Caroline Marie

caroline marie

caroline marie
northern city, United States
July 24
Temperamental Story Teller
posts will tell


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 5, 2011 1:33PM

My Daughter is on Zoloft

Rate: 32 Flag

When it comes to psychotropic drugs--I have major concerns.  It's a billion dollar industry.  This industry controls how doctoral students are taught in med schools.  It controls the research of the effects of their own products. It bombards doctors with samples, kickbacks, marketing.

Not to say that I myself never benefitted from the use of these drugs, but still I have concerns.

Children using psychotropic drugs?  My concerns quadruple.  Nobody knows how they interact with the changing hormone levels of adolescence.   There are "black box warnings" about children committing suicide.  And how does saying, "Here, take this pill.  Your mood will lift" influence later urges to try street drugs?

Last month, my 12 year old starting taking zoloft.  I have resisted this route for years.  My daughter has PTSD, anxiety and attachment issues.  But she does great in school, other kids seem to really like her, and she's very active in sports.   Her biggest problem is that she drives me mad--so maybe I should be the one taking the pill, right?  I resisted med suggestions by her therapist for  years.

Then last November, tragedy re-entered my daughter's world and our home life became unbearable.   For me.  

A crisis therapist joined the team of experts helping us, and this therapist quickly started nudging me down the road to medication.  "I'll just make the appointment for now since there is a 3 month wait, but you can always change your mind and cancel later."

"Her appointment was moved up to next week, but you can always tell the doctor you're not comfortable medicating her."

"Just try the medication for a month, and if you don't like how it effects her, you can always stop."

So now my daughter is taking Zoloft.

Even though the doctor said absolutely nothing to ease my concerns, I submitted and  I'm not sure why.  Issues with male authority figures?  Weakness?  Bad mothering?  Selfishness?  The Life Blood has been sucked out of me and now I have become nothing but a walking zombie with no personal convictions?

Not only did the doctor not say anything to ease my concerns , but he said that thing people say about psychotropic drugs that REALLY PISSES ME OFF:  "Well, if your daughter was diabetic, you would make sure she was given insulin, wouldn't you?  Mental illness is a disease too, blah blah fucking blah."

What I thought in response was:

No!  Diabetes is a measurable problem, Asshole!  There is a test to measure sugar levels!  Depression and anxiety are subjective.  There is no test to measure deficiencies in my daughter's blood.  There is merely ME saying that she is getting on my nerves, and now we're going to try putting various drugs into her system until we find one that makes her more pleasant to be around! 

What I said was:

"Sure.  Let's try it for a month."

Throughout the doctor's visit my daughter was polite and responsive.  The moment we got into the car afterwards she pitched a gigantic fit.  Shrieking, screaming, crying "I'm not taking anything!  It will change me!  I don't want to change!"  She threatened to jump out of the car and run away.  She was completely hysterical--gasping for breath between shrieks and sobs--and I thought, "Hmm.  Perhaps she could use a little help managing her emotions."  

Ironically, her fit about taking the drugs was exactly what convinced me that she in fact needed them.  Am I a terrible person or what?

 Now we are at the one month mark and my daughter is a completely different kid.  She has become a typical 12 year old.  She acts silly and giggles.  She spends time with friends outside of school without my having to cajole her to do so.  She tells stupid jokes.  When I say something displeasing to her, she merely stomps away to her room. 


Is this right?  

Making my child just like everyone else.  

Pouring chemicals into her system that may or may not be interacting with her hormones just as her breasts are starting to develop?  Chemicals with known sexual side effects at the exact age when she is starting to have sexual feelings? 

Making her silly and happy when deep inside her lurks unfathomable rage and grief? 

I have no idea. 



