Should the title be “Side Effects of Generic Wellbutrin” or “What to Take if You Want to Lose Your Mind!”?

I’m going to try and articulate this as best I can. I hope that my word skills don’t fail me now. If they do I want you to understand why. I feel about as composed as someone who’s trying to breathe with a bag over their head. More often than not my mind is fuzzy and thoughts befuddled. Occasionally I get a reprieve and have moments where I’m lucid. Sadly, not enough of them anymore. I think I might have figured out why though. I believe my medicine is making me sick. I’m going to share this because I want all of you to be careful what you’re taking. Don’t just assume someone else knows best.

I’ve been on antidepressants off and on for most of my adult life. Chemical imbalance, shitty life, or both. For whatever reason I’ve always been broken. It took a very long time and many different prescriptions to finally find something that worked for me. Trust me, I’ve tried many. Approximately fifteen years ago, while battling a breakdown brought on by a panic disorder, was when the doctor finally prescribed something that we found actually worked for me. This miracle was called Wellbutrin. With the help of that and Xanax for a time I overcame my panic disorder. Soon the depression also lifted, I was able to look at things in my life more clearly, and divorced a man that was contributing to my being sick. I then moved on. There were a few more times in the years since that I’ve had to rely on this ‘miracle’ drug to get me over emotional humps, and each time it has done the trick. Each time…till this time. 

I’ve shared with all of you about the emotional hurdles I’ve had to overcome the last few years: The isolation from living in the country and not being able to leave by myself because of this unfortunate dui I got nearly four years ago. The suicide of my best friend five months after that. The depression that followed both of those. All of which caused me to seek out counseling for a time, with this counselor putting me back on medication. This medication once again began to work its magic; enough that I was able to feel confident enough to start this blog last January. Unfortunately, my funding for the meds ran out, the counselor that had been so helpful relocated to another practice, so I did the next best thing; I took advantage of my husband’s new insurance and went to the local doctor for a prescription.

I’ve always assumed generic means ‘just as good, but just cheaper’. To be honest I really didn’t pay any attention to the prescription at all. I went to the new doctor, told him the things I was dealing with, said I was feeling better but was hesitant to go off it till I felt I was 100%, and assured him that this was what had always worked for me. He called in the prescription, I picked it up, and began taking it diligently. It didn’t occur to me after that anything was wrong, because my life was turned upside down again by circumstances that were beyond my control. I just assumed it was normal for me to be feeling like shit even on the medication.

I didn’t get better. You all know this. I had my high moments, but mostly I struggled through the down ones, and tried to keep a smile on my face in spite of it and be happy. When my dog, Sully, got sick with cancer this past summer was when I knew I needed to do something about the depression, because it got increasingly worse. I went back in to the doctor the end of August, told him what was going on, and he upped the dosage. Where I had been taking 300 mg a day, he then put me on 450, which was the highest dosage allowed. I thought surely that would help. It didn’t. I got worse.

I really thought it was just me. I’ve had a ton of excuses why in the past year: A close, family member that broke my heart. My oldest son going to prison. My youngest son moving out of the house. The death of my Pitbull, Sully from cancer, and then the death of my Chihuahua, Hound Dog, just six weeks later. Add to that the holidays which suck because I dwell on all the deaths of loved ones that have passed, and it pretty much explains why I wasn’t getting any better, right? I mean, medication can only do so much, right? Right? 

My mind began to shut down. I would find myself having lapses of memory. I couldn’t get back into a routine, which has always helped motivate me. I had no energy. I either couldn’t sleep, or couldn’t get out of bed I was so tired. I no longer had a desire to clean my house or make love to my husband. I began shutting myself off from people for lengths of time, and only seemed to feel comfortable around anyone with the aid of alcohol and other people to distract me. I found myself unable to write…to focus on anything. I found myself drawing away from others, and couldn’t concentrate enough to even read other blogs. The more I drew into myself the worse it got. Eventually leading up to the last month when the panic attacks and shakes began again. And most recent, the last couple of weeks when the suicidal thoughts began coming back. Thoughts I’ve lied to others about so they wouldn’t worry. Thoughts that pissed me off, because I am a huge advocate of life since my best friend took hers. Thoughts that scared me because I knew I was reaching a point where I was capable of acting upon them. 

