Sunday, 5 July 2015

What it feels like to be on antidepressants

What it's like to be on antidepressants

As many of my regular readers will know, I recently had to start taking my antidepressants again to help combat my low mood. I have already spoken about the stigma around antidepressants, but I thought I would do a post on what it actually feels like to take them, and why I was hesitant to go back on them for a while.

I have been taking 20mg of Citalopram for nearly three months now, and it's hard to remember how difficult I was finding it to get by before I started taking them again. I wasn't able to function and do my normal day-to-day activities; I was upset all the time; and the future seemed out of reach. I felt like I had no prospects and that there was no way out of my depression. One night at about 3am I just cracked and decided I needed to start taking my medication again as I just couldn't cope, and ever since then have been taking one little pill every morning.

And oh, what a difference it has made. I didn't notice any effect until about 3 or 4 weeks later, when I woke up and just felt like a weight was lifted. I could see a future, and I could see a way out of my depression.

I could be myself again - I could do silly things and make people laugh, and be hard working and positive. Many people think that antidepressants change a person so that they become withdrawn, but actually I believe that they allow you to be your normal self. They help in the way that you can cope with the things you couldn't cope with before; they take the edge off and allow you to focus on what is important.

Antidepressants are not a cure - they don't stop me from having the occasional down day. But that's the point: my down days are more occasional than frequent now, and I feel like I am equipped to cope with them better when they do happen. I just feel much more positive about the future and overcoming my depression seems possible, whereas before I couldn't see past the next hour, let alone the next week.

I also wanted to point out why I was a little hesitant to go back onto Citalopram. I was so proud when I came off it a few months ago as I felt like I was really recovering, and I think I felt like I would have failed if I went back on them. I additionally was not sure how much effect my antidepressants actually had when I started them last summer. At the same time I was seeing a counsellor, I started my blog, and I was flitting between holidays and home life - so there were quite a few factors contributing to my recovery, and I wasn't sure how much Citalopram had actually added to that as I didn't ever notice a huge effect from it.

I also had a few side-effects from my medication the last time I was on it and didn't particularly want to experience them again. I have found that my antidepressants make me quite tired in the day and unable to sleep at night, which is really unhelpful when I am on placement or trying to work. However I decided to start taking my Citalopram in the morning instead of at night, which seems to allow me to sleep better and be a little less exhausted in the day (although that is a symptom of my depression anyway).

So all in all there were a few factors that stopped me from starting my antidepressants again straight away when I started feeling down once more. I think it is a really personal choice and the benefits need to be weighed up against the negatives before making a decision. At the end of the day it is the individual's choice about whether they want to commit to swallowing a tablet every day - they shouldn't be pressurised by anyone around them.

Overall I am really glad I started my medication again as it has made me feel so much better, and I have been able to manage my depression during this exam period. I am hoping to come off them again at some point in the future, but understand that I might be on them for quite a long time before that happens. However taking antidepressants is a really personal thing and all options should be considered before taking them - just never feel ashamed of it as it's just a medication to help with an illness.
Say it before you run out of time. Say it before it's too late. Say what you're feeling. Waiting is a mistake.


  1. I'm so glad that these have worked for you - sure, they don't work for everyone but if they work for you then why not use them?! You are going through a really important time in life, everyone needs help in those times so who cares that you are getting help in the form of medication? I hope you get great results because you deserve them so much xxx

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Sam, it means a lot xxx

  2. Do you recommend both of these books from the picture?
    I was thinking of ordering them from amazon!

    1. Yes definitely, especially the 14,000 things to be happy about one - they are really lovely books :) xx

  3. Thank you for this post, you wrote it so well.

  4. Hey, this is a wonderful way to describe it! There is absolutely no shame in taking your prescribed medication when you need it, it's not a failure at all, it's sensible management.
    After some frank discussions with my dad, he went to the doctor, who was amazing, and decided to take prozac. He calls them his 'little happy pills', they broke a 3 year cycle of no sleep, poor memory and a sinking feeling that he had early onset dementia and/or Chron's disease! Medication was fab for him, he doesn't need them right now but we know what to watch for if he may need them again. Same way I know what to watch for if my eczema flares up. I want to congratulate you on your good decisions, especially when you stand in a place where it can be difficult to make the right ones :) keep smiling :)

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. I am so glad that your dad's 'little happy pills' have helped him! :) xx

  5. Hey Hannah, I've never gone off my anti-depressants. It's been almost 5 years and in that time I've had friends come off them and people say they don't need them now because they've recovered. It took me a long time to realise everyone's journey is different, and my being on them doesn't mean I've failed, or I haven't recovered. I don't believe they're a cure either, I still have down days, but together with mindfulness and CBT they've helped me manage my depression. So why should I feel ashamed to still be on them?

    Zoe x