Yes, it’s true. I was banned yesterday from a depression forum. Despite deciding to write about it, I am not after revenge or anything like that, and for that reason I am not going to mention any names or the depression forum in question, but I want to share what happened as I feel I was treated really badly… perhaps others might disagree.
The background to this particular story started when my doctor switched me from Lofepramine onto Sertraline. As is usual with any new drug that is prescribed to me, I searched the internet for information about Sertraline. I read all the usual blurb, and noticed that it was recommended to avoid alcohol. I enjoy my wine so that is a big deal for me, so I did a search for ‘sertraline and alcohol’, so I could gauge how much of a big deal it really was or whether this was just a general precautionary thing… a rule that could tolerate a little bending so to speak…
I came across this particular forum which had many, many replies to a thread which asked the same question I wanted to know: is it ok to drink, even a little, while on Sertraline? There were three pages of replies to this thread, and it seemed that every single reply held one horror story or another about terribly dramatic, horrible experiences when drinking on Sertraline. My heart sank, but hidden in amongst these were one or two other replies which were trying to dispel a lot of the inaccuracies that were being stated in most of these posts. It all seemed a bit odd and terribly over-dramatic, so I moved on and continued reading about it elsewhere on the net.
Ultimately I decided I would continue to drink in moderation, as I had with both Fluoxetine and Lofepramine (without incident). I remained very alert to any potential unwanted side effects, but I decided I would be my own judge on this. Three weeks later and everything is fine. Alcohol is having no strange effect and the Sertraline is working wonders. I thought back to all the comments I had read on this depression forum and decided I would go back and add my own experience into the mix just to bring some balance to the thread and offer useful information about my own personal experience on the subject, to people like myself who were looking for honest reality about the subject…
Here’s my post:
I have just finished my first month on Sertraline. I switched from Lofepramine and before that Fluoxetine. I always read up on each drug before taking it, which is how I found this forum. I have signed up to this forum so I can post for the benefit of those who are similar to me with their drinking habits and to share my experience on this subject.
I’m male, 42 years old, I live by myself and I drink alcohol pretty much every evening and I love it. I do not drink to get drunk. I have between 1 and 3 glasses of wine (usually red), occasionally I swap that for 2 or 3 cans of lager. Every night. I am a constant, regular drinker but do not usually drink large quantities.
When I was prescribed Fluoxetine, I asked if I could drink alcohol and my doctor said ‘yes in moderation’. So I continued to drink and had no bad/unusual effects from the alcohol. I moved from Fluoxetine because of other side effects which were effecting me.
When my doctor prescribed me Lofepramine, there had been no discussion about alcohol. When I picked up the prescription it said on the label ‘not to be taken with alcohol’ (or something similar). I checked it out on the internet and despite all the startling warnings from seemingly everyone, I decided to continue drinking and judge for myself. Again, there were no noticeable bad or unusual effects from the alcohol.
When I moved from Lofepramine onto Sertraline, I again looked it up on the internet as the label said ‘not to be taken with alcohol), and after reading this thread on this forum, became very concerned about all the horror stories and warnings, but again decided to continue drinking as usual and judge for myself – I remained however, very conscious of the warnings.
I’ve now been on Sertraline for a month and once again, there have been no bad or unusual effects. I don’t get ‘more drunk than usual’, I don’t have ‘terrible hangovers’, I don’t become aggressive or angry and more importantly, it is not diminishing the effect of the drug which seems to be working fantastically well.
I am left wondering about all these terrible stories and experiences. Let’s not forget that regardless of what medication you are taking, if you drink too much, you will get a hangover! I do not want to belittle or bring in to question anyone else’s experience here, but I did feel the need to add a little balance to this thread for the benefit of other people like myself whose evening tipple is terribly important!
I wrote it with honesty and openess. It was was the kind of post I was looking for when I was searching for information about it. I felt quite good about myself for taking the time to share my experience.
Then I got an email…
I just unapproved your topic <removed to protect identity>sertraline mixed with alcoholwhich goes completely against all our Terms Of Service.
