me back on my winter dosage.

This surprised me. I figured I’d be on the lower dosage until at least October.

But what she said made perfect sense, and I’m kicking myself for not figuring this out for myself last year.

For cases like mine, where mood swings and depression are more likely during winter, the trick is to make any necessary dosage tweaks WHEN THE DAYS FIRST START TO GET NOTICEABLY SHORTER. Technically, the days start getting shorter after the first day of summer, which is the longest day of the year in terms of sunlight.

But the beginning of August is when we really start to notice the earlier sunsets.

That is the ideal time to prepare for winter, Dr. Prozac said.

Last time I didn’t have the adjustment until early January. The result was a game of body chemistry catch-up that left me with some made-for-TV mood swings that hit me all in one day. The next day I woke up feeling fine.

If I time dosage adjustments with the amount of daylight out my window, I can spare myself the mood swings, Dr. Prozac said.

As Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

So that’s what I’ll be doing.

To those who think I’m putting too much faith in an anti-depressant, I refer you back to the earlier posts in this blog.

The truth is I share the skepticism that’s out there when it comes to anti-depressants as a cure-all for everyone and every situation.

I resisted taking them for many years, which turned out to be a good thing because I focused on all the hard mental work I needed first. The first four years of treatment were about developing coping tools and learning to manage the OCD without chemicals. I only turned to the chemical at a very advanced stage of therapy, when I realized I needed it to push through that one last wall I couldn’t seem to crack without the extra help.

For some people, anti-depressants are the first line of treatment, and it ends up not working in the end because the patient didn’t start dealing with how they got the way they are first. For others, like my old friend Sean Marley, anti-depressants and all the adjustments one could make proved futile in the end.

No two people are the same, and that goes for how we respond to medication used to treat mental disorders.

I’m lucky, because I found the right balance. That’s very hard to do.

Now I’m learning that there are balances within balances to work on.

Confused? Me too.

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