Started Antidepressant Medication - 10 Changes I Saw

10 Changes After I Started Antidepressant Medication

My experience over the last 8 months. See my 10 changes after I started antidepressant medication and how it's been crucial in improving my mental health and outlook.

It’s been about 8 months since I started antidepressant medication.

As you all know, I exercise regularly and eat well (most of the time), but those two commonly first-line prescriptions for depression didn’t work for me. I also believe that I had anxiety issues, but we tackled the depression first.

To read some more backstory:

If you want the TL;DR version:

  • undiagnosed depression for several years
  • marriage almost fell apart
  • went to therapy
  • wanted to erase myself
  • therapist: “hey, you’re depressed.”
  • started antidepressant medication

The first two weeks were actually worse than before I started.

*Very, very, very important piece of advice — do NOT Google other people’s experiences with antidepressants on the internet. We laugh about it for our common medical conditions that tell us we have cancer, but when you’re dealing with a mental illness and you’re scared and you feel even worse, talk to your doctor. Do NOT talk to the internet. Seriously.

I tried to keep in mind that the people most likely to talk about their experiences online would be those whose experiences were negative. If you started medication and it worked for you, why would you spend time writing that in a forum instead of enjoying your new found freedom? Still, I was very discouraged and I want to make a point of that in case anyone thinks you start and it’s all roses. There’s an adjustment period. There may be some side effects. It’s normal.

I messaged my doctor about what was going on because I was so freaked out, but she urged me to give it a little more time. For someone who likes immediate results, this wasn’t easy, but I stuck with it. After about two weeks, I started to balance out.

It’s now been almost a year and I wanted to share the biggest changes I noticed after starting antidepressant medication.

Please keep in mind that this is my experience. Depression and anxiety are different for every person and what works for one may not work for another. In the spirit of transparency, I want to make sure I talk about my experiences in the hope that the mental health stigma is lessened and someone may be able to relate. If you or anyone you know may benefit from this, please share!

10 Changes After I Started Antidepressant Medication

1. I’m lighter

I had no idea how suffocated I felt until I was no longer suffocating. Does that make sense? Once the introductory period wore off and the medicine actually started working, I felt like I could live. A lot of the following changes I experienced made me realize just how much anxiety was ruling my day to day actions.

It’s like when you’re trying to come out from the water to the beach, but the steps are hard because you’re sinking in the sand and being beaten by waves simultaneously. Starting on medication brought me out of the water and onto the shore. That’s really the best way I can think to describe it.

2. The phone is not out to kill me

I was TERRIFIED of phone calls. I got used to making them during my admin days, but I didn’t like it and I still had to work up the courage to do it. Don’t even get me started on incoming calls. If it was a number I didn’t know, I absolutely didn’t answer it and if they didn’t leave a message I would obsess over who it was (but never call them back). Even if it was someone I knew, I would stare at the caller ID while I decided whether I had the courage to answer the phone and have a conversation or if I’d have to wait and call them back when I had my wits about me.

After starting antidepressant medication, for the first time in my life, I answered calls from numbers I didn’t know, called all sorts of people, and suddenly had no fear surrounding the telephone.

3. More energy

It may be a no-brainer that going from depressed to not depressed will bring about more energy, but I wanted to include it anyway. Last summer I could barely get the laundry done and I took naps almost every day of the week (now they’re just saved for weekends). I had to give myself a pep talk to actually walk the laundry downstairs once a week and get it done.

Without medication, I’m not sure how I would be able to handle my schedule. I’ve written before about how I’m often up before the sun and also see some clients after work hours. With all that running around, there’s no way I would have been able to do it if I hadn’t made some serious life changes.

4. Everyone is not talking about me

I was perpetually concerned that people didn’t like me, were judging me, or could see through me as some kind of phony. As often as I told myself I wasn’t the center of the universe and it didn’t matter what people thought about me, I just couldn’t shake the fear that people saw me the same way I saw myself: less than.

Today I finally feel comfortable in my skin. I do the best I can each day, show up, and don’t berate myself on a constant basis.

