The musings of a final year medical student

Thursday, 18 August 2016


Recently I have been weaning off my anti-depressants, specifically a SSRI named Sertraline. This was a decision I made with the help of my GP and my dad who is also a GP. It felt like the right time, and I would say for the last three months I have felt as if I don't really have depression - in spite of four days of OSCES, two written exams and one retake! I'm not sure if you can ever say you have 'overcome' a mental health problem, but I don't feel like I could say I truly have depression any more. Yes, I still cry occasionally and have bad days, but that is part of being human and isn't necessarily a deviation from good health.

It hasn't been easy going off these tablets. I started halving my dose, and then having half every two days. I have had a few instances where I've suddenly felt extremely sad for no particular reason. Other than that, I haven't had any unpleasant side effects like I did when I began taking Sertraline. I remember at the very beginning being on public transport and feeling very nauseous. The nausea probably lasted a good 2-3 months, enough for both my parents to suspect I was pregnant! However, that was not the case.

I read an interesting article about patients having persistent symptoms with no apparent diagnosis. I empathised, having always been prone to headaches and a sore neck. The NHS article discussed how aches and pains can be a physical manifestation of an undiagnosed mental health problem. I certainly agree with this, but I know in my case that my headaches are not related or in correlation with my state of mental health. The article went on to discuss ways of reducing generalised aches and pains, and I felt that I wanted to implement them into my day to day lifestyle. If I know I have a history of mental health problems and am currently not taking any prescribed medicinal or talking therapies, I may as well optimise my lifestyle and hopefully prevent a 'relapse'.

Here below I've made a list of (hopefully) realistic daily goals that should keep me in check.

20 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise per day

Yoga / stretching every day for about 10 minutes

Write down 5 things I am grateful for each day

Write down any obvious things that have stressed me out on that day

Drink plenty of water

Try to have better posture

Listen to one really good song a day that is really happy and cheerful

I will keep you posted as to how this goes!

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