I wasn’t so much trying to self-diagnose when I went online a few days ago to look into the medication I was taking, as I was to just see if any of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing could be side effects. I’m well aware of the fact that sometimes the body chemistry changes over time, and when it does the affect the medication has on it changes. I thought possibly my body chemistry had changed, and that maybe the side effects that the medication was capable of producing, that I had been fortunate enough not to experience before, were just now manifesting themselves. Hey, when you’re sick you grasp at straws. I really didn’t expect to find what I did though. I was absolutely stunned by the multitude of people that complained–and had been complaining for years–on many different websites about generic Wellbutrin. Like I said, I always assumed generic meant ‘just as good, just cheaper’. I no longer feel that way.

I don’t have to go into detail about the complaints I read. I just cited them all when I told you how sick I’ve been getting. I LITERALLY  read the same exact symptoms I’ve been experiencing, over and over again, from one person after another. Some even stating that they too were on a very high dosage, and how not only were they not getting better, but were getting significantly worse. Many quoting the same thing I believed… “I thought it was just me!”

I took it upon myself to start tapering down my dosage. I don’t have the money to go in to see the doctor to find something else–that probably won’t work anyway–but know I’m definitely not staying on whatever this shit is. I did call my pharmacist today, who was honest enough to tell me that, yes…he has had a few complaints similar to mine before. He is going to send in a request to the insurance company to see if they will pay for the actual Wellbutrin–which I know is incredibly high–but I told him if that fails I’m discontinuing medication altogether. I’ve already begun looking into some herbal alternatives.   I don’t actually see where I can be much worse off than I already am. I might also add that just in the last few days I’ve been off the 450 mg and tapered to the 300 the shakes are beginning to subside a little and the panic attacks are not as frequent. I feel very safe in assuming that once I’m off it completely I may still be depressed, but the other will subside altogether.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look into what you’re taking. And don’t just assume that generic means same or safe. I’ve read enough in the past week to realize that there is reason enough for suspicion and alarm. I’ve suffered through enough to know if it doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably not right. And don’t assume that it might just be you. Most of us know ourselves well enough to know when it is, or isn’t. Trust yourself.

I suck at adding links anyway, and am not in the best frame of mind, but if you want to do some research yourself, I found everything I needed to know just by keying in the words ‘side effects of generic wellbutrin’ into google. One website in particular was call The Peoples Pharmacy. Just a little FYI for ya. 

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20 Comments on “Should the title be “Side Effects of Generic Wellbutrin” or “What to Take if You Want to Lose Your Mind!”?”

  1. My mom had this happen to her too! She was on generic Wellbutrin for just a few days and noticed it wasn’t helping her. It was also making her have headaches and etc. Weird eh? She tells the Doctors now that she wants the real stuff, and not just with her Wellbutrin but other medications.

  2. Zoe says:

    HI. This is the first post I’ve ever read on your blog but I agree that generic Wellbutrin is the devil! I was on generic for about a year and then they switched it from one generic to another. The pills looked different taht’s how I knew. I questioned the pharmacist and they said yes it was correct – it was just a new generic wellbutrin. Very shortly after that I had my first panic attack. For a long time I believed that’s what caused it. I got off of that and then took nothing for a few years. Now I am back on brand name wellbutrin. The doctor argued with me, the pharmacist argued with me, the mail order company that our precriptions come through included a letter that told me the generic was just as good – and sent the generic even after I finally convinced my doctor that I needed the brand name! And I had paid for the brand name! That took a lot more phone calls and signed papers but now they have finally gievn in. Although I still get a call every few months from a sales rep trying to get me to switch to the generic. It costs me more but it’s not too terrible. I guess I’m lucky to have a good prescription plan.
    I researched it online when I first had trouble too – and was AMAZED at all the horror stories about it! How can the drug companies ignore so many people?!?!?
    Anyway, I hope you are well and I look forward to reading more about your journey 🙂

    • Hi Zoe.
      Hmmm…I wrote you a reply yesterday, but it appears it didn’t go through. I guess we’ll try this again. 🙂
      I am doing much better, thanks for asking. I’ve now been completely off the generic Wellbutrin for a few weeks, and have started an herbal alternative called Sam-E that Dr. Oz recommends and has had great reviews. So far so good. If at all possible I’m going to try sticking with this rather than pharmaceuticals. To be frank, I’m scared to death now to trust ANYTHING the medical community recommends. I have no doubt whatsoever that had I continued taking that awful shit it probably would’ve pushed me over the edge. I’m so glad that you were able to notice the adverse effects it was having on you so quickly, and spared yourself the ‘sickness’ I had to endure by taking it for over a year. In my opinion, not only is the generic version different than the Wellbutrin itself, it can be very dangerous.
      Being sick for so long took more than just an emotional toll on me, and in many ways feel as if I’ve had to ‘restart’ my life all over again. Just getting back into a routine, following through on simple tasks, and having the energy and patience to write are things I find difficult. Whereas once I could multi-task easily, I struggle now. It’s for these reasons that I’ve yet to venture out into the blogging community again and have just resigned myself to baby-steps in my own blog.
      I want to tell you how much I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your story with me. As soon as I’m up and running a bit more I’ll be sure to swing by your place too. In the meantime, feel free to drop by anytime and say hello.
      By the way, my name is Lou. It’s very nice to meet you. 🙂