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adoption, ptsd, anxiety, zoloft

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Oh My. The FIRST thing I want to say is NO you are not a bad mother. I've been where you are - though my children were a little older, maybe 14,15. I agree with you on your assessment of Big Pharm but I also look at the implications of being so unhappy. I believe the better good is keeping unfathomable rage and grief at bay. Your love for your daughter is obvious.
thank you trilogy that means a lot to me
As mothers we get the heavy task of choosing for our children at least until the age of consent. In my humble opinion as a mother who witnessed her own daughter become her normal fabulous self again~ I think you've done the right thing. From this: "She threatened to jump out of the car and run away. She was completely hysterical--gasping for breath between shrieks and sobs--" to this: " Now we are at the one month mark and my daughter is a completely different kid. She has become a typical 12 year old. She acts silly and giggles. She spends time with friends outside of school without my having to cajole her to do so. She tells stupid jokes. When I say something displeasing to her, she merely stomps away to her room," speaks volumes, Caroline.
The pill is not making her "like everyone else." It is making her *herself* again or perhaps for the first time. With the wires uncrossed (very unscientific, I know) she can be who she really is.
I am really very happy you took the chance. It is not an easy decision, but it can be a decision that saves a life.~xoxoxo
that is so true, joanie
both your & trilogy's comments are making me cry
Well, she does not have to take it permanently. Perhaps if taken for a course of about six months, she will be able to have recovered sufficiently to function at the same or similar level. I am not a doctor, but I have seen zoloft work for a lot of people and they are not all taking it for extended periods of time. I think you are a good mother. I think that when we see something that is obviously wrong with our children, we want to help them and fix the problem. I think you are a good mother, and your daughter sounds like she is actually thriving on the calm. Best to you both.
I don't really know what to say. On the one hand, I completely understand your daughter's initial resistance, but on the other hand, I can't imagine the zoloft would change her so much that she wouldn't come and tell you she didn't like feeling the way she does now. It seems to me she's doing a lot better, based on what you said, and if medication was the only way for that to happen, then so be it. Besides, if you hadn't put her on medication, who knows what problems might have resulted? Adolescence is a tough time, and kids don't always make great decisions, even when they're "average". I can't imagine someone with PTSD and other issues doing so. So, ultimately, it seems to me you've made the right decision.
If you were not a great mother you wouldn't question if you are doing the right thing.If it makes your daughter able to be a young adult and function and able to laugh and enjoy life again how can it be wrong.
You are on top of it and will know if the need changes. Trust yourself and enjoy your daughter enjoying life again.
thank you so much sheila. my newest concern is that if zoloft is making her so happy, what is it going to be like for her to go off of it?

thank you alysa.
her 12 yo perspective is quite different than mine. she says there is no difference. "I always hung out with friends after school" Um, no you didn't.... Discussing things with her is a challenge--

thank you LL & Happy Birthday!
and now I'm crying again, janie-- I love how you worded that last paragraph. thank you
thank you flower child--I didn't know that about the short-term use in the research. Don't worry, my daughter gets plenty of therapy. She definitely talks like it too -- a few years back we saw a tree growing on the creek bank with its twisted roots exposed and she said--that tree has a lot of big, mixed-up feelings deep inside that it doesn't let show up top--just like me!
Caroline, I really don't know what to say...I think it would be weird if you weren't concerned about for sexual side effects...maybe I'm the weird case, but an antidepressant gave me my libido can gone entirely flat...that's just my experience...xox
you know, as someone who has been dealing with anxiety & panic attacks on an ongoing basis since I was 11, I only wish my parents had done what you are doing. I got nothing but the "so what? life's tough" routine and my life was living hell trying to cope. And spending years doing so very badly.

I watch my kids really carefully and already I see anxiety issues cropping up with my 10 yo son. You better believe I'll be working with him as he needs it!

I applaud your efforts, your thoughts and even your conflicted feelings on meds. You ARE a good mom!! ((((hugs))))
We had the same concerns putting the Giant on Adderall years ago. He hated the way it made him feel, but it gave him the capacity to experience what it's like when you ARE behaving/performing well in school. Over the course of a summer vacation, after a year on it, we made a deal with him - if he could figure out how to control his behavior without it, he could quit it. He did and he did. I know it doesn't work that way for everyone, but sometimes having the experience of feeling/performing better allows a person to develop new/better tools which allow discontinuance of the meds. Mind you, that's just my theory, but I've seen it a couple of times in myself and others . . .

