It has been 8 weeks now that I have been taking antidepressants for my Social Anxiety Disorder. I was initially sceptical about trying them but ultimately concluded that it was worth a shot. Fortunately I got few side effects - nausea for a couple of weeks, and some very vivid and surreal dreams. Of the many possible side effects listed I note one is that you might feel ‘too happy’!

In terms of improving my mood and reducing anxiety I didn’t notice any effect until maybe 6 weeks in. But the effects have started to make themselves felt. It’s subtle. I feel lighter, like life is less effort. I am not worrying in anticipation of things in quite the same way. I feel clearer headed. My family tell me I am less grumpy!

There have also been some unexpected effects. I am finding I have more overall energy, more interest in things and less of the ‘impending end of something’ feeling. I think what this points to is that depressive symptoms were more at play in my life than I realised.

What isn’t obvious is whether these changes are down to the medication, placebo effect, the other steps I am taking or any combination of the above. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. Something seems to be working and that is the important thing.

While reading about antidepressants I have learnt they can increase the neuroplasticity of the brain meaning that the brain is better able to make new connections and thus more receptive to being ‘taught’ better ways of thinking. As I understand it this is why they are used in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy courses.

I wouldn’t be happy to take antidepressants as the sole way of addressing the issues I am dealing with, but as one of several tools to help me on the way to recovery I’m ok to go with them for now.

Stephen James

Minding the gaps

© Stephen James 2021

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