The Side Effects of Sanity

antidepressants_questionMedication side effects-especially those caused by our psychiatric medications-can be so severe that it makes us want to throw all our meds away.  You can’t even imagine how bad it is unless you’ve experienced it yourself.  It’s no wonder many mentally ill patients resent taking their pills, and often stop without their doctor’s approval. I am very bad about getting mad at my pills and refusing to take them.  Or I’ll get to a place mentally where I feel so good,I convince myself I’m cured and don’t need the medication anymore.  All this does is set us up for a horrendous crash. But let me tell you about some of the side effects I have to tolerate, then perhaps you’ll better understand my hesitation to take the pills as prescribed.

(The ones which affect me are marked.)

ABILIFY
Blurry vision
Problems with sexual function*
Change in breasts*
Change in menstrual periods*
Headache*
Lightheadeness, dizziness*
Swelling of the hands or feet
High blood pressure
Lost weight*
Gained weight
Mouth feels too dry*
Drooling or too much saliva
Constipation*
Nausea*
Pain in the upper middle of the stomach*
Unexpected increases in urination*, thirst*, and/or hunger
Trouble urinating*
Urinating frequently*
Sleepiness, sleeping a lot*
Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep*
Feeling restless or jittery, cannot sit still*
Slowness, trouble getting moving*
Muscles feel stiff*
Shaking or muscle trembling
Tremor
Muscle pain*
Lack of bodily strength*
Memory problems, forgetful*
Low energy, easily tired*
Finding it hard to concentrate*
No motivation, loss of interest in usual things*
Anxiety*
Agitation*

PROZAC

One of the most disturbing side effects occurs with the use of Prozac (Fluoxetine). Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect with SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Specifically, side effects often include difficulty becoming aroused*, erectile dysfunction, lack of interest in sex*, and anorgasmia* (inability to achieve orgasm). Genital anesthesia*, loss of or decreased response to sexual stimuli*, and ejaculatory anhedonia are also possible.  Anhedonia is lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it.  Although usually reversible, these sexual side effects can last for months, years, or permanence after the drug has been completely withdrawn.This is known as Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction.

Other common side effects from Prozac include

Abnormal dreams*; anxiety*; decreased sexual desire or ability*; diarrhea*; dizziness*; drowsiness*; dry mouth*; flu-like symptoms* (e.g., fever, chills, muscle aches); flushing; increased sweating; loss of appetite*; nausea*; nervousness*; runny nose*; sore throat; stomach upset*; trouble sleeping*; weakness*; yawning*.

TRAZODONE
Nausea*
Vomiting*
Diarrhea*
Drowsiness*
Dizziness*
Tiredness*
Blurred vision
Changes in weight*
Headache*
Muscle ache/pain*
Dry mouth*
Bad taste in the mouth
Stuffy nose
Constipation*
Change in sexual interest or ability*

Less common, more severe side effects include:

Shaking (tremors)
Nightmares*
Ringing in the ears
Problems urinating*
Blood in urine
Infection
Stomach/abdominal pain*
Shortness of breath*
Chest/jaw/left arm pain*
Fainting
Fast/irregular heartbeat
Seizures
Severe dizziness

WELLBUTRIN

When I researched Wellbutrin, one page actually said “Seizures are perhaps the most worrisome side effect.”  I love how they say it all casually, like it’s no big deal.

  • Common side effects may include: Abdominal pain*, agitation*, anxiety*, constipation*, dizziness*, dry mouth*, excessive sweating, headache*, loss of appetite*, nausea*, palpitations, vomiting, skin rash, sleep disturbances*, sore throat, tremor
  • Other side effects may include: Acne*, allergic reactions (severe), bed-wetting, blisters in the mouth and eyes (Stevens-Johnson syndrome) blurred vision, breathing difficulty*, chest pain, chills*, complete or almost complete loss of movement, confusion*, dry skin*, episodes of over-activity, elation, or irritability*, extreme calmness, fatigue*, fever, fluid retention, flu-like symptoms*, gum irritation and inflammation, hair color changes, hair loss, hives, impotence, incoordination and clumsiness*, indigestion*, itching*, increased libido, menstrual complaints*, mood instability*, muscle rigidity*, painful ejaculation, painful erection, retarded ejaculation, ringing in the ears, sexual dysfunction*, suicidal ideation, thirst disturbances*, tooth ­ache*, urinary disturbances*, weight gain* or loss
XANAX

COMMON SIDE EFFECTS:

Changes in appetite*; constipation*; decreased sexual desire or ability*; diarrhea*; dizziness*; drowsiness*; dry mouth*; light-headedness; nausea*; tiredness*; weight changes*.

SEVERE SIDE EFFECTS:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching*; difficulty breathing*; tightness in the chest*; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); behavior changes; blurred vision; burning, numbness*, or tingling; chest pain; confusion*; dark urine; decreased coordination*; decreased urination; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations*; loss of balance or muscle control*; memory or attention problems*; menstrual changes*; muscle twitching*; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, depression, irritability*, anxiety*; exaggerated feeling of wellbeing); overstimulation; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling* skin; severe or persistent dizziness, drowsiness*, or light-headedness; shortness of breath* or trouble breathing; suicidal thoughts or actions; tremor; trouble speaking*; yellowing of the eyes or skin.

These are not all the medications we take; these are only the psych meds I am required to ingest daily.  We also take other prescription pills for a variety of reasons, and each of those pills has its own side effects to go along with it.  In other words, I’m dealing with an amazing amount of bothersome side-effects.  Every day produces an argument between the voices in my head.  Not all of them want to take the medication.  Some of us would rather just be crazy than have to put up with the worries caused by potentially harmful side-effects.  Can you blame us?

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