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Monday, October 8, 2012

My Extended Scopolamine Trial: Searching for Effective Treatment of Bipolar Depression

I became curious about scopolamine last winter when I began reading about it as a novel and possibly rapid and effective antidepressant. I wanted to try it. I wrote about a short scopolamine test I did back in February, but it was inconclusive.
Since the test did not give me answers I still wondered. Could scopolamine be one of the missing pieces to the enigmatic bipolar depression treatment puzzle?

This post is an account of a longer 12 day scopolamine experiment I performed on myself in August. It was under the perfect conditions: (1) I was in a severe depression and (2) I had a valid reason for my doctor (not my psychiatrist) to write a prescription for it! Take that Ms. psychiatrist!

Big Bummer Cruise

It all started with a cruise I took back in early August. I decided to tag along with my sister's family on a one week cruise of the Mexican Riviera. We made the plans back in May when I was feeling pretty well.

As life would have it I was in a severe depressed state during the entire cruise week. Everything was messed up. The logistics of getting to and on the boat were unnecessarily tiresome. I had no interest in any of the events on the ship. None!

Scopolamine to the Rescue?

Scopolamine is readily prescribed as an anti-motion sickness drug in the form of a patch. So I obtained a prescription from my regular GP prior to the trip. I even got some additional patches from my fellow cruisers so I could extend this experiement beyond the seven day cruise!

So, with my severe depression in play and plenty of Scopolamine on board I had the perfect situation to give the drug a thorough testing. One day before the cruise I applied the first patch as directed, on the neck behind the ear.

The Cruise Experiment

After the first day or so I didn't notice any change in my mood. I thought perhaps it just needed more time. Well, that was not the case.

I changed the patch every three days as directed. But as the cruise continued I didn't feel any change in mood, either better or worse. I was still severely depressed and having a terrible time.

The cruise ended and I still was not feeling better so I decided to continue taking the drug and see if there was a delayed response.

Yes, there was a delayed response but not for depression relief. Instead I ended up getting many of the side effects that some people get after taking the motion sickness medicine:
  1. On day four I started to get blurry vision;
  2. I had a little nausea during the trip but it was bearable; and
  3. After day 10 I began to develop a persistent headache!

My Experience

My experience with Scopolamine was disappointing. I gave it plenty of time to work to relieve depression (remember it is supposed to be rapid acting compared to normal antidepressants), but it clearly failed on this mind/body.

Not only did it fail to produce any antidepressant effects, it gave me some annoying side effects. And in the case of the headache it was worse than annoying. It hurt for a few days and even a day or so after I got off of it. This is important in my case because I get headaches very infrequently!

Based on my experience I won't be trying Scopolamine again. This does not mean it will not work for others, but for me it has no future as far as depression relief.

Has anyone else tried Scopolamine for depression treatment? If so please leave a comment (anonymous is fine) so we can get additional performance and tolerability information.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Karen! They're fun. I update them as my mood changes during the day. It helps manage my mood because I am "checking in" with my moods throughout the day. If I'm off kilter (such as right now - grey fish) I use my coping techniques to alter or shift my mood in the best direction. Take care, Jeff

  2. Hey Jeff, I don't have anything to add about Scopolamine. But I read a report recently that pharmaceutical research companies have over 200 drugs for treating mental illnesses in the brew. Some are in trial, others are just awaiting FDA approval. With over 300 million people in the world with some type of mental illness, this could help many people. Maybe some better resulting treatments are on the way. Let's hope!

  3. Gerald! Thank-you for your words. I am very curious what drugs/companies/diseases/etc that you speak of? Can you give me more specifics so I can check out and let ya'll know?? Be great, Jeff