My Experience Adjusting to and Taking AntiDepressants

Anonymous, Contributor

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Before I go into my experience, I need to say a few things. First, I do have to acknowledge that everyone’s experience is different. While this article aims to discuss the more general sides of things, there is no guarantee that my experience will be exactly like yours. While I believe medication can be beneficial for mental health cases, it is not for everyone and the decision to start it should be made with the advice of a doctor…which leads me into my next point: I am not a psychologist. While I did chose to remain anonymous for this article, I will admit that one part of my identity. None of this is from a professional point of view, it’s from my experience as a patient.

Now to get onto my story… Before I started medication I had guessed but never really confirmed – with a doctor or even fully with myself – that I had depression. Even writing that word out right now makes me a little uneasy.

I had heard about the symptoms of this disease and found myself thinking, “I have a few of these symptoms, but not enough to actually have depression.” I thought that what I was experience wasn’t bad enough – that I didn’t have enough of the symptoms or that the ones I did experience weren’t severe enough to justify getting help. If I heard about even one symptom of depression that I didn’t experience, I told myself that I was fine and that everything was just in my head.

After four years of this justification, I finally changed my mind and decided enough was enough. I don’t exactly know why, but I did. It took me getting on medication to realize everything I was experiencing wasn’t normal. It took me that long to realize that it wasn’t normal for me to feel like it was impossible for me to get off the couch some days or feel like I had to put in all my effort to pay the slightest attention in class.

If I want people to take one thing from this article, it would be this: if you experience any of the common signs of depressions (feeling of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness; decrease in energy and increase in tiredness; irritability; change in appetite; loss of interest in activities or hobbies; difficulty with concentration; thoughts of suicide) and you think that they’re degrading your quality of life, talk to your doctor at the very least. Whether or not you’re “depressed enough” to get on medication can be decided by a professional, and they can also refer you to other services if you or your doctor believe that medication isn’t the right path for you.

One other thing that I want people to know about starting medication for mental illness is that your primary care doctor (the doctor you see every year at your physical) can help get you started with your path to treatment. One common symptom of depression is a lack of motivation, so I think it’s important for people with depression to know that you don’t have to go through the process of finding the right psychologist or other specialty doctor if you want to try and get help; you can just go to your primary care doctor and schedule an appointment.

The last piece of advice I have to give may sound really simple but it’s very easy to forget. If you do decide to get on medication, please try to be consistent about taking it everyday. It’s a very easy thing to forget when it’s not a part of your everyday routine, but it is extremely important to do so. Even though the effects of medication can take 4-6 weeks to fully kick in, it’s crazy how quickly they can come back if you’re not consistent with your medication.

One common symptom of depression is hopelessness. And the worst part about that is that it not only makes you feel bad all the time, but it also makes you feel hopeless when it comes to your depression. It tricks your brain into thinking that your case cannot be cured and that you are a hopeless cause. Depression can also make you feel worthless and trick you into thinking that you don’t deserve treatment. While it’s hard to overcome these thoughts in your head, know that they’re not true. No matter how badly you might feel, or how deeply you might believe that you don’t deserve treatment, you do. There are resources and people to help you. If you need immediate help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you think that medication is the right step towards treating your illness, talk to your primary care doctor (again, that’s the doctor you see every year at your physical). If you or your doctor think that medication isn’t right for you, try these tips (click for a link) on non-medicinal ways to alleviate depression symptoms. Whatever path you choose to take, just know that you are wanted and you do deserve this treatment.

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