My pill bottles were always carefully hidden so that my roommates wouldn't find them, and I didn't dare breathe a word about it to anyone. Looking back, I think a lot of my shame and confusion could have been avoided if I had been educated. The problem is that there's still a stigma against mental health, and people don't talk about it enough.
Here are 13 things that no one tells you about taking antidepressants:
1. You'll probably need to change the amount of medication
Antidepressants are tricky because their effects vary so much from person to person. If the prescription you have isn't working for you, ask your doctor about adjusting the dosage. There's a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding the right amount for you, and that's okay.
2. Antidepressants take a long time to start working
It can be eight weeks or more before you begin feeling the full effects. I really wish I would have known this when I began taking medication. I would have been so much more patient with myself.
3. Taking antidepressants doesn't change who you are
Don't worry about feeling "fake" when you're on your medication. Medication just helps stabilize mood swings and helps you be your healthier self. You are still you and your personality won't change.
4. There are a lot of side effects
And they're going to be different for each person. Check with your doctor about the most common side effects of your antidepressant, which may include drowsiness, loss of sex drive, and change in appetite. Side effects can get worse when combined with other medications, so tell your doctor about all the medicine you take, including over-the-counter kinds.
5. Medicine will only go so far
Antidepressants can make a world of difference. But they may not solve everything completely. More and more doctors are prescribing exercise in addition to antidepressants. Maybe you need to get more sleep or have a healthier diet. Maybe you need to get a new hobby or stop spending time with toxic people in your life. Medication can help a lot, but you may need to make other changes too.
And since antidepressants are in high demand, they can get excruciatingly expensive. The generic brands can be a lot cheaper and work just as well. Save yourself some money and check with your doctor to see if there is a good generic alternative to the medication you're on.
7. Antidepressants can be taken care of by your insurance
More and more companies are including mental health options on their insurance. As the stigma against depression slowly dissolves, don't be afraid to ask your insurance provider for options about your antidepressants—what kinds of medication they will cover, if doctor's visits are included, and other related needs.
8. There are several different kinds of antidepressants
There are SSRIs, Tricyclic Antidepressants, MAOIs, and more. Research them with a medical professional to determine which ones are best for you. Also learn about the side effects of each kind.
9. Your medication depends on the kind of depression you have
Yes, there are several different kinds of depression (here's a list of 9 different kinds). And the type that you have will determine the kind of medication you'll need.
10. You might need more than antidepressants
Depression frequently comes with other conditions that you may need to be treated for, like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders, for example. You may need multiple kinds of medication to help manage these conditions.
11. Don't stop taking antidepressants
Many people take their medication, and when they begin feeling better, they think they don't need it anymore. This is very dangerous. Always check with your doctor before beginning or quitting any medication.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so don't feel guilty or weak because you take antidepressants. In fact, you are amazing and strong for choosing to take care of yourself.
13. You're not alone
There are millions of people who take antidepressants, and millions more who take medication for other conditions. There is a lot of support out there for you because a lot of other people who have similar experiences. Remember that others love you and that you don't have to go through this alone.