Mental Health

What to Expect When Starting Antidepressants

It’s the most miserable time of the year, after all

Victoria Suzanne
3 min readJan 1
Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

With the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve over and the return to work in full swing, January is widely considered to be the most depressing month of the year.

No surprise then, that it’s a month when antidepressant prescriptions spike. So, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and starting a course of treatment here’s what to expect.

But first, an important disclaimer…

Although most of the side effects I’ll list here are common, everyone reacts to antidepressants differently. You may get some, all or none of them, and they can vary in severity from person to person. People also react differently to different drugs: what works for me may not work for you and vice versa.

The good news though, is these symptoms tend to only last for a few weeks — once your body gets used to the drugs, they’ll pass.

With that out of the way, this has been my experience.

Increased anxiety

Let’s start with the worst because this is one is a real shitter. You can expect an uptick in anxiety upon starting antidepressants — wildly counterintuitive if you’ve been prescribed them for anxiety, I know.

When I started on Sertraline I felt greater-than-normal anxiety for the first week. Notably so, as I hadn’t really been anxious at all before. Episodes were mild and passed quickly.

However. Just to prove the point the different drugs work differently for different people, it was totally different when I briefly switched to Citalopram: fully fledged panic attacks for three solid days. I don’t know how long it would have lasted; I couldn’t hack it and stopped taking them.

This shouldn’t put you off — I know people for whom Citalopram was a life-saver with no negative side effects whatsoever. You might have to try a few different drugs to find the one that’s right for you.

I also appreciate that’s easier said than done though; I’m lucky I got on well with the first one I tried and knew I could go back to it. If my first…



Victoria Suzanne

NCTJ-qualified journalist and editor. Follow my true crime publication @Crime-Scenes.