Here’s a post for the medicated many out there. I know a fair few of my readers can empathise with how crappy it is taking antidepressants. These drugs change you. They alter how your brain chemistry operates and that’s pretty scary right?
Before my breakdown, I was totally against them. And although I’m on five kinds of meds now, I still do. It is so strange to know that your personality, your behaviour, your very self is engineered to some extent by being on these drugs. Anyway, I wanted to share my biggest grumbles about taking antidepressants. As always, I’m interested to hear your reflections on this.
1. They don’t make you happy
You can’t fix depression with antidepressants. Not for most people anyway. So the name is misleading. Wouldn’t it be amazing if pills could make you happy? Well I suppose they can, I’ve definitely taken some pills that made me ecstatic in my time, but that’s another story and not very legal.
Antidepressants are not a cure. And it’s all trial and error. Some of them can even increase suicidal ideation in a few patients (it says so in that massive, small print leaflet they put in the packet). A counsellor once explained to me how they work, using a great metaphor as counsellors always do. She said, “Laura, antidepressants are like life jackets. They keep you afloat but they don’t teach you to swim”. I thought that was perfect.
2. Most of them cause weight gain
Yeah that’s an egotistical gripe. But a significant one. Body image affects how we feel. It directly feeds into our self-esteem. So taking drugs that make you fat really doesn’t help you feel good about yourself.
I’ve never been much into sweets, but when I started taking Mirtazipine my cravings were insatiable. I literally could not stop myself. I would eat biscuits and chocolate until I was beyond feeling sick and my mouth was sore. I gained 10kg in 10 weeks. And as the pills also slow your metabolism, it is taking ages for me to lose that extra weight.
3. Good luck having an orgasm
Both my antidepressants have a truly undesired side effect. It isn’t one people talk about much, but a few friends have agreed with me on this. It is damn near impossible to climax. With depression, the times you feel like having sex are so few and far between, that when you get horny you want to make the most of it.
For sure it’s not all about arriving at your destination. Sex can be great if you make the journey fun. But sometimes that journey is a long one, you’ve both got to be up early for work, and it is really bloody infuriating when you just can’t ‘arrive’.
4. GPs give them out like vitamins
When I went to my GP just over a year ago, I knew what her response to my symptoms of depression and anxiety would be. Antidepressants. I knew I wasn’t coping and needed some help, but how is it that a general practitioner can hand out these psychotropic medicines when they hardly know anything about psychiatry? It worries me that vulnerable people are being treated for serious conditions by untrained generalists, more accustomed to dishing out antibiotics and inhalers.
That just about covers my main beef with these drugs. I’m intrigued to know whether anyone else has similar complaints, or completely the opposite experience…
Photo: R. Nial Bradshaw, Creative Commons.