I want to start by saying antidepressants can be extremely helpful when you need them. Mine in particular made getting through the last six years of depression and anxiety much more bearable. This is not an article bashing such medication; this is just my experience and what I wish I would have known before starting these drugs.
They are extremely habit-forming and withdrawals last approximately twelve weeks. Withdrawal symptoms I experienced were nausea, headaches, insomnia, extreme mood swings, meltdowns, anxiety attacks, and hallucinations.
I could deal with the nausea, headaches, and insomnia because these were all symptoms I had experienced through depression and anxiety before starting antidepressants. They were somewhat expected. The other symptoms were much more difficult to cope with. I could not predict how I would react to any situation and my mood could change several times within minutes. My meltdowns and anxiety attacks were the worst they had ever been.
The hallucinations were the most terrifying. I couldn’t focus on anything because there was constantly a voice in the back of my head that wasn’t mine. It felt like an interruption during every conversation. I would see people walking by and sitting down, objects turning into people, and even shadows jumping up off the ground to attack me. All I could do was use mindfulness techniques and tell myself they weren’t real. Thankfully, these started to slow down after about five weeks.
During my withdrawals I spoke to my doctor and did some research. It turns out my symptoms aren’t uncommon. Most people who quit antidepressants have the same experience.
Once my withdrawals were over, I didn’t feel like my “old self.” I feel better than I ever have. For the six years that I was on medication, I felt like everything was hitting me underwater. Every experience felt far away. Things didn’t feel as bad as they did before, but they didn’t feel particularly good either. Even though it was difficult, I’m glad that I quit when I did. I am ready to truly move past my anxiety and depression. I know that everyone experiences mental illness in different ways and each individual’s reaction to medication is unique, but for me antidepressants made my mental health more manageable while I learned how to resolve it on my own.