Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Side Effect Lotto

So this blog is full of positivity right? But it wouldn't be realistic if there was no mention of some of the negative side effects of antidepressants and mental illness itself. 

So how am I going to turn that into a positive post? By telling you how I dealt with them and how to make them more bearable. Here are the side effects I experienced...

Coughing- every morning I woke with a coughing fit and felt like I was choking for the first month or two, I did this before a panic attack too. I knew I wasn't choking and knew it made me light headed so I laid on my side until it had stopped and tried to stay calm

Headache, neck pains and joint pain- I can best describe headaches as being able to feel my brain rewiring! It was like an electric storm- rubbing my temples helped, sitting up but resting my head and wearing a scarf to keep my neck warm, cosy pajamas, lying straight for a while rather than standing and a warm bath all eased joint pains

Blurred vision and light sensitivity- this was scary at first but I soon realised it was linked to anxiety and headaches and once I became calm again it soon went away, wearing sunglasses and dimming the lights helped too

Tinnitus- I really struggled with this, it took three weeks to go away and was awful, I listened to rainfall music on a night and wore ear defenders or ear muffs which seemed to work somehow for me. I made sure there was always noise through the day such as the tv or music in the background

Low sex drive- this is very common with both depression and the medication, having lots of cuddles with your partner helps and asking them to remain patient

Itchy skin- I use sensitive skin products anyway but found my skin was irritated, a cold compress relieved this and a lukewarm bath helped

Nausea and upset stomach- this isn't nice but I found it happened for the first six weeks, I wasn't sick but felt unwell. I found when this happened it was best to sip water and a ginger biscuit helped settle my stomach

Dry mouth- this lasted the first 6/8 weeks and everytime I changed dosage, sipping water helped and chewing gum made it worse. I brushed my teeth 3/4 times a day which stopped my gums getting sore

Chest pain- although painful these didn't last long and I found it best to try and carry on with what I was doing when these happened and try to distract myself from it

Agitated, paranoid and harmful thoughts- these can be difficult to both understand and control, I had thoughts that weren't suicidal but were self destructive like 'if I fell down the stairs and broke my leg I wouldn't have to go back to work' or 'everyone's talking about me so I need to avoid them forever' whenever I thought anything like this I would literally shake my head and then cuddle into a pillow and think of something nice like a happy memory

Confusion, memory loss and lack of concentration- I couldn't understand or write a text or email for the first 3/4 week, I struggled to follow conversation and watch tv without getting lost and found it hard to get my words out. It helped that I stayed calm and patient and tried not to let it frustrate me

Trouble sleeping and drowsiness- for the first 4/5 month I had as little as 2 hours sleep a night but then could sometimes sleep for up to 15 hours in one go. I was tired through the day but wide awake at night. If you can't sleep at least rest, lay down, close your eyes and have down time, reading on a night can help you switch off but something easy like a children's novel or a magazine

Excess sweating- this happened for the first 3 month and before panic attacks, I was very conscious of it but made sure when I went anywhere I carried baby wipes, deodorant and a spare top in my bag, it wasn't too often and was manageable

Reduced appetite- I lost around half a stone through not eating properly, my mum and husband made sure I had something, I kept snacking when I couldn't manage full meals and made sure they were somewhat healthy, I had ready meals and fruit when I was home alone and couldn't always finish them but tried my best

I need to point out that not everyone experiences the same side effects but for me I had loads! Everyone is different and each medication is different. This may vary depending on country and I am based in England. I started on a very low dose of Citalopram 10mg, it increased to 20mg and is now 30mg. Starting the tablets had a lot more effect on me than changing dosage, side effects wise. 

It wasn't plain sailing but I think my medication helped get me back where I needed to be. I'd tried everything to pick myself up and then it got to the point where I had a breakdown and needed help from my doctor. All I can say is do whatever you need to get yourself better, ask for help and keep going with your treatment if you and your doctor believe it is right for you.

Please remember my side effects are individual to myself and I am not in anyway qualified to say which approach works best for other people. Discuss choices with your doctor and find what works best for you. You may be given the same tablets and dosage as myself and find you have a completely different reaction either worse or better.

Take care of yourselves and your minds!

Much love,
Becky xx

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