Taking Melatonin, Fluoxetine and Sertraline
- Anxiety and phobias
- Sleep problems
It was January 2010 when I had my first sleepless night – little did I know there would be two more years worth to come...
After numerous appointments with my GP, I was prescribed Temazepam – a hypnotic medication used for short term treatment of insomnia. I took it, not knowing much about it, just praying that I would get more sleep...
I didn’t, but what I did get was the same amount of sleep with a splitting headache. I would take Temazepam, fall asleep for about 2 hours (no more than normal) only to be woken up feeling like my head was being split in half and would then spend the rest of the day feeling like I was asleep with my eyes open.
Very quickly after that, my referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) came through and my newly appointed psychiatrist took me straight off it, much to my relief! I was then prescribed Melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in our bodies to regulate our sleep cycle – sometimes an extra kick of it, taken in tablet form, can help us to nod off.
Although it can take a while to have an effect, it made no difference to me – I was so anxious that I was just overriding any medication that could possibly help.
With Melatonin out the window, I was prescribed Clonazepam, this didn’t have much effect on me but thankfully that meant no side effects either.
Given that none of the sedatives were helping me to sleep, and I had also recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a high functioning condition on the Autistic Spectrum), my psychiatrist decided to change direction and tackle the anxiety itself.
Firstly I was prescribed with Fluoxetine – a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (Serotonin is a hormone that helps us to feel happy, it’s released and then reabsorbed, SSRIs prevent absorption from happening as fast so there are more molecules of Serotonin to float around).
Fluoxetine helped me to feel less anxious but it gave me slight breathing difficulties as I had Asthma; because of this, I was put on Sertraline (another SSRI) and have been on it ever since.
Initially, I was a bit concerned that I would always have to depend on medication to be happy but it’s important to realise that you wouldn’t judge someone with Diabetes for having to take insulin or judge someone with Asthma for having to use an inhaler.
The good thing about taking an SSRI is that I feel much less worried and because of this I’m able to sleep more – no complaints from me! Luckily, I’ve experienced no significant side effects, apart from feeling dizzy if I forget to take it for a day, but I think that’s minor in comparison to feeling so much better.
I think it’s really important to understand that medications aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ type of thing – one medication that might be great for you might have very little impact on someone else, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong, we’re all just different! It’s also good to remember that they can take a while to start working, one tablet won’t magic your troubles away and even as they do start to help, it’s still important to have other tools in your box to help you cope.