We Really Should Talk More About Antidepressant Side Effects

We Really Should Talk More About Antidepressant Side Effects

April 11, 2017 Updated July 2, 2020

antidepressant side effects
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Your doctor just wrote you a prescription for your depression. They probably gave you some info on what the drug is, what they hope it will do for you, and if your situation is like mine, they may have mentioned “some mild side effects” may occur.

Maybe they don’t really know, or maybe they don’t want to frighten you, but I’ve found an alarming amount of doctors don’t inform you on just how common side effects are. In my experience, they certainly don’t tell you about the really intense stuff.

I remember coming back to the doctor after that very first prescription and having this interaction:

Me: I’ve been having a lot of headaches and stomach issues since I started taking that medicine.

Doctor: Yes, that’s unfortunately very common.

I didn’t say it out loud, but I definitely remember thinking, “That would have been good to know before I started taking this!”

Drowsiness and fatigue can also be common, which is wonderful because we depressives already struggle with fatigue and lack of motivation.

Weight gain is reported from many antidepressants. Great — now I have a body image issue to add to the mix. What kind of sick joke is this!

Nausea and other gastrointestinal issues are common. Fantastic — now I can’t even enjoy my damn ice cream without feeling like it’s going to violently come back up.

It’s taboo to talk about, but sexual dysfunction is very common. It’s as high as 50% (or more!), according to some studies. For guys, that can mean erectile dysfunction. For men and women, this likely means difficulty or inability to achieve orgasm. As if being depressed wasn’t already bad enough.

And last, but not least, there’s other weird stuff: dry mouth, lightheadedness, dizziness, agitation, and my all-time favorite…“brain zaps.” Yes, I’m talking about this really freaky sensation that I’ve only had when taking an SNRI. My brain says, “You know what would really lighten up the mood around here? An electrical shock!” At that moment, a bolt of lightning starts in my brain and zaps out into my face, hands, and feet. It’s like a party — in hell.

This post originally appeared on The Mighty.