Impulsivity Can Be A Side Effect of Medication, But Is It A Good Thing?


To many, impulsivity can be a good, even a great thing. One might call it spontaneity, or productivity. However, I’m not talking about that type of impulse where you wake up one morning and decide not to go to your lecture, or decide to get that late-night order of Domino’s after a night out. This type of impulsivity is something that can’t be controlled easily, simply because it is out of your own control, beyond any measure. This type of impulse only lasts, at most, a few hours, or maybe even a whole day. It’s a side effect of the medication I’m prescribed and this impulsivity I experience is my very own high; it’s the opposite to my lows, where I just want to be left alone in a dark room.

It might sound strange, and believe me, it’s odd to me too. Going through several trials of various antidepressants, I was told from the very beginning that side effects are to be expected. However, I found myself having reoccurring spells of impulsivity. And when you go through them, you feel good: not great, not overly happy, but you feel productive. Somehow your head gets into an organised gear, something which you can’t get out of until it slowly wears away.

I first noticed it when I wrote a list of things I needed to do, which I have never done before in my life. I had the sudden urge to do all these things, get on top of my work, start doing things I hadn’t done before, and even be reckless with my money. I knew that I wasn’t my usual self, because I was spending copious amounts of money on needless things. But there I was, scrolling through the internet just looking for clothes and random things to buy. And boy, did I spend. I can easily say that I shouldn’t have done it, but at the time, I saw nothing wrong with buying myself a few nice things.

Experiencing these highs, at the time, can be great, because I actually get things done. But it’s not me – not one bit, being naturally quite lazy – but when I’m feeling productive, it’s done. Some people may mistake this for me being back to my usual self, but I see this as a side effect. Because this is not me. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it can be if you’re not careful.

I was making decisions such as getting a tattoo, making plans to go on trips, volunteering this summer, and even applying for internships in other countries. And even contemplating getting a piercing. You won’t seem to need any convincing, just do it, and worry about the consequences later.

It can be likened to a sugar rush; you feel full for energy, like you can do anything you set your mind to, and you’re going to do it, no matter what gets in your way. This can be a good way to get everyday tasks underway, but I’m afraid that maybe I’ll get carried away. But I won’t notice it. I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and feel normal, and probably won’t feel impulsive for a while, and then only when I’m on a high will I make a snap decision and try to do it.


You probably won’t notice this or think of it as abnormal, or even a bad thing to experience. But when you’ve been curled up in bed because you physically cannot get out and start your day, you’ll notice. It’ll impact how you interact with people, the little choices and decisions you make every day. Then you’ll begin to notice. Both of these moods are side effects of medication, and you’ll learn to deal with both, because you probably won’t have control over either mood. They just happen, even when you’re not expecting it. You can either be full of energy and productive, or you could be sluggish and act like a sloth all day. It just depends on the day.

Impulsivity can be a good thing – when taken in good measure. I haven’t done anything too impulsive yet; I just have to wait for that day to come, and deal with it.

More articles in Students and Mental Health
  1. Sport and Wellbeing: The Importance of Exercise for Combatting Stress, Part One
  2. Sport and Wellbeing: The Importance of Exercise for Combatting Stress, Part Two
  3. Impulsivity Can Be A Side Effect of Medication, But Is It A Good Thing?
  4. Mental Health: Ways to Get Help Over the Summer Holidays
  5. 92% of Students Report Feelings of Mental Distress
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History student and new Features Editor for 2016/17. Consumer of chocolate, of tea and vodka, voyeur of Scandinavian crime dramas , and writer...or attempting to anyway.

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