Monday, 18 February 2019

My Experiences With Sertraline (Antidepressants)


Going to the GP

Why did I go on sertraline in the first place? To put it bluntly, I had a breakdown which had been a long time coming and at the lowest point, I really scared myself. I was at the worst point I had been at in as long as I can remember and I was scared that if I didn't talk to a GP then I would end up in an even worse state. My mood was incredibly low, I was anxious all the time and I was overthinking and second guessing everything. I experienced a lot of intrusive thoughts about the people around me and how they felt about me, which led me to push almost everyone away. My self esteem was in the garbage and I felt scared that things would never improve. I had a very teary phone conversation with my GP first thing next morning and he managed to have an appointment for me by the next hour, so I was able to go in on the same day and didn't have to wait. We talked through everything that I was feeling and how hopeless I felt, since I had tried different routes of counselling and was scared to take medication. However, I agreed that meds were at least worth a shot so I was prescribed 50mg of sertraline and told to get back in contact with my counsellor.

Starting sertraline

When the GP tells you that the first few weeks are the worst, they are totally right. I was no more depressed than before, but I was struggling a lot with anxiety. I would have random anxiety attacks in work and have to sit in the back room to recover for a while. I was also incredibly drowsy which led me into trouble when trying to concentrate on my work. The strangest side effect that I experienced, however, was a total lack of appetite for the first couple of weeks. I eat all day every day and for me to not be hungry is absolutely unheard of. However, when I started sertraline I would forget to eat a lot because I just didn't feel hungry! Acid reflux due to the combination of sertraline and my excessive coffee habits was also annoying but I discovered the beautiful curative powers of Gaviscon and it helped a lot!

It wasn't all bad though! My sleep improved dramatically! Because I was drowsy, I would sleep earlier and wake up earlier. I missed fewer classes because I wasn't sleeping through them, and I wouldn't be up all through the early hours like I used to be. Plus, this first couple of weeks allowed me to focus more on my body, how it was reacting to the medication, and what still needed work.

Settling in

After the initial side effects began to subside, I began to realise that my mood was much more regulated and I felt a lot calmer. I spiralled into overthinking and depression a lot less, and when I did spiral it was a lot less severe. Once this change occurred, I started working more on my personal development and I have been able to balance so many more extra-curricular activities, I started this blog, I did more peer support volunteering, and I even completed an amazing summer internship.

Now

There have been ups and downs. I have gone from 50mg to 100mg and finally to my current dose of 150mg. I have been on 150mg for a long while now and it seems to work best for me. I feel calmer, more confident and a lot happier than I was. There are definitely still hiccups (like right now) and I have had to work hard mentally for where i'm at right now, but the sertraline has helped me to facilitate that work. I wouldn't be where I am if I was just taking the sertraline without working hard on my mental health, it's better to use alongside counselling/therapy. Still not 100% okay, but I've made progress and that's great! Yes, I still miss some lectures because I can't get up in the morning on a bad day, but I have the motivation to catch up on what i've missed rather than just panicking and not doing anything! I also feel a lot more resilient when things go wrong in my social life, whereas I used to immediately shut down at any sign of social problems.

Disclaimer: this is just my experience, people react to sertraline differently and what works for me may work differently for you, I just know that some people wanted to hear my experience and I know that posts like these would have helped me when I started sertraline!

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