A collection of multicolored pills with arrows leading from one to another. It creates a very confusing diagram.

RA Medication Interactions

Prior to being diagnosed with RA, I took no prescription medications. I was able to get up out of bed each day and not have to worry about remembering what pills to take and when.

Of course, being diagnosed with RA completely changed that, as I was put on Plaquenil to take twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. This was the first regular prescription that I would take, and one that I am currently still on. Later came the bi-weekly Humira shots.

My depression and anxiety increased

However, with the stress of being diagnosed and with finishing college, my symptoms of depression began to increase dramatically, to the point that prescription intervention was necessary to treat both the anxiety and depression, in addition to the RA.

For a short time, these prescriptions seemed to work fine, until I started to notice an accumulation of warning signs.

Did the antidepressant interact with Plaquenil?

One of the drugs that I had put on the treat depression directly interacts with Plaquenil. This has led to a few worrying side-effects and symptoms including more pronounced sweating, (a sometimes) faster heart rate, and worsening fatigue.

As soon as I started to notice these symptoms, I called my primary doctor and told them about my experiences. Yet, all they could offer was that there was no seeming interaction between all of the drugs I was taking. A quick Google search would prove otherwise, and when I brought this to their attention, they were hesitant to try another new drug to treat depression since I was responding well to the one I was already on.

I had to figure out this interaction by myself

There are a few frustrations and problems that I have with this situation. The first relates to the fact that I, as the patient, had to figure out this interaction by myself. In not one appointment that I had with my primary care and with my rheumatologist did they bring up a concern between drug interactions until I either asked about potential drug interactions or expressed concern about a particular drug.

I, of course, recognize that I am not a medical expert or a doctor. But when I have a concern about my body, about my health, and about the drugs I am on — particularly when I have some evidence and ask them to explain — I am intent on bringing it up and talking about it.

Choosing to treat my depression or RA

The second frustration that I have about this situation is that I felt like I was being forced to choose between which condition I wanted to treat. That is, did I want to give up the SSRI and only treat my RA or change the Plaquenil so that I can treat my depression?

I decided to give up the SSRI

How do you even begin to address and answer such a question? Why should I even be in this situation, to begin with? I eventually had to decide that since the Plaquenil was working best for me, I had to give up the SSRI (with appropriate and approval supervision with my primary care doctor).

I bring up this situation not to vent. I wanted to talk about this to bring awareness to an issue that often goes unnoticed, particularly for those of us who are on multiple prescriptions at the same time.

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