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Perimenopause and Zoloft Part 2

June 16, 2011

This is a two part series on perimenopause and antidepressants, specifically Zoloft. If you missed the first one you can catch up by reading Perimenopause and Zoloft.

For those of you who didn’t bother to read the first part, here is a short recap. For months I have been experiencing mood swings. I’m 45 years old so I figured I was probably going through some hormonal shit. Menopause is a big secret, no one seems to really know what it’s all about and the mothers who should be telling us this sort of thing aren’t as open as we are. Plus, my mother is in a nursing home with no memory left so she isn’t much help. Menopause is the word we use to describe “the change” that takes place as women age and basically become infertile. In actuality menopause is the time after periods have ceased for 12 months. The word Menopause is just a marker for the time after the change has taken place. Perimenopause on the other hand is anywhere from 3 to 12 years where women’s bodies, specifically hormones, change from normal to messed the fuck up. Perimenopause is when the hot flashes and night sweats start and when the hormones are really whacky.

Makes being a male look pretty good doesn’t it?

So, after experiencing all kinds of crazy mood swings, fits or rage and depression I called my doctor who suggested I try Zoloft for perimenopause. He had read several studies that said antidepressants seem to alleviate a lot of the symptoms of perimenopause.

Sign me up!

Let me back up a bit. I’m not the kind of person who fixes things by taking a pill. I have been on antidepressants before, for about a year, but that was because my OB/GYN strongly suggested it. I was three months pregnant and my ex husband had walked out. He eventually came back, which only made things more chaotic and unstable. My doctor figured the Paxil he gave me would help keep me calm and help with anxiety. Now of course we know how dangerous it is to take Paxil while pregnant or nursing but at the time we didn’t. I was on the lowest dose possible and never really noticed a change in my mood. I was in a stressful situation and I knew it would resolve itself with time. I didn’t want to take the antidepressant but I also didn’t want to threaten the pregnancy with my anxiety and depression. I had already lost several pregnancies as well as had a still born child so I was inclined to do whatever my doctor told me to do. My daughter shows no signs of adverse affects from the medication.

When I was on antidepressants before I felt weak. Not physically but mentally. Surely I was not the only woman who was going through a pregnancy on her own. I beat myself up for taking a pill to fix what was either not fixable or at best a shortcut to having real therapy. I didn’t bother with real therapy because there was nothing I could do to change the way my husband felt, I was just trying to do the best with the hand I had been dealt. I didn’t think a therapist could have done anything to make it better. I’m still not convinced of that. My experience with marriage counselors has been this: you spill your guts for 35 minutes and then they ask you how that make you feel and what you think about it. You don’t even get the full hour. Call me crazy but when I’m paying someone $150/hour I expect them to have the answers.

So I have had some experience with both therapy and antidepressants. When my doctor suggested Zoloft my concern was how long I would have to be on it, what it was like to get off it (it sucked getting off Paxil) and would I gain weight?

It was the Zoloft and weight gain that I was most concerned about.

My doctor said he didn’t think taking Zoloft would cause weight gain, he thought I would see a weight loss because I would be more motivated and less depressed which would likely cause me to make better choices about the food I was eating and he thought I would become more active again.

He called my prescription in to the pharmacy, took some of my blood to check my thryoid, made me schedule another appointment in a month to see how things were going and sent me on my way.

Of course I got back in my car and cried like a baby for about ten minutes. And, of course I am not really sure why I was crying. Relief? Probably.

He started me on a low dose, and then wants to slowly increase it over the next week so my body and brain adjusts properly. So far I have been taking Zoloft for three days and even though I know it takes a few weeks to feel the effects of the drug I also know I respond really well to the placebo effect and so already I am feeling much better.

I googled perimenopause and Zoloft and found a million different articles on weight gain and Zoloft. This scares me a bit. I also found a few articles or posts from people who had been prescribed Zoloft and actually lost weight, so much that they had to discontinue the medication. I’m hoping this will be what happens to me. So far I am down ten pounds since Monday but I just know 7 of them were caused by bloating.

Being a woman just rocks.

I’d love to hear your horror stories or success stories with menopause and perimenopause. You can even share your experience with antidepressants if you want. I know I am not the only one to experience all this.



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