How Does It Feel Taking Anti-Depressants?

I have Generalized Anxiety, Agoraphobia and Panic Disorder and this is my experience taking anti-depressants to cope.

Terminology & Definition: Generalized anxiety is characterized as extreme worrying almost every day; it is excessive and disproportionate about several areas of one’s life. A panic disorder is characterized as a psychiatric disorder where a debilitating fear and anxiety arise frequent, and without explanation. A panic disorder triggers panic attacks, and its symptoms are (but may not be limited to) pounding heart, sweating, shaking or trembling, shortness of breath, choking sensations, chills, hot flashes, nausea, dizziness, numbness or tingling sensations, fear of dying and fear of losing control. Many people fear that as a direct result from a panic attack, they will have a heart attack, go crazy, faint or embarrass themselves. Agoraphobia is an extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places, which makes it difficult to attend lectures and enjoy a social life.

So whats it like being a 20 year old female enrolled in university with high expectations and ambition with such a debilitating condition, the answer isn’t so simple.  It’s tough, however embracing my illness was the best decision I’ve ever made. Acknowledging what is going on is the first step to finding a stable balance, and getting a proper diagnosis is crucial because there are many reasons to explain why one could be experiencing symptoms of anxiety or panic. No two diagnoses are identical and no two conditions are identical – each and every person suffering from mental illness will experience and react differently.

Synopsis: I was diagnosed by my family physician with GAD and a Panic Disorder, she then recommended me to a psychologist for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). After five months of that, medication free, it was decided that I needed to explore the options of Anti-Depressants. I began on Citalopram (5mg) and graduated to the brand Cipralex, a form of Escitalopram (20mg) with the occasional Ativan when needed. After about a year on the anti-depressants, my panic attacks went from 6+ per week to 2 per month, or less. However, my panic disorder under control, my anxiety was not. From then my family physician consulted with a psychiatrist who recommended clonazepam, a benzodiazepine. I now take 0.5mg of clonazepam everyday along with my 20mg of Cipralex.

How does it feel? I have never felt more like myself in the past few years. There is so much fear surrounding anti-depressant usage, a fear that they are not going to be themselves, clouded or worse off in their condition. I don’t dispute this as a possibility; however it could mean that the medication isn’t the proper fit, or that it takes a bit longer to adjust and the side effects will wear off. So if prescribed, don’t be afraid to try anti-depressants because the potential negative effects, are often outweighed by the positive.

I have good days and bad days like anyone, and I’ve found a healthy balance with my medications, therapy and overall health.

I credit a large part of my success to not only my medications, psychologist, friends, family and boyfriend, but I also give credit to myself. I embraced this, never once thinking that I would become my diagnosis. I saw this as a challenge to become the best version of myself that I could be.

My advice to those who suffer from any mental illness – embrace it, laugh about it, joke about it, and become comfortable with it. It is a piece of you, and not one to be ashamed of. Advocate and teach those who don’t understand, because I promise you, you will find a way to live happily despite it.


14 thoughts on “How Does It Feel Taking Anti-Depressants?

  1. Thank you for sharing! I am glad you found a way to embrace your illness and can educate others with tips that you have learnt from your experience. There are lots of students that feel/have went through the same journey you have and these tips are sure to be helpful. They definitely were for me, thank you!


  2. wow, it feels so good to know that I am not alone, many of the experiences you shared in this post are quite similar to the ones I have experienced. Thank you so much for sharing this and allowing me to know that I am not alone.


    • Everyone’s body will react differently and to different medications. My personal experience with Escitalopram was fairly positive. I had a bit of a ‘foggy head’ for about a week, and a headache for about a week as my body adjusted. After 1 week, I felt no side effects and began to feel as though my health was progressing in the right direction. I’ve been on my medications for three years now, and I visit my doctor frequently to discuss how my prognosis is going. As of now, we are content and happy with where I am at in terms of my medications. I also have been attending regular therapy sessions for three years as well, which is in my opinion, essential to understanding your illness and getting to a place of acceptance and overall positive health. I hope this helps. Some people are on medications for a large duration of their life, and others only for a short time. Either way, taking medications to function on a day to day basis feels no differently to me, then taking your vitamins every day.


  3. Your post was extremely insightful! A family member has just been diagnosed with anxiety and was prescribed Clonazepam and was unsure whether they should take it. I am going to send them to your post, just so they can get some inspiration and realize it isn’t something they should be ashamed of 🙂


  4. Perfectly written. Thank you for sharing your experience. This is such an issue in todays world and its comforting and inspiring that you are able to share your experience.


  5. This is so well written – and it’s absolutely amazing! There is so much stigma surrounding mental health and medications, and it’s so incredibly brave of you to share your story! I’m so glad you’re doing okay!


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