Medication for your mental health can be a controversial and touchy subject. Some people veer toward the anti-medication side, while others are big proponents of doing whatever works for you best to manage mental health concerns. I personally am in support of medication for anxiety, depression, and other issues as long as the individual wants it and it works for them.

Much like if you were sick with a cough and took cough medicine, I think mental health issues should be approached with the same mentality. Mental health is just as important as physical wellbeing and the two can often be interlinked. 

I myself have had my fair share of experience with anxiety and depression medication. I was on Prozac, then Effexor, and now I am back on a higher dose of Prozac. From trying these medications, I can honestly say that different medications can affect people differently.

For example, on Prozac, I didn’t experience any negative side effects and I still don’t. However, Effexor, although it is considered a more fast-acting anxiety medication and antidepressant, didn’t work well for me. Instead, I had a lot of negative side effects such as increased anxiety and insomnia. The moral of the story is that everybody is different and there is a lot of trial and error involved in finding the right medication for you. 

In general, combination anxiety and depression medication SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) affects the human body in several key ways. SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin (the chemical that promotes happiness) in the brain. SSRIs do so by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons.

Prozac, the medication I take, is one of such SSRIs that psychiatrists use to treat generalized anxiety and depression. People generally take these medications every day and they take four to six weeks to relieve symptoms. Some side effects that can result from SSRIs commonly are insomnia, agitation, dry mouth, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, sexual dysfunction, etc. These side effects all depend on how your individual body reacts to the medication. 

I, for example, have only experienced some mild nausea due to my Prozac, that usually only occurs when I take my pill on an empty stomach. The benefits of Prozac on my body and feeling of general wellbeing have been astronomical in comparison. I remember within a few weeks of when I first started taking Prozac, I felt a dramatic difference. I felt like I had emerged from a fog of depression and my anxious thoughts significantly decreased. It felt like someone had calmed all the negative thoughts and criticisms in my head and made them less noticeable. 

How any medication used to treat mental health problems affects you varies widely based on the individual. The only way to safely know what medication would be best for you is by consulting your doctor, psychiatrist, or a licensed mental health professional. Some people don’t need medication. However, for others, such as myself, medication in combination with therapy has been the pathway to completely transforming my life. I never realized before that other people didn’t have to work as hard as I did just to get through the day, and I learned that with these medicines, daily life wasn’t terrifying and impossible.  

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.