Supermodel Speaks to 'GMA' About Her Experience With Antidepressants


Paulina Porizkova Experienced Anxiety and Depression

After Porizkova learned that eight of her friends were also on antidepressants, she said, "It also got me wondering. What was going on here? Was this a sort of universal malaise that hit peri-menopausal women?"

Porizkova calls it the "female midlife crisis." But she said that when the drug's side effects destroyed her sex life and her creativity, she decided enough was enough.

"It stinks to come back from vacation," Porizkova said on "GMA." "But if you stay on it, you don't get much done."

Varma said that antidepressants, like all drugs, come with side effects. Still, doctors can make adjustments in the medications. Some patients will stay on them for a minimum of nine months to a year, but others, who have three or more bouts with anxiety or depression, are considered chronic and can be on the drugs for a lifetime.

Though these medications are not addictive, they require slow weaning over several weeks to avoid the side effects of fatigue and some return of symptoms.

"Doctors need to differentiate someone with an adjustment disorder," said Varma. "The kids have left the house or you are renegotiating a career path. That is normal and not depression or anxiety. My job is to get to the correct diagnosis. Will someone get better, or is it crippling anxiety?"

Trying to get off the medication wasn't easy for Porizkova. She describes in her Huffington Post column the three tiring weeks of terrible dreams she endured before the anxiety crept back.

She wondered if all women experience her anxiety at the crossroads of middle age, and whether medication was not just the "emotional equivalent of plastic surgery."

"With them, we can stave off the anguish of change; we can take breaks from the afflictions of living," she said. "But is it also possible that through the serendipitous use of these brand new staver-'off'ers, we will ultimately pay a price: the price of going through life anesthetized and smooth with all the self-awareness of a slug?"

Porizkova agrees with psychiatrists who say that antidepressants have been lifesavers, but she questions whether women -- and perhaps their doctors -- are looking for a panacea for normal life crises.

"I also think that those who try to take the shortcuts -- the pill to lose weight, the pill to be happy, the pill to be smart, to sleep, to be awake, are just running up their tab," she writes. "My affair with an antidepressant reinforced what I already knew: I'm not one for affairs. I'd rather fight tooth and nail to keep and restore what I have than take a break from it."

These tools and resources can help you spot depression.

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