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19 men discuss antidepressants
Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists

When it comes to mental health, everyone deals with things differently - which means that different treatments work for different people. While some people get by with self-care and coping mechanisms, others benefit from therapy, psychiatry, and medication. However, there's a stigma around medication. People often look at it as a 'last resort', even though it can be the first - and best - means of help for many. spoke to 19 different men about taking antidepressants to see how it benefited their mental health, and to hopefully give advice and support to those currently contemplating medication themselves.

Duncan 40

, has depression from PTSD Duncan was first prescribed antidepressants in 2014, after being diagnosed and prescribed them by his GP. He'd broken down in tears in his office when visiting to discuss stress and erectile dysfunction.

Quickly, the conversation moved onto the ongoing stresses in his marriage, including dealing with his wife's mental health issues. Duncan said: 'I had side effects of vivid dreams, light sleep which wasn't restful and of feeling drowsy until late morning. The side effects varied depending on when I took the medication. I was then moved to an other antidepressant and didn't have any side effects. 'I was on the antidepressants for about a year.'

'The antidepressants have been very helpful to me, allowing me to continue working, continue providing for my family and to look after my children during a family breakdown. 'They have stabilised my mood, yet the dosage is low enough that I still experience the fluctuations in mood. This should stand me in good stead when I come off them. 'I would recommend medication to people with mental illness. Antidepressants, if appropriate, or other medication depending on the illness. I also went through counselling from January 2017 to September 2017 which was very beneficial.'

Adam, 18

, has social anxiety and depression Adam was first prescribed antidepressants last September by his GP. For a number of months leading up to this he had been feeling 'terrible' in himself after leaving college and not working. 'I felt a failure to myself and others close to me', he said.

Adam was prescribed Fluoxetine, which made him experience a number of side effects including tiredness, weight loss, and night sweats. Though they haven't made a huge difference to Adam's wellbeing, he said he would still recommend them to anyone suffering with depression or anxiety. He said: 'Having been on antidepressants for around seven months, I cannot say that they have made a massive difference - but I have had some progress in terms of my confidence and doing new things. 'If someone is suffering with their mental health, I would recommend taking antidepressants.

Alongside therapy/counselling, I feel like these are suitable steps to improving our mental wellbeing.'

John Paul, 38

, has anxiety and depression 'I was diagnosed five years ago,' he said. 'About three years ago it was chronic depression for about six months. My original diagnosis was from my GP and have seen a couple of psychiatrists since then as well as regular visits to a GP. 'I was put on Fluoxetine and have been on it consistently.

I recall being told not to expect much to happen for the first few weeks after first taking it but I distinctly remember experiencing a dramatic relaxation around my chest within 48 hours of starting treatment. 'It made me realise how tense I have been up until then. It was such a relief. I do wonder if it was the placebo effect in that I was seeking help so my body naturally began to relax.'

John says since taking the antidepressants his 'anxious, negative and panicked thoughts' have reduced.

Paul, 29

, also has depression and anxiety He was first prescribed antidepressants in 2013. They were prescribed by his GP, who he had gone to see following an 'overwhelming feeling of fatigue and melancholy'. He said he'd lost the majority of his enthusiasm and felt 'plagued by fatalistic feelings'.

Paul said: 'I have generally been lucky and not experienced side effects from the vast majority of the medication I've been prescribed. 'It's only relatively recently I've seen side effects at all, and even then that's been on a relatively high dosage of the latest medication I've been given. 'I've been on varying courses of antidepressants for most of the last five years now. Whilst different medications have been more or less helpful, I can wholeheartedly assert I would be an absolute wreck without them.

'While we have been searching for a combinations of treatments that will improve my quality of life, the medications I have been on have made it possible for me to cope which I could not do without them, as I have discovered to my cost when I have accidentally missed several doses.' He added: 'I will not pretend they are a magical cure-all, nor do they necessarily function to their fullest without other treatments such as therapy. But they have honestly been life-changing for me, and I do not regret taking them for a moment.'

Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists

Gareth, 42

, has bipolar disorder When it comes to bipolar disorder, you have to be very careful when taking antidepressants, as they can send you into mania. Most mental health professionals will recommend a mood stabiliser or anti psychotic alongside an antidepressant. 'I have had 27 different antidepressants, first one was sertaline.

The GP gave them to me. They helped for around four to six months, which is my experience of all the antidepressants I've been on,' said Gareth. 'They took the edge off my depression. All I would say is try antidepressants, if they work for you, great. If not go back and try another.'

Waliu, 37

, has depression and anxiety He was first given antidepressants last Spring, after going to the GP expressing low and stressful feelings which he had experienced over the space of a few years, though symptoms were at their worst last year.

He said: 'Work and life balance was really bad. I even split up with my girlfriend March 2017 because I did not want her to help me in any way shape or form. 'She didn't really understand what I was going through. So it was more to protect her than it was for me. 'I was put on 50mg of Sertraline and for the first few weeks. I was rather nauseous and drowsy. So I was put on 100mg. 'They have definitely helped with my depression and anxiety. I still have my down days, but that's a given.

