Can Anxiety Be a Side Effect?

Disclaimer: the purpose of this blog is not to discourage you from taking meds, but to be informed about the meds you take and to be open with your doctor about the side effects you experience. 

I haven’t always been full of self-confidence or high self-esteem. Like most people, I have struggled with these issues at some point or another in my life. But, that being said, I’ve never been afflicted with anxiety disorders, even with my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. That is until at one point in my life when I was highly over-medicated during a stay at the psychiatric hospital, and the “lost months” that followed. 

While highly trained psychiatrists administered many different drugs in order to “stabilize” me, I developed major anxiety. I am not a doctor, nor am I a med specialist, but doesn’t it seem a little bit odd that my anxiety would all of a sudden develop during a time when I was supposed to be in the most trusted and capable hands? I have a pretty good guess what brought the anxiety issues on, and for the most part, people aren’t always happy to hear my thoughts. They came from the debilitating side effects that go hand in hand with the drugs used to treat mental illness. 

On antipsychotics I gained a whopping 45 lbs in about two months. On a high dose of stabilizers I had tremors so bad that I could no longer feed myself. I lost my vision, my hair and began lactating. My memory was patchy at best, and I was covered in a rash from head-to-toe. Cue extreme anxiety NOW. 

I became afraid to leave my house. I was scared to see people that I hadn’t seen in a while for fear of how they would react to my extreme medication makeover. When nothing in my closet fit anymore, the thought of having to go into public to shop for clothes twice my normal size brought on major panic attacks. 

My libido was shot, obviously, which caused a major upset between my husband and me. This brought on the anxiety that he would soon find me so undesirable that he would eventually leave me for someone better. 

What was the solution to these anxiety issues? The magic bullet was to prescribe highly addictive anti-anxiety medications in order to numb myself into becoming functioning again. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. 

What did work was having my advocates step up and let my doctors know what I was unable to get across; Nicole is way too overmedicated to the point of becoming a non-functioning zombie. The only thing she feels anymore is anxiety, and it’s debilitating. 

What ended up happening was a major drop in my meds, a complete overhaul of my “wellness plan” and a heck of a lot of research into all of my meds and their side effects. I had to become very proactive in my care, which required me to ask any and all questions regarding medications and alternative treatments. Now I do my own research as well as relying on my doctors and pharmacists. 

Anxiety hasn’t left me entirely, I still have my moments and they are brutal, but they are nothing compared to what they were when caused by the meds. I hope the lesson you take away from this is to make sure you are well educated when it comes to everything you choose to take for your illness. Know what can happen and have a plan for how to deal with it if it does. A well informed person is a healthier person.

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