  3. Renee Mason says:

    Desperately trying to catch up on my blog subscriptions and yours hit me like a ton of bricks (as it so often does). I just got out of a domestic violence safehouse two weeks ago, and the first thing my Dr. did was put me on generic Welbutrin. I kept trying to tell her I wasn’t depressed, I was just scared shitless of being killed! My humor blog has dwindled down to nothing, hard to find the funny when you fear for your life, but I am definitely going to start stepping this Rx down now that I’ve read your experience. Feels good to be back among the land of the living, right?!?

    • Yes, I am doing much better. I can’t speak for anyone else that might’ve actually been helped by their generic version of the drug, but for me and those I read about it had terrible adverse effects. I definitely knew shortly into tapering off the drug that it was the cause of my problems, because I began to feel better. I strongly advise though, if you are capable of talking to your doctor about it, that you do so before making a hasty decision based on my experience. She may feel you need ‘something’ to get you over this emotional hump–whether you believe you need it or not–and should be willing to offer an alternative medication if you feel, or already know, this one isn’t going to work for you. Make sure you do that, Renee. Okay?
      About you…don’t worry about desperately trying to ‘catch-up’ on anything. I have more subscriptions than I have pills in my medicine cabinet, and 82 subscribers that I haven’t read in months. Not because I didn’t or don’t care about all of them, but I had to stop, say I’m full and can’t ingest a bit more right now, and push myself away from the table. There was no way I could make the decision who to keep and walk away from for a time to emotionally mend, so I let them all go for now. I’ve been real fortunate. Some of you have continued to check up on me long after I’ve stopped visiting blogs just to make sure I’m okay, but whether there had been any or not, I knew that everyone would be there when I returned. YOU need to take of YOU right now. If reading other blogs helps, great. But if just writing to vent your frustration and help you deal with whatever is going on is plenty for now, then make that your top priority, not the rest of us.
      My question is…are you okay? I never lived in fear of a man, probably because I was too damn angry to let him make me afraid, but I had the hell beat out of me for years and know a lot about that shit. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do for you, but I’m sure as hell willing to try. You want my number, I’ll give it to you. Books a plenty to read to empower yourself. You name it, you got it. Just let me know, okay? I’m really worried about you!

      • Renee Mason says:

        Thanks for your concern Lou. I truly appreciate it. In the ten months this domestic violence has been occurring, he never once laid a hand on either me or my son. It was all verbal abuse, threats, and lots of gunplay. Since his arrest, the police have confiscated all his firearms, but now that he’s out on bail, I doubt it would be too difficult to acquire more. His criminal trial is set for April 11, and that will be followed by an extremely long, bitter, and drawn out divorce.

        After two deeply flawed husbands in a row, I’ve decided to give a wide berth to anyone possessing a penis, except my precious boxer, Baxter; he can’t help it. To quote Lady Gaga, “He was just born that way”!

        The most frustrating aspect of all this is I have been advised by my lawyer not to mention a word about this in my posts, as it could come back to bite me in the butt. I have made some oblique and cryptic references to something going on in my life, but can’t be more communicative than that. This at a time when I could REALLY use the support of my amazing blogging buddies. Maddening as hell.

        • This is sad indeed, but unfortunately a part of our legal system to ensure all parties involved get a fair shake. That does not mean though that you can’t reach out to others personally for support. Use email addresses! Use phone numbers! Make use of others experience and wisdom! And make no mistake, what he did was a form of physical abuse if his verbal intimidation frightened you and made you physically sick. And really, I believe ‘his’ type may be more dangerous than one that physically man-handles, because he doesn’t have the fucking guts to stand toe-to-toe with you, but rather threatens you with a weapon. This type of man is the worst kind of coward, because he’s afraid you might fight back. Unfortunately, take that control away and he’s just a step away from pulling the trigger and turning the gun on himself. I’m so glad that you got away from him. I really wish you would’ve reached out to all of us sooner. It might’ve saved you many, many months of this bullshit. We women empower each other. Sometimes it takes nothing more than your friends becoming angry for you to motivate you into action. I know…I’ve had a lot…A LOT…of angry friends backing me up in my day.
          Make use of my email address if you need to. I mean it! If you need a friend to talk to I’ll give you my home phone and we can scream about injustice over some cocktails. All you have to do is ask. But whether it be me, or someone else, don’t go through this alone. Everyone needs someone, sometimes, Hon.