'I am more engaged with people around me, but I know when to keep my distance. I'm at the GP next week to look at reducing my dosage further and hopefully won't be dependent on them later on this year. 'Knowing that they are available is good should I ever relapse.'

Jasraj, 28

, also has depression and anxiety He said: 'I was first prescribed antidepressants in December 2016 by my psychiatrist. Having left my job the previous year, I completed a Masters and tried to do "my own thing" for a while. 'When it transpired that this business wasn't going to work out, I felt very lost and low - for the umpteenth time.

'Worried, mum eventually persuaded me to see a psychiatrist and - to my surprise - I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I didn't believe the diagnosis at the time. 'I feel that sertraline has, at the very least, helped to stabilise my mood. It's difficult to say how much it has helped, as I have almost always been undergoing therapy at the same time. 'I feel fairly confident that it has helped in some way at least, and is continuing to do so.'

Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists

Chris, 26

, has bipolar disorder Chris was first put on antidepressants at the age of 19 while at university. He took antidepressants for some time, though they didn't help a great deal, as he had bipolar disorder. He then moved onto a combination of mood stabilisers, which worked better. He said: 'I absolutely would (and have) recommended antidepressants to other people with mental health issues, with the proviso that it's important to work with your doctor regularly to fine tune what works for you.

'It's way more trial and error than you expect, and sometimes it takes time to find the right treatment for you - but it's out there!'

Dan, 33

, has depression He said: 'The first ever time I was on antidepressants was when I was 12 years old. I had ME and the doctor decided I needed to focus on getting happier and that may help my symptoms. It didn't. 'The first time as an adult was when I was 19. Then on and off from then on.' Dan said he experienced lots of side effects including mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and delayed ejaculation.

However, after much trial and error, he found a medication that worked for him. He said: 'I'd recommend people trying as long as possible without, as once you're on them it's hard to get off them. 'I forgot my tablets when I went away for a weekend away. I was sick and dizzy and all over the place without them. I am totally dependant.'

Reu, 24

, experienced suicidal thoughts after a family member died by suicide Rue says he didn't have any real side effects, though he's only been on antidepressants for a month. He said: 'I'd recommend people try it and see if it is for them, talk to their doctor about the different pills, whether antidepressants would work, or maybe beta-blockers may work for them.

'It's an individual experience and it may take some trial and error, so the person has to be in the place to take those chances.'

Karl, 21

, has depression 'I was prescribed antidepressants in January/February 2016, in my first year at university,' he explained. 'I'd been suffering from depression for years, and finally they were prescribed.

At the time I was ashamed of it and thought of it as an admission of defeat, my toxic masculinity was high at the time and I thought it unmanly to be taking medication (an absurd belief, looking back). 'I'm extraordinarily luckily to have next to no side effects, I've been on them since 2016 and haven't missed a day's dosage.

'They've helped me enormously in giving me a bottom that I don't fall beneath. And yes, I would absolutely recommend medication to others. It can take a while to find the right medication, the one with the least side effects, but hang in there, it's worth it.'

Tom, 33

, has social anxiety and depression Tom was first prescribed antidepressants when he was 16. He had been dealing with depression for a long time, though an incident on a family vacation triggered a breakdown, when he locked himself in the bathroom in a 'complete panic', which prompted his parents to take him to a doctor.

He said: 'I have been on various antidepressants for 17 years. They do help because they allow me to get out of bed in the morning. Without them I become a shut-in and never leave the house. 'I have gone off them several times and almost lost my job and life due to the consequences. 'I don't like that I have to be on medication for the rest of my life.

However, they do help me to live a somewhat "normal" life. I recommend them only if absolutely necessary, in cases where normal living functionality becomes impossible.'

Peter, 25

, has depression and social anxiety He said: 'I was first prescribed antidepressants in May 2016 and decided to ask for them after having several trips to the doctors the previous year and feeling like I needed some help. 'My doctor was very encouraging towards me taking them and I felt that counselling at university wasn't doing enough for my depression.

'Thus, I was prescribed fluoxetine. I experienced a couple of side effects at first, I got very tired, very lethargic and quite irritable and my sleep was a little disturbed at night as well, however I went back to the doctors and they upped my medication to 20mg which I've been on ever since, around 20 months now.

'My antidepressants have really helped me I feel. It is hard sometimes especially when depression still hits and can hit me really hard at times but I can look back at how I was before taking them and how frequent my depression was and see that I am better now, thanks in part to my therapy but also to the antidepressants. 'I would recommend them, but I would tell people to always get as much information from their doctor as possible on the side effects, on therapy and other options and understand that they are not one size fits all. 'They will often not work for some people and that's fine, but there are others out there and other options as well.'

Steve, 36

, has anxiety and depression He has been on antidepressants since November 2017, prescribed them by his doctor after a weekend when he experienced severe suicidal thoughts that he couldn't control.

