Medication is not a magic cure-all. But it could be what lets you function well enough to do the deeper work (like therapy) and the physical stuff (like exercise). And sleep. And that’s pretty amazing.
Finding the right dosage and perhaps combination of medications can be a painstaking, drawn-out, frustrating process. But when you get the right balance? It can make all the difference in the world to someone who has already suffered enough from their mental health challenges.
And if you have anxiety, haven’t you already suffered enough?
Here are two things to know about when considering medication, based on my own experience:
1. Side effects are real (but they might be worth it)
There’s a lot of fear about side effects, and for good reason. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. Over the years, I’ve dealt with:
- sexual side effects
- brain zaps
- appetite changes
- and more
You have to weigh the side effects of medication against the debilitating effects of leaving the mental health disorder untreated. In my case, I would have suffered from a lot of the above from having severe untreated anxiety anyway.
This was my life before starting medication:
- I couldn’t drive.
- I struggled to go out and do things.
- I would stress-cancel a lot.
- I couldn’t handle even the idea of therapy.
- I basically wanted to hibernate all the time.
- I had a really hard time feeling like I was actually in charge of my own life.
- My world became small and lonely.
Medication helped free me from my own mind enough to start driving, become a mom, start therapy, pursue my freelance work, and write about my experiences online.
At its best, effective medication can put you back in the driver’s seat (literally, in my case).
2. Medications can be combined to ease side effects
Combining meds can help you get the benefits of both medications, while trying to balance out some of the side effects of each.
For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, but a medication like Wellbutrin (buproprion) can reduce that effect.
Personally, I’m currently taking Wellbutrin in the morning and Zoloft (sertraline) in the evening. Wellbutrin is an excellent medication for mood-related disorders, so it helps with my depressive symptoms.
But it’s also “activating,” and on its own it can make anxiety worse. I started to feel very squirrelly and agitated. So we added Zoloft, which is an SSRI medication commonly prescribed for social anxiety, among other things. It helps with anxiety-related symptoms and with balancing out the activating effects of Wellbutrin.
Medication is not magic. But it can be a lifesaver.
We only get one life. Isn’t it worth making that life the best we can with what we know and what we have access to? For many people, medication can do that.
It’s like introducing a leash to this situation:
It’s not for everyone. But it might not hurt to look into it. You deserve to feel better.
I’m not a doctor, though. Listen to your doctor. Obviously. 🙂
Do you have any thoughts on medication? Leave a comment!