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Was Taking Prozac in College The Right Decision at the Time?

Was Taking Prozac in College The Right Decision at the Time?

This is a very complex question that my father and I discuss from time to time. He insists that it was the right decision for me to go on it and doesn’t regret it at all. He also thinks I should never have gone off Prozac when I did in 2001.  He and my mother […]

Antidepressants Personal Issues
LivingMaxwell.com

This is a very complex question that my father and I discuss from time to time. He insists that it was the right decision for me to go on it and doesn’t regret it at all. He also thinks I should never have gone off Prozac when I did in 2001.  He and my mother were adamantly against this decision.

For me, the question of whether going on Prozac was the right decision brings up many thoughts and additional questions.

* As I talked about in my last post related to this subject, there were tremendous and disastrous repercussions for going on Prozac. There is no doubt about it.

* Was I emotionally and spiritually strong enough to persevere through those dark times during college? Spiritually, I’d say no. Emotionally, I’m not sure. From what I remember, I was struggling in a major way and I didn’t see much hope in it getting better.

Would my grades have suffered? Would I have fallen into a much bigger hole that I couldn’t have gotten out of?

Would I have made it through my junior year and eventually have graduated? My sense is “yes”. Yet, but it would have been filled with a lot of pain and not easy at all. My college experience might have been dreadful.

* Would I have enjoyed the same level of success during college and after college?

While on Prozac, I finished college without much of a problem. My strong friendships remained intact and grew. My grades were good.

From a professional perspective post-college, there is no doubt that my career was much better and my earnings were much higher when I was on Prozac. My 20s (when I was on medication), versus my 30s (when I was off medication), were much more successful.

To be fair, however, in my 30s I was dealing with massive amounts of emotional trauma in recuperating from the 11 years of antidepressants. I was totally unprepared for this all and it took years for me to pull it together. The fact that I didn’t take my life is a major accomplishment. And, it was during these times that I learned how to be resilient.

* Would I have gotten to know myself and understood who I was at a much earlier age had I not gone on Prozac? The answer is a definitive “yes”. Prozac prevented all this from happening.

This introspection and truly getting to know myself did not start happen until my 30s. Prozac severely stunted my emotional growth and development as an individual. This is without question.

—–

Professionally, I achieved much more when I was on Prozac than when I haven’t been on the drugs, and unfortunately, it comes into play when I think about the decision I made when I was in college. When on medication, I had some great jobs and progressed a lot in my career. My 30s and 40s have not been good, from a professional perspective.

Nevertheless, going on Prozac was the wrong decision. It did not allow me to learn who I was and develop that all-so-important resiliency. Being able to persevere and pick yourself up when things are tough is one of the most important skills that you can have. And, Prozac prevented me from developing this skill. Had I learned it during college, maybe I would have had an even greater level of professional success in my 20s, 30s and 40s.

Looking back and having a “what if” discussion is great for a blog post but it is not reality. What is reality is what is going on at this very moment. I went on Prozac in college, went off of it 11 years later and am here today. I can’t change the past.

The other thing that figures into this discussion is this. I truly believe that the reason I am here (my purpose in life) is to share my story about antidepressants with other people. And, this is something that I am very clear about. Very.


16 Comments

  • Kim says:

    I’ve never been on Prozac but I have been on antidepressants, I believed for a long time they stunted my growth and also the years I was on them is a blurr, I lost a lot of time I don’t really remember much and that hurts not remembering. I’m in my late 40’s I want to be a nurse and I always question why I didn’t go to school sooner and I believe it had to do with medication it made me stand still not more on or grow.

  • Alice says:

    This blog post (though quite a few years old) came to me at just the right time. I have anxiety. Not crippling, but enough that it is always present in things I do. A few years ago my parents put me on Prozac as it is used for anxiety as well as depression. Even though my parents are well meaning, they often do not help the situation. In fact that are a large source of my anxiety. When I first went on it, a few weeks in the side effects were drowsiness and emotional numbness. I complained to my parents about this, and they told me it was nothing to worry about. As the years went by, I felt I grew dependent on Prozac to help me through the day. Yes, I acknowledge its benefits, and yes there is a time and place for everything. I’m sure Prozac helped me, but it also made the aftermath harder. Now my parents have decided that they should take me off it and put me on another medication, as Prozac is not helping me as much as they’d hoped. I’m afraid of “withdrawal” symptoms and was wondering if you could elaborate on how you got through it after eleven years on Prozac.
    Thank you
    -Alice