5. I can talk to people

Along the same lines at my phone phobia, I was scared to death to talk to people. Social situations where I knew only a few people (if any) were my hell and I couldn’t make small talk to save my life. I blamed a lot of this on articles I read about being an introvert and excused my behavior because “all introverts get tired from social interactions.”

I’m still an introvert, but now I can carry on conversations with complete strangers. This is helpful in the Midwest, where strangers talk to you on a regular basis (why??).

6. I’m a better teacher

Once I stopped being paranoid about everyone thinking I’m awful but not telling me, many things around me improved. This included my teaching. I was able to show up with a new look on life and invest more in every member that showed up to my class. My personal training also became substantially better as I was able to connect and converse better with clients instead of taking a minute before each session to give myself a pep talk about how I was strong enough to get through it.

7. I stopped taking things personally

Ugh this one was a vicious cycle. I took EVERYTHING personally, even things that had nothing to do with me. Everything was somehow my fault because I wasn’t good enough. So. Exhausting.

As you may or may not know, I’m no longer managing the social media for Sweat. I held the role for two months until my boss told me that he wasn’t ready to give up control yet. Last year, I would have analyzed my performance and wondered what I did wrong, how I failed, etc., when it really didn’t have anything to do with me. Today I recognize my own value and simply move on.

8. I care more about other people

By increasing my ability to converse with others, my capacity to care about them also increased. Prior to starting antidepressant medication, I always said that I didn’t like small talk because I would only meet this person one time and I didn’t feel like wasting time on an interaction that would never happen again (so sweet of me).

I’ve genuinely been able to ask people about their lives and it’s incredible how many people you can meet and get to know this way. You never know who is going to have an impact on your life, so now I’m much more willing to invest time into others.

9. I’m not constantly worrying about the future

Another thing that was second nature to me was to CONSTANTLY obsess over the future. What was going to happen? What wasn’t going to happen? Did I make the right choice? Wrong choice? Was probation going to throw me back in jail for no reason at all? Often these thoughts were completely irrational, but I would find myself lying in bed compounding one on top of the other until my chest was tight and my stomach felt uneasy. Omg, it’s awful just typing it.

My outlook has brightened considerably. I take it one day at a time (something I had known to do all along) and make sure to do a future check-in every once in awhile.

10. I can still write

One of my biggest concerns when I started medication was that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore. A lot of (what I felt was) my best writing came from the only deeply emotional place I knew and that was one of sadness and loneliness. I wrote things from that place that I desperately wanted to get out of. Those were some heavier posts last year, guys, and while I still think they were uplifting, I can look back and see how they still carried some weight with them.

I haven’t had as many overpowering urges to envelop the world with my words and tell everyone that THINGS WILL BE OK, but I can still string words together and I think that the messages I offer now are still helpful in a lighter way. (And things will still be ok).

To wrap up, this decision was one of the most helpful and rewarding ones I have made. I don’t know how long I will be on medication, but for now it has helped tremendously and I finally feel like I can be the person I knew I was, but couldn’t quite get a handle on.

For anyone dealing with mental health issues, get the appropriate help. Talk to a therapist, talk to a friend, talk to SOMEONE. My experience may not be yours, but we all need to be responsible for our health, mentally and physically.

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

No questions today, just feel free to comment about your experience or ask me any questions!!

My experience over the last 8 months. See my 10 changes after I started antidepressant medication and how it's been crucial in improving my mental health and outlook.

