Monday, 24 March 2014

Mental Health Monday -Starting Antidepressants

            For this Mental Health Monday post I’ve decided to write a bit about depression and starting anti-depressants. I’m not specifically going to go into the medical side of what depression is, though if you’re interested you can see an image of a “normal” person compared to that of a person with depression on, Mental Health Monday -a Quick Look at Today's Stereotypes.

I quite like this, it can be too easy to forget this sometimes
Photocred: BKK Health

When I was first researching depression and trying to figure out what the hell my brain was doing, I read a lot of medical pages about the clinical symptoms of depression. As fine and dandy as all of said facts are when you’re trying to puzzle it out, after you’ve been diagnosed and (maybe) put on antidepressants you reach this place where you’re like:

ü  I have depression
ü  I’m seeing a councillor
ü  I’m on antidepressants
ü  I’m still depressed…. wait what?! I thought I was supposed to be all-better now!

Neat compilation of newspaper headlines
Unfortunately unlike a bacterial infection, medicine doesn’t mean that
everything will go away and you’ll suddenly be “all-better”, depression just doesn’t work that way. To put this in perspective, if you assign the colour black to depression and the colour white to “all-better”, being on anti-depressants (especially when you first start) is like being a medium shade of gray. The more time that passes the brighter the shade gets but depending on the person it may never entirely go away.

The grayscale of depression

I’ve found that there are a lot of misconceptions about anti-depressants mainly because no one, not even the doctor who prescribes them to you is entirely sure what’s going to happen. Sure the doctor has a general idea of the side effects that you might encounter when you start anti-depressants, considering that everyone’s mind and body are different not even they can tell you with certainty if the anti-depressant they prescribe you will work and to what degree.

So there you are, sitting at the table with your new bottle of anti-depressants and a glass of juice, wondering what’s going to happen next. So you take the pill or two, depending on what you were prescribed and carry on with your day, fast foreword a week and you’ll probably be wondering why nothing’s different. People will look at you expectantly searching your face for some great personality change and if you’re like me all you can do is suppress another yawn. To qualify this last statement, excessive yawning was an unfortunate side-effect I experienced during the first couple of weeks that I took Cipralex, which thankfully has subsided.

Even though patient and supporters would like to have a quick fix for depression, there is unfortunately no such thing. Anti-depressants make things a more pleasant grey, but they take 4-6 weeks to become truly effective and the time in between is no joy ride. During the period when I was adjusting to my anti-depressant, Cipralex, my main side-affect was excessive yawning but things can get far worse than a lot of yawning. When I went on my anti-depressant my doctors and pharmacists warned me that the drug could initially make me very angry and suicidal. I remember thinking well isn’t that just great, an anti-depressant that makes you suicidal and angry… how wonderfull!!!..... NOT.

Photocred; York University
            When I consider how serious my side-effects could have been I am grateful that all I did was yawn and give people the impression that I was terribly bored with them. I guess my main point from these ramblings is that there is no instant cure for depression, and that you need to be patient with yourself when you start anti-depressants.

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