Anyone who has taken psychiatric medication will be familiar with the meds-go-round – that process of trial and error whereby you start a medication, realise the side effects are not worth it, switch medication again and hope the side effects on the new one aren’t as bad.
I have been on sertraline (Zoloft) for around two years now and thankfully it has been a good match for me. It slightly elevates my mood, but not in any detrimental way. In truth, I think I’ve only had one major side effect on this medication – and it’s been kind of fun!
Sertraline gives me incredible dreams. Drugs.com reports that abnormal dreams as a side effect has an incidence rate of 0.1% – 1%, making it rather uncommon. Having Googled for others’ experiences of dreaming on sertraline I realise I’m not the only one having these night-time adventures.
Sometimes the dreams stay with me after I’ve woken up, and I can recount them in the same way I can tell my husband about my day at work. Other times they leave my head upon waking and it isn’t until something reminds me of them during the course of waking life that they come flooding back, as though they are memories of real things that have happened.
The ones I remember fully are totally vivid and real; right down to being able to feel things and smell things within the dream. I have been on the battlefield in World War 1 (totally terrifying) and I’ve climbed Mount Everest. There are still bizarre elements to them; especially the ones involving sexual encounters.
Other dreams don’t leave such a conscious impression. I remember one occasion in which I was surprised that my hair was still long when I looked in the mirror; I had a distinct memory of having it cut to chin-length. I’ve also been mad at my husband because of rows we’ve ‘had’. It isn’t until I talk to him about it that I realise the memory of the argument is actually a remnant of a dream.
One of the more upsetting incidents was when I spent a morning distraught over the loss of my Nanny Noo. For about four hours I mourned her, until something made me doubt myself and I asked my husband if it was real. The relief I felt when he told me that I had dreamed it was unbelievable.
I’ve had the whole Inception experience too. I’ve woken up into another dream a few times, and it isn’t until something truly bizarre happens that I either realise it’s a dream or wake up for real.
The dreams don’t really bother me too much anymore. It is weird and unsettling, sure, but as side effects go I’ll happily take this one over anything physical. I’ve come to enjoy most of the dreams, and have recurring characters within them now that I actually look forward to seeing, as though they’re old friends.
I’d be interested to know if any of you have experienced anything like this on sertraline or other SSRIs. Connect with me on Twitter (@dontsayimcrazy) or in the comments below.