If you are someone who has found themselves suddenly needing antidepressants, know that everyone in your place has also felt the same initial rejection and denial, or some sort of hesitation being recommended to them in the first place.
As a person who has taken antidepressants for years now, I can testify that initially – having to take medications made me feel like I’ve hit rock bottom. A pill that evens out brain chemistry and acts as an anchor for normal emotions? Will I become more depressed? Is there even a point to medication? You can’t help but have a handful of questions and concerns – and that is completely okay. You are not alone and never will be.
Rest assured, medication’s sole purpose is to help you back on your feet and feel like yourself again. Think about depression and anxiety as a very long cough that needs to be given medication and attention every day to have it eventually fade. You can’t help but laugh over the fact that depression would be a lot easier to deal with if it lasted a week. But hey, you’re going to get through this phase in your life, just like a cold. It may be a bit longer than you want, but at least it isn’t forever.
Mental health is a part of you, and there is nothing wrong with trying to maintain it and move forward in this beautiful life. This is the start. You got this.
#1 Don’t see antidepressants as a hindrance. Rather, see them as help.
You are not any less of a person just because you take antidepressants. You have immense strength accepting you need medication and taking the initiative to be active with your dosages. Meds are just an added boost to the strength you already possess inside of yourself. As mentioned before, after a while, you can stop taking antidepressants and continue with life without medications. But for now, just see this as a phase in your life that will be worth powering through. Imagine all the stories you can tell in the future!
#2 Never skip a dose. Period.
After a short time, let’s say two weeks – antidepressants start to wholeheartedly alleviate depression and anxiety’s symptoms, causing us to believe we’ve been immediately cured. Frankly, that is never the case. You should never stop taking medication before the end of your recommended dosage period. Generally, antidepressants are taken between six months to a year to have its user experience the medication’s full positive effects. Stopping a medication any time beforehand will cause depression to return full force. If you do feel that antidepressants can stop wholeheartedly, communicate this clearly to your psychiatrist.
#3 Never mix alcohol or additional drugs with medicine.
Depressants upon depressants is never a good combination. For example, take alcohol. Drinking alcohol with antidepressants diminishes the effects your medication is supposed to have on you, making you more prone to symptoms of depression, which is basically counteracting the positive effects in the first place. For example, if you are a recovering alcoholic and currently take antidepressants, you want to be careful with any potential of a relapse while on medication. Just don’t do it.
#4 It takes time to find the right medication for YOU.
If you’re lucky, your first antidepressant will be the one-all, be-all! However, if not, I’m jealous (just teasing), and there is a diversity of other medications to suit you, your needs, and body. It be can discouraging searching for antidepressants that don’t have any negative side effects on you, but don’t give up hope! There is a solution for everyone out there who needs assistance in the mental health department. Which translates immediately into the next point –
#5 Actively communicate with your psychiatrist.
Your psychiatrist has seen and heard it all regarding antidepressants. Whatever you experience – even if it’s that embarrassing sexual side effect or sudden chronic diarrhea – you can rely on a psychiatrist to help guide you and offer their own advice. By keeping this open relationship with your psychiatrist, it is much easier to bring up any concern you may have without fear or judgement thus creating a slightly bit smoother mental health journey.
#6 Pay attention to side effects and changes in mood.
Like any other medication, antidepressants will possibly have minor or severe side effects on your body. Those side effects may include any change in sex drive, bowel movements, and even mood. If you feel your depression or anxiety worsening, things feel a bit numb, and especially, if you are feeling suicidal or have suicidal thoughts – contact your psychiatrist immediately. Do not allow this fact to discourage or turn you away from medications completely. This is a genuine concern that should not be taken lightly since it happens every now and again. By tracking your changes in mood and side effects, you can become aware of yourself, identify your minor and major habits, and use this self-reflective skill whenever you need it.
#7 Take advantage of the capabilities antidepressants give you
Medication doesn’t cure everything that affects mental health. It just gives you that little push to act in your everyday life and keep you clear-sighted and that much more willing to function. Ultimately, it’s all on you to bring your mind and body to a state that is in complete acceptance and content. That day will come. You will have those moments of resilience, tears of laughter, the dark days, and the simply okay ones. Antidepressants remind you that this life is worth living and having, and experience both the terrible and wonderful is always going to be a part of it. I hope you’re willing to keep moving forward after the first step.