04 April 2010 - by ~ 3 Comments

Depression and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

I was first prescribed antidepressant when I was 17 years of age as a way to help me cope with the challenges associated with the progression of DMD. At the time I thought little of the connection between depression and DMD, I was just not happy.  My parents noticed my downward spiral before I did.  Unbeknownst to me I was losing interest in my friends and things I enjoyed doing such as reading and playing video games. So, it was decided I should seek a solution to the problem at hand.  I started taking a medication called Effexor, a mild antidepressant.  I felt results immediately with little to no side effects.  I felt care free and excited about the renewed possibilities of the human condition. It was smooth sailing until 2002 when I was hospitalized with respiratory failure, which lead to a tracheotomy in May of that year.  I was confined to ICU for three months.  My second downward spiral began. People were dying around me consistently and the isolation was getting to me. I was put on a higher dose of Effexor and began taking a mood stabilizer and anti-anxiety meds.  Getting accustomed to a machine breathing for me was very frightening and panic inducing.  I began having panic attacks once I was back home.  But those where subsiding as I built up my strength.

Fast forward 6 years to late 2008, I caught pneumonia and was hospitalized again.  My anxiety began to sky rocket and I was having full blown panic attacks.  Pneumonia makes you extremely weak and makes breathing difficult which just added to my anxiety.  As I regained my strength and health, the anxiety ebbed.

In November 2009, I had another major bout of pneumonia. My anxiety was going gang busters and I was mildly sedated most of the time.  My doctor got the insane idea to take me off my antidepressant.  I suffered horrible withdrawal symptoms which agitated my anxiety and depression.  I was quickly put back on a powerful antidepressant med called Celexa. Unfortunately it took 2 weeks to fully begin working.  But time passed and I regained my strength.  As of now, I’m very happy and everything is going to quite well.  My depression and anxiety are well in check.

  • Michael Keen

    Steve, I’m with you with the anxiety, I’m on Paxil which doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used too, and I take Ativan a lot for the anxiety.

  • Jonathan Hinek

    I remember reading that depression may be more prevalent among people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. They compared us to young males with other progressive disabilities and said that our rates of depression were still higher. There have been conflicting studies, though. Either way, I think it’s worth it for any one of us who think they might have depression to get it checked out.

  • Amy

    My son is 18 with DMD and is very high functioning.. with the exception of almost unable to walk we haven’t experienced any real medical problems except depression… he was put on lexipro for about a year and he kinda got out of the rut he was in and decided he didn’t need to take it which was fine until he started having panic attacks. He doesn’t want to take anything that is going to make him even more tired than he already is so he takes the Xanax only when he feels an attack coming on… any suggestions ?