63 comments on “10 Changes After I Started Antidepressant Medication

  1. I remember sitting at Lyfe Kitchen with you at lunch before you started and then driving up to meet GiGi after you started but were still not feeling great and then about 2 weeks later back at lunch (maybe even at Lyfe? who knows) and you feeling so much better. Last summer was TOUGH for you, and it forced your hand a bit, but I don’t think that it created any NEW problems, just brought old problems to the fore and made them evident enough to be priorities.
    Yes, we do live “healthy” lives, but as we both know (and I’ve talked about on my blog), that can only do so much.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Tips for Safe Running in Hot WeatherMy Profile

  2. It’s so hard not to google and look up other people’s stories. Depression is not something to take lightly, but sadly it’s one of those things where you don’t know it until you’re on the other side of it, if that makes sense? My dad ended up on medicine a few years ago and MAN the difference is incredible. We didn’t realize it before he was on medicine, though. But looking back, it’s clear as day to see. I’m so thrilled you found something that worked for you!
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Blogging IS Hard Work, But I Still Love ItMy Profile

    1. Right? I was just like “I feel sadness very intensely.” Haha. It didn’t even dawn on me that it could have been more serious than that.

  3. Google can be such an enemy, especially in these situations. But, it’s hard not to look for similar stories. I’m glad you found a medicine that works. It’s a very difficult illness in that it doesn’t seem like something is wrong, until it’s not anymore, if that makes sense. My dad went on medicine a few years ago, and now looking back, it’s clear as day the difference, but before that, we had no idea that was the problem!
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Blogging IS Hard Work, But I Still Love ItMy Profile

  4. So much love for this post and for you. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, and really appreciate how open you’ve been with your entire struggle with depression and your experience with medication. Medication really does help a lot of people (it’s certainly helped me), and while those first few weeks are rough, the results are totally worth it. <3
    Beth recently posted…Yoga for Runners – Strength BuildingMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jen! Yeah, I didn’t think about how much of a difference it had made until I really sat down to think about it.

  5. I found that taking an antidepressant helped me to look outside of myself and be able to help others more too. Because once I started feeling better, I felt good enough to help others. I was worried going on an antidepressant because of things I read about it, but I am so glad I did. I’m glad it helps you too!
    Alyssa recently posted…Homemade acai bowlMy Profile

    1. Absolutely! Once I stopped thinking about myself so much I had so much more time to think about others. So glad you’ve been able to feel better!

  6. Hahaha, I love your TL;DR version 🙂

    Oh man, I’m so with you on the not googling of experiences. Seriously, don’t. And I agree, the first few weeks of starting medication are really challenging. It totally sucks that you just have to ride it out, especially when depressed and you feel like you don’t have the ability to “ride it out”.

    I feel like I could have written every single word of your post. I still have days where I hate the phone (maybe I’ll always hate the phone) but at least it’s not crippling.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Seven Weeks to SeaWheezeMy Profile

    1. I know. It was really awful but thankfully I kept going. I’m so glad you were able to relate! I’m not a HUGE fan of the phone, but it’s gotten so much better.

    1. I’m taking Lexapro. During that first period, I was able to sleep, but I would wake up covered in sweat. After about 2 weeks that stopped and I had way more energy than normal. That also normalized so that I just feel “regular” now. I didn’t have any stomach or sexual issues which I’ve also read can occur. Really it was just feeling WAY more depressed and anxious initially and the night sweat issues, so thankfully it wasn’t too bad.

  7. I love how open and vulnerable you are, Erin.
    Your posts make me feel like not feeling “normal” isn’t something to be ashamed of. Many of your “befores” are my “currently” and it’s so encouraging to see how you and others have had positive experiences and that your fears aren’t necessarily reality. I’m so happy for you that you’ve seen a transformation!
    Catherine @ foodiecology recently posted…Frustrations & PurposeMy Profile

    1. Oh good I’m so glad you found it helpful Catherine! I hope your “currentlys” get better. I know it’s not a fun place to be in. Let me know if you ever need to talk!

  8. First I like that you are speaking openly about depression and it does get better. Second and more importantly is that you are not just relying on medication to help your depression. We have become a country that believes a pill will fix everything, we don’t want to do the work. The fact that you eat well and exercise in addition to taking your antidepressant is great. The medication will definitely help your serotonin levels, that’s what it’s supposed to do, but there is more to healing depression than taking medication. Like with any other chronic illness, life style changes have to be made. I stress this with every client I work with, so I’m glad to see you doing all you do

    1. Absolutely! Therapy was/is also incredibly important for me during that time. I made some big improvements last year that I attribute directly to that. Thanks for reading Tammi!