Hang in there, sister. You're doing fine.
After battling PTSD and depression for decades without drugs, I finally capitulated and started Zoloft around Thanksgiving of this past year.

In a word: miraculous.

I feel like myself. I feel *normal*. I resisted for so long because I was afraid it would change my emotions so I couldn't feel anything and make me a zombie. This fear was based on some very real observations of other people on different psychiatric drugs.

I'm taking only a minimum dose now and expect to go off this summer. It's allowed me to function and be productive. I'm still able to be happy, I'm still able to cry when that's an appropriate thing to do. I honestly don't feel a bit different mentally or physically, but my emotions are not dragging the rest of my life down anymore.

Thank goodness for Zoloft, both for me and for your wonderful daughter. It seems to be helping both of us to be fully functioning members of our families and society so that we get the experience of what that feels like, and can incorporate that into our daily interactions now and for the future, and that's what it's all about, right?
thank you robin its very helpful to hear the experiences of others

caroline thank you so much for sharing -- you helped me put it into perspective

owl that's what I'm hoping--that once she experiences feeling "normal" she will be better able to work at managing her emotions

sara thank you so much for sharing. your words will help me to talk with my daughter about this
You do what you have to do. I had a child of the same temperament.. I wish he had kept on.. Might have saved me 27 stitches.
Rated with hugs
Caroline, you're singing my song.

Both my kids take meds for ADHD. Trust me, I've read everything on the internet that heaps scorn on me for being a lazy/uninvolved/slave-to-big-pharma parent. And good God I've tried everything else. But at the end of the day, my kids need to live in the world with everyone else. Without these meds, they aren't just square pegs in round holes, they're triangular. They might even be trapezoidal. Who knows. With meds, they have a hope, a chance, of fitting in, of acting in the same time zone as their peers, of having a chance at public school and life.

If I could quit my job, hire tutors, insulate them in bubbles where they didn't have to do anything with anyone else, ever, then yes, I could skip the meds. But for anything... not just school but sports, orchestra, scouts, life... we need the meds.

I question myself every day. Every damn day of my life, I wonder if I'm damaging them beyond belief. Then we have a no-meds day, and they both regress about three or four years in maturity, which gives me a 10-year-old in a 13-year-old's body, and a 7-year-old in a 10-year-old's body. Boy, that's a sure-fire prescription for peer rejection if I ever had one.

You're doing the right thing. In the immortal words of Dr. Spock: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."
Well, the end line of your amazing post
isn't 100% true,,..YOU know.
You are probably the only one who does.

These anti-depressants may indeed interact with hormones.
Also, her brain is still building itself.
(As ours are, too! We old-timers...)

But what you must do is abstract yourself from
the chemical / biological stuff...
the Mind
controls the body, not the other way around.
And the Mind seeks health.

It will make use of these chemicals like a wizard
makes use of cat's-paw or the hair of a silver gorilla
in its Pot of Chemicals.

Day to day.
All one can say, hey?
I agree with what Joan and many others said here. You've done the right thing. The doctor may not have used the best example when he suggested you wouldn't hesitate to give your daughter insulin. If your daughter had debilitating migraines, you wouldn't be able to measure the level of pain - that would also be subjective, but I'm sure you wouldn't think twice about giving her medication. She is in pain, mental pain. Mood-stablilizing drugs can be lifesavers for both the patient and the family. I've never understood why people get so freaked out about these things when they wouldn't think twice about popping , swallowing, or snorting OTC remedies left and right. Again, you did the right thing.
Yikes, Linda--27 stitches! I am so sorry you went through that. Thank you for your support as always.

froggy, it's so comforting to hear from people who can relate. thank you!

