Monday, March 29, 2010

Dear Zoloft

My "I am no longer afraid of my own shadow" child

I have debated about whether or not to make this post but have in the end decided it is an important one to make. It is important because as I searched the Internet for information about kids and certain medicines I was unable to find anything positive. We have had a VERY positive outcome and I want to share that for other families who may be where we were.
I had blogged sometime in the past about Carly's anxiety. I am not talking about being afraid of monsters in the closet. I am talking about a child who was afraid to go to sleep at night because she was afraid the house would catch on fire, or that she would be kidnapped, or that she was going to die. She was getting up and checking the locks on doors and windows before bed. She was paralyzed with fear all of the time. She was afraid to kick the soccer ball at soccer because she was afraid of getting hurt. She was afraid to go on a boat for fear of drowning. She was afraid of planes because they might crash. We had to medicate her heavily to fly anywhere. So you see this was not just run of the mill kid stuff. We are and always have been very conservative about what she sees on TV and hears us talking about so it is not like she was constantly exposed to these horrible things. She does have an ICU nurse for a mom and a firefighter for a dad and a sister who is chronically ill though and those things are not going to change. She also has a strong family history of anxiety disorders and depression. Anyway, we had managed these things the best we could for a long time but it was becoming increasingly clear that even with all of our efforts things were spinning out of control and Carly was getting worse.
I took her to see Dr. Goff about it and he referred us to a child psychologist. Her name is Lisa Elliot and I am certain she came to us straight from heaven! She met with me and with Carly and then did some testing. Carly scored in the severe range for an anxiety disorder. Lisa cautiously approached me with the information and the fact that she really felt that Carly needed medication and therapy. I was all for whatever it was going to take to let my kid just be a kid. She has been so preoccupied worrying about adult things that she has forgotten how to just be a kid. We went later that day and met again with Dr. Goff. The whole thing was nothing less than divine because to get where we have gotten in the Cook Children's Behavioral Health Program usually takes anywhere up to 18 months and we got through it in about 2 months.
Carly was started on Zoloft. It is an off label use for kids under 12 but Kenneth and I are well aware of the risks and were willing to accept them. She was started on 12.5 mg and after about 1 1/2 weeks was increased to 25 mg. She is a different child now. Unless you knew her before it is impossible to know how dramatic the change has been. Carly knows why she is on the medicine. I asked her if she feels different now than she did before the medicine. She said yes. I asked her what feels better- this way or the way she was before the medicine. She says this way is so much better and that she never wants to feel the way she used to ever again. She goes to bed at night and when we say our prayers she is thanking God for all the things in her life and no longer prays for protection from the horrible things she was so afraid of before. She sleeps like a baby and is refreshed in the morning.
As far as side effects go- we have only noticed one. She eats a little more than she used to. It is not a problem for her because she is constantly on the go and is skinny anyway. We are trying harder to be sure we keep healthy snacks around for her also. That is it- we have not noticed any other side effects at all.
I know that not every kid will respond the same way and that for some kids therapy is enough. Carly is going to therapy as well. For us, this was without a doubt the right decision. Zoloft, thank you for letting my child be a child. I cannot thank you enough...


  1. Well, I think that's fabulous. Anxiety can be so hard. My SIL had anxiety so bad she would shake during tests. So great that you've found something that works and that seems to have so few side effects.

  2. I want to give you a big thumbs up. I know there are a lot of folks who don't approve of antidepressants for kids in particular (or at all) and they are all folks who don't really know what it is like. If you get any flak about this, stay strong! You are obviously committed to helping your kids be as healthy as they can be and this is no different. I had to go on Zoloft to deal with my child's CP diagnosis and it made a ton of difference to me, I am now switching over to something my doc thinks better for me now that I am not nursing, but Zoloft is the go to drug for nursing mothers because of the higher safety record. It has been out a long time and the risks are well known. My only side effect was teeth grinding and clenching so my vote is watch for that, but I needed that help, and the side effects were worth it. If your daughter needs it, then thank all that is holy that you have the courage to do everything you can for her. She is lucky you are her mom.