  9. How you feel about phone calls is how I feel about mail (shudder). I had major depression for almost 20 years before going in antidepressants. They saved my life. Sometimes I am so sad and angry about the time I lost just treading water, that is if I even got out of bed. The fear of side effects and of changing my personality and or stifling my creativity made me mortified to try medication for all those years. The truth is that depression diminished my personality more than medication ever could. And while I has some side effects, they decreased by about 90 percent after a few weeks. I hear of so many people quitting after a week or two because of side effects or perceived ineffectiveness, and I want to scream NOOooo, hang in there. Glad you’re in a better place. I enjoy your blog.

    1. I know. I wish I had figured it out sooner! So glad you’re finally doing better and found what works for you 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Erin (as always! I love your transparency). I hate that there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness in this country, and it is stories like this one that will hopefully (albeit slowly) break down that barrier. It always blows my mind that our society places judgement around those people who need to most access to help (and are probably the least likely to search it out, especially if they are feeling judged). You have done such a strong thing by not only reaching out and getting help, but also in sharing your positive experience.

    Just as a side comment, to anyone reading who feels that they may be struggling with depression or other mental illness, PLEASE seek out help. Especially if you are feeling like you are hitting rock bottom or that you are alone. There ARE people who can help. I recently lost my mother to a depression-related suicide, and my only wish is that she had just reached out a hand and asked for help. There would have been dozens of people in her life who would have gladly taken her hand if we had known.

    Sorry to hijack your comments with my PSA, but I just feel like it is SO important and stories like yours are such a great opportunity to give people hope when they need it most! Thank you again Erin!
    Stephanie @ My Freckled Life recently posted…Colton Turns 1!My Profile

    1. Omg I had no idea that was what happened. I’m so sorry and I can’t imagine how confusing and helpless the whole thing must feel. Text or call or email or whatever me if you need someone to talk to. So much love your way.

  11. Wow, what a journey Erin! That is amazing how God has gifted doctors with using everything He’s made to make these medications that do help people who struggle with depression. It’s something we need to talk about, and I’m so thankful that you are sharing your experience and how you’ve changed and grown. <3 We have ALL been blessed by the things you've learned. <3 You're never in this alone…
    Emily recently posted…How Busy People Can Move HappyMy Profile

  12. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. It’s amazing and encouraging to see that you’ve overcome! I have a history of depression, have always been prone to anxiety and have post-partum anxiety to the extreme right now. But due to some life changes (moving twice in the last year, not having a solid doctor, etc.) I haven’t been treated. I also plan to get pregnant again soon so I tried to stay away from medication because you can’t take most things during pregnancy.

    This post totally makes me rethinking that though. Number 1 and number 4 are big for me. I seriously feel CONSTANTLY worried that people are talking about me, don’t like me, are analyzing my every move, picture posted or blog post published. I have NO idea where this anxiety has come from and like you, I try to tell myself people aren’t paying attention THAT much, that I just need to let it go, but I can’t. I feel insane for wasting so much of my time thinking people are thinking something when they most likely aren’t!

    I would love to feel lighter. I know that if things got better for me, I’d realize just how awful my habits in life and my thought habits are. I know there is a problem but that weight has not been lifted so I know I’m just sitting here trying to live through it all. Wow.

    Anyway, thank you again for this! Very very valuable information.
    Melissa @ Melissa in the Making recently posted…Coffee Date Friday { 6.24 }My Profile

    1. It sucks when you KNOW better, but unfortunately we can’t just force ourselves to feel a certain way. Silly emotions haha. I’m glad you found it helpful and make sure to take care of not only your family but yourself as well!!

    1. So much luck to you. It’s been a life changer for me. Let me know if you have any questions or need anyone to talk to about it!

