One in ten people in the United States are on antidepressants. Depression is a serious issue and I've written an article about it before, but I thought that it would be a good idea to write something more lighthearted in hopes that it would help change the conversation about mental illness towards a less gloomy direction. Now, there are numerous side effects when it comes to Prozac and also a lot of variation when it comes to individual experience, but hopefully some you can relate to this and laugh a little.
1. Shi* gets real in your dreams.
I don't know how prevalent this side-effect of Prozac is, but this happens to me big time. There isn't much research and data on why Prozac tends to give people extremely vivid dreams, but a quick Google search turns up numerous chat forums of people talking about it, which tells me that it isn't a coincidence. Before getting on antidepressants, I almost never remembered my dreams, but now literally everything is burned onto my mind. According to my psychiatrist, Prozac doesn't actually cause vivid dreams but makes you more able to recall your dreams. So you're still dreaming the same way you have been all your life, the difference is that you can now remember them after you wake up. I'll have to admit it's more than a little disturbing to discover what my subconscious cooks up in my sleep. I've gone from chasing dragons with Khaleesi to baking pastries with Mung Daal.
2. Your tolerance becomes nonexistent.
You used to be able to handle your alcohol in a decent manner. But now, oh boy, you are now the one-shot-wonder. Every time you're drinking with friends, they give you hell for sipping on a 90 percent mixer and 10 percent liquor concoction all night. You have to frequently remind them that two shots for them gets them buzzed but gets you horizontal.
3. You sometimes have no idea whether you took your meds for the day.
Me : I'm pretty sure I did.
Brain : Nah man, you're thinking about yesterday. Did you do it today?
Me : I did! Or wait, did I just dream of doing it?
Brain : Probably not, we dreamt about turning into a coffee bean last night, remember?
Me : Right, okay, so I'll take it now.
Brain : WAIT! What if you actually took it, isn't it bad to overdose?
Me : But if I don't take it, that's going to mess up the whole neurotransmitter thingamajiggy.
Brain : What if we compromise and you just take half?
Me : I don't think it works that way...
4. You forget to bring your pill bottle on a trip and feel doomed.
This has happened to be a handful of times, and even though I once read something about how Prozac has a relatively long shelf life, I'm almost certain that each time there's been a significant dip in my mental state. Maybe it's the Placebo effect. Whenever I haven't taken my meds for a few days and feel even remotely depressed, I freak out and blame it on the lack of medication even though I'm probably almost always just fine.
5. You are sleepy and alert at all the wrong times.
I frequently had trouble sleeping growing up, so this was nothing too new. Once I got to high school and college my sleeping pattern evened out pretty well, likely because I was so tired at the end of every day that I could pass out really easily. After starting my antidepressants, however, I would occasionally either not be able to sleep for hours or sleep for 12 hours straight. Some nights I would lie awake for hours and end up staring at my tortoise in hopes that it would make me sleepy, and on some mornings, I would wake up five hours later than I was supposed to and not know what was happening in the world.
Joking aside, side effects are a legitimate cause for concern, and antidepressants should only be taken if they are outweighed by the benefits you get from them. For me, none of these are actually that bad; I have a ton of great icebreakers in the form of bizarre dreams and I get to hog the TV while my roommate is alseep!