  • Johny Ive says:

    You have written a very beautiful article which touches my heart because I can totally relate to you.So my story begins when I just finished college and moved back home after 4 yrs.I was going to spend the rest of the year at home preparing for graduate school exams.All my life till then I suffered from anxiety and a mild dysthymia but never realized I had some medical problem.I always attributed my thinking as weak personality and lack of mental toughness.During my school life even though I was a good student I would get thrown out of the class due to lack of discipline like coming late to school or not doing homework but I always did well when it came to the main exams.I never understood or tried to examine what was wrong with me.I was inattentive,hyper & impulsive and also felt less matured than my peers.While having a one–to-one conversation with a peer I will miss out most of the conversation unless it was one of those very interesting topics that I liked.So there I was a dazed and confused guy who was always bouncing off walls and doing and saying inappropriate things.I was also picked on by bullies due to my weird eccentric behaviour.For some reason girls always found me attractive maybe for my cute looks or my sweet nature.I was like this mentally weak good natured guy who always talked nicely to others and I guess that made them feel good about me.Now coming back to my returning home once done with college things slowly slowly started getting of hand.In college I was in a more structured and socially connected environment so the depression was kept at bay.But once I was back home and alone with my mom 24*7 my anxiety and depression started creeping in.I would fight everyday with my mom and at times things would get physical as well.My mom also got pretty mad at me and tried counselling me saying looks like you are very different than 10 other guys.I didn’t understand what she meant then.Then gradually things went from being worse to worst and I started getting severe back ache and body pains.I was losing hair,weight..was not able to sleep and started getting suicidal thoughts.That’s when I became sure that I have depression.I asked my mom to take me to a psychiatrist.Long story short I started on an antidepressant and once on that I was like ‘wow’ this is what I always wanted to feel like.It was like living in an utopian world where nothing could go wrong.If someone told me my mom was murdered also I would be so chilled out because of the antidepressant numbing my emotions.I was always on high.It was such a beautiful feeling and that started my pill popping life.My doctor never advised me on the long term side effects of antidepressant.He was more like you stay on this for life if you want to be functional and be at peace.So I kept popping those pills for the next 4 yrs when slowly slowly I started realizing that they are making me completely zombie like a robot.I had no emotions,was unnecessary mean to people and had a flat personality.Also it was seriously coming in the way of me finding love.I would send messages to girls on dating sites and end up meeting them on dates.But on those first and also the last dates with them I seemed like a cold blooded emotionless human being to them.They were probably in their mind thinking what’s wrong with this guy.Why is he so quiet and zombie like when in the email he sounded playful and funny.It’s just that emails don’t carry much emotions anyways so what I may have written coldly was interpreted by them as funny and romantic.When my dating started sucking I realized either I get off these drugs or I forget finding love.So I slowly slowly started tapering down and finally in the year 2013 after being on/off on meds since 2006 you can say finally my brain has reached a maturity where I can probably deal without drugs.Also over the years I realized my depression & anxiety is due to my ADHD which I didn’t knew about before and looking back at my dad I always realized I got the ADHD gene from him.I told him the same and he was also finally able to answer all those unanswered questions about why he always felt different than 10 other guys…As I have come off meds I have changed my lifestyle.I try to eat more healthy,everyday take omega 3 fish oil,multivitamin,vitamin d + calcium & b complex.I also go for brisk walks and have improved my social life.Things are looking bright and my life is getting better 🙂 .I wish everyone who takes a drug today is able to come out of this nasty pharma nexus that many of us have got trapped.live a healthy life..God bless you all.

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Johny,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am very grateful that you came out the other end and appear to be doing well. It is not easy what you did, and I applaud you for making the bold decision to take control of your life.

      Wishing you the best,
      Max

  • Amrin says:

    Hi Max!!

    I love your blog, very informative and helpful. I appreciate you sharing your story and bringing awareness about the truth.

    I’m currently going into my second year of college. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can stay healthy through all the all-nighters and those long days of college. Being healthy can be a challenge as a college student.

    Also, being on a budget; organic food can be costly. Any tips, suggestions?