james, i love your response. "the mind seeks health" are wise words for me to remember

thank you quinnmama, i might have to check out that book you mentioned...thank you so much for the wise and kind words

margaret, thank you. i think there are some good reasons to be freaked out by this, but also reasons to just give it a try and take each day as it comes...
I so agree with others here, CM: you're a mom doing her best to help her daughter, and that is what a good mom does. It IS important to watch for side effects and as she grows, this med may not remain the right one. Given what you have seen thus far, it is the right med for now. Meds don't make us into anything we aren't personality wise, they can however restore us to who we are when not fighting off depression, anxiety, etc.
Caroline, perhaps you've not thought of this: in spite of her violent opposition to taking the meds, your daughter couldn't have been content with the way she was affecting you and possibly others around her. Did she laugh and giggle and tell stupid jokes before the Zoloft? It sounds as if she wasn't.

I also wonder if the very hormones you are concerned over could have been contributing to her pre-Zoloft affect. Hormones have wreaked havoc with many a woman that I know, including myself. If she is getting such positive results after such a short time, I'm very glad you gave her a chance to feel the way she feels with the drug.

You are a fine mother and don't let anyone tell you differently. Your first thoughts seem always to have been about her best interests.

Caroline Marie - it is your questioning that makes you a great mother and that your intention to do what's best for her. I believe in the power of the universe to move things along in the right direction if our intentions are clear.

The first time I went on Zoloft I was 30. And suddenly it felt like this huge cloak had been lifted from me. I remember thinking, "oh, so this is what you're supposed to feel like" and then wishing I'd known about this when I was 15. It is not like your daughter is not in therapy. If you are seeing a positive difference then it is doing what meds like this are supposed to do and provide a scaffold while we sort things out.

I understand your irritation with the diabetes analogy. And yes, a certain degree of PTSD is subjective, in that the way it is experienced is subjective. So are many things we treat with medication - like physical pain and fibromyalgia. But PTSD is actually measurable. There is a biochemistry. And as someone whose worked with a lot of people working with child soldiers and their family, that question of where biochemistry ends and perception begins is very complex.

Sometimes nobody knows what and why something works. But you are doing your very best and the rest -- that's what faith and prayer is for. I know you know about this, so I'm just sending you a reminder of what you've taught me!! Best wishes to you and your daughter.
I have a family member and a good friend who have taken Zoloft, and they both have the same advice: make sure your daughter takes it every single day, preferably at the same time of day. It seems to be very effective, but if you miss a day, it's as if all the bad stuff you've been holding off just FLOODS in. Imagine being hit with a week's worth of anxiety or depression all at once. The effect is worse than if you hadn't been taking the drug at all. So, don't feel bad about having her take it, but be vigilant about making sure she does take it every day. And congrats on the positive results so far. :)
Let go of the mommy guilt! Big Pharma isn't always the answer -- but sometimes it is! I felt similarly conflicted about putting my kindergartener on ADHD medication, but within the first week, we knew it was absolutely the right decision. She now reminds US if we haven't given her her pill; she says it helps her be smart and make good decisions. I get the impression that your daughter is also one who will benefit from meds -- one who is allowed to shine, rather than stifled by pills. You are a mom who loves her daughter and wants to give her a chance not to suffer. Nothing wrong with that.
You are a good mother for being concerned, for not buying in so readily -- but given your daughter's history and all that she has to overcome (not to mention the doomsday surge of adolescence which is simply AWFUL for just about everyone even if they had a perfect upbringing) -- it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. As long as she's being monitored for side effects, you can either say it's helping or it isn't and move on from there.