  4. beccajean73 says:

    I am new to your blog as well as new to starting my own. I felt it was a good way to express my feelings about motherhood at age 38 and also to help me work through grief I have carried for years. I am glad I found you through Monster in your closet. I am so sorry you have to deal with the ups and downs of depression. I have also fought it since I was 15 after losing my brother to leukemia. It worsened three years ago when my dad passed away. I have tried everything and like you now I don’t have the money to keep going to the doctor to find what will work best. I have been on zoloft for years and it does okay but I have so many side effects from it that I don’t want to take it. I would love to learn more about you and hopefully we could learn from each other or at least be a shoulder if ever needed! I truly hope life starts to look up for you and you find some kind of peace. Thank you for sharing because it helps others to know they are not alone.

    • Thank you sooo much for that lovely email. I’ve often wondered if perhaps its best to divulge so much about my private life, but then I get an email like yours that lets me know as hard as it may be to admit to some things, they may just be what someone else needs to read, so I’m doing the right thing after all. I’m a firm believer in ‘there’s healing in numbers’. Secrets can only hurt you if you continue keeping them a secret. I, for one, know that the greatest healing in my life has taken place when someone has spoken of a plight similar to my own, and I realized I was no longer alone in my pain. You just validated that once again for me. Thank you. 🙂
      I’m completely off my meds now, and honestly feel better than I have in months. I’m not under any kind of illusion that the depression is gone, but am at least relieved the fog has lifted, and am capable of holding out till I do find something herbal that works for me. Right now I’m just taking some over-the-counter, herbal, stress tabs till I can purchase the Sam-E tablets that I read were recommended by Dr. Oz. (I just love him. Ha..ha.. I think he’s brilliant.) They are a little pricey compared to the copay of my former prescription meds, but I keep reminding myself I’m worth it.
      I also took Zoloft years ago. They lifted the depression, but made me mean as hell. I was unsatisfied with everyone and everything. My ex-husband complained they weren’t working. I told him I didn’t know why not, that I wasn’t depressed anymore. He then replied, “Yeah, but now I am.” Zoloft made me mean, Prozac made me feel suicidal, Pamelor gave me severe dry mouth, Buspar made me rapidly gain weight…which made me more depressed, etc..etc.. I think I’m about done with prescription shit now. Every time I take something to fix one thing, I’m more than aware it’s hurting some other vital organ in my body. I know I may just be one of those people that are clinically depressed and will always have to have something to curb the depression, but don’t think that necessarily means I have to be over-medicated to do it. I’m really becoming untrusting of the medical field, in general. I don’t know if you’ve read up on any of the herbal anti-depressants they have available now, but maybe that would also be something you should look into. It couldn’t hurt, anyway.
      I’m so glad that you gave me a shout. I would love to get to know you. Sadly, I’m not blogging everyday as I once did, but do try to check my emails everyday, anyway. My goal right now is just to pull my head out of my ass, try and get some normalcy back into my life, so hopefully soon I can once again post every day and get back in touch with my fellow bloggers’ posts. You are more than welcome to contact me in the meantime, anytime you like though. I also have an email at clarkbarcrazy@aol.com if you want to just personally chat.
      Thanks again for the lovely note. I hope you too find peace and the wonderful experience that I’ve had with this forum. Remember, you are not alone! Many of us are behind you. 🙂

      • beccajean73 says:

        Thank you so much for responding to me! I am so glad to hear that you feel better and are not taking anything right now. What we go through with depression is so hard for others to understand until they have to deal with it themselves! My daughter is diagnosed bipolar and I am telling you my journey with her has been a very bumpy road. I honestly could write a book with the stories I have. As far as the zoloft goes….I agree. It makes me very ill with others not to mention it cuts out sex drive completely which is not good for a marriage. My husband told me the other day that he thinks I act like a zombie when I take it. I will def check into the herbal stuff. I do have a bottle of stress tabs I bought recently over the counter. I love Dr. Oz too!!! I am fixing to buy some of the other herbal stuff he mentioned for weight loss. I just had a baby back in August and I still haven’t dropped the weight. I will shoot you an email soon cause I truly look forward to getting to know you! I am elated that I found your blog!!!
        xo
        Becca

