Tuesday, 12 February 2013

To medicate or not to medicate

I woke up this morning to find the following exchange waiting for me on twitter:

  1. RT  People say meds are a crutch. So is a crutch, but you wouldn't take it away from someone with a broken leg 
  2.   I am seriously concerned that meds will stop me from being productive. Successful research is all I have to hope for.
  This is a concern I've heard many researchers express. , you want to help field this one?

I started medicating early January. I was worried when I started whether medicating would remain sensible, what with my intense reliance on my brain and my creativity for my work, exactly like LeSabot here worries.

For me, with a history of manic-spectrum issues in addition to my depression, there is the additional worry that SSRIs may actually trigger manias if you are unlucky enough.

So I went into medication with a pretty vigilant mind. On the lookout for Things That Might Change Me. I figured that in the worst case scenario — drugs are actively counter-productive — it's worth losing, say, 3-4 months to find out whether they could have worked or not. And the best case scenario removes so much sadness, anguish, and problems that investing in this test is worthwhile doing.

I have been at it for a bit over a month now, and finally the side-effects are starting to wane. First month on meds was kinda shitty — I still had bad moods, but I ended up having a very flat, apathetic approach to both my moods and everything else. I have not had any significant mania-spectrum events. 

And what's most likely important to this discussion: so far, about a month into daily medication with fluoxetin, I have not noticed any change in my intellectual prowess. I pushed out two papers since medication started — one SIGGRAPH submission (which honestly was pretty punishing in stress levels and workloads) and one arXiv preprint — and more than anything, the medication frees up parts of my brain that were working on keeping my emotions in check.

I'm not sure whether I end up more productive now. But at the very least, I can say with confidence, SSRIs have certainly not made me less productive.

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