I was initially extremely reluctant to get put on any medication for anxiety because I’ve had bad experiences with anti-depressants in the past. This was before I knew I had Asperger’s, though, and doctors had me take a standard SSRI. Research indicates this is not a good medication family for most autistics, so it’s not surprising that previous medications didn’t help me.
I’m going into week seven on Wellbutrin and Propranolol for anxiety, and the combination works great. Unfortunately, my tendency to still get very anxious at the doctor’s office gave me three really high blood pressure readings in a row, so the doctor put me on the water pill Hydrochlorothiazide.
For the first four days, I experienced a lot of physical side effects, including headaches, fatigue and dizziness. I also became increasingly emotional and had a bad meltdown. By day five, I sank into the deepest depression of my life. The odd part was that it came on about an hour after taking the pill and disappeared approximately 12 hours later. This cycle repeated on day six with an even worse level of depression and a huge amount of paranoia, and I knew then it must be because of the pill.
I couldn’t understand how a water pill could be doing this until I did some research and discovered that they can indeed cause depression. In fact, 2.67 percent of patients taking this pill report developing depression, and this is most prevalent in women.
My fiancée was understandably upset at seeing the mess the medicine turned me into, and she made several attempts to contact my doctor’s office, but their phone line was down. So she somehow convinced my paranoid, delusional and deeply depressed mind to go with her to visit the doctor’s office. When we got there, we found they were closed due to a power outage.
The next day, I tracked my doctor down at another facility and discussed what had happened. He asked me to take the pill at night instead to see if that helped, with the theory being that I’d sleep through most of the symptoms.
That night, with lots of trepidation, I took the pill again. And an hour later, I felt the depression come back. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely move. And when I did finally doze off and on for a few minutes, I had terrible nightmares. Needless to say, that was the last time I took that medication.
Interestingly, we got a home electronic blood pressure monitor a few days before, and I might not have ever needed those meds in the first place. I can get a relatively normal reading at home, especially when I’m relaxed. It’s only when I’m feeling really anxious that it spikes up.
I tested it once during the depression stage, and it was 214 over 113. Now, it’s reading around 131 to 141 over 72 to 81 at most times, with readings as low as 122 over 69 after taking a sensory break. Although below 120 is optimal, I was put on the water pill because my readings in the doctor’s office were always 170 or higher (with one reading that happened during a massive meltdown day coming in at a staggering 280 — needless to say, they almost hospitalized me and wouldn’t let me leave for several hours). This showcases how Aspie anxiety can mess with blood pressure reading results, so if you have Asperger’s and have been told you have high blood pressure, be sure to start testing it at home when you’re feeling relaxed.
Although the depression went away completely within 24 hours of getting off the water pill, the damaging emotional effects of the traumatic experience lasted a lot longer for me and my fiancée. It’s difficult to trust future medications after an experience like this. The water pill made me so depressed and so paranoid that I thought my fiancée was lying to me and trying to trick me into being locked up in a mental ward. I also had suicidal thoughts for three days.
All of this was very painful for both of us, and I still feel some anger about the fact that I was harmed in such an extreme way by the medication. If I didn’t have such a strong will to live otherwise, along with the love and support of someone who stayed by my side through most of the depression, I could have ended up physically injured or even dead because of taking one week’s worth of medication. This is a terrifying thought and is something everyone should be aware of when they start a new prescription.