I went on antidepressants when my psychologist, psychiatrist and I decided that my depression and anxiety at the time was more due to brain chemistry than what Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) alone could help with.
I took a medium dose of sertraline (also known as Zoloft), which gradually worked until about the third month where I felt ‘cured’.
I continued taking the same dose for another six months, when I told my psychiatrist that I was feeling great and I hadn’t even needed any further CBT during that time.
She took that as an indication that I was ready to gradually come off the drugs as they seemed to have done their job.
How to talk to people with anxiety. Post continues below.
It took about six weeks to decrease the dose gradually, and by the time I came off them I nearly felt worse off than I had before I started. At first it was mostly physical, I had the symptoms of being drunk even though I hadn’t drunk a thing. I was in a constant state of dizziness and confusion, my coordination was lacking, I felt nauseous, had a headache and cold sweats. But worst of all, my eyes couldn’t concentrate on one thing. If I looked at something it would be blurry/disorientating and every time I moved my eyes there would be a lag before they went in the direction I wanted and there was a “whooshing” sound that accompanied any sudden movements of my eyes.
I was such a mess that I wasn’t able to eat properly let alone continue my athletic training commitments and studies (even though I still tried my best until I’d be lying on the pavement from disorientation or asleep on my laptop).
I would make mistakes like being hours late to meeting a friend and then not be able to find where I parked my car afterwards. I’d end up with a parking fine because my sense of time and space just felt so foggy and confusing, yet if I tried to explain this I wasn’t believed because it seemed so unrealistic.
I was aware that there could be physical withdrawals for 2-3 days and my psychologist told me that I must have just been sensitive to the medication for it to be lasting over a week.
Unfortunately, however, as the physical symptoms started to decrease over nearly two weeks, the psychological symptoms started to kick in.
During this time I was a full time athlete, moving house to a rural area for the training there, was in my last week of full time university where I had three assessments due worth 50 per cent of my grade, and had a part time job. I didn’t have time to be going through all these brain changes.