Sunday, 8 July 2018

25 Things Nobody tells you about taking Psychiatric Medication

For this weeks Mental Health Monday, I thought that I would do something a little difference which is what nobody tells you about taking Psychiatric Medication, Anti Depressants and Sleeping Medication in particular. I have asked a few friends about what they wish they were told before starting medication and have created a list of a few things to keep in mind when starting medication.

  1. The constant fatigue - I cannot explain to you how tired and exhausted I can get over doing the simplest of tasks, I can go for a ten minute walk and feel like I need a rest but this is definitely a common side effect of many medications used for mental health which can be quite frustrating, especially if you have a lot to do.
  2. Missing out on things because you have to take your medication on time - The amount of times that I have had to turn things down, or make pit stops at home to pick up my pills is ridiculous. Medication should be taken on time every day, and I have had to turn down nights out, last minute staying at somebody's house and even going out late at night because I need to take my medication.
  3. The hot sweats - Hot sweats are just as grim as they sound and are particularly common with sleeping tablets. I have had countless times where I have woken up, soaked in my own sweat because my medication didn't let me wake up and notice that I was too hot. I find that also, you can often wake up freezing cold but sweating and it really is disgusting but it is the reality.
  4. The lack of appetite yet sudden weight gain - Most medications have side effects of either weight gain or weight loss; some even both, but I also find that quite often, my medication causes me to lose my appetite yet I still manage to gain weight.
  5. The almost non existent sex drive - This point came up so many times when talking to others about side effects of medication and it really is true, before medication, you feel so bad that you have no sex drive but with medication, you have almost no sex drive so its a bit of a no win situation and can really put a strain on some relationships.
  6. The unknown - I always think to myself, how would I be without my medication? Would my head be different? Would I actually feel worse? Would I be somebody else? Would I have a completely different personality?
  7. Acne - Spots and blemishes are common for everyone, but usually it is only occasionally that a spot would pop up but with medication, you may as well still be a fourteen year old with the amount of spots that pop up, at the most inconvenient of times.
  8. Feeling numb - Most people say that feeling really down is the worst feeling but I have to disagree, feeling numb, to me personally, is the worst feeling because you don't feel anything, you're desensitised to everything and everything is blank. Something terrible could happen and you'd shrug it off, but something amazing could also happen and you'd shrug it off, it can even come across as having no care for anything, or being grumpy.
  9. How difficult it can be to come off of them - Everyone is different and therefore, everyone's bodies react differently to coming off of medications. Withdrawal symptoms are horrific, for me Sertraline is almost impossible to come off and I am still trying to reduce it, but the headaches, the nausea and the random aches and pains are horrific, and do not benefit your mindset. I have a friend who struggled to come off Venlafaxine, another Quetiapine and another Escitalopram yet had no problems coming off of medications that caused other people withdrawal symptoms. Nobody knows how your body will react to coming off of a medication so it is quite difficult to tell before even starting it, how easily you will be able to come off it.
  10. How much courage it takes to start them - Many people really struggle to find the courage to start taking medication, they worry about what others may think, the side effects and even if it'll make them feel worse. Nobody tells you that you will have to think carefully about taking medication and doing your research into if they're beneficial.
  11. The headaches and other random aches and pains - I always get random headaches and random shooting pains over my body which I never got before starting medication, they're very random and quite short but they can be so inconvenient, painful and annoying.
  12. The after taste - Some medications, especially sleeping tablets can leave a horrible after taste that I can usually taste up to 24 hours after taking the medication. I find that I often get a horrible, stale, metallic taste that lingers in my mouth and makes water taste vile, which isn't ideal for somebody who drinks a lot of water. It can put you off eating and drinking and is really not pleasant.
  13. The price of prescriptions - My friend mentioned this point to me and despite the fact that I know people are going to have lots to say, it is still a point that nobody tells you about. I completely understand that prescriptions have to be paid for, considering that we are lucky enough to have the NHS but prescriptions can be expensive, especially when on multiple different ones. Luckily, the NHS have a prescription scheme service where you only pay a set amount each month and covers all of your prescriptions but before finding out about this, I was having to pay around £40 a month for medication that I wasn't even sure if worked.
  14. Having either two or ten hours sleep - This is such a valid point and I have been so guilty of this, some nights, despite the medication I just can't sleep, and other nights I don't seem to be able to wake up, there is no middle. Some medications can even make you sleep more of make you struggle to sleep.
  15. Not knowing how long you'll be on your medication for - When I first got put on one particular medication, I presumed that it would be for about a year at the most, I never thought that more than four years down the line, I would still be on that same medication and I honestly have no idea how much longer I will be on this medication, it makes me somewhat stable and therefore I don't think that I am going to be rushed off of it anytime soon.
  16. You should not drink alcohol - This stands for almost all medications, alcohol is a no go because it can react with your medication, make your medication not work and can even harm your liver. Even when you are going out, you have to make the decision of if you're going to have just one drink and still take your medication or if you're going to drink a lot so you can't take your medication, which can make you feel worse the next day as not only would you have a hangover, but you will have missed a dose of your medication. I am probably the worst person for this because I seem to take my medication no matter how much I have had to drink which often leaves me with three day hangovers, which I don't recommend and isn't fun.
  17. You rely on them just as much as you would a person - I am guilty of often relying on medication, if I am having a bad day and want to sleep, I will take my medication early and rely on it to help me sleep, same with PRN (medication that is taken as needed), you can just take one to calm you down and make you feel better.
  18. You become afraid to come off them - I know I have already spoken about worries about starting medication, but coming off of them is another big worry because you know how you were and felt before you started medication and its a risk to go back to that, you also worry that it'll send you backwards or even that you will feel the same and you've wasted years and lots of money on medication that hasn't worked.
  19. Having the shakes constantly - If you know me, you'd know how much of a shaky person I am, I can't help it but it is something that happens as a result of my medication. This is a particularly common side effect in SSRI's and SNRI's (types of antidepressants) and some people get it worse than others, but it can be very frustrating, especially if you're trying to do something such as sew or draw.
  20. Feeling sick a lot of the time - I am always complaining about how I feel sick and I do tend to feel sick a lot of the time but often, without being sick, this is again due to my medication which can be frustrating because I have often cancelled plans because I don't feel well.
  21. In most cases, you'll have to come off of your medication if you fall pregnant - This can be very stressful if you've just found out you're pregnant, you're already not in a great mindset, your hormones are everywhere and you are having to stop your medication. It can be worrying for many women as they worry that they'll deteriorate whilst pregnant which can ultimately affect their baby. However, if they continued with their medication, it could also harm the baby. 
  22. There is always trial and error - I think one of the biggest misconceptions about mental health medication is that you get put on a medication and you start to feel better. This is so far from the reality, usually you have to trial a number of different medications before finding one that is right and beneficial to you, this can take months and even years and unfortunately some medications, can cause people to feel worse instead of better.
  23. There are certain foods that need to be avoided with specific medication - This is because they can react with the medication and cause the individual to become ill.
  24. Medication does not work on its own - This is such a big one, people commonly think that medication is the answer but it really isn't. Alongside medication, therapy and self care is so essential in order to help someone to feel better.
  25. What works for somebody else, may not work for you - I have slightly touched on this topic earlier on, but just because somebody finds a certain medication really beneficial, does not mean that it'd work for you, everyone's bodies and brains are different so it is important to find what works for you.
Overall, if you're considering starting medication, do not let this post put you off, it is just the reality of living whilst on medication and secondly, do you research, when starting my medication, there wasn't much time for me to research into it but I would highly recommend doing so, so that you can have more of an option and say in what sort of thing you think could work.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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