[quote]DF will not discuss posts dealing with illegal drugs and/or alcohol abuse while you are on medications or not. Clearly alcohol is a depressant. Self medicating with illegal drugs or alcohol will not be discussed on these boards. Your posts will be deleted and you will get a formal warning.
We do have a Substance Abuse Forum for members who are able to discuss their abuse with alcohol, drugs, co-dependency and who are in recovery.
We are here to help one another in recovery. Alcohol is a depressant. Anybody that drinks while taking an antidepressant is taking irresponsible chances with their physical and mental health!
There are specific warnings not to combine alcohol and antidepressants.
1. Both are processed by your liver and you risk liver damage.
2. Drinking affects how much of the meds are absorbed into your body.
3. Meds affect how the alcohol is absorbed and can result in being extremely drunk, huge hangovers, and/or alcohol poisoning and chances of seizures.
4. Alcohol is a depressant – you are making your mental health worse by drinking.
Do you *really* need to drink? What is more important, having a couple drinks, or getting your mental health in order?
Is it realistic to ask people not to drink? In our minds, yes. Pregnant women stop for 9 months because they know it isn’t safe to drink – for your mental health, surely you can not drink for the time you are on antidepressants. It’s a matter of setting your priorities straight.
If you personally choose to drink and mess up your mind, go for it, but don’t come whining back here when you drop into a pit of depression. There are enough people here that tried and learned the hard way. But don’t go around telling other members that it’s alright to drink while on meds when it is not.
We do not want to know how ‘well’ and ‘good’ you felt self medicating. (Whether it is from alcohol or illegal drugs)
Your posts will be edited and you may be warned by Administrators, as we will have no part in such discussions on these forums.
It is not in your best interest and posting such can trigger other members. There is no substitute for getting the help that you need through therapy and legal medications.
We suggest doing a search on alcohol (here on DF) and see what you come up with, as we have implemented these forums rules for a very long time. (2002)
Your Antidepressants And Alcohol, Don’t Feel free to PM the Admin/Mod Team if you have any questions. -Forum Admin[/quote]
Take good care of you–
<name of admin removed>
Now, I must admit, that when I first read this, I did not notice that she was ‘quoting’ the forum rulebook, so thought these were her personal words to me… I was furious. Unfortunately, when I read the email that was generated by the website to let me know I’d had a message sent to me, I could not see that the main body of comments were actually quoted. So my reply was perhaps a little harsh… however, the fact remained that I was upset and angry to have received such an unpleasant email when I was just trying to help by sharing my experience. True to form, ‘outraged from London’ immediately started typing a reply… and here it is:
Wow. Your message has left me nearly speechless. How incredibly self-righteous and rude you are.
If you refuse to hear a rational point of view from a sane, intelligent fellow MH sufferer about their personal experience on a subject or question posted in your forum, then you shouldn’t let the subject run AT ALL. How dare you say my opinion is any less valid than anyone elses. Other people’s abuse or problem with alcohol which I may remind you is a LEGAL substance, is neither my fault nor responsibility – I don’t see why my personal experience should not be shared with those looking for truth, just because it might upset somebody. How ridiculous.
I now understand why the thread I posted in is so utterly and completely misleading to unfortunate people like myself who are looking for honest experience about an important subject. Your total demonization of alcohol helps nobody. It might surprise you to hear that the vast majority of people drink alcohol responsibly – not to get smashed out of their faces.
Your ‘opinion’ about alcohol is just that – your opinion. Personally, I believe in honesty and freedom of speech. What happened to that?
Your ‘specific warnings’ about alcohol and anti-depressants are based on no proven medical study – I have read extremely widely on the subject – have you?? it does not appear so.
Your statement “you are making your mental health worse by drinking” is rubbish. I am very much on the road to recovery and still enjoy drinking alcohol responsibly.
“Is it realistic to ask people not to drink? In our minds, yes.” – Well I respect your opinion and wholeheartedly disagree. What a shame you can’t show me the same courtesy and respect my opinion.
“It’s a matter of setting your priorities straight.” Well once again, thank you for your opinion, but I do have my priorities straight. Making myself miserable by abstaining from something that gives me enormous pleasure I would argue is completely counter-productive and would actually be damaging to my mental health. That’s MY opinion.
