Olanzipine Side Effects or Depression? - Action on Postpar...

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Olanzipine Side Effects or Depression?

vlk86 profile image

Hi All,

I am on a high doze of olanzipine and am feeling drowsy and unmotivated. I find it hard to get up in the morning. Is this side effects of the medication or am I suffering with depression. I am currently not taking any antidepressants as there was a worry it would trigger mania again. I am finding things really hard at the moment. I'm hoping that a reduction in olanzipine will help my mood and give me more energy.

17 Replies

Hi vlk86!I had my PP 11 months ago, and after about 2-3 months after PP i started to feel very low. The doctors would assume that it’s due to antipsychotics (i started with olanzapine but continued with Abilify), but after 7 months when i stopped all antipsychotics i continued to feel the way you describe. i waited too long and found myself in severe depression. now im taking prozac trying to fix this. hope you have good doctors who could keep in eye on your condition. also sometimes they would prescribe lamotrigine to keep a person stable, but i didn’t find it effective. good luck and hugs

vlk86 profile image
vlk86 in reply to Varvarita

Thanks Varvarita. I'm hoping it's just the antipsychotics for me. I did feel better after they were reduced last time. I will take the reduction and see how it goes for me. I am on lamtrogine too but its quite a low doze.

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer

Hi vlk86,

I am no health professional and can only talk from lived experience. I had depression after pp, and like Varvarita it started about 2 months after pp. I felt very weepy, low in confidence, hopeless, unable to make decisions, and going about everyday things was a big struggle. I was still on a high dose of olanzapine at the time, 17.5 or 15 mg. I started taking SRIs and after a month I regained some form of balance again. I still felt flat, emotionally detached and very drowsy, until my olanzapine was reduced to practically nothing.

I hope things start looking up soon for you, quite a few other things helped me to overcome the depression that came after, which I have mentioned in other posts, like exercise, journaling, CBT. Ask your doctor as well if a review of medication would be beneficial.

Take care

I certainly felt drowsy and lethargic on Olanzipine and reducing my dose helped. Hope it works for you too. If you live in the uk could the lack of daylight be making you feel low? Vitamin D deficiency can cause depression and lethargy. My psychiatrist prescribed vitamin d in a mega dose one winter!

Hi,my wife had olanzapine with pretty much similar condition and finnaly we went to a "combo"

Aripripazol which is for phicosis and some antidepressant plus a little dose of medicine for the sideaffect of aripriprazol which is when your legs can't rest.

Hope it helps a bit.

We are started the whole journey in may ,we still not out yet,but at least her everyday getting really close to "normal"

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer in reply to Vikrika

Hello Vikrika,

thinking of you and your wife. It is such a traumatising illness. Wishing her a steady recovery and take good care of yourself.

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer

Hello vlk86,

I can not talk of any experience with olanzapine when I had PPP 10 years ago. However, there are loads of mums , who have been administered this drug and probably can give you great advise.

I have had a combination of very traditional drugs and they were the only ones which helped to combat my PPP. It was a lot of trial and error and I was often in isolation with some pretty horrific episodes in a Psychiatric hospital.

After the release I was like a vegetable and my brain was completely shut off. Therefore in a daze without actually remembering my baby nor moments of continuous full time care by my partner.

The side effects of Haloperidol, Lorazepam and Risperidone were extreme and I struggled to function physically, emotionally and mentally. However, once released from hospital and in after-care a team of professionals and my partner and with the help of a care plan, I managed to wean off those drugs.

We are all very unique and respond to drugs differently. It is always good to up-date and communicate with health professionals whilst you are in recovery. Would it be useful to record your moods & journalise, but also take notes/brain storm what you find frustrating, what do you find difficult, what is more of a challenge (i.e. concentration level, patience, exhaustion, triggers etc.) Thinking about your needs and being listened to about your recovery journey, such as wanting to wean off in the near future.

Take good care.