Medication (Lexapro) helped me overcome anxiety when I needed it, and I resisted for so long because things weren't "that bad," because I could get through every day and collapse into bed and that was SUCCESS! Yay! Aren't I a strong person? Nevermind that I couldn't enjoy things; it was all about my bootstraps and hanging tough. Turns out I didn't even need to take it for very long. I just needed to break the cycle and get back into a normal cadence. After that, I'm much more likely to notice when things are out of whack and get myself back on via non-pharmaceutical means, but that's something I wouldn't have been able to do without the medication and the nudge it gave me. If things ever got so far off again, I'd not hesitate to take the medication again -- knowing what I know, that for most people it's not a forever thing.
So much sound advice here already, I cannot add much. Just want you to know that I think you're a good mom doing the best in your daughter's. Glad you got such helpful response from people who care.
I admire your tenacity, Caroline, hang in there.
Thanks for sharing your POV on these drugs. It is really a difficult call to use them or not.
I understand and share your misgivings going in, but it seems to me that if she was truly miserable before, a month or so is a reasonable test. Good luck.
As you know, I've written extensively about my battles with depression. When I was first given zoloft, I was 30 years old. It was the first medication I ever took to combat the depression that had ruled my life with an iron fist for years and years. Echoing what Antoinette Errant said, I felt for the first time what it must feel like to feel "normal." My emotions no longer ran rough-shod over me and it was incredible.

You did a good thing, Caroline. Zoloft won't change who your daughter is, but it will allow who she is to shine through. And that's a very good thing.

Lots of psychopharmacology at our house. I'm so glad your daught er has had a good outcome. Keep watching. These things need adjusting now and then.
Better your daughter be on medication and flourish during childhood than not take meds and be miserable.
Depression and Anxiety are physiological diseases. Because medical science does not know the precise mechanisms behind them does not make them "subjective." The so-called measurable diseases you know today were considered "subjective" at one point or another in history.

I don't know whether your daughter should take meds. I guess I don't understand why she is on them if both you and she were so vehemently against them. I guess time will tell.
I just read my comment and it seemed weird and not nice. I didn't mean it that way. Most of us have muddled our way through this and landed on the other side without too many scars. I've come to some peace with it and use drugs minimally. Which is to say I no longer rail against their use, I am just cautious about them. If it makes you feel better, I work with children in schools and there are some who clearly do not fit in b/c of their impulsivity or other problems. One boy in particular comes to mind--a beautiful 8th grader who is loud and colorful but has no friends b/c of his brash behavior. He is clearly adhd but his parents have refused to acknowledge it. When he finally gets out of school, with his two years held back, his social pariah status, and his string of F's over the years, I imagine they will pat themselves on the back and say proudly, "And we never gave him drugs!" To what end, I want to know? To what end?
I think you're a good mother because you are being honest with yourself about your needs, your daughters needs, your feelings, your daughter's feelings. A less than good mother wouldn't know the difference! I remember something my therapist said to me when I didn't want to take drugs: You're drowning, and before I can teach you to swim, we need to get you out of the water. I was on them for only twelve weeks, but it made a huge difference to my life.
This is one of those shitty decisions you have to make sometimes. The deal is, she won't be on this forever. My daughter had to go the medication route for awhile & I was totally opposed to it. She didn't like it at all, but it got her through the whole brain chemistry out-of-whack deal, & once her system was "regulated" she was able to find the things in her life that worked physically & emotionally & eventually weaned herself off the drugs. The deal is, if their brain chemistry is off, they end up self-medicating. You don't want to go there -- it often involves police & lawyers & taking bottles of pee to a hospital three days a week.

You ask excellent questions -- certainly we don't want to use meds to regulate our kids to "society's" idea of normalcy. We don't want to drug away their creativity. But we also want them to be happy, & sometimes drugs can wire the happy circuit that is missing.

And when they talk about meds as treating mental illness as you do diabetes, I think they're often talking about the stigma of mental illness. Nobody is "embarrassed" to have diabetes or cancer, but we still have big issues with anything involving the brain, which means we don't seek help, or we blame ourselves, or we're all hush-hush, the way people used to be with cancer.