  5. KRISTY says:

    Wow so glad that I had a chance to read your blog today…since our talk got cut short Sat. Sounds like your on the right track again! I was really concerned after we talked last week:( you were a different Lu and as much as we bitch about men and the bullshit we deal with you were at a limit never had you expressed!!! I was freaking a bit:) Whatever it takes I will stand by you support you, and be available whenever you need someone to drink with you to help take the edge off!!!! I can handle the bitchy thing…. I grew up with a household of women! Just hope you can handle my brutal honesty when need be? Love ya and hang in there….we can get through this shit:)

    • Brutal honesty. Yeah, that’s something I’m pretty familiar with. Me, my friends, and all the crazy-ass, bitchy women in my family too. I’ve never had a problem being honest unless it comes to admitting weakness and that I need help. I can pull off the bitter-victim role better than the needy, damsel-in-distress one. Good thing I have women in my life that can see through my facade and call me on it, huh? I think I’m going to be okay, though. Not sure if my marriage will survive it, but…eh…shit happens if it don’t, right? All a woman really needs are her friends, cold brew, and a BOB (Battery-Operated-Boyfriend), anyway. Thanks for the love. Right back atcha, Babe!

  6. mairedubhtx says:

    What you say is true absolutely. Generics do NOT act the same as brand name drugs. Your insurance company can get you an exemption to pay for the brand name drug. I’ve done that. It’s a battle, but it’s worth it.

    • I’ll be really honest, I’m almost scared to trust anything else now…including the prescription I always took. This shit has really jacked up my short-term memory, and left me sounding like my brain is rattled. I’m seriously thinking about just looking into some herbal remedies and calling it good. I have to wonder, if this shit is effecting my mind like this, what the hell is it doing to my internal organs?!!

  7. daisyfae says:

    the most remarkable thing, to me, is that you — YOU — were able to blast through the body-chemistry haze and sort this out. You’re still in there. Keep working it. i’m funny about meds – and avoid them unless i need them. the Welbutrin helped. the generic crap didn’t. you can get this sorted…

    • Yeah, I have to admit I’m even surprised I was able to pull my head out of my ass enough to make some sense of it. This shit has really fucked me up. So badly that I couldn’t think straight and was OVER-thinking it. I kept trying to find rational reasons why I was getting worse: My relationship. Menopause. Grieving over the loss of my dogs. Stress of trying to raise the new pups. I saw all kinds of reasons why I was feeling this way, made all kinds of excuses for why I felt like I was losing my mind, but not once did I consider it may be the medication. I consider it a miracle that I found my way onto the websites I did. I really shudder to think what may have happened if I continued taking this. And don’t get me wrong, I know I’m still fucked up as a soup/sandwich with or without it, but I have no doubt that this generic shit just added fuel to the fire. And I’m with you. I don’t like meds as a rule–and try to stay away from the addictive ones if I can–but know what works, and really trusted that the doctor and pharmacist would make sure whatever I had was a good fit. I think I’ll settle for herbal in the future and take the edge off with alcohol. At least I’m familiar with that!

  8. Always my pal, aren’t you? And you always know the right thing to say. Sorry I’ve been lying to you about how I was feeling. I love ya and didn’t want you to worry. If it means anything I’ve been a huge bitch today, which means I’m feeling better. 🙂 You know me, I’m only normal when I’m balls-to-the-wall and hell on wheels.
    I really hope someone else can gather some useful information from this post. I would really HATE to see anyone else go through this shit, Sue. I really believe if I’d have let this get any worse it would have been my undoing. I know I’m definitely going to start trusting my instincts more.

  9. Elephant's Child says:

    Hugs Lou. You rock. And you may be bent from time to time my friend but YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. Good luck with the taper.
    PS: You are as lucid as ever.

    • Elephant's Child says:

      So… do you want/need a daily heads up email for a time? And yes, I thought you were probably lying like a pig in mud. Yes I was worried. BUT THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR YOU SILLY COW. Glad to hear you have been letting the inner bitch out to play.

      • Not so sure the Old Man is happy I’ve been a bitch. I think he’d rather I stay depressed. Or maybe not.
        Yeah, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if you checked in on me. God, I never thought the day would come when I’d need a babysitter. (Well, other than when I drink…and we know my behavior needs to be monitored then. Ha..ha..) I hate admitting weakness, you know! I’m hoping I won’t need one. I’m hoping that just getting off this shit is going to make a big difference. I suppose I’ve crossed a ‘huge’ threshold by just admitting I can’t do it alone. I’ve been trying and ain’t been really successful so far. But then maybe I have, caused I’m still around to talk about it. You’ll know if it works because my bad-ass will be able to get back to blogging and correspondence again. 🙂