18 Things Doctors Don’t Tell People About Antidepressants
Editor’s note: This piece is based on the experience of individuals. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
For many, the decision to start antidepressants can be a difficult and scary one, and not knowing how an antidepressant will affect you coupled with the stigma surrounding psychiatric medication certainly doesn’t help.
Though antidepressants can be wonderful tools for managing the symptoms of mental illness, it’s frustrating when your doctor doesn’t adequately describe all the side effects or potential outcomes. We wanted to know what doctors don’t always tell patients before starting them on antidepressants, so we asked our mental health community to share one thing they wish their doctor had told them.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “[My doctor didn’t say] it would make me more numb than ‘better.’ Yeah, I didn’t feel depressed, but I couldn’t feel any emotion, and life felt bland. I could never feel emotions like I should, which actually made things worse.” — Katie N.
2. “Even though they say your meds are ‘non-habit forming,’ you can still have serious, debilitating withdrawals when you try to get off of them, and there’s no telling how long they will last.” — Matthew A.
3. “I didn’t know antidepressants could affect your libido. I also didn’t know that they could trigger a worse situation than the depression (mania) in people with bipolar disorder. Misdiagnosis and two simultaneous antidepressants led to me picking up pieces of my life for years to come.” — Tabitha Z.
4. “[I learned] meds can work for a while and then stop working, in which case you have to start the whole trial and error process over again. The whole medication process can be incredibly frustrating as your doctor tries to find the right combination (again).” — Jackie R.
5. “Regardless of how warm or cold it is, [I] wake up in a pool of sweat. I didn’t know this was a side effect because I never heard it talked about until doing my own research.” — Kelly L.
6. “[The doctor didn’t say] I could (and would) spend months trying various medications and only experiencing terrible side effects which would have me missing months of work anyway, without actually ever finding one that works for me.” — Jenna C.
7. “I never knew there different classifications for antidepressants.” — Tiff K.
8. “Not only the negative feelings get less, but also the positive feelings. [For me] it numbs both sides (not all the way, mostly)… [I wish I had known they are] not a ‘cure.’ [They are] tools in helping get better. You still need to put in all the work and keep working on yourself to stay better.” — Eveline L.
9. “[I didn’t know I would experience] vivid dreams, so real that when I wake up, it can be hard to distinguish between the dreams and reality. [It] often takes me a while to make sense of things.” — Kylie K.
10. “[I didn’t know taking antidepressants] could cause thyroid problems.” — Chelsea S.
11. “The unbelievable amount of sweating! Even doing the least amount of housework leaves me with sweat dripping off me and wet hair. It’s very very embarrassing.” — Danielle K.
12. “They are expensive as hell.” — Barbara M.
13. “It needs to be told that your medicine may stop working and it’s not your fault if [this happens]. I was taking medicine for months and it was great for a bit, but then it stopped, slowly but surely. When that happened, I felt terrible and was asking myself what I was doing [wrong]. I even thought if this is what is going to happen then maybe I was never actually going to get better.” — Suzzanna L.
14. “[I wasn’t told about] the patience you must have in trying to find the ‘right’ medicine to treat it. I tried [many] different meds before [finding] the ‘right’ one.” — Melody A.
15. “They never told me I would have an even harder time adjusting to coming off the meds than I did going on. The brain zaps and mood swings are out of this world. Being medicated was good, until it wasn’t. I couldn’t cry or feel any real emotions while on my prescribed SSRI.” — Nicki P.
16. “They [can] make you gain a lot of weight in a small amount of time.” — Savannah W.
17. “[I wasn’t told] that it could mess with my ability to remember things. My depression already does that. My BPD makes me remember things wrong. My meds make me forget to take my meds.” — Lex C.
18. “You will still have bad moments. That doesn’t mean they aren’t working. Helping yourself through coping skills [is important].” — Samantha B.
While side effects are a reality for many people taking antidepressants, many mental health professionals are willing to work with their clients to find a medication that works best for them. It’s important to also remember antidepressants aren’t right for everyone. If you are considering taking antidepressants, it’s a good idea to research the medication being prescribed to you and come into your next appointment with questions prepared, so you can be informed about your treatment. If your doctor is not listening or understanding your concerns, it is more than OK to seek out a new doctor to get you the help you deserve.
Thinkstock photo via incomible.