He tells us: 'I saw the doctor on Monday morning and was prescribed sertraline, as well as being recommended for a referral to DAS (Depression and Anxiety Service) in Devon. Initially on a 50mg dose, that's been raised to 100mg about a month ago. 'I've not experienced any side effects that I'm aware of. I've now been on them for five months.

'The antidepressants stopped my panic attacks and have allowed me to go back outside as I'd originally stopped wanting to be in public or near crowds as that was making me anxious. 'The higher dose is working, I'm able to control my thoughts and I've not had any suicidal thoughts for a few weeks. 'They've allowed me to become more balanced within myself and I really needed that.'

Tommy, 20

, has depression He says: 'I was prescribed them two months ago by the Home Treatment Team after going to A&E having attempted to take my own life. 'I'm on mirtazapine and the only side-effects I get are: feeling groggy all day after taking one the night before due to the strong sedative; and my dreams feel so real and are often nightmares.

'The vivid dreams are better than the lack of sleep I had before them, however. 'I have been on them for two months. When I first started taking them, they really helped me to both fall asleep, and stay asleep all night. 'Now, they seem to have calmed my spikes of depression and the grogginess has worn off a little.

I do not think they would do such a great job without the assistance of therapy, though. 'I think both antidepressants and therapy, used in unison, have the greatest positive effect.' He added: 'I always refused the idea of taking medication for my mental health as I wanted to try everything, and anything, else before I went down that road. 'The road I went down, however (without taking antidepressants) was far more harmful to me - I tried to kill myself twice; my closest friends abandoned me because it was too much for them; and I hurt my family.

'I would recommend antidepressants to other people with mental illness, but make sure that they aren't the only thing you use/depend on, if you can.'

Alex, 24

, has generalised anxiety disorder Alex has been on antidepressants since 2014. They were prescribed by his GP after he suffered with his anxiety since childhood. 'At 21 I had a major mental health relapse which led me going to see my GP being put on a waiting list for IAPT as well as starting on Citalopram,' he said. Unfortunately,

Alex experienced lots of side effects on the medication. He said: 'Dry mouth, tiredness, sexual health problems especially around inability to maintain erections and problems ejaculating. Nightmares which increased as the months went on to a point where basically every night I woke up screaming in a deep sweat.

'I was on Citalopram for almost a year but changed due to the side effects. The nightmares were the final straw. 'I went through a period of trying various other antidepressants which had other side-effects and didn't help but I am now finally on a good combination of Venlafaxine and Clonazepam which has helped me massively over the past year or so.'

Alex says he would recommend antidepressants to others suffering with anxiety. He said: 'I think it should be everyone's choice as to what they feel comfortable with and certainly shouldn't come as a substitute for talking therapy and other treatments and people should be aware of the side-effects. 'But they can and do help massively and the current medication I am on has made managing my anxiety and depression a lot easier.'

David, 30

, has depression He tells 'I was first prescribed antidepressants when I was 23 by my local GP. I had seen depression in people close to me and so was familiar with the symptoms. 'I think I'd been depressed for a few years, but didn't want to admit it to myself for a long time.

Eventually I reached a point where I felt suicidal, and knew I needed to arrest the decline. 'I had to try a couple of different types of antidepressant due to mild side effects with the first (Citalopram, which made me feel too emotionally flat and messed with my sleep), and quite bad side effects with the second (I forget its name, sapped me of all energy so I literally just lay on the floor). 'I'm now on fluoxetine, which gives me restless legs and has killed my sex drive a bit, but nothing too severe.'

He added: 'It's not something you can blanket recommend as people will respond differently, but I definitely recommend considering antidepressants if you think it might help. 'I've spoken to numerous people who have been quietly considering it, but are frightened of terrible side effects or being turned into an emotionless zombie. 'The truth is that with proper consultation, they can make a huge difference, and it's a shame that these ideas put people off.'

Donald, 56

, has depression He said: 'I was prescribed them shortly after a sort of breakdown in 1997, where I ran away to the US to get away from thoughts of suicide, paranoia and loneliness. 'It's hard to know whether I had side effects or not. The doctor at the mental health clinic in North London said the drugs would take a couple of weeks to take effect but almost immediately I began to feel fuzzy and disassociative.

'I blamed the drugs, the doctor, and stopped taking them about a week in. 'I have never taken any since, my treatment for depression was cognitive behavioural therapy, which was excellent.'

Pietro, 26

, who has anxiety and depression He was first prescribed antidepressants in 2011, after having a breakdown. Side effects for Pietro included nausea and feelings of anger, and the inability to sleep properly. He said at first the medication made him feel worse and he stopped taking them for a period of time.

He's been back on them again for two months and feels a lot better since re-starting them. He explained: 'I feel my mood is more stable, I sleep and eat better and my appetite is back to normal. They take the edge off my anxiety and make it feel manageable. 'I would recommend them but they come with side effects and I always feel they shouldn't be your only option. It's not an easy decision but I feel they do have benefits.'

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