Aine's story: 'I was unaware of potential adverse effects to my prescribed antidepressants'
"I've suffered from anxiety most of my life. About 10 years ago I started to get panic attacks. I was prescribed the antidepressant SSRI Citalopram and was on it for about three years. Initially it did seem to help. However, I was unaware of potential adverse effects.
In the summer of 2008, I went into mania psychosis while on the SSRI. Psychosis is a temporary loss of touch with reality. There was a spiritual aspect to my experience. I wasn't violent. I live in a culture that lacks empathy and understanding of such experiences, even more so seven years ago.
I ended up admitted to a psychiatric hospital without being involved in that decision. I did have more insight into what was going on than people seemed to realise. I found the initial admission to hospital very traumatic, even more distressing than the symptoms I was experiencing.
I was never told that antidepressants could cause these symptoms, despite the evidence that is out there. Knowing this would have helped immensely, especially with the social stigma.
I was quickly given the label "bipolar", which should not happen when the drug can be causing the symptoms.
While some tranquilisers can offer relief to a person when used short-term, I was unnecessarily put on several strong and potentially damaging drugs long-term. These drugs were very sedating.
I slept half the day and had a poor quality of life.
A turning point was when I connected to the right doctors and went to see Prof Ivor Browne who listened to my human story and gave me a new perspective. Ivor worked in a methodical way. He told me I was not "mentally ill", which was quite liberating.
It's been a difficult seven years. My career ended, which created another set of problems.
The whole experience has affected some of my personal relationships. I use WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) in my recovery and benefit from self-awareness, rest, yoga, meditation, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, journaling and talk therapy. Support from others is vital.
Any changes to the drugs a person is on needs to be made slowly and under the supervision of a doctor.
I am now off most of the drugs nearly four years. In the first two years I was prone to relapse as my body readjusted to being off prescribed psychoactive drugs.
I no longer go into mania psychosis, which is a major step in my recovery journey.
I'm hoping others may learn from my story. I engage with the mental health system through a number of initiatives in the hope of bringing about change.
Certain changes such as an open dialogue approach can make such a difference to the person in emotional distress."
Aine O'Beirne was prescribed an SSRI antidepressant 10 years ago. Three years later she went into psychosis and hasn't been able to work since