Coping with side effects can be an absolute pain in the neck. I really struggled with the side effects that my medications were giving me for the first few weeks of taking them, and it’s taken a while to get used to them or find solutions for them. So I’ve compiled a little post of how to deal with all those nasty little problems that can come hand in hand with starting new meds.
For those of you who don’t know, I take Sertraline and Quetiapine, which both come with some pretty nasty side effects. For the first couple of weeks of taking them, I felt like I had every side effect on the list. Most of them died down after a few weeks, but some of them stuck around, so I know how hard it can be to adjust to these kinds of things.
Make a list of the side effects that you notice
It can help to take a look at the (usually extensive) list that comes with your medications. List off all of the ones that you think you might be experiencing, and keep an eye on them. They might go away after a few weeks, but if they’re still lingering after a couple of months of taking your meds, you might be stuck with them for the duration of your course of medication.
Weigh up whether or not these side effects are worth the problems that the medication solves
Are the problems severe, or relatively minor? If they start to impact upon your day to day life, then the medications you’re taking might not be for you. But if they’re things that you can easily deal with, or things that you think are worth putting up with, then stick at it and see how you get on. Don’t give up too fast, because sometimes it takes a while for meds to start to do their job.
Are there ways that you can help to alleviate side effects?
Some side effects can be helped by other things. If you’re constipated, you can opt for laxatives (or even an adjustment of your diet for a more long-term solution!); if you get headaches, there’s always paracetamol or ibuprofen. Some problems can be helped – if you can’t figure out a home remedy, pay another visit to your doctor and see if they can suggest anything. Try your best to make the experience as comfortable as possible for yourself.
Adjust to fit your needs, and know your limits
Sometimes starting new medication means adjusting the way you do some things. For example, I know that I get short of breath easily and my eyes black out when I stand up, so I have to take these things into consideration when I’m getting about or doing activities. I also know that after I take my meds, I get sleepy and my body becomes very uncomfortable to be in – so I have to be in bed. They’re minor things, but they still take some getting used to, and it’s important to learn what your body needs (or doesn’t need) when you’re putting something new in there. Remember that some medications might not fit right with your body, and that’s okay. So if things get too much, talk to your doctor and see if there’s anything else that they can do for you.