6 Antidepressant Side Effects I Didn’t See Coming

 

Doctor Writing Out Rx Prescription

To say it’s a game-changer would be the understatement of the year.

In recent years, depression had become more widely understood. This has been, in many ways, fantastic for those of us who suffer from what is sometimes referred to as “the black dog.” At other times, it can be frustrating, because there’s more to depression that people outside it first suppose.

Everyone is familiar with the numbness, the crying and the suicidal thoughts — the head stuff, if you like. Those of us stuck with it also know there’s more to it than that, but it’s difficult to know exactly what.

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I’ve had depression all my life and I had no idea some of these things were so strongly related to my condition, until, well… my meds started working. It makes it a lot easier to like yourself when you find out that you aren’t as lazy, scatty, or clingy as you may appear.

So, for all those people with a vested interest in depression and those of us who suffer from it, here are the things I couldn’t do until my meds started working.

1. I Was Able to Finish Reading a Book in Less Than Six Weeks

Depression messes with your concentration. It never occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t read more than a page or so at a time of any given novel had more to do with my depression than my dyslexia. I thought I was just too slow at reading, then my meds worked.

2. I Was Finally Able to Sleep With the Lights Off

I couldn’t shake the feeling of the world closing in. If I couldn’t see anything at all, I would start to hyperventilate. I hated the isolation. At my lowest point, I suffered auditory hallucinations. On top of that, my chemicals were so out of whack that I didn’t need darkness to sleep anyway, I just needed opportunity — not even comfortable opportunity.

I’ve slept in lecture theaters, face down on computer keyboards, and even once in a supermarket. Now, it’s a different story. I have to have low light and take my time to drop off. Being able to read more than a page or so really helps. I thought I was a champion sleeper, then my meds worked.

3. I Kept My Bedroom Tidy

It’s incredible how easy it is to make a mess when you’re severely depressed. My room was so often under a foot of laundry that my partner used to joke I didn’t need carpets. I knew it was ridiculous, but I just couldn’t seem to stretch the extra inches to drop my dirty laundry into the washing basket.

My partner would round it up and wash it. I know what you’re thinking: how spoiled, I wouldn’t do that for my kids, but honestly, I’m too old to cover up smells with body spray, and that’s what I had started doing.

Then, my incredibly patient partner would put my clean clothes in a pile on my bed. All I had to do was pick up the piles, turn ninety degrees and put them in the drawers. That was too much. My clean clothes would end up on the floor, mixing with the dirty ones, and the mugs, plates, empty drinks cans, and other crap that would pile up because it was too much to take anything downstairs.

It was horrid. I thought I was just a slob, then my meds worked.

4. I Could Leave My Phone at Home Without Panicking

I’ll be the first to admit I’m hooked on the internet. Most people have a somewhat unhealthy connection with their phone these days, either because of Facebook, Twitter, eBay or whatever. This wasn’t that. This was an honest to goodness terror of being disconnected.

I was totally afraid of being alone, not being able to contact friends, even if only briefly. Quick texts became a mainstay of my coping mechanisms. Just the ability to reach out and make human contact with someone, if only to receive a smiley in return.

It helped a lot, on the odd occasion it actually got me through a dark thought or two. Knowing that is probably why I was so scared of being without it. I couldn’t go about more than 15 minutes without checking my phone, then my meds worked.

How To Still Be A GREAT Parent When You’re Depressed

5. I Drank Enough Water

I actually quite like really cold water. We have it freely accessible at work. All I had to do was fill my bottle, then fill my face. This was too much for me. Sometimes, I’d get to supper time having drunk nothing. I’d just about manage some soda at dinner time, or maybe some fruit juice.

It didn’t matter how much my partner nagged. She would hand me glasses of water, I’d take two sips, put them down, and they’d sit untouched. They still do some nights, but that’s because I’m no fan of our village water supply. My constant dehydration probably added to the problems I was having with my mental health. I just couldn’t see it. I thought the whole benefit of hydration was a myth, then my meds worked.

6. I Actually Enjoyed Silence

There’s a lot of white noise in your head, and when you’re depressed it hates you. It goes on and on about things that it knows will upset you. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I found that if I blocked the noises with music, films, anything at all, then I wasn’t likely to have a meltdown over some bullsh*t thing my head was banging on about now.

It takes its toll, constantly having noise is exhausting of the senses. Silence is restful, it’s good for the soul. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t stand it, then my meds worked.

I still have bad days, and sometimes these things come back and bite me on the proverbial, but now I know what causes them I can deal with them.

