Just like taking any medication for your health (yes, mental health is a part of your health) to improve your quality of life, taking antidepressants or any medication for your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re still struggling to accept that, then keep reading this article (keep reading it anyway, I put a lot of time and effort into writing it).
The Stupid Things People Say About Taking Antidepressants
Taking antidepressants means you’ve failed
Failed what, exactly? Of course it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, why would it? People need to take medications for all kinds of reasons. I often take ibuprofen to help with joint and knee pains because it can reduce swelling. Does that mean I’ve failed at walking or something?
Taking antidepressants means you’re weak
How exactly does it mean you’re weak? If your body isn’t producing enough neurotransmitters to allow you to function, then you’re not weak. Just like a diabetic who needs insulin to function isn’t weak or if someone had to take medication for their thyroid. People wouldn’t bat an eyelid, even though thyroid issues can cause mental health issues (Hage and Azar, 2012). So no, depression isn’t a sign of weakness (Rethink Mental Illness) and nor is taking medication for it.
Antidepressants are just an easy fix
Dear god no, trying to find the appropriate antidepressant that works for you and doesn’t cause insufferable side effects, isn’t easy. Far from it. It can take a lot of trial and error, taking months to find one that works. Everyone’s different, so people will respond differently to different antidepressants, and that’s ok. You’re not just popping the first pill and everything is suddenly great again.
Once you’ve found an antidepressant that works for you, you can then further work on yourself without being hindered by crippling depression and a complete lack of motivation. Antidepressant aren’t a quick fix, they’re just another tool in the toolbox to help you get your quality of life back on track.
As Blurt said:
People say that they don’t want to have to take a pill to be happy. Indeed, antidepressants are often labelled ‘happy pills’. You take a pill and, boom, you’re smiling again, and the depression has lifted. This isn’t how mental health medication works. It doesn’t make us happy, it just stops us feeling quite so low, putting us back on an even-keel.
Needing antidepressant says something bad about you
Because of mental health stigma and pill shaming, people often see that taking antidepressants as a constant reminder that something’s “wrong” with them, causing shame that makes their depression worse (Cleveland Clinic). The notion that taking antidepressants suggests that there’s something wrong with you on a personal level is a beyond a joke. Antidepressants, as with other medications, are there to help us and using them doesn’t mean there’s something inherently wrong with you as a person.
Your depression is a fad
Who makes this kind of stuff up? Who “culturally” chooses to be depressed (Vice)? And then get medication for it? As I will mention in ‘How Do I Know If I need To Start Taking Antidepressant?’, there are three key criteria for distinguishing if you have clinical depression that requires medication. Someone can use other means of depression support without medication if these three aren’t in play. It’s really that simple.
Furthermore, life is tough. The generation born after the baby boomers are the first to do financially worse than their preceding generations. We work more, get paid less, everything costs more, and it’s next to impossible to buy a home nowadays. That sh*t is depressing. Working hard and having next to nothing to show for it sucks. And what do we get in return for our efforts? Reasonable pay for our labour? No, we get AmaZen nightmare wellness coffins. Instead of getting support, businesses weaponised wellness against us.
Anyway, rant over. Depression is no joke. It doesn’t take much for depression to become a chronic illness if the causes aren’t dealt with. I cannot remember a time where I wasn’t depressed. I become suicidal by the time I was eight, due to a childhood of racist abuse outside my home and emotional neglect inside my home. But I was depressed years before I became suicidal, and I’ve struggled with it my whole life. I even requested that I start taking antidepressants (mirtazapine) again, because it got so unmanageable.
My advice, don’t listen to people who say these kinds of things, and don’t listen to yourself if you’re thinking about them either. There’s nothing wrong with taking a prescription antidepressant to improve your quality of life. Don’t make life harder than it already is by denying yourself access to help.
Antidepressants will turn you into a zombie
How frightening would that be if people on antidepressant all ended up like zombies from The Walking Dead? Don’t get me wrong, there can be some tough days where you’ll feel a little out of it, but that normally passes after a few weeks. I recently started on mirtazapine, and all I wanted to do was sleep the first three days, but after that, I was back to normal.
