There’s a fascinating article on the affect of antidepressants on creativity in the latest issue of Mslexia, a magazine for women who write.
In the article ‘Waving or Drowning?’ writer Faridah Newman trawls through what little research there is on the topic and also refers to anecdotal evidence and the results of a Mslexia survey on women writers with depression who had taken antidepressants.
Depression and Writers
Depression is an affliction that is synonymous with writers, particularly female writers. Think Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, JK Rowling, Marian Keyes, Anne Sexton. All extremely successful women writers who experienced debilitating bouts of depression. In the case of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Anne Sexton that depression led to suicide.
Sometimes depression can be so severe that all creativity is out of the question. In an article in the Daily Mail, Marian Keyes describes how she ‘was suffering a depression so severe I couldn’t sleep, read, write or talk’.
Some women writers who responded to the Mslexia survey described how depression fuelled their creativity, helping them to achieve deeper insights in their writing.
Do Antidepressants Affect Creativity?
Taking antidepressants made no difference to Marian Keyes, but for some writers anti-depressants meant they were able to get out of bed in the morning and function.
Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of anti-depressants is ‘mood flattening’ where one feels on an even keel but unable to experience emotional highs and lows. This can also make it difficult, if not impossible, for some writers to get in touch with their creative drive and feel motivated enough to write.
Respondents in the survey described how their desire to write disappeared when their depression lifted and blamed this on the effect of antidepressant medication.
Anti-depressants can also have a major effect on energy levels, with tiredness and low energy affecting the ability to be creative.
In my own experience, anti-depressants enabled me to function and return to a more motivated state of being. Whether or not they made me more creative is debatable, but in my darker days I would not have been able to write without them.
If you’ve noticed an effect on your creativity when taking antidepressants I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment in the box below.