What They Don’t Tell You About Antidepressants
I’ve been on antidepressants for a few years now.
A little while back, I had a few critical episodes in which I was extremely suicidal and eventually came to the realization that I needed help.
I started to see a counselor, and attended weekly self-help groups (which are fantastic)
I spoke to my family MD and he started me on the full assessment of a physical and then a low dose of Citalopram.
Citalopram is a SSRI in which it inhibits the intake of serotonin; serotonin makes us happy.
So I started on a super low dose of 10mg to get me eased on it, then in a week I doubled it, and then a week after – I’ve doubled that dose as well. Yes, I was on 40mg a day which is known to be on the higher side.
I was feeling ok, but not fantastic. My anxiety was down but my depression still pretty high, and my jaw hurt like a bitch. I was consistently clenching my jaw, grinding my teeth, and had to wear a night guard so I wouldn’t get any more
Oh man, and don’t get me started with sleeping at night. I had the worse case of night sweats where sometimes I’d have to sleep on a towel because I’d be DRENCHED when I woke up.
OH, AND I GAINED A BIG TON OF WEIGHT that I’ve worked so hard to lose.
But, I was happy that the first medication my doctor put me on helped with the anxiety – it was a pretty good feeling.
Then I thought, what if it’s just a placebo effect? Is it actually doing anything?
Who cares, it’s working.
And then it wasn’t.
I was still depressed. I would still cry at night, during the day, at random times, and for no reason. My body would hurt from the pain of depression and I still didn’t have much interest in anything. And (although, rarely), I was still suicidal.
I’d see those kitchen knives, or a belt, or ropes, or a ledge – and well, not great.
This wasn’t a good sign. I fought hard to not act on it. It was tough, but I got through it.
I made an appointment with my family MD. He’s always been great and has always been able to book me an appointment in a reasonable amount of time.
He suggested I be referred to a Psychiatrist. I, of course, obliged as I just want to get better.
There’s about a 3-month wait for my appointment, so I had to still rely on my Citalopram, group meetings, and my friends and family.
Depression is a bitch.
I finally saw my new Psychiatrist and to my relief, he was very kind, listened very well to what I had to say, and asked many questions to my wants/needs.
So he started to wean me off of Citalopram and started me on Wellbutrin XL.
Oh MAN was that a trip. For about two weeks I had constant vertigo, vomiting, headaches, and just all around didn’t feel great. I had to keep track in my journal how I was feeling each day so it would be easier for my Psychiatrist to know if it was helping or not.
By my 3 week follow-up, I was starting to feel much better and things were looking great! I was feeling positive, I had energy, and was hopeful to feeling normal.
Then it happened again. But this time after my eye incident and being laid-off, my depression hit me, and hard.
The Wellbutrin didn’t seem like it was enough anymore. I cried for days, didn’t sleep, and was suicidal all over again. My body would hurt from all the pain.
I contacted my Psychiatrist for an urgent appointment and he saw me the next day. I cried my eyes out and he suggested I add on Abilify to my medication mix.
I’ve been feeling much much better since. But my wallet has been hit hard as it’s about $100 CAD for a 1 month supply.
The thing is…
My experience with anti-depressants actually seems very fortunate. I’ve met many other people with depression – some of them have even tried 15+ different kind of medications and still with no luck. They might have experienced extreme side effects or no effect at all. It varies and it’s tough.
Antidepressants aren’t s like taking Tylenol. It doesn’t cure your ‘headache’ after a few pops and won’t have to take more pills until you have another ‘headache’.
Depression is always there. Always. Once you’re on an anti-depressant that is working, you’re on that for life or until your doctor says you’re safe to slowly ween off. You can’t stop taking your meds when you think you’re better and happy and ‘cured’ – when you do, you really do spiral down to a deeper depression.
It’s kind of like walking on a broken bridge from one cliff to another. You’re walking along, fixing the bridge along the way (meds), but once you stop taking your medication, you stop fixing that bridge, and you fall. You fall far and you fall hard.
No one talks about the crap side of antidepressants; all the trial and error, all the side-effects, the cost of them. The general public seems to think that antidepressants are a cure-all and you should be all sunshine and rainbows after starting them.
If you’ve finished reading this and knew you didn’t have much knowledge of mental health or the medication associated it – thank you. I hope you become more open minded about the subject; not just for me, not for your family and friends, but for everyone. Knowledge really is power and can save lives.
**If you are suffering from thoughts of suicide, please don’t suffer alone and call your local suicide helpline.