diaryofthemenopause

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Insomnia and Antidepressants

on November 7, 2016

I’m now 2.5 years into my surgically induced menopause and have resisted HRT completely so far.  Purely a personal choice and I can easily see why it’s a choice taken up by the masses.

When I first started this journey, I expected the hot flushes to be the deciding factor in me jumping into the unopened box of HRT I was given after the operation.  The thing I’ve found about the hot flushes, is they do eventually pass.  Don’t get me wrong, they are by no means a walk in the park.  You may know how long they last (in my case up to 5 minutes), but those minutes can be the longest of your life when you feel you are burning up from the inside out.  The heat consumes you and becomes the one and only thing you can think about.  I get through them with layers, but have almost had a full blown panic attack in a shop before now when I was carrying a lot of bags and had on a thick coat, and couldn’t get anything off me quick enough to calm me down and start the cooling process.

The last 2.5 years have taught me there are worse things to have to deal with, but the one which has got me the closest to giving up and taking HRT is the insomnia.  From asking around friends who have chosen to go back on them after the age of 50, this is their deciding factor.  I’ve not had a great year, it seems to have been one thing after another after another, with a lot of big events in my life.  Losing my best friend to breast cancer topped off my year.  I stopped sleeping.  I’d be falling asleep on the sofa, go up to bed, get ready and the second I lay in bed my brain would shout “Fooled You!”

A NIGHT OF INSOMNIA

First you generally go through lists, what’s to be done, what should you have done today, what do you need to do tomorrow.  You then realise you should keep your brain quiet if you want to get to sleep.  Lay on your front.  Lay on your side. Lay on your back.  Lay on your other side.  Let’s try the front again.  Let’s try curling up in a ball.  Duvet on.  Duvet off.  Damn. Now I need the toilet.  Up to the toilet, well that’s just woken me up again.  What am I doing for tea tomorrow?  Who is here?  Oh I forgot to get milk today.  Oh look, it’s midnight.  If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 6 hours sleep.  Let’s try the front again, I nearly fell asleep on my front.  It’s 1am, if I fall asleep now I’ll get 6 hours sleep.  Front isn’t working.  I need the toilet again…… and so on.

After about 3-4 weeks of this I decided I needed help.  Initially because of the year and other symptoms caused probably by the menopause, I’m not 100% sure, I was diagnosed with Anxiety and put on antidepressants.

Weeks 5 and 6 had me in the bathroom at 2am crying.  I was so very, very tired.  I just wanted to sleep.  Why can’t I sleep.  By then you do start having some really horrible thoughts.  During the day I was exhausted and restless. Every breath annoyed me.  I think this perpetuated the anxiety.  Needless to say with no improvement I had my antidepressants changed to ones which should help me sleep.

MIRTAZAPINE

I was put on 30mg.  I was warned they give you a hangover feeling.  I did start sleeping better, but the mornings were horrendous.  It was like being lost in a thick fog with no map.  It took me anything up to 4 hours to get even barely functioning.  But I was sleeping.  In the end I found the mornings weren’t getting any easier and if I had to carry on fighting myself every morning to function, I’d rather have the insomnia.  My GP was talking about increasing the dosage and for me to stay on it throughout winter.  In the UK they don’t take you off antidepressants over winter.  She said they can then lower it if I continue to improve in the spring.  I decided to try and see if I could still sleep on 15mg, but not have the hangover.  I’m now 2 weeks into my experiment.  I sleep fine and no thick fog and 4 hours to function when I do wake up.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND THE MENOPAUSE

I’ve done some more reading and antidepressants are being used more and more for menopausal woman, in place of HRT.  They are supposed to make the symptoms less severe, particularly the hot flushes.  I can’t say Mirtazapine has made them any less severe, but at least I’m sleeping so I can deal with things a lot better.

MENOPAUSE OR MENTAL ILLNESS

The more I’ve been looking into things lately, the more I think I do have menopausal symptoms rather than depression or anxiety.  It’s now winter here where the nights are longer than the days.  This is the start of 4 bad months for me anyway but I’ve set myself a target to go out for a walk every morning I can, so I can get at least 30 mins in the natural sunlight, as I’ve read that’s the best time for the sunlight in winter.  We will see.  I need to make another GP appointment this month, so will discuss then if it’s possible all my symptoms are just the menopause.

 

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One response to “Insomnia and Antidepressants

  1. I am so glad and relieved to be a man!

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