I’m not going to lie to you. Chances are you’ll experience some pretty unwanted side effects with some of the antidepressants you’ll try. You just need to hang on. Most sides effects pass after the first few weeks, and if they don’t, talk to your doctor about trying a different one.
At the end of the day, millions of people in every country take medications for their health. In the US, the CDC reports that 48.6% of Americans were on at least one prescription drug between 2015-2018, that’s almost half the population of the US. Taking something for your mental health should be no different. If people don’t feel pill shamed for taking an aspirin for a headache or a beta-blocker for a heart arrhythmia, then you shouldn’t feel guilty or bad for taking an antidepressant. Mental health is health. I’ll say it again, mental health is health.
I take so many medications that I feel like I could start my own pharmacy. I take bisoprolol for my heart arrhythmia and chest pains, metformin for my reactive hyperglycaemia, lansoprazole for my IBS, and now mirtazapine. For a couple of weeks, I was taking naproxen for my knee problems, but had to switch back to ibuprofen. The naproxen caused diarrhoea on a scale I hadn’t seen since my colonoscopy all because I after consumed four units of alcohol the night before. I asked to start taking antidepressants because I was struggling to cope. I needed help, so I asked for help. It’s all keeping me alive and helping me function, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
How Do I Know If I need To Start Taking Antidepressants?
The three clinical signs of depression that won’t respond to talking therapy alone or long soaks in a bubble bath. It’s these three things that when you’re depressed and people tell you to go on a holiday to feel better, you just ended up on holiday feeling equally depressed. These three crucial signs of depression are:
This is a fancy way of saying you have an inability to enjoy pleasurable things that would usually cause you pleasure, or be a source of pleasure for people in general.
There’s two simple questions you can ask yourself:
- Is there anything you enjoy doing?
- Was there anything you used to enjoy?
Yet again, this is a fancy way of saying you have an unusually low level of energy. This is what makes depression synonymous with staying in bed and sleeping a lot.
There’s two simple questions you can ask yourself:
- Are you tired all the time?
- Are you staying in bed, sleeping, or napping more than you normally would?
This one doesn’t have a fancy name, luckily, as I don’t even know how to pronounce the two symptoms above. People don’t realise exactly how concentration and depression go together. It’s less day dreaming and not being able to focus on the task you’re doing, like with ADHD, and more lacking in motivation. For example, not starting your household chores even though they need to be done or avoiding meeting friends.
There’s three simple questions you can ask yourself:
- Do you find it hard to start tasks that need to be done?
- Are you cancelling plans with friends/family or avoiding making plans with friends/family?
- Does the lack of motivation affect you in other areas of your life?
Talk to your doctor about the suspicion that you might be depressed if you have trouble with any of the three criteria above, especially if it’s all three. Although there are a lot of other criteria that would also tell you if you have depression, the three above are the ones where a psychopharmacological intervention will be needed. Depression without those three can be treated without the use of medication, although using medication may still be a worthwhile option to consider.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with taking antidepressants, being depressed, and dealing with medication stigma in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Hage, M. P., & Azar, S. T. (2012). The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression. Journal of thyroid research, 2012, 590648. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/590648 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246784.
57 thoughts on “Taking Antidepressants Isn’t A Big Deal, Here’s Why”
It amazes me as to how we judge people for this, but wouldn’t treat the with them same judgment for taking insulin or heart medication.
Yet then I realize I would internalize these judgements against MYSELF and feel badly while not judging others… society has done a number on our self value.
Society has been intolerant to mental health for centuries. It’s hard to unpick that level of ingrained stigma. We just have to keep trying
You put it so well when comparing depression to conditions like diabetes. Depression is characterized by a lack of the neurotransmitters needed to feel better, so it makes complete sense to replace them with the medication that works. There is still a lot of work to be done to challenge the stigma that comes with mental illness in general and taking meds for it specifically.
The amount of times I’ve had this conversation with clients is staggering. There is zero reason to feel shame over taking medication, and society needs to accept that already
I’m so glad you’ve made a post on this topic. For such a long time, I actually avoided taking medication because of the exact perceptions you’ve described, but when I finally did, it made such a huge difference in my life and well-being.
