17 Life-Impacting Changes That Can Happen When You Start Taking Antidepressants
Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
Life changes when you’re struggling with depression. It may become difficult to get out of bed, or maybe you’re no longer interested in things that used to bring you joy. You may start experiencing fewer days of happiness and more days filled with hopelessness, anger or lack of motivation. That is why some people take antidepressants as part of their treatment plan, to help them manage the symptoms of depression that impact their daily functioning.
But just like depression, antidepressants can change things, too. Sometimes they lift the cloud that has been hovering over you for what feels like far too long, while other times, medication can actually make things worse or cause new symptoms to appear.
That is why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community who take antidepressants to share with us how starting them significantly impacted their life, either positively or negatively. Because finding effective ways to treat depression can be just as hard as depression itself — and we need to talk about it.
Here is what our community had to say:
1. Feeling More Like Yourself
“Starting on antidepressants helped me to slowly but surely build my life back up. It helps me to get out of bed every day, to even my emotions and to start making healthy choices. I’ve been lucky.” — Emily D.
“Most of my negative side effects were gone after about two weeks. Aside from dry mouth, I feel great. I’ve been anxious my entire life and depressed for about half of it and I felt a difference within days. My real personality can finally come out and my brain is empty, but in a good way. I wish I hadn’t avoided them for so long.” — Katie D.
2. Better “Good Days,” but Worse “Bad Days”
“My good days are better but my bad days are worse. Constantly tired, irritable, want to be left alone. On a good day I feel like I’m on top of the world and have no symptoms or side effects.” — Stevie Z.
3. Weight Gain
“Weight gain and no high emotions. I’m a lot more stable with no lows, but I miss the excitement of feeling really good which I don’t seem to get anymore.” — Cheri Lawrence
“Weight gain, very obvious. Headaches. A positive though is I now like the color pink. I’m able to feel some emotions, not excessively, but like toe-dip of bubbly.” — Ledia W.
4. Always Being Tired
“Sleepiness, constant low feelings, still anxious, lower sex drive, out of it all the time, not really able to focus. I feel like just a shell sometimes. Just existent.” — Jonna L.
“Antidepressants make me cold and dead and tired — like Brandon Boyd sings, ‘Like a sleepwalker half alive and hangin’ by a thread.’ I am no longer on them, but I am on two antipsychotics and I feel like ‘me.’” — Amber M.
5. Dry Mouth
“Severely dry mouth, with a filmy-like texture all around the inside of the mouth. Makes it hard to eat or drink anything, which is especially difficult since I have anorexia and eating is difficult anyway.” — Kimberly J.
6. Feeling Judged by Others
“The judgement from people who have never needed them or ‘don’t believe’ in them, or who think I just need to think happier thoughts.” — Martha S.
7. Inability to Cry
“They make crying impossible, even when I really want to.” — Paul W.
8. Upset Stomach
“My only gripe with mine is it upsets my stomach, but I have been on it for five years now so I am kind of just used to it.” — Melinda W.
9. Suicidal Thoughts
“They worsened my depression to the point where I was on the verge of suicide all the time, every day of the week including before school, during school and after school. While being on one med and slowly coming off it I noticed I would zone in and out, especially during conversations. It even got to the point where my dad, friends and teachers would tell me I was basically like a ‘medicated zombie.’” — Beth S.
10. Worsened Depression
“It’s a lot of ups and down with finding the right one for you. My first time around, it made me angry and more depressed then I have ever been. But I have one now that keeps me stable and no bad side effects other than I feel empty — numb, no emotions. Which I like because I’m not always sad, but don’t because I feel like a lot of my old self has disappeared and I no longer care about things like I use to. Which is also good because I used to have pretty bad anxiety, but now I have about none.” — Madyson A.
11. Restless Leg Syndrome
“I developed restless leg syndrome, which ended up kind of cancelling out the antidepressant effect it initially had because I was depressed and miserable about the fact I couldn’t sleep because of the restlessness, which caused pain. It stopped about three days after I had stopped taking my antidepressants.” — Natalie P.
12. Nervous Now to Stop Taking Antidepressants
“I wouldn’t say I love taking an antidepressant, but I’ve been dealing with panic disorder my whole life so this was the last resort. It definitely has helped me feel better, but I think it’s time I get off of it. The only issue is that I am so nervous to get off of it and back to a life free of medication!” — Gianna C.
13. Brain “Zaps”
“Brain ‘zaps’ that come and go. When switching meds two years ago the zapping started and hasn’t completely stopped. Any change in dose or forgotten day starts it up again. Super painful feeling of having your brain electrocuted and on fire over and over again.” — Alicia R.
“Forgetfulness. I forget a lot of things. Important things too. Or things my boyfriend tells me that I really want to know, but asks me a couple of hours later and a lot of it is gone. I hate it. It makes it seem like I’m not interested when I really am. But I can’t go without them, so I guess I just have to accept it.” — Soetkin D.
15. Hand Tremors
“I get really bad hand tremors that cause me to drop things a lot of the time. It’s pretty embarrassing, considering I’m a barista and am constantly dropping milk cartons and cups.” — Megan K.
“I actually get headaches from my antidepressants. Not super painful but just enough to be annoying a lot of the time. Way better than the constant low without them though.” — Amber B.
17. Living the Life You Want
“My antidepressant helps me be more of the person I want to be. While medicine doesn’t fix everything, it’s something that helps free me to live the life I want.” — Anna J.
Whether or not you take antidepressants, or if you’re considering adding them to your treatment plan, it’s important to remember that each person’s experience with both mental illness and medication is unique. While it’s vital to continue having conversions about different forms of treatment like antidepressants, please consult a doctor with any further questions or concerns.
Unsplash photo via Sam Manns