Upping My Meds Increased My RLS Symptoms

Maybe it’s this whole pandemic thing, but my antidepressant isn’t really working for me. I have a few side effects and am not feeling as jazzed as I’d like to be living in this post-apocalyptic paradise. I get overwhelmed. I get sensory overload. I have a few triggers. I don’t sleep through the night.

Antihistamines made my restless legs worse than ever

My prescriber decided the answer to my problems was to double my SSRI dose. She also put me on an antihistamine that is supposed to help with sleep. Oh, boy, did that backfire. A couple of days after starting the new meds and doses, I was not only continuing to wake up at night, but my restless legs were worse than ever, even worse than when I was pregnant.

I’d done everything right. I’d walked that day. I’d had a sensible dinner. I had taken my magnesium. I had good sleep hygiene. But at 3 AM, I was tossing and turning and writhing and aching and wiggling and shaking and tightening and raging. I got up and did some squats. I got some fresh air. I stretched and did some hip range of motion movements. Nothing helped.

Weighing my mental health against my need for sleep

As much as I try to get off my phone in the middle of the night, I had to take to the internet. I started reading articles about SSRIs and restless legs. I found out many doctors don’t recommend antihistamines for people with severe restless legs. I thought I’d be immune. I thought my restless legs weren’t that bad. I thought my need for mental health was greater than a little wiggling at night. But this was out of control. The lack of sleep made everything worse, too.

Finding the right treatment plan for me

I sent a 4:30 AM email to my prescriber. She called me the next day. I told her about my amateur research and she corroborated it. My best friend, a psychiatrist, while not giving me medical advice per se, had validated my feelings about being frustrated with the balance between restless legs and mental health.

My prescriber and I came up with a plan for me to step down from the SSRI. I could stop the antihistamine without issue but needed to be mindful about getting off an SSRI without feeling like absolute garbage. In about a week, I’ll start a new drug, one that has good data about RLS and anxiety and depression coverage.

My RLS is real, and my mental well-being is precious

My prescriber double-checked my latest lab work to make sure my iron was okay (it is) and didn’t seem all that pleased with having to change my plan again. I don’t care. Sleep is precious. My mental well-being is precious. They are connected.

I thought my RLS wasn’t severe enough to impact the other areas of my health. I’m frustrated that I have to modify my medicine to accommodate my restless legs, a condition that, until recently, I thought wasn’t even real. It’s real. It’s making itself known. But I’m the captain of my ship, not my legs. I will find a way home to my truest, best, most effective and peaceful self.

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