Wednesday, 7 June 2017

My experiences on anxiety medication

I was honestly not sure whether I should make this post given the stigma against mental health, but then I decided that I should do it because of the stigma (which is completely unnecessary) against mental health, because keeping quiet about it suggests that there is something to be ashamed about, that it's a taboo topic that shouldn't be spoken about. I really don't want to perpetuate that, so I'm going to open about it, especially seeing as I'm pretty open about it in real life.

I know that everyone has a different experience on medications used to treat mental health conditions, so this likely won't reflect everyone's experience taking such medication, but I'd like to share how I've found it and the effects it has had on me so far, especially as they have been largely positive.

Just a bit of background info- I'm not sure how long I've suffered with anxiety-like symptoms but it's been a pretty long time (hence me not remembering). I'm not going to discuss my symptoms in this post because it would became way too long and ramble-y; I'm contemplating writing a separate post about it but it's a pretty personal topic and I'm not sure whether I want to be that honest. Anyway, in October 2016, having been encouraged by a wellbeing adviser (who was awesome, she helped me a lot during a very difficult period) at my university, I made an appointment with the GP on campus. I received a diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, though I didn't receive any treatment for it. I struggled for a couple more months, and at the encouragement of the same wellbeing adviser I made an appointment with my GP at home, who prescribed me the medication.

I take an SSRI called Sertraline (50mg), it's commonly used to treat depression but can also be used to treat anxiety disorders too. I started taking it in December 2016. I have to say, so far my experience has been a pretty positive one. I'm not sure if I'll be saying this some time for now, especially when I'm off the medication, but at the moment I can say it's honestly helped me a lot!

I experienced a few unpleasant side effects in the first few days of taking it, including nausea, bad fatigue, and feeling very spaced out, almost as if I had been zombified. Though they made it pretty difficult to function, they cleared up within the space of a week, which is good. I have to say, though, side effects can vary greatly for different people and I think I might have gotten lucky with having them clear up so quickly. SSRIs have a cumulative effect, so the medicine doesn't work straight away. I started noticing an effect about 2-3 weeks into taking the medication, though I was told by my GP that it can take up to 6 weeks to work.

Having been on it for five months now I surprised and pleased at the difference it has made in terms of improving my symptoms and, as a result, my life as a whole. I've coped much better with university work, in fact while I normally would have been shaking with nerves for my exam I was unbelievably calm- I don't think I'd ever felt that calm in an exam situation before! When not overwhelmed by anxiety I was able to deal with the exam in a more rational manner, instead of seeing it as the end of the world. My driving has also improved vastly- I'm a much more confident driver and I've found I really enjoy it.

I know that taking medication is often frowned upon for whatever reason, but I'm so glad I've made the decision to take it as it has made such an impact and generally made my life so much more easy and pleasant. I guess I wanted to convey a good experience with taking medication to treat anxiety. Perhaps it would have been better for me to write this post having taken it for a longer period of time in case I'm not so positive about it in a few more months time, though I'll try and do a follow up post either when I come off this medication or if anything changes. All I have to say is that, so far, I'm not a drugged up zombie who's just a little slow and out of it, I'm better than I've ever been.

If you have any questions about my experiences feel free to comment or tweet me at @amandamd25


  1. I love how honest you're being about your mental health issues! I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well and have been taking medicine for it for awhile. I've also had a pretty positive experience and feel like people shouldn't be ashamed of taking it. I'm glad you were able to see a counselor at your university. I think it's wonderful when schools have counselors available for their students. I admire you for your honesty and you've inspired me to write more openly about my mental health. Thank you!

    1. Wow, thanks so much! I'm really glad as that's exactly what I want to do with my mental health posts... the stigma is ridiculous! I'm glad you've had a positive experience too :)

  2. Meds saved my life. I hate that there's a stigma surrounding them. :( I hope we can educate people going forward!

    1. Me too! I've been taking them a year now and it's crazy the things I've achieved within the year I've been taking them! I hope so too, stigma prevents progress :(