Depression - Chinese and Western snake oils


So my supply of Buproprion (Wellbutrin) is about gone and the local pharmacies have never heard of either. I haven’t asked for Zyban as I’m not sure if a ‘quit smoking’ pill is close enough to be worthwhile even if the active ingredients are the same.

Has anyone found any good sources for Western ‘unhappy pills’ or had any luck with Chinese medicine concerning depression? I’m in Taichung and hope something is available locally.



Have you tried purchasing by Internet? There’s at least one on-line drug company in Canada which is popular among Americans because drugs are so much more expensive in the States than north of the border. I don’t have the URL but I think my dad knows it and I could check if you want. If you have the right prescription, I think you could buy on-line and have it shipped to you, if you can’t find a source in Taiwan.


Make an appointment with a doctor (preferably a neurologist, or other brain related thing. The Taipei Hospital by Tower Records in Dinghao is a good place). Tell him you have depression and ran out of your medicine. (Got the bottle with the prescription on it? Great-bring it. If not, say you’ve been under treatment for however long, etc.)

They will ask you what symptoms you have, so mention something medically associated with your mental ailment (i.e. if you have OCD, say you are always turning water faucets on and off). They will then give you a month of your medicine (or an equivalent) and it will just be charged to your insurance card. Come refill time, you don’t even have to wait–knock on the door, say you need a refill, give the nurse your paper, no need to wait for your turn.
No insurance card? Go to that pharmacy by the West side of the 228 Park. It’s a pretty big place and you usually don’t need, um, prescriptions.

Thanks for the help folks! I looked into online pharmacies but they seemed to be exhorbitantly expensive. I wonder if they add a bottle of Viagra with every order, kind of like the little bottles of yogurt you get with milk…

The info for Taibei is great, thank you! I hope I can find something a little closer to home (Taichung) but will definitely keep it in mind.

A friendly pharmacy?! Ah, how it reminds me of my days as a freelance pharmacist in the parking lot of Grateful Dead shows… 8D

Has anyone had any experience with Chinese Medicine and mental health issues?


Hi again,
It just occurred to me that I have a close Taiwanese friend who is a pharmaceutical rep, and although she is currently flogging cancer drugs off on unsuspecting hospitals, I imagine she might have some connections or knowledge of where your meds might be gotten. E-mail me off the board at if you want her contact details.

Also – less reverently – does it seem to anybody else that there might be little or no acknowledged depression in Taiwan because the population spends so much time and effort convincing themselves that they are in fact happy? I mean, read the cover of your average notebook, look at the cutesy socks people wear, stuff like that. Probably the really “hard cases” among the Taiwanese are taken directly to the Sanrio Hello Kitty store in Tamsui and locked in for 24 hours…

Seriously it probably hasn’t come to people’s attention yet. It has taken a long time in the States before people have recognized depression as (in many cases) a chemical problem not a character flaw, although many insurance plans still don’t play along.


I’ve found that none of the online or other “mail order” type pharmacies will ship to Taiwan as this country has rather inclusive import restrictions (i.e. it’s illegal to import buffered aspirin without permission).

On the other hand the postal service has yet to stop a package containing prescription drugs and if I need something that’s how I get it – the plain old post. Cheap it ain’t but it does get through at least from the US.