“If you personally choose to drink and mess up your mind, go for it, but don’t come whining back here when you drop into a pit of depression.” – My god I don’t even know where to start with this perfectly despicable statement. Firstly, I DO choose to drink and it is NOT messing up my mind. Secondly, your implication that people in the pits of depression come onto your forum to ‘whine’ about it, is nothing short of outrageous. Is that all us depressed people do in your opinion? Whine about it? Next you’ll be telling me to ‘snap out of it’. Unbelievable.
My personal experience is no less valid than anyone elses on this forum – just because you don’t happen to agree is your problem. It certainly doesn’t give you the right to censor and then insult me.
I write a blog which is all about my fight with depression. It is honest, open and about my personal experience and views. It has helped countless other people suffering depression who are less able to express themselves verbally or in writing. I don’t pretend to be perfect and I know that not everyone will agree with everything that I say. I certainly don’t take the attitude that I am right and all other opinions are wrong. So, when people leave a comment about one of my posts disagreeing or questioning any element or something I’ve said, I don’t slap them down and tell them they’re wrong or bad for their opinion. I welcome and thank them for their opinion and their honesty.
We all have problems and struggles with mental health here, and we all fight them the best we can and in our own way – with or without help. I do not consider myself to be ‘self-medicating’ with alcohol, as I don’t drink it to ‘make myself feel better’ or to ‘forget’ or any other such reason and I think that is an incredibly important distinction to make. I drink it because I appreciate it and enjoy it. I thought that was perfectly clear in my post.
If this forum will not allow open discusssion about such important issues, then I want no part it. Such narrow-minded and blinkered attitudes and opinions help nobody.
Thank you for your rude, patronizing and deeply unpleasant message. I will never post here again. I will take my very relevant post which you have discarded as trash and post it on my blog instead – along with your message, and open up a proper discussion. Unlike you, I will not be censoring anybody’s comments just because I happen to disagree. I will welcome them.
You take care of you– and perhaps think about your attitude towards other peoples opinions and personal experiences before trampling on them with such self-righteous bigotry.
What an incredibly unpleasant afternoon you’ve given to me, when all I was trying to do was help.
I hope nobody does the same to you.
Quite a rant huh? I believe I had a point… perhaps I pushed it a little further than was strictly necessary…. but actually, I am still angry at their attitude. I hate reading back emails/messages that I have written in the heat of the moment when I feel an injustice has been done towards me – I do have a tendency to go a little ‘over the top’…. At least I didn’t resort to swearing and kept the tone down to a simmering fury rather than a ranting rage… there’s progress for you.
So fair enough – I had my say and that was that…. except I couldn’t quite resist…
…. the ‘welcome to new members’ section of the forum. Before I knew what was happening I had written and posted the following…
I am a MH sufferer who is recovering well with the help of antidepressants and I am new today to this forum.
My first post on these forums was removed and I received a very unpleasant message from the admin team for my trouble.
My post was about my personal experience about a particular question that another user was specifically asking about.
I found the thread because I was looking for answers to the same question about a month ago. I noticed the responses all seemed to be very one-sided. My personal experience didn’t tally with anything I had read here so I decided to post my experience on the subject.
My post was honest, helpful and truthful.
My post was deleted because it contravened this forums rules (it was regarding alcohol and anti-depressants)
I feel unwelcome and demonized here.
Thanks <name of depression forum> – now you can delete this post too.
…sigh… Yes I know I know – I shouldn’t have done it, but I was so annoyed and upset and they were making out how lovely and supportive they were to all us newcomers, whereas actually they had just knocked me to the ground and kicked me in the face. Again I must point out that I wasn’t rude… and nor did I swear.
Anyway they banished me from the site for all time. I am persona non grata, the devil, an outcast, unwelcome, a troublemaker and a drunk, trying to poison the minds of poor, defenseless MH sufferers.
I would be very interested to hear other people’s opinions about this – I promise I won’t sent you a horrible email if I don’t like what I hear… I may well argue my point if I disagree though… to my mind, it’s ultimately about truth or censorship. I will always go for truth.
Thanks for reading.