Ruth J.

@ruth-j | contributor
Ruth J. is a paid contributor for Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck. She is a stay-at-home mom and a person living with Major Depressive Disorder, a type of depression.
Paid content from Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck
Ruth J.
Ruth J. @ruth-j
contributor

Depression and the Holidays: Reflecting on My Journey

The holiday season is my favorite time of year; a time of joy and celebration! Yet, as a person living with depression, the holidays are also a time that I dread because they can bring about challenges and triggers for me. In any season, I have good days and bad days, of course. But there’s something about the holidays that seem to heighten my feelings and conjure up memories from my past. It’s naturally a reflective time, as we say goodbye to the old and hello to the New Year. This holiday season, I thought a lot about how far I’ve come on my journey with depression. As a young adult, I struggled with my mental health but didn’t fully understand that what I was feeling could be a mental illness, as this was just not something we discussed in my household. It wasn’t until my late 20s and early 30s that I fully realized that something wasn’t right. I had just started to grow my family. It was an exciting time, yet I felt like I was just going through the motions each day. Particularly around the holidays, I started to withdraw socially and just kind of felt “ down in the dumps. ” I remember thinking to myself, I’m so invisible. I often described it as a rain cloud over my head that followed me around everywhere I went. I had trouble thinking clearly and lost interest in the things I really enjoyed doing, like completing puzzles and reading. I knew something had to change and I needed to speak to a doctor about what I was feeling. When I finally decided to make an appointment to see a doctor, he diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a form of depression. MDD manifests as a complicated set of symptoms including (but not limited to) depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in things once enjoyed, trouble thinking clearly, being tired often, and being restless or moving slowly. The tricky part about MDD is that each person’s experience can be different. Only a healthcare professional can diagnose and treat MDD. My doctor discussed treatment plan options with me that included antidepressant medications and talk therapy. Roughly 10 years after being diagnosed, I felt I needed to see a new doctor. I was frustrated that after all this time, I still found myself struggling with my MDD symptoms. I started thinking that maybe this is how life is supposed to be and I just had to deal with what I was feeling. I shared what I was experiencing with my twin sister, as she too was diagnosed with MDD by a healthcare provider. My sister encouraged me to be open and honest with my psychiatrist about what I was feeling and not lose hope in finding the right treatment plan. I realized that perhaps I had not been as candid with my doctor as I could have been because sometimes it’s hard to have difficult conversations. But I knew this had to change. I met with my psychiatrist and was honest about what I was experiencing. When discussing treatment options, I asked about an antidepressant called Trintellix ® (vortioxetine) . Trintellix is a prescription medicine used in adults to treat MDD. She helped me understand what I could expect while taking Trintellix and explained all of the risks and benefits, like how Trintellix may increase suicidal thoughts and actions in some people 24 years of age and younger (of note, Trintellix is not approved for children under 18). My doctor also advised that I should call her or get emergency help right away if I have new or worsening depression symptoms, new or sudden changes in mood, behavior, thoughts or feelings, or suicidal thoughts or actions. My doctor also said that I shouldn’t take Trintellix if I’m on a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), or if I am allergic to vortioxetine or any other ingredients in Trintellix. Scroll below for additional Important Safety Information, including Full Boxed WARNING for Suicidal Thoughts and Actions. Click here for Medication Guide and discuss with your doctor. Along with safety considerations, my doctor went over the positive treatment results from the clinical trials in adults with MDD. In multiple short-term studies, Trintellix was shown to help reduce the overall symptoms of MDD, based on an overall score on a standardized depression rating scale versus sugar pill. Also, she explained to me that there were no significant changes in weight seen in clinical trials with Trintellix. Some reports of weight gain have been received since product approval. I really appreciated that my doctor took the time to explain that, while antidepressants are known to be effective based on clinical trials, there are also potential side effects of these types of medications, including nausea, vomiting, weight gain, changes in sleep, treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction (TESD), and suicidal thoughts and actions. The most common side effects of Trintellix are nausea, constipation, and vomiting. Serious potential side effects include serotonin syndrome, abnormal bleeding, hypomania (manic episodes), discontinuation syndrome, visual problems, low levels of salt in your blood, or sexual problems. My doctor worked with me to find the dose of Trintellix that was right for me, and I feel like my MDD symptoms are pretty well managed. Looking back, I see that my feelings during the holidays played a part in my seeking professional help for my MDD. This New Year, I am setting intentions to spend more time with my family, especially my two sons, and take time for myself. I know I will still have bad days, just like everybody else, but my overall outlook is positive. My advice to others struggling with MDD is to not give up and be your own health advocate by working with your doctor and asking about your treatment plan. It is okay if you need to go back to your doctor or even find a new doctor – someone with whom you might feel more comfortable with discussing your experiences. I’ve learned that it is so important to prioritize your own health and well-being, especially during the holiday season. Note that medication may not be right for every person with MDD. As people focus on resolutions for the New Year, I hope that my story will inspire other people living with MDD to advocate for their health – by having an open and honest conversation with a doctor, and working with the doctor to find a treatment plan that’s right for you. Visit Trintellix.com to hear more stories like mine and learn about other patient resources. * Ruth is a paid contributor for Takeda and Lundbeck. Last name withheld to protect subject’s privacy. