Prozac: Finally, Something That Works for My MS Fatigue
At long last, I have a success to report! Finally, a drug that helps me with my fatigue. I never thought I'd be so happy to tell the world I am a Prozac user, but I truly am excited and thrilled to report it appears to be the right match for the fatigue that has plagued me for at least 11 of the 16 years I have been living with MS.
As excited as I am about this miracle drug, I would be remiss if I didn't tell of the side effects and the length of time I was out of commission.
At a dosage of 20 mg, I suffered from side effects for three days that consisted of:
- slight scratchiness in my throat
After three days, all the side effects were gone. I like it when side effects clear up gradually because it means that every day, you feel better not worse. This time, I did not have any sort of breakouts or itching. I think the fact that it is an older drug might have something to do with it. I have trouble with anything my doctors tell me is a "new" drug because they seem to make me itch or break out in hives. No such trouble this time around, however.
I've Tried Many Drugs and Supplements—All of Which Have Failed
I will attempt to recall the list of drugs that failed me, just as a point of reference for anyone who now finds themselves in a similar situation to mine - no drug seems to work!
I hope that you have friends who will encourage you to keep looking, even when you feel it is hopeless. Thanks to my friends, some from right here on HubPages, my hope was renewed and my enthusiasm rekindled.
Drugs that haven't worked for me or had a limited effect include:
Cylert can't really be added to the above list because I did feel better using that drug, but for safety issues, it was discontinued. It did work for me, though, and I didn't personally suffer any ill effects.
I Even Tried the Herbs and Vitamins Route
Over the years, I have also gone down the herbal route with limited to no success. It was very frustrating as the herbs I tried helped so many others around me, yet for me there was little to know benefit.
Recently, I had hoped Vitamin D3 would be the key to unlock the energy hidden behind the MS. It worked, but only for 2 days. It was crushing to get my hopes up high, to feel excitement over finally finding "the answer" only to realize it was just a 2-day long cure.
Ritalin and Adderal
These are two last-hope drugs I am hoping I will not have to try: Adderal and Ritalin.
Secretly, I like knowing I have at least two more chances if Prozac fails. As my list of ineffective drugs grows, it is nice to feel that there is a back-up drug category to fall back on.
What I know about these drugs could fill a thimble, I suppose.
I know they are in a different category of drugs. That they are highly monitored. That they are being abused by many people including teenagers, as a means to get high.
The most ironic piece of knowledge that I have, however, is that both drugs are used as a calming influence for hyperactivity. Why this drug works off-label for MS fatigue is something I don't even pretend to understand. But they are available, and I have put them in my fatigue arsenal, just in case.
Fact Sheets on Adderal and Ritalin
- Ritalin (methylphenidate) Information from Drugs.com
Ritalin (methylphenidate) is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and narcolepsy. Includes Ritalin side effects, interactions and indications.
- Adderall Information from Drugs.com
Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Includes Adderall side effects, interactions and indications.
When Your Neurologist Is Not Enough Help
Overall, I am generally very pleased with my neurologist. He is a gentle caring man, who worries when I don't take the necessary steps to keep MS progression to a minimum.
However, I was very disappointed once I realized my latest drug, Nuvigil, would not be any help. I assumed he would try a drug I really wanted to test drive, Ritalin. But it was a no go from the time I called his office to the time his nurse talked to me for the second time. Although I have first-hand knowledge of others with MS who were helped to function by means of Ritalin, he was unfazed, and his stance that he did not like Ritalin never changed.
So . . . when your neurologist is not giving you enough help, don't forget your primary doctor can still come through for you. I have had the same doctor for 14 years now. He has seen me at my best and when I have literally dragged myself to his office because the fatigue was so bad.
Talking to him was a big help. He explained why he couldn't prescribe Ritalin to me. Insurance carriers don't like it when a doctor goes off-label, especially with a drug like Ritalin that is highly monitored.
He told me a neurologist could prescribe it and that if need be, he would give me a name if he couldn't find another drug to help me.
Having been listened to and understood was quite calming. I was willing to try his suggestion.
How reassuring it is to know that his suggestion is the right one for me.
My Prozac Strategy for the Upcoming Months
Presently, I am enjoying my ONE hour of energy. It is amazing what you can get done. Just ask yourself,"If I only had one hour to perform any physical activity, apart from secular work, what would I do?"
No doubt you would do as I have done: look for what screams the loudest for your attention and get to that item/items first.
How would you feel about the rest of the jobs you didn't get to? You could feel frustrated, angry, disgusted or depressed, Or, you could feel the way that I feel, which is: "It will be there waiting for me the next time I have an hour's worth of energy." I find that to be the most positive viewpoint to keep.
I may not finish as much as I want, but at least I can finally get a running start at it all. It makes me very happy to be able to say that, finally!
Upping the Dosage
As my doctor explained. Prozac is an "old" drug, and has been around a long time. I can increase the dosage from the 20 mg I currently take to 90 mg if need be. Of course, I hope the need will NOT be that strong. Thus far, I feel the Prozac leave my system by 4:00 pm. I take it around 8:30 am. So, I am thinking another pill should provide me what I need and eliminate the crash that is occurring once the drug has had time to move through my system.
I have been told to wait 4 weeks between each increase, so I still have a good week to go before I increase the dosage. And if it turns out that this one dose lasts longer than 8 hours, so be it. I will be happy to keep the dosage where it is.
Prozac seems to be the drug I have been looking for all these many years. If it stops working, I'm glad I still have a few more options to try. I hope everyone suffering with severe MS fatigue finds the drug that works for them. As my doctor told me, "it is different for everybody". That difference is what can become so discouraging. Finding the one drug that works is worth all the effort however. So don't give up. Surround yourself with friends and family who won't let you give up. They can really help you if you get discouraged trying to find the right drug for you.
Update: As of 2018, I moved on to Adderal for fatigue management. While Prozac served its purpose, its success was for a limited amount of time. I use Adderal very sparingly and my current neurologist highly recommends its use while leaving the frequency of its use to my discretion.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.