Why It’s Okay To Go On Antidepressants [Let’s Discuss]
The moment you tell someone you’re on antidepressants, you risk being subjected to the kind of reception that vegans will be all too used to. People can quickly become medical experts who will suddenly reel off reasons x y and z about why you should reconsider your decision and the health implications it comes with. It’s no secret that antidepressants often get a bad press: this is due to a lack of understanding about both the condition and the medication itself. People sometimes say that they merely mask underlying issues, or that if you’re depressed then perhaps you should just drink less alcohol, get more sleep and work exercise into your routine. Failing that, you should try to get to the core of your depression through talking therapies or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This advice is usually offered with good intentions and sometimes these routes alone will suffice, but sometimes they will not. It’s all well and good telling someone to get more sleep and exercise, but if they are suffering from clinical depression it can be very difficult for them to even motivate themselves to get out of bed, let alone go for a run. That’s before we even consider the link that depression can often have with insomnia.
People are different, and different things work for them. Waiting lists for therapy can often be up to six months, and if you want to go private it comes at a high cost, which makes it unfeasible for many people. There is no need to be ashamed if you feel like you need a little extra help – this doesn’t make you weak. As the common comparison goes, if you broke your leg, you wouldn’t just expect it to heal on its own without any plaster, and mental health is no different. Clinical depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) slowly build your serotonin reserves up so that you are better equipped to deal with everyday life and the challenges it brings. Contrary to popular belief, most brands aren’t addictive in the long run, and once you’ve corrected the imbalance, with the help of your GP you can wean yourself off of them to minimise withdrawal side effects and resume life as usual. Thus, the idea that you’ll get a false sense of happiness from taking antidepressants which will disappear when you stop taking them is another myth which needs to be dispelled.
I spent my life watching someone close to me on various brands of antidepressants, and perhaps this is what originally prohibited me from considering it. In my mind I was firm that I didn’t like what medication appeared to do to people and I didn’t want my identity to be compromised. However, the truth of the matter is that medication affects people differently. There are a myriad of brands available in case you find that one doesn’t work for you. It’s completely natural to get unpleasant side effects for the first week or two, but if you stick it out and find that it is still not working for you, you can go back to your GP and try something else. Or if anti-depressants aren’t for you, that’s fine too. What is not fine is not even considering them based on misconceptions about them. We need to work harder in society to fight the stigma against mental health, and allow people to feel comfortable and confident in seeking out the help that they need, whatever that may be.