    Thank you, keep posting!! 🙂

    -Amrin, (NYC)

  • Max Goldberg says:

    Hi Laura,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Isn’t feeling something — happiness, sadness, etc. — part of the human experience? Why are we so quick to say that feeling sad is not something that we should go through? This is when we learn about who we are.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Live well,
    Max

  • Laura says:

    I think we are too quick to medicate EVERYTHING. My SIL once mentioned to her doctor that she cried every once in a while after her mother died. She missed her. “There’s a pill for that,” he said, and quickly put her on Prozac. Isn’t crying from time to time over your mother’s passing a natural reaction that you SHOULD experience? WITHOUT feeling that something is wrong with you and that you need to be medicated for it? My SIL was on Prozac for the rest of her life. Mission (of the pharmaceutical industry) accomplished.

  • Max Goldberg says:

    Hi Gina,

    That is the thing. From an emotional standpoint, I do not believe I grew in any way whatsoever when I was on Prozac. None. Zero. Nothing. I’ll say it again. Prozac completely stunted my emotional growth.

    And yes, I am very, very aware that telling my story will have an impact on readers. Many people defend and are apologetic for antidepressants — I am not one of them. For me, antidepressants were disastrous.

    Live well,
    Max

  • Gina says:

    Hi again,

    Perhaps my mid-life crisis comparison was a bit strong/unwarranted.

    I do think you may be doing yourself a disservice, though, if in your efforts to get to know yourself now, you completely write off the years of your life spent on Prozac. It’s not as if you were in some drug-induced coma – you still had your agency, you still must have learned and grown in some, if not all, ways (I’m not entirely sure that you intend to write them off was your intent – but your posts do read/ seem this way).

    And I realize that you have not presented any of your observations as ‘advice’ for others, but readers can/may be influenced simply by reading about your experiences (I know I was, as part of making my decision to try medication involved trolingl the internet for stories like yours). Still, I know that this effect is not necessarily your responsibility; I also know that you are simply trying to share your experience.

    Like I said, I simply wanted to draw your attention to the effect your story may have on others, especially if you plan to make more cut/dry claims like your comment that antidepressants “completely stunting” your emotional growth.

  • Max Goldberg says:

    Hi Gina,

    As I wrote about in a separate post, https://livingmaxwell.com/the-repercussions-of-going-on-antidepressants , I take full responsibility for going on antidepressants. It was my decision and that of no one else.

    That said, there is no doubt that I had shortcomings — emotional, spiritual, etc. — but I do not believe that being on medication allowed me to fully address them. Only when I went off of Prozac was I able to deal with my personal issues in a true way. That is why I feel it stunted my emotional growth because it did not allow me to grow, suffer, learn and evolve. In my view, antidepressants gives you an artificial experience of life. It interferes with your emotional state — that is what the drugs do. After all, they are drugs.

    If you feel like my story was simply a mid-life crisis, then that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. However, I think you are very much trivializing and underestimating the brutal after-effects of a decade of Prozac. You certainly haven’t experienced going off a decade of antidepressants. If and when you do so, then you’ll see that it is no mid-life crisis.

    Also, please show me where in all of my blog posts that I am prescribing advice for other people in regards to telling people to go off of antidepressants. It is not my agenda to explicitly tell people what to do and how to live their lives. I am simply telling my story and sharing my experience.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Live well,
    Max

  • Gina says:

    I would like to draw your attention to the fine line between telling your own story and describing your personal experiences with antidepressants, and prescribing advice for others who may be reading your blog. The internet is full of exaggerated horror stories concerning antidepressants, many of which deterred me from trying them for my anxiety for three years.

    This sounds to me like a glorified mid-life crisis – like you are regretting the last decade of your life and trying to to blame someone or something other than yourself. Take responsibility for your own shortcomings (if you feel you have had shortcomings, emotionally or spiritually) – antidepressants are powerful drugs, but they are not powerful enough to override the role you play in determining the path of your own life. The effect these drugs have our brains is so nuanced and complicated – how could they be responsible for ENTIRELY stunting your emotional and spiritual growth – perhaps consider some other factors that may have contributed to you feeling this way?

  • Max Goldberg says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for your words. I very much appreciate it!!!

    Live well,
    Max

  • A story of great self knowledge and strength. Thank you so much.

  • Max Goldberg says:

    Hi Shayna,

    Thanks for your words and hopefully they will do a study on emotional growth being stunted. Great suggestion!!!!

    Live well,
    Max

  • shayna says:

    Thank you for sharing Max. This can help a lot of people. I totally hear you about the drug ‘stunting your emotional growth’. Why doesn’t modern science do a study on that?!

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