• Thursday, 17 November 2016

    10 things you need to know before you start taking anti-depressants

    We are living through an anxiety and depression epidemic. Mental health problems are on the rise, generation Y being particularly affected and more and more people are being described anti-depressants. Taking medication for a mental health problem is a big step and an important decision. I have personally been on medication for just over nine months now and had a reasonable amount of success on it. I've put together this post with things I think are worth thinking about before making such a decision.

    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a nurse or anyone with any kind of medical training. This whole post is based on my personal experiences, my personal research and the opinions of people I have personally talked to. I can not give you facts, I only offer opinions. Please talk to your GP for medical enquiries.

    1. 1. Anti-depressants are not a miracle cure. They will take time. 
      Do not expect to take your first pill and wake up the next day feeling great. They are not 'happy pills' or 'chill pills.' They are trying to alter the chemistry in your brain and this will take time. It took me about a month before I noticed any difference.
    2. 2. Your first week or so will be the most confusing week ever.
      The first day I took pills, I had the worst panic attack of my life. I was dizzy, I was sick and I couldn't breathe. I actually wrote a journal entry that day and looking back on it now, you can see how badly my hand was shaking. I can recall it so well and it makes me panicky just thinking about it. But I got through it. The first week was full of weird headaches and strong emotional reactions to things, I had a constant shaking for about three days - which was really fun to try and hide at work. But it did calm down, and if it doesn't, see your doctor.
    3. 3. You'll spend forever wondering if the pills are working or if it's a placebo.
      I've been on pills for nine months now, and this question still goes through my mind. I've also had an eight week long series of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), quit my horrendous, physically draining job and lost some weight. All of which could be possible contributors to any upswing of mood. I like to over analyse, but really, I need to just be grateful when I'm happy, rather than ask why I am.
    4. 4. It's common to go through a few different pills and dosages.
      I've been really lucky with this one, I started on a 20mg dosage of Citalopram and it seems to have worked quite nicely for me. I stayed on this dosage for eight months, but I recently went up to a 30mg dosage, because some symptoms of my depression did start coming back. Talking to other friends, it is common for your dosage to change and for us all to react differently to different pills. Be aware that you might be in for being treated a bit like a medical guinea pig.
    5. 5. Doctors know what they're talking about. But they're not mind readers.
      I have a lot of experience with NHS doctors, for both my mental and physical health. I know that it's easy to feel really anxious about making appointments and talking to doctors about how you're feeling. The NHS is a wonderful service, but of course the doctors and staff have immense pressure on them, GP appointments tend to only be 5 minutes long. The best thing you can do for yourself and for your GP to make sure they help you, is to be 100% honest. Tell them anything and everything that you think has any relevance so they can make an informed decision. Also, if you want a particular treatment, ask. GPs are more likely to prescribe you medication than refer you to counselling (because the waiting lists are huge) if you don't ask.
    6. 6. You'll feel blocked.
      I'm a cryer, always have been. When I started taking medication, I remember describing myself to Jay and others as feeling 'blocked.' This is a fairly common complaint from other medication takers, in my experience. I still felt sad and unmotivated and recognised these emotions, but it was like they couldn't come out. Whereas before, I had regular, very intense crying sessions. Plus small ones, often in public when I was walking somewhere and overthinking. This was a huge adjustment for me as pre-medication, I had pretty much cried every day for five years. Which, oddly, I had never considered abnormal.
    7. 7. They might screw up your sex drive.
      Okay, time to get really personal, so if you're my mother and don't want to know this - look away now. Okay?
      I never had the highest sex drive, in fact, some of the first panic attacks I ever experienced were just before sex. I have some issues with personal space. But still, my overall sex drive and life in general, was pretty acceptable - there were very few complaints. Since taking citalopram, I have found it really, really difficult to get myself into the mood. Not only that, but when I have had sex, I have found it particularly difficult to orgasm. Partly, I think, because I find it difficult to focus on what's going on and get distracted easily. Now, obviously, what happened to me isn't necessarily going to happen to you. Who knows how your hormones will react to this. But brace yourself for it and discuss this with your partner, if you have one. Also, if your partner is anything but lovely, kind and understanding during this conversation, you deserve a better partner.
    8. 8. It's possible you'll gain weight, get spots or have funny periods.
      Side effects suck. And there's a lot of them. Read through the list thoroughly and pay attention to your body. You should know what's important to you, and remember, in the words of Alex Vause...
    9. 9. You can always come off them.
      Seriously, if you don't like them, stop. But please, please, please talk to your doctor about it first. Remember the horrendous side effects you first got when you started taking them? Well, it's twice as worse when you suddenly come off them. Your body might freak out. Ease yourself off.
    10. 10. Call 111 if you need urgent help.
      Please don't go to A&E unless you have physically hurt yourself, that's what it's there for. 111 is perhaps the most useful service the NHS provides. They can get you emergency doctor appointments, instruct you with excellent home advice and know when to call ambulances. If you need to talk to a counsellor urgently, the Samaritans are an excellent charity too. 

    2 comments:

    1. this is fab, I was on sertraline back in 2012 and I was a zombie for the entire 7 months. I got better for a few years, and just started back on escitolopram last week. I had to take a few days off of work because I kept having really bad panic attacks, burning up and sweating buckets. It seems to have settled down for now!
      Its good to have a real persons perspective rather than reading the leaflet and freaking out about all of the side effects. Sometimes I think that makes you feel like you're feeling all of the side effects.
      I avoided going back into medication for years because my family don't approve of it, but it's keeping me going and that's all I need right now! 💕
      this post will be super useful for people that are looking for more information! x

      ReplyDelete
    2. this is fab, I was on sertraline back in 2012 and I was a zombie for the entire 7 months. I got better for a few years, and just started back on escitolopram last week. I had to take a few days off of work because I kept having really bad panic attacks, burning up and sweating buckets. It seems to have settled down for now!
      Its good to have a real persons perspective rather than reading the leaflet and freaking out about all of the side effects. Sometimes I think that makes you feel like you're feeling all of the side effects.
      I avoided going back into medication for years because my family don't approve of it, but it's keeping me going and that's all I need right now! 💕
      this post will be super useful for people that are looking for more information! x

      ReplyDelete