Hey you guys! So today I wanted to give you a better insight into antidepressants and I thought the best way to do it, rather than writing an essay that no one wants to read, is in a form of Q&A. Everyone loves questions and answers, right? They are short, to the point, and can give you the answers you are looking for. When I went through depression a few years ago I only knew very little about it. I read maybe two, three articles about it on google, but back then I wasn’t exactly aware of what I am dealing with. I refused antidepressants because I felt I can deal with my issues on my own terms. And yes, I am glad I did it then, but I felt ready to start taking antidepressants this year. For me, there is a big difference between depression and anxiety. And as much as I overcame depression, I never stopped being anxious. And so I needed help to stop my head spinning before it was too late.
Ok, so let’s start.
- How did you feel before taking antidepressants?
I felt tired. Overworked. Frustrated & Irritated. Exhausted even though I slept all night. Anxious. I was imagining worst-case scenarios so I can be ‘prepared’ for when they will happen.
- Where you embarrassed to speak to your doctor about how you feel?
No, not at all. I said I struggle with my anxiety, it makes me nervous and angry, I am having hormonal issues and it’s difficult to live like this. I also mentioned that I am seeing a psychotherapist, and I believe antidepressants, along with therapy will help me find a correct balance to have a peaceful life.
- What antidepressants are you taking and what is the dose?
I am taking Sertraline 50mg, once a day. Sertraline is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), it works by increasing the level of serotonin in your brain.
- Did you have any side effects and how long did they last?
I did, yes. My doctor explained they might happen and that everyone reacts differently to antidepressants. The most important thing is to take your medicine at the same time every day. I started taking them around lunchtime, and so I have to continue taking them around midday. The biggest side effect I had was being sleepy around an hour after taking the medicine. I was at work every day, so I couldn’t have a nap, but it was a real struggle to stay awake. I have also lost my appetite for a few days, and didn’t feel hungry at all, just thirsty. I was drinking water like crazy! It lasted around five to seven days.
- How did you feel after side effects have passed?
Even though I was experiencing side effects for the first week, the biggest change I saw was literally the next day after my first dose. Whatever I was doing, reading, going to work, working on something, cooking, I felt focused on the job. I did not think of anything else, except for that current moment. I did not think of yesterday, or tomorrow or felt anxious about the future, what mattered the most was that specific task. Two months have passed since that day, and I still feel the same. I am not anxious, I don’t wake up at night to overthink, or stress about the next day. I have a great sense of positivity and whatever bad is happening, I feel like I am going to be just fine, regardless of the circumstances. It’s a massive relief.
- What about now, how do you function on antidepressants?
Because I sleep better, I am no longer tired. Because I don’t overthink, I am calm and peaceful. So overall antidepressants have improved my life.
- Why do you recommend them?
I never thought that a small pill can make such a big difference in day to day living, and because I am a person with a history of depression and severy anxiety, I can recommend them with a 100% honesty. I feel like they are a great deal when it comes to dealing with mental health issues, and there is no reason to be ashamed or afraid when taking antidepressants. They really do help. Especially when all you see is a black hole, with no way out and no point in living anymore. Trust me, they can make a big difference in your way of thinking.
- Are you planning to stop taking antidepressants and what is the process of that?
So I have been told by my doctor that I should be taking them for a period of 12-18 months, and then when I decide to come off them, it has to be done under doctor’s guidance, so they make sure there is no deep relapse or I don’t go into severe depression. It’s dangerous to stop taking antidepressants on your own because you don’t know what kind of chemical reaction might happen in your brain, so best is to do in small steps assisted by your doctor. But to be honest, I really don’t want to stop taking them, as the impact they have on me it’s so big, I do want to continue taking them for a long time.
- Are antidepressants addictive or can they give you suicidal thoughts?
No and no. They aren’t addictive at all. In my case, they work great and a prescribed dose of 50mg is perfect for me. I don’t feel addicted or have thoughts I have to take them otherwise I will not survive. I take them because I want to and they help me. They don’t give any suicidal thoughts, quite the opposite. It’s not a magic pill that takes all of your problems away, but it makes them definitely less scary.
- Are they expensive?
In the UK they aren’t, I pay around £7 for a prescription for three months supply.
I know that antidepressants are scary and many people are afraid of them, but I think it’s important to have as many options as possible. My goal has always been to let people know more about mental health, and because I can only speak from my experience, I hope that somehow you will find my blog helpful. And if you do struggle, especially now during the lockdown, don’t be afraid to seek help. One small step can change your future, so don’t wait any longer. Look after your own mental health as you would look after your body health.