I spent most my childhood years thinking that taking medication, any medication, even an aspirin, was weak
Thank you for this beautifully written post! I made one a year or two ago after some dude got rude at me for « not thriving to get off my medication », claiming I was made numb and/or what I felt wasn’t real but medically induced ? that’s.. not how this works. He also reffed it as being high 24/7.
Let’s be medicated and proud ?
I’ve been high for days at a time, I can safely say the two are nothing alike
There is definitely a lot of stigma about people who take anti-depressants in the media and society, but if it’s necessary it’s just like any other medication- and there shouldn’t be a stigma for needing something to help your mental health, just like with physical health
Indeed there shouldn’t be
It is a shame that some people feel embarrassed about taking antidepressants. I wouldn’t hesitate, if I developed depression, to take them. Just like I wouldn’t think anything of taking paracetamol for a headache.
I think medical science is amazing. I know antidepressants are not perfect but they have helped so many people.
Even though I’m pro antidepressant use, I still don’t feel comfortable talking to my boss or someone at work about it
Thank you for writing this post – definitely needed to read this.
Thanks for reading
A big mistake people would try to see since it’s sanative and people react differently to it. Thank you for this informative post!
Thanks for commenting
This was a really important post! I hate the fact that there are still people who think of mental health issues to be a stigma for the one who has them. My best friend has depression and was not willing to get her medication at first due to that. I have another health issue, not related to mental health, and honesty I see no difference. I have to take my medication daily as well.
Thank you for this post!
I hope your friend’s mental health improved with the use of the antidepressants
Such a good, important, well thought-out and well-written post. It’s so crucial not to stigmatise medication as it really does help some people.
Thank you. Indeed, the stigma around medication needs to disappear already
Thanks so much for writing about this important topic. I can relate to so many things you have raised here, but most importantly the stigma of taking a pill for your brain. When if we have a headache, we wouldn’t think twice about taking some paracetamol, would we? I was diagnosed with depression in 2014, and I left like I’ve failed. I think it’s because of how society makes you feel, because you’re ‘not strong anymore!’ I’ve been taking anti-depressants since diagnosed and it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to be. As you said, it really was trial and error at first. I was lay in bed for weeks and being sick, but eventually I started feeling better, and now I can function. But I still have my bad days. This is a great article for raising awareness and getting rid of the pill-shaming, that’s so unnecessary.
Thank you for sharing your experience with taking antidepressants. It’s stupid that we’re still suffering from outdated views on mental health and taking medication for it. Society needs to hurry up and change
My husband was initially reluctant to take the anti-depressants he was prescribed a couple of years ago because of the stigma other people used to get in his head about it. He was out on them to help him with his cancer diagnosis and all the stress, anxiety and depression that comes with it, but he never really got comfortable with having them because of how they are perceived. I hope this changes as nobody needs to have an opinion about what goes on between someone and their doctor. Thanks for sharing this — very informative!
I hope your husband’s cancer went into remission and he’s doing much better now
As with any medication, it is designed to help you and 100% isn’t something to be ashamed of. Thanks to medication, I’ve been able to live longer due to how it helps reduce the impact of my muscle wasting condition.
Medication and the medical field in general have come a long way. It wasn’t that long a go when ice baths to shock people into sanity was a recommended treatment
Some other concerns about anti-depressants I’ve heard are that they mess up your body chemistry and ahve horrible side effects, that you can never come off of them, that takign them means you don’t want ot do the work to get over yoru depression and only want a quick fix, that they cause more problems than they fix. I’d love to see your thorough, practical approach applied to these concerns as well. New Post idea? Thanks for sharing.
I think I addressed the quick fix myth and touched upon side effects in the process.
Taking antidepressants doesn’t mean the job is done when it comes to tracking your mental health concerns, but it can make doing the work easier. When depression exists in one of the three key areas I outlined, then it can be hard to help someone or for someone to help themselves. Antidepressants helps remove that barrier so the work can be done.