  13. Oh, Erin. I appreciate you, and your ability to write about your experiences on (electronic) paper. My dad has been on anti-depressants for almost ten years now, and I hope he feels somewhat similar to how you feel now. He’s tried to stop cold turkey a couple of times, against all of our advice, and it didn’t turn out well either time!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Mango Avocado Dip for TwoMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jess 🙂 yeah, I would be too paranoid to just stop, so if it comes to that then I’ll prob reevaluate w my doctor. I hope your dad feels positive about it too!

  14. Great article. The wait on a new anti-depressant is the worst. I’ve been on so many different ones I’ve lost count, and every time it bugs me that I have to be patient before I can see if it’s working. I want instant solutions! 🙂

    It sounds like you started with exercise and good eating and then added anti-depressant. I’m going the other way. I was on an anti-depressant already and now I’ve added exercise, more healthy eating, and more (for one of my first quests, I bought some candy and ice cream just to take outside and throw in the garbage to say I was done turning to ice cream for my almost daily “therapy!”).

    I’m hoping it can boost the effects of the anti-depressant. I hope I can write a post like this in the future too!
    Adam recently posted…Six Types of Inspiring People You Might KnowMy Profile

  15. Thanks for putting this out there. It’s definitely a ray of hope, as a lot of the issues that you experience pre-antidepressant are those that I have to manage as well.

    I am about to start my own regimen of meds for the first time after 10+ years of trying to “do it on my own” with on-an-off therapy.

    Did you find that you no longer had to go to therapy after the meds kicked in?

    I feel like I’ve been going in circles in therapy for a while, and the issue is no longer that I don’t understand how to comport myself in certain anxiety-provoking situations, but that I just feel too effing deeply, whereas a neurotypical human being would be able to take mental blows in stride.

    1. First off, thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to share part of your journey as well.

      For me, after the medication started to work, I started to taper off from therapy. Once I started to experience this second bout of depression, I knew it was important for me to go back and figure out what was going on. I really hope everything goes well for you and let me know if I can help out with anything else!

  16. I am currently on day 4 of effexor as ssris weren’t right for me according to my doc who did a geno test. I felt ok the first couple days then its like up and down now. And the lows are really low. I pray it gets better as i have a family to care for.

    1. I can imagine how hard that must be – esp caring for a family. Make sure to stay in touch w your doctor! It took me a good two weeks until I felt better again. I hope it works well soon!!

  17. I’m on day 2 paroxetine. I was prescribed Zoloft in December. I took it for 2 weeks and was terrified to continue. So I quit and decided to ride it and wait for tge depression to resolve on its own. Now I wish I hadnt stopped. For me the worse symptom of depression is the dark negative thinking. Those automatic negative thoughts that are so disturbing.
    I’m hoping I will find my self again as depression has totally changed me.

  18. this post is so useful

    I’ve seen so many posts about the side effects of antidepressants but i’m looking for posts about the benefits.

    I have been on an antidepressant for a while and haven’t had any benefits so am switching to another and want to know what I can look forward to.

    thank you Erin!

  19. When I read this I thought “holy crap, did I write this?” I feel exactly the way you did before anti-depressants every single day. My depressive episodes are getting closer and closer together. I’m planning a wedding and it is making it near impossible. I’m like a person who feels everything in overdrive. Normal every day stressors are a huge ordeal to me. (I wasn’t always this way but it’s getting worse)
    I’ve been prescribed anti depressants but I am too scared to take them. I’m so scared. I’m caught in a continuous cycle of feeling so low that I can’t leave my bed for weeks and then I feel ok for a bit and then I swing back low and sink a little deeper each time. I’m hoping that what I just read will help me to follow through this time. Google has been the main deterrent for me. I read awful things .

    1. It took me two months before I actually filled my prescription and decided to start taking them, so I understand. Also, DO NOT READ GOOGLE. I did this as well and it made me feel worse and worse. You have to remember that most of the people who take the time to write things on there are people who haven’t had good experiences. Those who have won’t really have the need to go on message boards and complain or share their experience. I will say that the first two weeks I started them, I did feel worse to a degree, but my doctor told me to hold out a little longer and it made such a huge difference. Make sure you have someone you can talk to about it in case you have that experience; that will make it better. Also, it sounds like you only have things to gain at this point if things are getting worse! Best of luck and I hope they help you!!

