themighty logo

I Didn't Expect This 'Weird’ (Potential) Side Effect of My OCD Medication

Getting on medication for my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and the anxiety it caused, was very hard for me, even when not getting help for it had also caused me to become severely depressed. At first, I believed in all the myths about getting on medication.

The truth is, medication does not work for everyone. Some people need other treatments and some need medicine along with other treatments. You also often have to try many different kinds and dosages to see what might work for you, and even once you find what does, you may have to change it again later if it seems no longer as effective. You must also wean on and off your medicine properly and take it exactly as instructed. I have always taken it as diligently as I used to take birth control.

Even once I finally got on medication, I came off of it too early. I eventually got back on and was finally doing well. I accepted I might even need medicine for the rest of my life, and I now see my doctor at least once a year. This realization is not as easy as just taking some pill every day and reaping the benefits. There are side effects. I had no cavities in my adult teeth. I had one in a baby tooth I lost. In the last few years, I believe I have had four to five cavities. I did not understand why until someone at my dentist’s office asked if I had started on any new medication in the last few years.

Sure enough, when I looked up the side effects of the OCD medication I was on, dry mouth was a symptom. I knew I had this because at night, I would wake up with my mouth feeling so dry even if I kept water by the bed, or tried other things to battle it. When this happens at night, it can cause cavities. Since figuring this out, I have tried many things to battle the dry mouth, because even if the medicine is 100% responsible for the cavities, which I am not even sure of, the benefits of the medicine outweigh the cavity risks.

Cavities are not the only side effect I have experienced. Even though I am normally diligent about taking my medicine, I am human, and there are times I have forgotten to take it. This has actually affected the way I feel and act, and that is a scary thing. So scary that last time it happened, I cried because I realized I will probably have to deal with this my entire life and always have. Not feeling in control of my actions and feelings is so frustrating and scary to me, which is why I try to so hard to treat my OCD properly. I have watched others I know never get help, and have watched them, and those around them, struggle needlessly for it.

The main time in my life I did not have my illness under control, my marriage almost ended, long-time friendships ended and I had trouble bonding with my daughter at first. Most of the damage caused was fixed once I got help, but not all of it. I still miss those friends, but some people just don’t accept mental illness as a reason for things, even if you did not even realize you had it or that is why you were doing the things you did, and as soon as you did realize, you eventually did everything you could to get better, even things that made you uncomfortable.

For those of you considering taking medicine, but it makes you uncomfortable, if you give it a chance, just please try to give it a real chance. There may be side effects you don’t like, there may be kinds that don’t work for you and if you do not follow the instructions your doctor gives you closely, the medicine might make you get worse instead of better, even if temporarily. The reason I think I eventually got back on medication is once I realized I did not have to fight this on my own anymore, as I had for so long without even realizing it, it was hard to go back to my old ways. I liked my new ways a lot better.

A version of this article was originally published on Just Buy Her a Dress.

Getty image by Ponomariova_Maria