Psych meds and impulse control

I’ve ordered 7 pair of glasses over the past month. Obviously, I know this is excessive.

I guess, in my weak defense, I’ve ordered them online and they’re a lot cheaper than buying them from an optometrist. The total cost for all seven is equal to getting one pair of designer frames and lenses from a private eye doctor. Plus, I’m also trying to transition from wearing contacts to glasses, and having more than one pair is making that transition a lot easier for me. I have profoundly negative associations with wearing glasses that date back to elementary school and being able to view them as a fashion accessory is tremendously helpful.

Still, seven pair is excessive by any measure. It doesn’t matter that their total cost wasn’t huge (and certainly, I could have gotten glasses for much cheaper if I’d picked out just one pair at Costco and committed to them.)

But the bigger issue is that it’s not just the glasses that I’ve gone overboard with buying in the past year. I’ve done the same thing with throw blankets, purses, Kendra Scott necklaces, and a specific type of running shoes that I have to wear every day. I’ve gone from being pretty minimalist to becoming a hardcore collector of the things I like. One or two is never enough to satisfy me anymore.

Yet there’s something that coincides with when I started this new behavior: one of the meds I’ve been taking to manage depression. I started taking a low dose of Abilify in addition to my antidepressant last March (according to what I found in my MyChart medical record.) That seems to roughly track with when I recall this behavior beginning. Unfortunately, it was also around that time when my husband started his new job, so from his viewpoint, it understandably looks like I’m spending more because he’s earning more.

But apparently, Abilify is well-known for causing problems with impulse control, enough so that there’s now an FDA warning about it (which of course my doctor didn’t mention.) There have even been class action lawsuits related to it; it’s more common to have problems with compulsive gambling but compulsive shopping is also not unheard-of on this drug.

It really disturbs me that a legal medication I’ve been taking to manage my depression is actually probably responsible for changing my behavior so radically. It really has felt like I’ve been out of control, unable to stop doing what I know I shouldn’t be doing.

Now I have to figure out how to stop taking this medication. I’m normally the “cold turkey” kind of person but I’ve read that tapering off this drug is necessary unless you want to suffer from weeks or even months of withdrawal symptoms. I can’t really ask my doctor for help because most doctors don’t believe this drug causes withdrawal symptoms (or behavioral changes, for that matter.)

At the same time, I also know that I’m tough and I can probably get through the withdrawals no matter how bad they get. I just want to start getting this drug out of my system (which takes 34 days on average, according to what I’ve read.) I don’t want to slowly taper down. I just want to get back to normal again.

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