Sorry I’ve not been posting as of late. I really, really wanted to be very diligent about posting, but then I got hit with a great deal of work-drama (never client drama, it’s always administrative nonsense) and I’ve been having a pretty rough patch. Being depressed and suicidal is never a good thing to be, so I’ve gone to bed most nights immediately after dinner this week. All else fails, I’m much safer asleep than awake, so off to bed I go. And if I can’t sleep due to racing thoughts or anxiety, that’s when Klonopin and Benedryl are my friends…
I thought I’d talk a bit about all the lovely side effects of medications. All medications come with some side effect potential, though the newer the drug, the smaller the side effect profile, for the most part. This is what we always quiz the drug reps about during luncheons, and this is what that novel printed on tissue paper stuck to your medication bottles is about. All atypical antipsychotics have what’s called a “Black Box” warning on them about being used in dementia cases, as it can increase the chance of death. All antidepressants have a black box warning about use in children and young adults, as it can increase suicidal ideation and those patients should be watched closely. (Just about all people with depression should be watched once they start to recover, though, as now they have the energy to act on suicidal ideation, and they’re still having those symptoms of depression.)
One thing I’ve noticed as a case manager, is nine times out of ten when a male client discontinues his medications, it’s because of sexual side effects, and when a female client discontinues medication, it’s because of weight gain. These are the big two for most people; while there’s a host of other potential side effects, most of the time people are willing to tolerate the small annoyances if it means getting well. I always encourage my clients to weigh out the pros and cons of their side effects with how their symptoms have improved, and if it’s intolerable, then we’ll chat with the doctor. The most important thing to do to protect yourself is to read the potential side effects- or ask your doctor or pharmacist to discuss them with you. It’s important to give the medication time to take full effect; if it’s a mild side effect, it will usually subside after a few weeks. If you notice one of the severe side effects, follow the instructions on what to do- usually discontinue and call your doctor, and seek emergency attention if necessary.
On Depakote, I gained fifty pounds in three months. They couldn’t get me off of that stuff fast enough. On Zoloft, I yawned constantly, which got me into trouble with multiple teachers and professors. When I first started on Zoloft, for the first two days I felt like my skin was crawling off, and I didn’t know if I could handle it. Now that I’ve switched from Lexapro- which I never had issues with- to Celexa, I’m having constant headaches. My mother had an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin; her hands initially felt itchy, and she didn’t figure it out until her doctor doubled the dosage and suddenly she broke out in full-body hives. (That was a strange phone call to get in the middle of the night. My mother goes to bed at 9 every night. When she called me at eleven I thought someone had died unexpectedly.) Both my mother and stepfather report significant stomach issues with Paxil. I’ve seen the whole gamut of side effects in my clients, including some that baffle the doctors, such as one unfortunate young gentleman who suffers from priapism from most atypical antipsychotics.
What sort of side effects have you experienced from medications? Anything fun? I hear some people orgasm when they sneeze on some medications. 😉