So I want to #EndTheStigma on Anti Depressants today as it’s Men Health week 12.6.17-18.6.17. I take an anti depressant- shocker given difficulties conquered-I have taken 2 before also-shocker again. The reality is there are a number of med classes in the Mental Health sphere: SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors ) SNRIs (Selective Serotonin Norepineprine Reuptake Inhibitors), TCAs (Tricyclic Anti-Depressants), Mood Stabilisers, Anti-Convulsants, Anti -Psychotics, Lithium Carbonate and many miscellaneous meds and many “Off Label” meds..
I spoke recently about “Reality” and “Myths”. Today, I want to tell you something I’ll call “Truths” and on meds in the hope that I can help someone with a script and who is worried about filling it at their pharmacy.
Here she some “Truths”
“Antidepressants are not a cure”.
Depression is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors that leads to profound feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and fatigue, among many other possible symptoms.
Antidepressants, the medications most commonly used to treat depression, affect a number of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are thought to be involved in regulating our mood. You will have heard of Serotonin – “the feel good chemical”, While meds can make a drastic, sometimes lifesaving improvement in how a person is feeling, antidepressants don’t whisk your problems away. Serotonin is targeted, but it is more complicated than time and space allow for here, but they do work and they work on serotonin and your mood
“You don’t have to be on them forever (but you might want be!)”
More shocking news. You do not start taking Lexapro or Prozac and continue taking it or an alternative until your eighties!
It can be tempting to take antidepressants for a month or two, feel like you have improved leaps and bounds, and figure you no longer need a med. That is not the way it is either. Typically, 6-8 weeks are required to see if the medication is appropriate for you
Much like you would want someone to finish the whole course of antibiotics to stay well, we don’t want anyone to prematurely discontinue antidepressants, either.”
Typically a Doctor/Psych will want you to be relatively symptom-free for about a year before you talk about stopping the meds, to make sure the changes in how you’re feeing are going to stay. Your Dr /Psychiatrist will help you expertly taper your dose to wean you off with as few withdrawal effects as possible
After that weaning period, some people might carry on drug-free. Antidepressants can function like that and it’s a great result when they do.
“If you do stay on them forever, it’s not because you’re addicted”.
It does not matter if you do not fall in the latter part of Category B and you are not on-off medications very quickly. I was constantly establishing timelines in my head for when I’d be able to stop antidepressants. It took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I might have to take an anti depressant /anti-depressants for life. I feel no shame or stigma here
“It is not always an easy decision to start taking them to begin with”.
This might sound obvious. There are critics out there who say antidepressants and Anti anxiety meds and Anti psychotics are overprescribed. However the process of beginning antidepressants doesn’t start with a casual written prescription (or shouldn’t !). Doctors and Psychs frequently recommend therapy first, which can result in significant improvements for many people with mild to moderate depression. Often the pen doesn’t hit the pad, until its moderate+, severe or profound depression.
Some people still have hang-ups about starting meds. The biggest internal battle for me was that “I am a man, I should be able to sort this bullsh*t out myself” It was the idea that I should be able to feel better by myself. This is self-defeating thinking. Depression is, a monster that affects in and of itself, a distorted way of thinking, ”It makes it really challenging to get yourself out of what is a locked box. For those that mock people with Depression , would you do likewise with someone with diabetes or a broken leg
“Side effects can be harmless or awful”
I have not had side effects and I was curious enough to try over 2 dozen meds. Oh 1 exception, I won’t name it. On Day 4. I was in a very important meeting and I said to myself “I am going to collapse on the ground”. I was going to tap the guy beside me, instead I got up and walked slowly to the door and collapsed on the bathroom floor, after getting sick physically, I worked another 5 hours, got the bus home, was sick again in a local field, went to bed and stopped the med. 23 meds were like Placebo or were a success. Placebo being no benefit, no side effects!
If you have been prescribed an Anti Depressant,,You’ll know that you get a PIL –Patient Information Leaflet and listed side effects are dreadful. Many of the Side Effects, like weight gain, insomnia, nausea, low libido, delayed or vanished orgasm, and diarrhea, to name just a few, sound entirely unpleasant.
Reality is you’ll get no side effects or one or two max, if you are getting more, its psychosomatic, in my opinion
Certain meds come to have a reputation for one side effect or another, but there’s no real way of knowing what you might feel when you start one or how long the side effects will last. Nausea, headaches, or a jittery feeling usually vanish within the first couple of weeks, but weight gain or a dampened sex drive might be harder to cope with. “
You will hear of Serotonin Syndrome – a very dangerous condition, if you were taking a number of meds/agents, which influenced serotonin. I have had reason to go as high as 5 serotonin meds at one point, as many pain meds cause serotonin, but I was ready to make an ED room visit if required. It wasn’t. Exceptionally rare.
You will hear a lot about weight gain and sex drive. Exercise and your GP can help respectively. Is there really a stigma attached to Viagra when it might save your life by you indirectly taking Seroquel, for example,. Weight gain can be addressed by 3 times a week/perspiring level of walking. I do not advocate running. Walking fast is better!!
“Yes, yoga, meditation, mindfulness and Pilates work, but they don’t cure fuc**ng Depression””
First off, avoid all alternative meds, eating spinach doesn’t make you grow brain cells and Homeopathy is an absolute disgrace (it has been disgraced by medics ++++) Some extra sleep will help, but your pillow is fine, you don’t need to buy a 200 Euro pillow. Herbs can be thrown out. A new bed wont solve the problem. The Alexander Technique is quite farcical and reflexology is just a means of taking money from your pocket and putting it in someone else’s pocket.
Yoga, Pilates, Mindfulness, and Meditation do help
I knew someone whose mother continually tells her she should quit the meds and take up yoga and meditation instead.. “Maybe she should be doing yoga and meditation, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t also be taking Lustral and going to therapy every 2weeks, “In fact, all these tools might work better together.
Even if people mean well, this “just try yoga instead!”
“You can maybe even safely take them while pregnant.”
Starting or growing a family can be a tricky decision for anyone, but women who use antidepressants have an extra layer of complication to decide. Questions about how antidepressants might affect a developing fetus have long been up for debate, and the most recent news is the meds do not seem to have lasting cognitive or behavioral effects on children born to moms who use them
A friend – She stayed on antidepressants during both her pregnancies, a decision she calls “the most difficult part of my journey” with depression. Her son, now 8, and her daughter, almost 6, are both healthy. “They didn’t go through any of the scary things you find if you Google ‘antidepressants during pregnancy,’ ”
I won’t say much more as not a pregnancy expert, but having studied this area, talk to you Doctor and they’ll advise re the specific certain meds. It is specific certain meds.
Now, new hashtag #NoFear