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION (continued from above) Suicidal Thoughts & Actions TRINTELLIX and other antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts and actions in some people 24 years of age and younger, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose is changed. TRINTELLIX is not for use in children under 18. Depression or other mental illnesses are the most important causes of suicidal thoughts or actions. Pay close attention to any changes, especially new or sudden changes in mood, behavior, thoughts, or feelings. Call your doctor or get emergency help right away if you have symptoms such as suicidal thoughts or actions, impulsivity, aggressive or violent actions, depression, anxiety or panic attacks, agitation, restlessness, anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, an increase in activity or talking, or other unusual changes in behavior or mood; especially if they are new, worse, or worry you. Who should not take TRINTELLIX? Do not start or take TRINTELLIX if you: are allergic to vortioxetine or any of the ingredients in TRINTELLIX take a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days are being treated with the antibiotic linezolid or intravenous methylene blue Do not start taking an MAOI for at least 21 days after you stop treatment with TRINTELLIX . What should I tell my doctor before taking TRINTELLIX? Before taking TRINTELLIX, tell your doctor: about all your medical and other health conditions if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, since TRINTELLIX may harm your unborn baby. Taking TRINTELLIX during your third trimester may cause your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth or to be at increased risk for a serious lung problem at birth. Tell your doctor right away if you become or think you are pregnant while taking TRINTELLIX. if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, since it is not known if TRINTELLIX passes into your breast milk Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements, since TRINTELLIX and some medicines may cause serious side effects (or may not work as well) when taken together. Especially tell your doctor if you take: medicines for migraine headache called triptans; tricyclic antidepressants; opioids (such as fentanyl and tramadol); lithium; tryptophan; buspirone; St. John’s Wort; medicines that can affect blood clotting such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), warfarin; and diuretics. What are the possible side effects of TRINTELLIX? TRINTELLIX may cause serious side effects, including: Serotonin syndrome: A potentially life ‐ threatening problem that can happen when you take TRINTELLIX with certain other medicines. Call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away if you have any of the following signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome: agitation; seeing or hearing things that are not real; confusion; coma; fast heart beat; changes in blood pressure; dizziness; sweating; flushing; high body temperature; shaking, stiff muscles, or muscle twitching; loss of coordination; seizures; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Increased risk of bleeding: Taking TRINTELLIX with aspirin, NSAIDs, warfarin or blood thinners may add to this risk. Tell your doctor right away about any unusual bleeding or bruising. Manic episodes: Manic episodes may happen in people with bipolar disorder who take TRINTELLIX. Symptoms may include: greatly increased energy; racing thoughts; unusually grand ideas; talking more or faster than usual; severe problems sleeping; reckless behavior; excessive happiness or irritability. Discontinuation syndrome: Suddenly stopping TRINTELLIX may cause you to have serious side effects including: nausea; sweating; changes in your mood; irritability and agitation; dizziness; electric shock feeling; tremor; anxiety; confusion; headache; tiredness; problems sleeping; hypomania; ringing in your ears; seizures. Eye problems: TRINTELLIX may cause a type of eye problem called angle-closure glaucoma in people with certain other eye conditions. You may want to undergo an eye examination to see if you are at risk and receive preventative treatment if you are. Call your doctor if you have eye pain, changes in your vision, or swelling or redness in or around the eye. Low levels of salt (sodium) in your blood: Low sodium levels in your blood that may be serious and may cause death can happen during treatment with TRINTELLIX. Elderly people and people who take certain medicines may be at a greater risk for developing low sodium levels in your blood. Signs and symptoms may include headache; difficulty concentrating; memory changes; confusion; weakness and unsteadiness on your feet which can lead to falls. In more severe or more sudden cases, signs and symptoms include: seeing or hearing things that are not real; fainting; seizures; coma; stopping breathing. Sexual problems: Taking antidepressants like TRINTELLIX may cause sexual problems. Symptoms in males may include: delayed ejaculation or inability to have an ejaculation, decreased sex drive, or problems getting or keeping an erection. Symptoms in females may include: decreased sex drive, or delayed orgasm or inability to have an orgasm. Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop any changes in your sexual function or if you have any questions or concerns about sexual problems during treatment with TRINTELLIX. The most common side effects of TRINTELLIX include: nausea constipation vomiting These are not all the possible side effects of TRINTELLIX. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. What is TRINTELLIX (vortioxetine)? TRINTELLIX is a prescription medicine used in adults to treat a certain type of depression called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1 ‐ 800 ‐ FDA ‐ 1088. For additional safety information, click here for Medication Guide and discuss with your doctor. ©2021 Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. TAKEDA and the TAKEDA logo are registered trademarks of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. TRINTELLIX is a trademark of H. Lundbeck A/S registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and used under license by Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.