      I also wrote this post in case you didn’t see it and that may help as well:

  20. I’m a month into Lexapro. I love your list here. You’ve listed things that I experience, but don’t read about elsewhere– like being more interested in people. I’d always been a social butterfly until the past few years when I’d think, “why bother?”… It took me awhile to figure out this apathy is related to depression. I’m also noticing I don’t get so overwhelmed by tasks and am more inclined to just jump in rather than moan and groan and catastrophize. I have so much more hope for the future now. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experience so candidly. This was definitely helpful to read. Best wishes.

  21. Wow you story is amazing!so please that you found peace in you life , I have been struggling with anxiety and depression, for over 2 years now , I tried many different antidepressants and I give Tham all my best shot two to free months,, but none of Than help unfortunately,I’m now taking Escitalopram for the past 4 weeks , again not any help just yet, then only change is that I I’m having worse anxiety and depression and feeling a bit panicking and also terrible hart palpitations specially in the morning after waking up . Do you think I should give it a bit longer and see what happens? You story give me hope,and will be nice to hear from you , thank you so much for sharing you amazing journey to recovery… hope that very soon I will be able write something positive like that ..

    1. I would let your doctor know and see what he/she has to say about it. I did experience worse symptoms before it got better, so that could be it, but definitely make sure to see what your doctor says. I hope it works for you!

  22. Hi Erin, thank you so much for your posts. I am struggling with anxiety, going thru perimenopause and it’s been rough for me. Have never had depression/anxiety before except for a period of time after I had my son. I have been so hesitant to take anything, but my doc says I really would be helped by a low dose of Lexapro. Wants me to start at 2.5 for a week and then go up to 5. Did you take it at morning or at bedtime? Even making this decision is tough for me! I am normally balanced, outgoing, decisive, energetic…feel very dragged down and your description of being anxious about being depressed and depressed about anxious really is me right now. Just want some balance back! Going to start this weekend … thank you so much for sharing your experience! – Erin : )

    1. Hi!

      I totally get it and it’s can definitely be a scary time. I take it at night before bed bc I think if I remember it made me feel a little sleep when I took it in the morning. It also took at least 2 weeks for me to notice the difference, so don’t give up right away! One day I just woke up and felt like I could breathe again. You got this and remember there’s no shame in needing help of any kind. Best of luck and I hope you find some relief ❤️

  23. Thank you Erin, for sharing this message. I’ve been smiling thru my depression for far too long.
    I finally found a Dr to really listen to me & she said; “Hey you’re depressed, let’s try medication.”
    I’ve been vacillating between, curiosity & shame, but I can’t work barely function & answering the phone & email scares me. You have given me the encouragement I need to try the medication.
    Again… Thank You.

  24. Thank you for sharing, this article really so helpful someone who just started the medication like me, I was so worried about it, Sarcastic about it, thought my life is ruined cause I have to take these medication and got it control me for the rest of my life, and a lot more…it’s just a bad downhill for me. But I’m more positive about it and have more confident now. I was depressed for a long time but everyone else’s think I’m a negative person, always looking for excuses for not doing things, over thinking cause I’ve got nothing better to do, it doesn’t help me at all and gets me even worst, in the end I hide myself, avoid socialise, feeling tremendous lonely.
    Thank you again for your sharing, it’s informative and encouraging also you are so gifted in writing. I look forward to my next 2 weeks to get out the depression and start to live more again.

  25. I’ve read your story 😌 thank you for sharing… I’m wondering if you have any updates on how it’s going so far? Are you still taking your antidepressants? I’m curious to hear your story a few years later 🙂

    Thank you!!

    1. I am! I wrote a post later that talked about upping my dose about 2 years later, but I’m definitely still on them! I’ve also had two kids since then and remained on them during both pregnancies. Still a fan!

  26. About to start a Lexapro prescription and have been anxious about it all day (have never tried medicine before). This made me feel lighter. Thank you <3

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