The Antidepressant That Changed My Life

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My first few weeks on Auvelity, a relatively new and unexpectedly effective anti-depressant. Image from


Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional, and nothing in this blog post constitutes medical advice. This is just my own experience. Your experience will almost certainly vary. Please talk to your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist to find the medication or other solution that best works for you.


Medication isn’t magic. Let’s just get that out of the way.

Mental health is a long and difficult road with a ton of twists, turns, bumps, and U-turns. As someone who’s suffered from moderate to severe depression my entire life, take my word for it: recovery is not clean, easy, or straightforward.

That said, there are some things that help, even if it’s just enough to give you the boost you need to start making meaningful changes in your life. One of the things that helped me out more than anything else I’ve tried in recent memory is starting a new medication called Auvelity.

What is Auvelity? 

Auvelity is the brand name of an anti-depressant that was approved by the FDA in late 2022. It was developed by Axsome Therapeutics and sold as a prescription only. It comes in tablet form and is normally taken twice daily, after a 3-5 day adjustment period of once daily.

As a new medication, it’s expensive—bottles of 90 can cost around $500 out of pocket—but Axsome offers a voucher that lowers the price to $10 🔗.

How does Auvelity work? 

Medically, Auvelity is a combination of two very common medications: 105 mg of bupropion 🔗 (AKA Wellbutrin), which is commonly used to treat depression; and 45 mg of dextromethorphan 🔗 (AKA DXM), which is commonly used in cough syrups, of all things. While this might sound like an odd combination (and it is), these two medications have a strange synergy. Bupropion is a common antidepressant, and DXM makes the bupropion more effective by making it more bioavailable, so your body absorbs more of it. At least, that’s my understanding.

My experience with bupropion and Auvelity 

I’d taken bupropion on its own for nearly a year before Auvelity. I’ve also taken a more traditional antidepressant, Prozac 🔗, for several months. Granted, my doses were low (probably too low for what I needed), but they didn’t have much of an effect for me. There would be a short upswing that would last maybe a week or two before settling back down into an undercurrent of sadness. It was like treading water in the ocean while a wave goes by: there’s a brief lift, but then I was pretty much back where I started.

I mentioned this to my psychiatrist. I told him I think I needed something more effective that wasn’t just another old-school SSRI like Prozac. Fortunately my doc keeps up-to-date with new medications, so he suggested Auvelity and gave me a 30-day sampler.

After taking my first tablet, I knew this was different. It felt like I was being lifted out of the water entirely by a helicopter. I could literally feel the heaviness washing off me. It was almost too intense. But most importantly, I didn’t feel like it was temporary. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I had a future. I could look ahead without just seeing misery and sorrow. It was refreshing, it was exciting, but it was also weird and a little scary.

It took around four days for me to feel comfortable enough to start taking the full dosage. Even then, I had to almost mentally prepare myself for it. I started doing periodic check-ins with myself where I would shake out any tightness in my limbs, smooth out my breathing if I noticed it getting sharp or stilted, and maybe do some stretches if I was feeling really off. Two weeks after I first started, it started feeling routine to me.

I still feel the effects of depression, but it’s much more distant and muted. The feeling of being pulled underwater is much less noticeable, and has much less of an effect on me overall. Now that I’m above water, I can start looking around and planning how to get back to shore.

Auvelity and THC 

This wouldn’t be an honest post if I didn’t mention the other major “medical” influence in my life: THC (AKA Tetrahydrocannabinol). Specifically, Delta-9 THC.

For those who don’t know, Delta-9 is a chemical found in cannabis (yes, marijuana) responsible for that “high” feeling you get. In the U.S., Delta-9 products can be legally sold as long as it makes up 0.3% or less of whatever product it’s in. In some states like Florida, you can walk into almost any gas station or smoke shop and grab some Delta-9 edibles off the shelf for less than $20. You shouldn’t, of course, just like you shouldn’t buy gas station sushi. Good quality products are more expensive, but absolutely worth it.

Again, like medication, THC isn’t a magic bullet. For some people, it causes anxiety. For me, it’s a mind opener. It pulls me into myself in a way that encourages self-reflection. It helped me understand how exactly depression manifested itself throughout my life, and why it was so important for me to resolve it. It also helps create a buffer against that “underwater” feeling I get with depression, giving me a little more buoyancy.

Mixing antidepressants and mild psychoactive drugs isn’t always a good idea. In fact, I’d recommend against it unless you really understand how your body reacts to different chemicals. Again, you really should talk to your psychiatrist or doctor about any drugs, supplements, and other non-food chemicals you’re putting into your body. The last thing anyone needs when fighting depression is to have your negative feelings magnified by an accidental conflict between two chemicals that are supposed to bring relief.

Side effects and looking long-term 

So far, the side effects have been mild. On the positive side, I’ve been more social, more willing to go out with friends, more tolerant of big crowds and loud scenes like bars, and I’ve felt more in-tune with my sexuality, which is something that I pushed away when I fell into my last depressive episode. On the negative side, my libido has been lower (ironically), my appetite has been up and down, and sometimes the effect of the medication is so strong that I have trouble concentrating. Generally, the benefits have greatly outweighed the costs, so I’m happy.

Antidepressants aren’t usually meant to be forever. Ideally they’d get you to a place where you have enough momentum to live a healthy life without them. Frankly, I’m not there yet, and it still feels like a long way off. But if you’re in a situation where you’re fighting depression and nothing seems to be working, maybe give Auvelity a try.

And if you can’t afford it or can’t get it for whatever reason, it’s technically possible to create an analog. Auvelity is just 45 mg DXM and 105 mg bupropion, so as long as you can get your hands on bupropion (which is fairly easy, since it’s a common antidepressant), you can get DXM over-the-counter. Just remember: THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE! PLEASE TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE DOING ANYTHING INVOLVING MEDICATIONS OR SUPPLEMENTS!

And no matter what, please remember that you’re not alone. Depression is fucking difficult, and it’s normal to struggle with it. I’m just letting you know what worked for me, in the hopes that it works for you too. Take care of yourself, and I wish you the best!

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