I’ve been plagued by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder before. I have fallen into the depths of Depression to the point that I could barely get out of bed for days, and I had so little energy that I found it near impossible to feed myself. And I’ve experienced Anxiety to the point that fear of the future and worries about the past consumed much of my brain energy.
While I still struggle with Depression and Anxiety, they are not overwhelming me constantly. While I still deal with a degree of Anxiety regularly, It’s at a much lower level than when It was untreated. And Depression, at least for right now, is nearly nonexistent. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, except for very brief periods when I am really anxious, hasn’t been a substantive part of my life for decades.
I don’t want to go back to the me who struggled with each illness all the time. While talk therapy has helped me with coping mechanisms and brain tricks that are very helpful in addressing these illnesses, I credit medication as the primary reason I can live a somewhat normal life these days.
Again, I don’t want to go back. And that means taking mental health medications likely for the rest of my life, as the conditions are chronic.
That said, drugs often come with side effects. And for strange reasons, individuals experience different side effects differently. For some, a medicine may lead to insomnia, while others may have no trouble with sleep. One drug may be associated with weight gain or loss, while some people may not have to worry about such things even though they are on the same medication and dosage. Fatigue may be a common side effect, while … well … you get the picture.
Other common side effects of anti-depressants and anti-Anxiety medication are:
— Becoming agitated or shaky
— Digestive issues
— Sexual problems
— And more.
Again, some people may not experience any of these issues. And those who do may do so at a different degree than someone else taking the drug.
The questions are, “Are these side effects worth the alleviation of Depression and/or Anxiety? Or are they so bad that you need to find another medication or medication mix that impacts you through lower- to no-side effects?
I’ve had drugs make me extremely sleepy, mess with my metabolism and weight, or make me even more anxious than I already was. So I worked with my mental health doctor to find a different medication mix that reduced the side effects making the cost-benefit analysis work in favor of the medication and its treatment of my mental illnesses.
Followers of my writings on this issue will recall that I just recently tried to take myself off a medication — with the support of my mental health medications doctor. The attempt, unfortunately, proved futile. I’ve had to return to taking the drug. With it, amongst the side effects I suffer from are regular drowsiness, delayed reaction to some of the things happening around me, sometimes a lack of focus, and subdued feelings and reactions.
This makes me sad — the drugs subdue allow moods, not just the Anxiety-related ones. But I am willing to live with that if it means I can function and have a fairly regular life.
Mental health medications have saved me. Without them, I would be in constant misery and living with constant, extreme Anxiety. I took responsibility for my health and consulted with my mental health professionals (my mental health med doctor and my therapist) on how to address my illnesses through medication and practices known to reduce Anxiety by dealing with It before It hits me or addressing the experience as its happening.
I just want to be frank. Side effects must be part factored into a cost-benefit analysis regarding whether you use one med or look for another. And do so, always, with the knowledge and support of your mental health professionals.
Thanks for reading.