Hi Vlk86, I had the same issue when I was on a high dose of Olanzapine and now I am in a low dose (2.5 mg) and still feel the same. I sleep more than 12 hours everyday and still could sleep more. As the day passes by I start to feel better and in the nights I feel more energetic and more like myself. But then the next morning the same stuff again...I wonder if this will go away once I am off completely of the meds or if I am suffering of an unrelated depression. My psiquiatrist doesnt want to put me on antidepressants as they are apparently triggering psychosis so I have the same problem like you. My only advice is to try to get appointments in the mornings that force me to get out of the bed. Once I am out the flat I start to feel slowly better. If I have no appointments I stay the whole morning until lunch time in bed and feel horrible. I am sorry that I have no better advice :-(.

Ask your GP for a different drug there are many others you could have

Hi vlk86, I am sorry to hear that you are finding things really hard at the moment. I had a similar problem with my mood and energy levels with olanzapine when I was on 10mg, and even when it was reduced to 5mg. I had a prolonged manic episode with PP which resolved with treatment, but a few months later my energy levels were shot and I was sleeping all the time. It turned out that I also had hypothyroidism and I started to take thyroid medication but it takes a long time to get the right dose. I was struggling with looking after my son, going back to sleep over and over during the day and felt exhausted in survival mode. Eventually I agreed with my psychiatrist's suggestion of an antidepressant and was prescribed sertraline. It really, really helped. I My psychiatrists have seemed to think that olanzapine protects against mania being triggered again and that it is (relatively) safe to take antidepressants alongside it. The real question is what happens when stopping olanzapine as it might not be a good idea to take antidepressants on their own. Obviously this will depend on your own personal circumstances but it might be worth speaking to your doctors again as they might be able to prescribe something to help. Best of luck :)

Jenskygazer profile image
JenskygazerVolunteer

Hello vlk86

I take Olanzapine too and have taken it for a long time as I experienced psychotic episodes before my daughter was born and before I had PP. It’s such a strange thing, I still don’t know if the lethargy and sleepiness is all Olanzapine or if it’s the effects of psychosis / depression too, but I’ve found some things really helpful.

For years I had terrible nightmares and really struggled in the mornings and would be incredibly worried and ruminative after waking up. If you can, I find running first thing in the morning, just for 10 mins, helps so much. The greatest help for me has been water - I now drink 2 and a half pints of water just before sleep. I have to go to the toilet once in the night, but the Olanzapine gets me back off to sleep. I found that the Olanzapine was making me incredibly de hydrated at night. And now I am hydrated I find the sleepiness / worry / anxiety / nightmares greatly lessened. Not completely gone, but in comparison to before I feel so much better. More myself.

Everyone is different and you will find ways that help, but I hope the water does. Also I find yoga that follows the menstrual cycle so helpful. And following my menstrual cycle. I find Olanzapine combined with days when I just normally feel sensitive due to my cycle can send me into a complete spin and panic if I’m not aware of where I am in my cycle. I’m finding Sue Blanch’s ‘Yoga and the Menstrual Cycle’ so helpful and she has a free e-book online at: yogaand themenstrualcycle.com. Also I’ve found the book ‘Wild Power’ on the menstrual cycle really, really helpful and it helps me pace while on Olanzapine. Sending very very best wishes to you.

Jen X

Hi Vlk86

I felt the very same after taking 17.5mg of olanzapine for almost 6 months. It was reduced down to 10mg by then. I wish someone had told me what a horrible drug it is and I would have quit alot sooner, like after a week!!! If I were you I would get off it ASAP, as in yesterday, so that u have hope of regaining your former self, which gets harder thee longer you take it I suspect.

3 years on and I'm alot more like my old self but a big part of me is still gone and it's v hard to accept. There's a dullness still there, a flatness I'd never experienced before. I know this sounds like really bad advice but just come off it! I just wish I'd had someone to give me that advice before the 6 months and that I'd been strong enough to go with my gut, rather than the advice of the psychiatrist who told me that under no circumstances should I stop taking it because that was highly dangerous. When I reduced from 10mg to zero, I was petrified something awful was going to happen because I was doubting myself.. But the only awful thing was I didn't bounce back to my former self immediately. It took a few years to come close to that. The dopamine receptor blocking medication (olanzapine) has under "worked" and has done all the things ud expect a pill that interferes with your dopamine system to do :(

There's a book called The Bitterest Pill by Joanna Moncrief, a london based psychiatrist. Could you ask someone to read that for you? It's a big ask but it might convince you that this drug is very harmful and creates more problems than it solves.

