I am a huge believer that we should be getting rid of the stigma associated with antidepressants but also a huge believer that too many people dub them a miracle cure when for some people they are not.
As someone with ADHD, I’ve been told that antidepressants were unlikely to work for me and in combination with my medication could just make me a zombie. My experience on antidepressants was not a positive one and even before I knew I had ADHD, I was somewhat against the use of antidepressants without other therapies.
If medication works for you then I am super happy and I hope this post doesn’t make me sound like I’m shaming anyone! But I think in some cases, we don’t talk enough about the major downsides that antidepressants can have.
I have tried 4 different antidepressants, all before finding out I had ADHD: Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Mirtazapine and Citalopram. Citalopram and the effects it had on my mental health was actually the reason I ended up in A&E and getting the psychiatrist appointment that lead to the discovery of ADHD.
I was started on Sertraline in later 2016 due to the fact there was no immediate help available for my declining mental health and I begged the GP to try me on medication. I’d never tried medication for my mental health and not knowing I had underlying issues, this was my last resort.
They didn’t touch my depression or anxiety and the physical side effects were horrible. But everyone told me to keep going, my body needs to adjust.
March 2017, I took an overdose in an attempt to end my life.
The mental health team wanted my dose of Sertraline raised from 75mg to 150mg but I knew damn well that the medication was partially to blame. Against all good advice, I came off Sertraline cold turkey in May 2017 and after the withdrawal symptoms wore off, my mood stabilised MAJORLY and I started my blog.
Telling someone just to go on antidepressants is counter productive in my opinion – I am all for medication when there is also some therapy to help deal with the issues rather than just suppress them with antidepressants
Shortly after, my GP tried Fluoxetine for a week but due to the fact I didn’t eat or sleep the entire week we stopped that. Mirtazapine was next but not at an antidepressant dose. It was solely there to get me to sleep and eat more. In that respect, it worked but made me too dopey to do anything.
I then went without antidepressants all the way up until April 2018 where I was put on Citalopram. Now, initially my anxiety seemed to ease and I felt slightly happier but then the daily panic attacks set in. I don’t really have panic attacks where I cry and get visibly distressed but there were multiple days where I would have to take 30 minutes out of work to calm down. I’d walk round the hospital grounds gasping for air and sobbing to my mum.
I ended up having really intense suicidal thoughts so went to A&E which lead to me being told by a psychiatrist to stop Citalopram immediately and start exploring the avenue of an ADHD diagnosis. He put me on Pregabalin which isn’t an antidepressant as such but it’s used for anxiety and it was the first drug that actually did something for my mental health.
Since then, I’ve dabbled with supplements such as 5HTP which helped slightly but I have been a lot happier without antidepressants. This is sometimes the case for a lot of people with ADHD.
My ex would constantly tell me that maybe I needed to try a different antidepressant or should give them another go – he wouldn’t take my experience as a genuine reason why I didn’t want to be on them and further to that, didn’t accept ADHD as a reason either. This attitude is the attitude I want to highlight by writing this post.
Antidepressants DO NOT work for everyone.
And that’s OK.
The day I found out that antidepressants weren’t ever going to help me was glorious. I knew I wasn’t making it up! Every doctor and nurse who had told me I didn’t know what I was talking about was wrong – I knew that I knew my own body better than they did!
But if someone tells you that they have a reason for not taking them, you should respect that and not make them feel like they should start taking them. In my case, antidepressants ruined my life and had I stayed on them, I probably could have actually ended my life by now. That sounds dramatic but being on medication for depression screwed my head around so much – I was not stable or safe in any way, shape or form.
I am super happy if medication works for you and I mean that sincerely. Anything that helps you with your mental health, do it (as long as it’s legal). But if you’re someone who sees them as a miracle cure and tries to sell the idea to people, stop and take a step back to appreciate that in most cases, people have very valid reasons for choosing not to medicate.