There is nothing wrong with taking medication to control symptoms of depression. It’s no different than taking a pill for high blood pressure or cough syrup for a fever. It is meant to control symptoms! No, physicians do not have a diabolical plan to sell you anti-depressants so you can become addicted to it. Tip: Don’t over think it! You are seeking help to feel better so trust that they are trying to help you.
Depression can really take the enjoyment in a lot of things because it makes everything really bland. Imagine a world where you cannot enjoy music, good company, or anything you use to enjoy. It was once like that for me, a very bland world where no matter how I tried to enjoy myself, I couldn’t. When I pushed myself to go out with friends, I wanted to cry out there, but I waited until I was alone to do it. I felt like a burden to my friends and family. Depression made me feel like a waste of life, but once I was on the right medication it gradually helped me. The truth is this, it was very difficult for me to start taking medication because I thought like everyone else that says, “you get addicted” and “it’s bad for you.” These are false assumptions.
You are actually in a controlled environment with a physician to help you find the antidepressant that works for you. In my experience, I took about three different medications and several months to find the right one that worked for me. In chronological order, the medications I tried in the past were Ciraplex, Sertraline, and Wellbutrin. I am currently taking Venlafaxine. Simply know that different medications work for different people, and people will experience different side effects. Tip: Don’t trust a non-professional’s opinion about it and don’t freak yourself out by researching side-effects on google. Talk to your doctor!
Your doctor should explain to you how the medication works, and together you both decide the long-term plan for recovery. For me, I needed a little extra assistance from a physiatrist because I was found to be very sensitive to the medication. Ciraplex made me dizzy and it slowed my motor skills. Sertraline gave an overwhelming rush of energy and mania, and it made me horny (I made stupid decisions with that one!). Wellbutrin made me very suicidal and emotional for the one week I consumed it. Venlafaxine took time to work, and I found no major side effects with it. If anything, I started to enjoy hanging out with friends and doing things again.
In the meantime, you are expected to make productive choices while on medication. Doctors will tell you that medication won’t fix all your problems. A successful recovery involves a mixture of medication and hard work, such as attending therapy groups, going to counselling, exercising, practicing self-care strategies, and hanging out with people (even when you don’t want to). From the beginning of my treatment, I was told that “What you put in is what you get out,” and this is the most accurate saying. Tip: Medication IS NOT a fix it all solution, you will need to give attention to areas of your life that need balance, such as social, career, family, or personal. Keep an open mind and do the things that make you feel better.
Please don’t mix your medication with alcohol or other drugs. I’ve done this, and it kept me knocked out for long periods of time. Sometimes I would sleep for 12 hours straight or longer, and it made it even harder to get out of bed. In a desperate move to retain my focus and concentration in school, I consumed Adderall while struggling with the side effects of my medication, and the result was not a pretty one. It heightened the degree of emotional pain I was experiencing at the time and it was almost unbearable, I was left gasping for air because it triggered a panic attack. I’ve only done it once in my life, but the point is this, don’t do it and save yourself the additional pain! Also, when you lose focus at school or at work, just persevere with the skill and energy levels that you currently have. You can always talk to your professor about your condition and ask for extra time to finish tasks. It never hurts to ask for help where you need it (It’s not the end of the world). Tip: be patient with yourself because recovery takes time, you won’t feel better overnight or instantly. Follow your doctor’s instructions and be firm with following the recovery plan to the best of your ability.