I didn’t write this article to crow about my meds… well, not just that anyway. Hopefully, it’ll shine a bit of a light for other people stuck with the same subtle, yet pervading physical symptoms of the dreaded depression.

This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 6 VERY Unexpected Side Effects Of Finally Going On Antidepressants.

 

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Holiday Depression

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… well, not for everyone, especially of you prone to have holiday depression.

While images of love and joy fill storefronts, TV screens and magazine pages, for many people, the reality of the holidays isn’t so cheerful. Between stressful end-of-year deadlines, family dysfunction and loss, poor eating and drinking habits, and increasingly cold and dark winter days, it’s easy for the holiday season to feel not-so-merry and bright.

Constant reminders of others’ happy seasons can additionally serve as a painful reminder of the happiness and love that’s lacking in our own lives, resulting into holiday depression. For this reason, the month of December can be a particularly difficult time of year for those dealing with family conflict, loss, break-ups, divorce, loneliness and mental health issues.

Feelings of depression and negative mood affect many people at the holidays, and not just those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. While there hasn’t been data to suggest an actual rise in depression rates and suicides in December — research has found that depression and suicide actually peak in the Spring — some experts say that the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. And of course, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them.

Setting up unrealistic expectations.

Hoping for a picture-perfect White Christmas holiday is setting yourself up for not only disappointment, but potentially depression.

“People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that you would see on TV,” psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts, tells The Huffington Post, adding that his practice gets much busier after the holidays. “Actually, it’s never exactly as people anticipate and it’s often disappointing. There’s often strife within families that comes out at holiday times.”

Especially when it comes to family especially, it’s important to manage expectations during the holidays and not hope for things to be perfect. If holidays tend to be a time of conflict in your family, or you’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, putting pressure on your family to all get along or to be cheerful could lead to disappointment and additional anxiety.

Being mindful of what you do have to be thankful for — your sister who always makes family gatherings bearable, getting a week off of work, or just the promise of a fresh start with the beginning of the new year — can help combat feelings of deficiency and lack.

“Realize that the holidays do end — and take stock of what you can be grateful for,” says Sichel. “Having gratitude is probably the best antidote against depression.”

Trying to do too much.

At the holidays, the pressure of trying to do everything — plan the perfect holiday, make it home to see your family, say yes to every event, meet those year-end deadlines — can be enough to send anyone into a tail spin, and you ending with holiday depression. And if you’re prone to anxiety and depression, stress (and a lack of sleep) can take a significant toll on your mood.

A heightened pressure and fear of not getting everything done are some of the most common triggers for the holiday blues, according to Sichel.

“Being bogged down by perfectionism” can contribute to feeling down, says Sichel. “Many people feel they just can’t do the right thing, that family members are always disappointed in them.”

Comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.

Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with other peoples’ is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.

And as Sichel points out, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves.

“People’s basis for comparison is not based in reality, because most families have issues and most people do not have the perfect Christmas that they would like to have or that they’d remember from their childhood,” says Sichel.

Slacking on self-care.

For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.

In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

“Take care of yourself — don’t overeat and over-drink,” says Sichel. “Do your regular routines of exercise and whatever keeps you together during the year.”

Sichel emphasizes the importance of avoiding binge drinking. Alcohol is everywhere during the holidays, and if you’re struggling with feeling down, it may be wise to avoid drinking as much as possible — alcohol is known to worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If you tend to start feeling down when winter approaches each year, and those negative feelings don’t go away after the holidays are over, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

According to Sichel, many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. But SAD shouldn’t be dismissed as mere “winter blues” — talk to me if you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder to find a treatment that works for you.

Source

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/entry/holiday-depression_n_6326906

5 Ways to Live Well with Chronic Pain

How to Live WellNone of us ever set out to live a life with chronic pain and illness, but it happens. There comes that moment when you are sitting in yet another doctor’s office going over your symptoms for the third time that week, and the physician is simultaneously squinting his eyes, trying to make sense of your laundry list of complaints while scribbling something in your file — when you realize that your story might not ever have a Cinderella ending.

You panic. You may throw things (when you get home). Niagara Falls begins to erupt from your eyes. And then gradually, over time and much heartache, you embrace Plan B.

My Plan B was immersing myself into the wisdom of Toni Bernhard’s writing on the topic of chronic illness. In my opinion, there’s no one who understands the frustrations of being unfairly stymied in your life by an illness as well as Bernhard, but who offers a hopeful perspective without charging you with a bunch of actions that promises a “cure” like so many other self-help books do. Bernhard, a former law professor and dean of students at the University of California-Davis, caught a viral infection in May of 2001 on a trip to Paris and has been mostly housebound — often bedbound — since.