Pretty much everything we do affects our body chemistry and each antidepressant will behave differently. The majority of people who are given antidepressants are only expected to take them for a short while, it’s rare that people need to take them for life
This is a really important post! These things had to be told and people who deal with mental health issues should not be treated as they have a stigma or something. Mental health problem is just another health problem.
Such an excellent informative post! As mentioned before you write so well and research well too. It is very sad that so many are made to feel so badly for the need to be medicated for depression. It’s also very important to be aware of all side affects to the medicines prescribed. Thank you for sharing this important post.
You should always read the insert before taking any new medication, but you should also remember that the majority of side effects are very rare
Absolutely incredible post. Thank you so much! I took antidepressants for several years and can relate with soooooo much of this post. Your messages are so strong and I love how honest you are. We need more bloggers like you! Thank you for sharing another strong post. You’re helping so many people M xoxo
Thank you for your kind words ?
I hate that there’s still such a stigma around taking antidepressants. Like you say, there’s no difference between getting medication for a physical health and mental health.
One day soon, hopefully such stigma will be a thing of the past
It is so sad some people create and promote a negative attitude toward the medicine that changes many lives for the better.
Love that you have broken through the stigma surrounding ant-depressants and shared some of the important reasons why they are healing, needed, and nothing to be ashamed of. <3
Hopefully it’ll help change some opinions
Wooow you are so detailed in this and I love it. Its a really helpful blog.
I feel sad about the stigma on taking antidepressants. Taking them doesn’t mean you failed — that’s just a rude way to see it. I also liked how you discussed about when you should be taking these pills. Informative as always. Thank you for sharing this educational and motivating blog post.
The stigma around antidepressants and mental health in general, does really suck
What a well written post and you nailed it on the head. Taking any medication, whether it be for mental health or a physical condition, shouldn’t make any difference. I really hope the stigma against taking anti-depressants goes away.
Hopefully soon they’ll be treated the same
This is a great post especially for people who may be considering anti-depressants or have just started taking them. I have been on them for anxiety since I was around 20ish I think. It is nothing to be ashamed of and you have written a great post. Thank you for sharing this blog post.
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
It is nothing anyone should be ashamed of. The only people who should feel ashamed are those people that make people feel ashamed for taking antidepressants
What a well written post, so informative! Thanks for including all this information, I always find all of your posts super interesting and important to read.
Olivia | http://www.oliviaandbeauty.com
Thanks for shedding light on this mental health issue. I have heard so many say that antidepressants will get onf addicted and turned into a Zombie ?♂️. Funny ?. People are just fearful of the unknown.
I think for most people, it’s less fear and more ignorance due to never being informed about such things
I hate all the stigma behind antidepressants. I’ve been taking them for 20 years! I can function much better with them! Sometimes people need an more serotonin or a little help from an Ssri to function better mental health wise.
And there’s nothing wrong with having that extra help
Mental health stigma is really sad. Your post is gives a kind and fresh perspective.Thank you
Yeah, mental health stigma is really sad
I’ve been taking Sertraline for 6 and a half years, the first few weeks of it were horrible. Doctor said that it will get worse before it gets better and it’s true. My anxiety got worse before it showed any improvement, plus all I wanted to do was sleep. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced pill shaming myself but I can imagine how awful it is, I’m very surprised there is still so much stigma. Like you, I take many tablets, albeit the majority are vitamins and supplements but that’s because my body struggles to absorb vitamins – is that my fault?
How would people like it when they have a cold or a cough and they get mocked for taking something to help them feel a little bit better… it’s really as simple as that.
It’s a silly way to think, but some people still hold on to those views
I’ve recently had the experience of an anti-depressant not doing anything useful and causing side effects. I’ve never experienced that before and didn’t identify it as a failing of the meds. I thought I was going off my nut in a really bad way, excuse the language. When I stopped taking it and changed to another one the whole world shifted. I still can’t get over how one stupid tablet did that to me. But its the tablets that keep me balanced and functional and I do not encourage anyone to go off meds without proper medical supervision. Anti-depressants really work and I am grateful for finding the right one!
Antidepressants can really be trial and error until you find the right one, but when you do, it can be life changing. Thanks for sharing your experience