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I Went On Antidepressants For Postpartum Depression And Got Fired

11/17/2015 12:05 EST | Updated 11/17/2016 05:12 EST
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colorful assortment of pills...

Getting fired is fun.

I knew it was coming.

I just couldn't hold down a regular job while still battling postpartum depression. I tried, but it didn't work.

I was constantly late and constantly absent. I lacked motivation. I hated the thought of spending the day in an office.

I just wanted to stay home in my pjs and watch Netflix, which I did on many occasions.

So inevitably, I was fired last Monday. And I don't care. In fact, I don't seem to give a shit about anything these days. And that's concerning.

I'm your quintessential Type A: ambitious, energetic, eager, goal-oriented, a go-getter, and uber passionate about everything. I can also be anxious, compulsive, consumed, controlling and obsessed and my personality type is probably one of the reasons I succumbed to postpartum depression -- twice. It got so bad this time around; I had to go on meds. And though I'm grateful they put an end to my daily panic attacks, I feel like the pendulum has swung too far the other way into the land of lethargy and inertia.

Thankfully, I'm motivated enough to get to the bottom of this mystery just because I recognize this is so unlike me to be feeling this way.

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Antidepressants and Low Motivation

An article published in 2010 in the Journal of Psychiatry states: "Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor exposure has been occasionally associated with both behavioral apathy and emotional blunting."

That's a good way to describe it. I also happen to be on a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI for short.

In a 2002 study, 80 percent of patients on antidepressants participating in the research reported experiencing the "blunting of emotions" while on meds. In a 2004 study, about 20 percent of patients on SSRIs reported feeling apathy while 16 percent described what they were going through as "a loss of ambition." In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, nearly 40 percent of people on antidepressants involved in the study said they were experiencing a lack of motivation.

After a bit more research, I discover that there's actually several names for what I've been feeling lately: Amotivational Syndrome; Apathy Syndrome; SSRI-Induced Apathy Syndrome; SSRI-Induced Apathy; and Antidepressant Apathy Syndrome (AAS).

AAS is a dysfunction of the frontal lobe as a result of the alteration of serotonin levels. Though it happens frequently, AAS goes unnoticed by patients and doctors because it comes on so gradually.

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So what can be done about it?

Treatment

According to the literature, in order to increase motivation while on medication, doctors can either:

1. Reduce the dose;

2. Add another drug; and/or

3. Change drugs

As a nutritionist, yoga instructor and life coach, I know there are also many other things I can do to help boost my motivation naturally.

Five Natural Ways to Increase Motivation While on Antidepressants

1. Food

Foods loaded with tyrosine increase dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps us stay motivated. According to Nutrition Data, foods highest in tyrosine include: Seaweed, spirulina, salmon, shrimp, tuna, pike, cod, turkey, pork, quail, buffalo, elk, cheese, eggs, mustard greens, and all kinds of seeds.

2. Probiotics

Our gut is full of neurotransmitters and if you've ever taken antibiotics, especially during or after labour, (which I did), your gut bacteria may be out of balance and contributing to low dopamine so I can either take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, and kombucha (watch for caffeine).

3. Exercise

Exercise boosts our feel-good neurotransmitters. I actually joined a gym with good intentions a few months ago and went once. Maybe I'll get back in there this week.

4. Meditation and Yoga

Seems like a contradiction but meditation and yoga are supposed to actually increase dopamine levels while inducing relaxation. I used to be an avid meditator and yogi after the birth of my first and I've often credited meditation and yoga with curing my PPD the first time but surprise, surprise, I just don't feel like doing it now! Did I mention I'm also a yoga instructor?

5. Take up a new hobby

Funny, I have taken up a new hobby of late -- watching marathon reruns of Mayday aviation disasters.

I'll try my best while I wait to see the doc.

If I feel like it.

Five Natural Ways to Boost Motivation While on Antidepressants