My experience with Sertraline (weeks 1-4)
What are anti depressants?
Despite the name sounding like a magic fix for depression, antidepressants are unfortunately a bit more complicated. They are meds that increase the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline in your brain, which in theory should help to regulate your mood. They don’t work the same for everyone, some feel no effect, some feel numb, some unfortunately feel worse, but for others they help ease their depression, anxiety or other mental health struggles. Their base purpose is to help you feel okay enough to try to do your daily tasks and care for yourself each day until you feel ready to come off them.
Read more on low mood and depression from MindMate.
I’m currently in my first month of taking sertraline – an antidepressant commonly prescribed for people starting out. I will be discussing how it’s been making me feel! If you feel like antidepressants or any kind of mental health support would be beneficial to you, contact your GP so they can talk you through what will be best for you.
Sertraline makes me feel very tired, even when I’ve slept for more than 8 hours, I feel very sleepy throughout the day. Some days I felt like I could fall asleep standing up! Other days I struggled with insomnia, however sleep has always been an issue for me, even before taking the medication. I’ve been able to manage my tiredness, with a little bit of help from coffee and my friends calling me when I sleep through my alarm. I also communicated to my tutors at university that I was struggling with sleep and they were very kind and understanding.
Since starting antidepressants I’ve found my anxiety has improved. I haven’t had any panic attacks since starting the medication. My depression began to lift around week 4 of taking the medication – I still have moments of feeling really low but I feel good enough to do my daily tasks, go to university and see my friends. Sertraline also has a few weird side effects. I’ve had slight aches and pains, woke up to random bruises and have a bit of a lockjaw/clench my teeth while I sleep. Nothing debilitating, however this will be different for everyone.
You will see many opinions on antidepressants online, and everyone’s experience will be different. Try not to let someone’s bad experience discourage you from taking medication. There’s no guarantee the same will happen to you and they might really improve your quality of life! I personally didn’t feel nervous about starting sertraline, but you may feel anxious that it will change your personality. It won’t, but it might help you feel like yourself again.
A concern may also be the cost. My sertraline is prescribed, but it’s about £9 a month. I understand this may be too costly for some, but there may be alternatives to receive them for free if you are under 18 and receive them on prescription our if you’re out of work. It’s also important not to give up if a certain antidepressant doesn’t work for you! Your doctor could increase your dosage, you could try a different antidepressant, or maybe your antidepressants only work best alongside therapy. Ultimately if you choose to come off antidepressants that’s also fine, it’s okay to admit they haven’t worked for you!
I hope my account will be helpful for anyone reading considering taking antidepressants, it’s easy to be influenced by misinformation on social media or feel scared by other’s bad experiences, but it’s important to stay hopeful and ask for help!
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