You're asking all the right questions, & at the same time taking steps to keep your child healthy & happy. That's what good moms do. You're a really good mom.
Zoloft is a frigging miracle! In the 1970s, they had Valium. Nice, except for the addiction part. You are doing all the right things for her, by getting her talk therapy. Watch out for side-effects, but she may not have any.
Are they still telling patients that fable about how depression is caused by a "deficiency" of serotonin, and the cure is to take a pill that will eleate your serotonin levels, just like getting your brake fluid topped up? Did you know there never was an convincing evidence for that fable? They cannot measure serotonin levels in a living brain. We don't know how the brain generates the mind, but we know enough to know that this simplisitic hydraulic model of the mind cannot possibly be correct. It's a modern-day version of the four humors theory.

Of course, HOW a medicine works is far less important than THAT it works. Did you know that the drug companies' own data -- the data they didn't want us to see -- shows that these SSRI's are NO BETTER THAN A PLACEBO for major depression?

If your daughter is feeling better, I would put that down to her own innate resilience (not to mention the fact that she has a mother who obviously cares about her and has her best interests at heart), and not to anything the pharmaceutical companies have done.

You are right to be concerned. Big Pharma has an obvious vested interest in getting us all addicted to as many different kinds of drugs as the traffic will bear. I urge you to arm yourself with knowledge so you can make the most informed decisions possible.

Some books you may want to have a look at: "Our Daily Meds by Melody Peterson and "Blaming the Brain" by Eliot Valenstein, Ph.D.

All the best.
Drugs are cheap and effective. Talk therapy is expensive, but often effective. Insurance companies don't reimburse therapy.

You really need to feel comfortable with your child's doctor and be sure it is the right decision, rather than the easy and cheap decision.

I would also recommend parenting classes for you, or books. This is because I ended up in a crisis with my daughter at 11 or 12 and parenting classes really, really helped.

The counsellor used Glasser's Choice Theory (Can be found in his book For Parents and Teenagers) which basically says too many parents try to control their teens, rather than help them make choices and deal with the consequences of their choices.

There are also books on parenting difficult kids. Some of it may be aimed at how to deal with a difficult kid without screaming.

I'd also recommend finding out what options there are for parenting advice and counseling for your daughter. You want to work towards an ideal solution where she is off medication and able to manage her life.

It's possible that won't happen, but you shouldn't assume that now.
Great post and I shared the exact same concerns as you. will Pm with the rest...........
You are a wonderful, strong, caring mother. You're doing the best you can, and that's all you can do. Just keep an eye out for side effects and enjoy your child. Drugs are not always the right thing, but that doesn't mean that they are never the right thing; you're being very mindful about what you're doing. You are doing it right.
caroline, there are in fact ways to "measure" a variety of mental issues. Unfortunately, because most come from chemical imbalances in the brain, some of those ways are basically trial and error. You tried and I'm sure kept a close eye on her... bingo, no error.

I do hope you can follow up with a doctor in whom you and she have more confidence and possibly with therapy... these meds are not like antibiotics, they're needed for a fairly long time and often have to be switched. Bravo to both of you for your courage and success. You're a good mother she's lucky to have... and vice versa.
I'm echoing what some other folks on here have said, but here goes: I started having panic attacks around the 3rd grade but didn't get any medication [heck, I didn't even know what was really wrong] until I was in my mid-twenties. I can't tell you how good it felt/feels to be "normal" after all that time!!! The very quote you dislike so much regarding insulin and diabetes is one I have personally used. It really hurts when people close to you (my sister in my case) tell you to "get over it, it's all in your head". Maybe so, but in my head is my brain, it's not working quite right, and it needs medication. It's your job as a parent to worry, but be sure to also enjoy your daughter's improvement and happiness - it really is her, not the drugs!!!! Hugs to you both.
I agree with Trilogy. You are definitely not a bad mother. In fact, you are the best kind of mother tearing yourself up trying to figure out the best path for your child in a world where there are no straight answers. I don't know what's right here but I commend you for your thoughtfulness and courage in facing the hardest work in the world, raising a child. rated
With kids who have it hard, we moms should and do all manner of things. Zolof sp? has saved so many. May it work while she needs it. Then you can move to another intervention. We all worry too much. I think I drive my kid who is literally an adult, a bit mad with my worries.