As I said, I only wish someone had told me its ok to stop taking it. It takes a strong person to listen to their gut instead of what the experts are saying. But the experts have never taken the drug and don't really know what causes psychosis. The dopamine hypothesis is just that a theory that modern day psychiatrists have latched on to. Also there seems to be no clear understanding of how olanzapine itself works, é.g. why it makes people pile on the pounds ( there is a theory that it affects the gut microbiome and interferes with peoples' natural metabolism). But the weight gain is the least of anyone's worries.

Psych hospitals are a revolving door as far as I can see - patients are back time and time again, that tells me the meds don't work. There must be another way.

If you're not convinced, please ask someone u trust, with the mental capacity, to read the book.you won't be able to read it on olanzapine coz ur concentration and memory are impaired, but they will return when you're off it.

There are other ways to handle mental breakdowns, with lifestyle changes and self care. That's my theory. I just don't think olanzapine is a cure.

Wishing you the best of luck and take care and I'm sorry if this is alot to take in. Nobody should have to deal with this situation.

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer

Hello vik86

I was looking on your other post and hope by now you have had a review to reduce Olanzapine to 10mg? As I mentioned in that post I don’t have any experience of taking Olanzapine but I really don’t recommend coming off your medication as suggested by a forum user.

I took medications during my PP recovery which made me feel as you describe, unmotivated and things were hard. Everything was such an effort, especially getting out of bed. I decided to reduce my medication as I thought it would help me to feel brighter but it really was the worst decision. I hadn’t realised that although slow, the medication was keeping me stable. I went downhill very quickly, almost back to square one! I’ve read my review with the psychiatrist and promised I would never do that again!

So please be guided your care team. You will feel better eventually but for now take care and perhaps try other good alternatives suggested here.

Hi Lilybeth,

Thanks for your message. I have reduced to 10mg in consultation with my care team, this has helped me to feel a bit better.

I definitely wouldn't stop or reduce my medication without speaking with my doctor first. I know it is tempting not to take medication when the side effects are difficult but it would be so much worse to end up in hospital again.

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer

Hi Vik86

Thanks for your update. It’s good to hear you feel a bit better now your medication has been reduced. Take care ... a day at a time.

amyfj profile image
amyfjVolunteer

Hi vlk86,

Sorry to hear you're struggling with lethargy at the moment. It's always tricky to tell which is medication induced and which is part of the condition.

I was on olanzapine at a 10mg dose during my psychotic episodes and it really helped with the immediate issue though it definitely slowed me down but I guess that's partly how it works.

As I got better and alongside medical advice I was able to reduce the dose to 5mg which I still take now and feel a lot less drowsy on, I have managed to return to part time work, and I also feel confident that it is helping my mental health.

There is always a balance to be struck and I hope that you find yours soon. If you have any questions please just ask!

Best wishes,

Amy

Hi vlk86

You've got some great replies here, and I will probably repeat what others have said.

I was also on Olanzapine (sorry, I can't remember the doses). Like you are doing, I reduced it very slowly with the help of my care team. Definitely, you must do this, as you are doing. Coming completely off anti psychotic medication quickly can cause a relapse , as others have said.

Like you probably feel, I was very grateful for the Olanzapine as I was lucky as I came out of the psychosis quite quickly with it, and was able to be with my son and in the 'real world' again. But as we all know, the recovery can be slow and up and down. We have all been through such a trauma.

I did have clinical depression after the psychosis as well, but my depressive symptoms were quite extreme (e.g. very disconnected, couldn't feel any emotions at all, my body felt very heavy). I was given an anti depressant as well. I don't believe my depression was caused by the anti psychotic though, it was related very much to big anxiety about being discharged home, and a huge fear of becoming unwell again (e.g. trauma from the psychosis).

It was therefore impossible for me to tell whether the flat, unmotivated feeling were side effects from the anti psychotic medication, or the depression. Similar to you, probably some of your flat, unmotivated feeling is because you've been through the trauma of psychosis, and some is probably the side effect of the Olanzapine (which is sedative).

I hope that you can continue to manage to reduce the Olanzapine gradually with your team, and that you will start to notice the positive impact in terms of the drowsiness /lack of motivation. Time is a great healer too.

You really will get back to yourself again.

Take care, Ellie X

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