I read her first book, How To Be Sick, at a critical time in my recovery a year-and-a-half ago when I decided to start living around my symptoms instead of fighting against them on an hourly basis. Her insights have led me to peace, and helped me to embrace my illness in a way that has substantially reduced my suffering. Now, she has just published a new book, How to Live Well With Chronic Pain and Illness. Like her first book, it’s packed full of helpful advice, including skills to help with every day, how to communicate with family and friends, managing toxic thoughts and emotions, and dealing with isolation and loneliness.

Here are just a few favorite insights of mine that she offers in her book to help you live better with chronic pain and illness.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

One of my favorite chapters in Bernhard’s book is called “Letting Go: A Not-To-Do List for the Chronically Ill,” in which she compiles a fantastic list of eight things not to do:

  • Do not spend your precious energy worrying about how others view your medical condition.
  • Do not treat discouraging and disheartening thoughts or emotions as permanent fixtures in your mind.
  • Do not ignore your body’s pleas to say “no” to an activity.
  • Do not undertake a treatment just to please whoever is pressuring you to try it.
  • Do not be angry when people in your life don’t respond as you’d like.
  • Do not get hooked into believing you always have to “think positively.”
  • Do not put your pre-illness life on a pedestal.
  • Do not call yourself names or otherwise speak unkindly to yourself when you break one of your not-to-do rules.

They are all ways of learning how to be kind to yourself, which Bernhard would say is the most important lesson of all. “Self-compassion always comes first,” she writes. “If you think that treating yourself with compassion is too self-absorbed, remind yourself of the Buddha’s words: ‘If you search the whole world over, you will find no one who is dearer than yourself.’” We so often associate the word “kindness” with our actions to others, but it’s equally important to treat ourselves with respect and compassion.

2. Ask for Help

We’ve been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In our culture, independence is valued over dependence. Learning how to ask for help takes practice for many of us. It’s a skill. Bernhard outlines some steps to hone this skill, and she reminds us that asking for help can actually be an act of kindness toward others. She writes, “Allowing them to help when you’re struggling with your health makes them feel LESS HELPLESS in the face of the new challenge in your life. It can mean a lot to someone to be able to aid a friend or family member who is struggling with his or her health.”

3. Learn How to Say “No”

This lesson has been one of the most difficult ones for me as a stage-four people-pleaser. Whenever I summoned up the courage to say “no” as a young girl, I endured silent treatments and other fun stuff. Going into my second decade with a chronic illness, however, I have no choice but to utter the two-letter word with regularity. That is, if I want to reduce my symptoms as much as possible. In responding to other people, Bernhard relies on Buddha’s teaching on skillful speech — we should speak only when what we have to say is true, kind, and helpful.

So when someone asks her to do something, she asks herself, “Would saying ‘no’ as opposed to ‘yes’ be true to myself? Would saying ‘no’ as opposed to ‘yes’ be kind and helpful to myself?” Think about this the next time you are asked to do something: Will your response be true to yourself, reflect your values, and EASE your suffering, as opposed to intensifying it? Or are you responding out of social pressure and a pattern of people-pleasing? Bernhard says it gets easier to say “no” as you begin to do it more often.

4. Don’t Feed the Want Monster

“Our desire to satisfy the Want Monster can feel so intense that we can talk ourselves into believing that getting what we want is necessary to our very ability to be happy,” writes Bernhard. For a long time, my deepest desire was to regain the good health that I enjoyed in my 20s. I could eat pizza and ice cream without suffering painful consequences. I enjoyed hosting parties with my husband. I didn’t have to keep a mood journal and assign each day a number between 0 (no death thoughts) and 5 (worrisome suicidal ideations), along with the day in my menstrual cycle, medications and supplements taken, and food and beverages consumed.

These two lines in Bernhard’s book enlightened me on how much energy I was wasting on trying to get back to my 27-year-old self: “The type of happiness that comes from satisfying the Want Monster is short-lived — because nothing is permanent … This conviction that the key to happiness is satisfying our desires sets us up for a big dose of disappointment and dissatisfaction with our lives.” After falling into that trap herself, she now realizes that the happiness that she wants comes from being content with her life as it is — and that is very attainable. She writes:

This happiness comes from making peace with the stark realities of life — that it’s a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, easy times and hard times, getting what I want and not getting what I want. It’s that way for everyone, and has always been. This happiness comes from opening my heart and mind to engage each day fully, even though I know it may be a day in which the Want Monster goes hungry.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of turning your attention with care to the experience of the moment,” Bernhard explains. Her chapters teach us how to apply mindfulness to our illness — that is, how to pay attention to our physical and mental discomfort in a way that brings us to peace with our lives as they are at the moment. This can be done inside or outside the practice of formal meditation. It is about responding skillfully to emotions that can hijack our mind and identifying stressful thought patterns that can so often trigger physical reactions in the body. With practice, we can learn to catch the stories we tell ourselves that work against our well-being and mindfully let them go. Bernhard writes:

It took several years of chronic illness for me to recognize that I was causing myself undue mental suffering by spinning stressful stories about my physical discomfort and then accepting them as true without question simply because I had thought them. Mindfulness practice was the principle too that helped me realize was I was doing.

Join the Living with Chronic Illness group on ProjectBeyondBlue.com, the new depression community.

Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.
5 Ways to Live Well with Chronic Pain
5 Ways to Live Well with Chronic Pain
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Top 5 Most Common Myths about Taking Antidepressants

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Don’t be ashamed to get the help you need — however you need it.

As a person who has depression, is on medications and is in therapy (I swear, I’m sane!), I’ve had plenty people comment on my use of antidepressants, or spout out myths around me about medications for depression that simply aren’t true.

To put it simply: I’m tired of hearing it and feeling awkward having to correct them or inform them on their mistakes. (But hey, you live and you learn, I guess?)

10 Agonizing Truths Depressed People Never Talk About

Anyway, from both experience and research, I just wanted to debunk a few of the most common myths that have come up around me about antidepressants and depression:

1. Antidepressants Make You Happy.

Nope. As amazing as it would be to have a happiness pill, that is not a thing. Otherwise it would be in MUCH higher demand, right?

But no, that is not a reality. When a person has clinical depression, they have an overall low feeling that causes constant distress. All an antidepressant does is lessen those constant negative thoughts and feelings so a person can actually make it through a day feeling relatively normal (whatever that means).

2. They’re the Easy Way Out.

First off, there isn’t really an “out” of clinical depression. If you have it, you have it, though over time it is possible to be weaned off of certain medications (discuss this with your doctor if interested). But as stated above, antidepressants aren’t happy-pills. A person with depression will still deal with their depression, but on a much smaller scale, if prescribed properly.

3. All You REALLY Need Is Therapy.

The first thing you should know is that not even therapists think this, so if you really think you’re more aware than professionals and people actually going through it, sorry, but you’re wrong.

While I personally think everyone can benefit from therapy, any therapist/psychologist/etc. will tell you that there are some people that can only benefit so much from therapy, and thus need the assistance of antidepressants. A depressed patient has this sort of impenetrable wall around them that will make it difficult or impossible for any therapy to truly help.

What It’s Like Inside The Psychological Purgatory of Depression

4. Antidepressants Give You Horrible Side Effects That Make You MORE Depressed.

This is only the case for people who:

a) Don’t have clinical depression, but were very sad and were wrongly prescribed medication.

b) Need a different medication

Lots of people are prescribed antidepressants who shouldn’t be. Before taking antidepressants, a person should be aware if there is a cause for the mood change (such as the death of a loved one) or whether its an overall constant feeling. If an antidepressant doesn’t have any depression to treat, other reactions to it can occur.

This should not deter you from looking into the potential side-effects of your medication, and if bothersome or dangerous side-effects occur, you should speak with your primary doctor to find another solution immediately.

5. They Numb You.

Antidepressant treatments are pretty unique, and there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all medication. Sometimes the first medication taken isn’t the right one, either because of side effects, the medications simply not working, or actually triggering other feelings that are abnormal to a person.

If any of these things are a concern, a doctor is an appointment away, and they will happily help you find something better.

I was lucky enough, when first prescribed, to have my first suggestion work great! My depression numbed me to every feeling but sadness and anger, so once my antidepressant worked into my system, my range of feelings actually expanded to a “normal” variety.

I still remember sitting in my room at the end of a day and thinking: woah…people can feel like THIS? I’m allowed to feel this okay?? It was a freeing feeling and I have no regrets.

It’s certainly not for everyone, and I don’t think that antidepressants are even the perfect solution. But if prescribed correctly, it can help so much. Basically, don’t knock it ‘til you try it (safely), and even then, don’t knock it until you’ve tried another. Make sense?

This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Ridiculous LIES About Antidepressants (By Someone Who’s On Them).


Top 5 Most Common Myths about Taking Antidepressants
Top 5 Most Common Myths about Taking Antidepressants
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