Taking citalopram for agoraphobia and depression
Initially, I was very pleased that the doctor prescribed me an antidepressant because it was an acknowledgement that I wasn’t well, and that how I was feeling was not normal.
For so long I had been ‘out of sorts’ and nobody except my parents and best friend knew the extent of my illness. I felt isolated because, on the few occasions when I was able to make it to school, I appeared happy, so my friends thought that I was fine and wasn’t unwell anymore.
Although I was relieved to have been prescribed citalopram, I was very nervous to actually take it. I made sure to read the leaflet that came in the box with the tablets, but it made me feel so much worse to see all of the side effects listed.
Strangely, it wasn’t the worst side effects that bothered me. Instead I was worried by ‘sickness’, so I put off taking the tablets for a few days. I eventually felt comfortable enough to take my first tablet and was surprised by how tired it made me feel.
Starting the medication: side effects
For the first week, I was basically knocked out by the tablets, so I had to start taking them at nighttime. The only other side effect that I noticed was nausea but I was never actually sick.
Both of these side effects wore off within the first two weeks and within that time I had also started to notice a change in my mood. I was sleeping better because of the drowsy side effect so I was feeling refreshed in the mornings instead of tired from being awake all night, and I was starting to feel more relaxed.
I was also starting to feel a bit emotionally numb, by which I mean that sometimes I couldn’t understand how I was feeling. Sometimes I was in a situation where I knew that I should be sad but I just couldn’t feel anything and that was quite hard for me to adjust to. I was so used to crying every single day that not being able to cry was strange.
Over the next three months, these sensations calmed and I regained control over my emotions again. I was able to laugh and cry at appropriate times and was feeling happy and content for most of the time.
Despite this, citalopram certainly didn’t cure me or return me to how I was a year before - instead it allowed me to leave the house to see a psychologist, to start back at school and to see my friends again.
It’s been almost a year since I started taking citalopram and it’s changed me entirely. I feel happier now than I have done in a very long time and I’m very glad that it was offered to me.
Questions about mental health medication?
If you would like to know more about the different types of mental health medication you could be prescribed, how they help and what the side effects could be, have a look at our guide to medications.