Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Depression Medication: Is it Time?

Usually the decision to stop taking medication is easy; your script either runs out, your snotty nose clears up or the fungi between your toes disappears.

But the decision to stop taking Depression medication is possibly one of the hardest ones that I have ever had to make.

Depression medication is designed to stimulate the growth of, and produce, Serotonin, the chemical inside of your brain that controls your moods and emotions.

So what happens when you feel 'happy' again and your moods start to stabilise? Do you stop taking your medication straight away? How long do you have to be 'happy' for before you stop?

For those who haven't experienced depression, the answers would be yes and straight away; when you are better you no longer need medication.

Those who have experienced the torment, torture and sheer terror of depression know that it's not that easy.

Picture yourself surviving a plane crash. Chances are that you will never trust another aircraft again or you are going to be extremely anxious about flying because you have been so terrorised by the experience. Even thinking about flying would probably increase your heart rate make you feel dizzy and your palms sweat. So what do you do? You drive or catch a boat instead or you face your fears and attempt to fly again.

Depression is a little more tricky. Some people don't even know what caused it in the first place; it could be a build up of stress over time, it could be hereditary or it could be that someone has passed away. It's not like you can dissect the 'depression gene', or live in fear of other people dying around you, or hold yourself back from a job interview, buying a house or children in fear of stress to prevent depression coming back. You can't just avoid life and you certainly don't want to live life in fear.

But the thought of depression coming back is so scary that it stops people from weaning them self off of their medication.

Just how do you know if you are really better? So you might feel better, but does that mean that your medication is holding up the forte or has your brain starting producing enough Serotonin to stabilise your moods.

What happens if you stop taking the medication and you come crashing down? It takes roughly 4-6 weeks for medication to start working again. Do you want to risk that?

Is it a bad thing to be on your medication for life? I mean there are people out there who take cholesterol and blood pressure tablets everyday and even when their levels go back to being 'normal', they still take the tablets as a preventative.

Do you really want to come off of the medication or are you just worried about the stigma attached to it?

Are you able to have children while you are on your medication?

Why is there pressure out there to 'come off' of your medication as soon as possible?

I don't know the answer, but I'd strongly suggest speaking to your doctor if you are thinking about coming off of your antidepressants. 

It's not like Panadol, you can't just stop taking the medication as soon as your headache has gone, you need to slowly wean yourself off with the guidance of your doctor who is supervising you.

I think there must be a point when you learn to trust yourself again, and when you feel as though you've got the tools and strategies to prevent depression from coming back without the help of medication.

It is only then, when you feel ready (and not when others are telling you), that you should seek advice from your doctor about weaning yourself off.

I've been 'well' for two years now, but the thought of coming off of my medication still scares me. I have often thought about it, but I don't think I'm quite ready yet...the memories are still too painful.

But one day I know that there'll come a time when I am ready, and I hope and pray that it all goes smoothly when it does.

Have you ever taken antidepressants? How did you feel about coming off of your medication?

How did you go about it?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx


Patricia. said...

This was a great post. I have been diagnosed with depression for 10 years now and only started taking medication for the last year. I recently came off it as well (Zoloft) and that was terrifying. There was a period of a month or so when I was just horrified of ever stopping, but I felt so pressured to because of the stigma, plus one of the side effects of Zoloft is suicidal thoughts and I've had some pretty bad ones around Christmas time.

I think that people have to be very honest with themselves, but also objective, when it comes to this. I honestly wasn't sure when I did finally stop my medicine, I was very hesitant, but after a few weeks I felt much better and most days I feel that I'm better off now. I know that's not the case for everyone. And unfortunately unlike checking blood pressure or cholesterol there's no easy way to measure how "manageable" someone's depression is.

Anyway, that's my two cents or something. Thanks for your honest posts, I love them. The blog world needs more of this.

Patricia. said...

duh I forgot to add, if you wanted to read about my thoughts when I quit Zoloft, here's the entry: http://www.alexlovessweden.com/2013/01/i-forgot-i-had-happy-pills.html