Friday, 27 March 2015

The stigma around antidepressants

Stigma around antidepressants

Antidepressants. The drug that nobody wants to talk about, yet alone admit that they are on. I have been taking Citalopram for my depression since around June last year, and my dose was quickly escalated to the highest possible at 40mg as nothing else seemed to work. Since then I have slowly reduced my dose to 20mg, then 10mg, and have actually hopefully taken my last tablet this evening, depending on how stable my mood is over the next few weeks.

Many people believe that taking an antidepressant is a sign of weakness or an inability to deal with problems. Others think that they can be addictive or have no therapeutic value. However deciding to take medication for a mental health problem can be one of the bravest thing people decide to do. It shows that they are willing to get help, that they want to get better. It reflects that they believe that they can get better.

I was really wary about going on antidepressants to start with, but taking them has allowed me to understand my emotions and take the edge off things a little bit, in order for me to focus on getting better. Since taking a tiny pill every day I have been able to appreciate the little things in life, like the smell of flowers or a bird singing in a tree, as I am not so wrapped up in my negative thoughts all the time. My antidepressants have allowed my mood to be lifted slightly so that I can start to get some enjoyment and have little bursts of happiness. My emotions seem less tangled and confusing and I was able to start to see a way out of the darkness.

Nobody would bat an eyelid at taking medication for back pain, something you cannot see or quantify, so why is there so much stigma around medication for mental health? All antidepressants do is balance out the hormones in your brain, which when they are low can cause people to become depressed, much like the contraceptive pill to stop you from becoming pregnant.

I have never been reliant on my antidepressants. I have never felt panicked about not taking them - in fact I have been eager to come off them to prove that I am much better than I was 9 months ago. But I have also never felt ashamed to admit that I am taking them. Antidepressants have been proven to not be addictive; they are just a tool to help people when they are suffering and need a bit of help with their low mood. I firmly believe in psychological help such as counselling along with medication, but sometimes antidepressants are a necessity for those suffering with their mental health.

Stop being shocked when people tell you they are taking antidepressants, and don't assume that they are weak and vulnerable. Some of the strongest people I have met are taking medication for their mental health, and that is what helps them to keep going. Antidepressants don't change people, and they don't stop them from being themselves. They have helped me to rediscover myself and be the happy person that I normally am, all while appreciating the little things around me and being able to focus on overcoming my depression.
The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could.




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13 comments:

  1. This is an amazing post, hannah! You're dead right, it's NOTHING to be ashamed of. Just like you take pain relief for a stomach ache, these are what you take for depression. There's no difference whatsoever! I have so much admiration for you, girl. You're gonna make such a great doctor xx

    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

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    1. Thank you so much Samantha! I hope so :) xx

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  2. What a brave post. I honestly couldn't agree more. I was on medication when I was younger, but found myself quite dependant on them. I switched to counselling and honestly felt better without the tablets, but I'm so glad they work for you.
    You've really hit the nail on the head when you said they help you 'rediscover yourself'. I think people mistake people as being generally miserable, but it's almost like the happy version of you is trapped and hidden away.
    Amazing post!

    Jess
    Philocalist.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Jess. I'm so glad that counselling worked for you - it was definitely a big part of my recovery but my antidepressants did help too xx

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  3. This is a brilliant post and first of all I'm glad you're feeling well enough to be coming off them! You're so right though, there is nothing to be ashamed of. As I'm sure you know as well as me, absolutely loads of people take them - they're on so many of the drug charts and repeat prescriptions I come across. Not very many people in my life know that I was also once on antidepressants but I found them helpful for just getting me into a better place to get on with things and to manage the longer term things I needed to put in place to look after my mental health for the rest of my life.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thank you very much Jenny! I also see so many people prescribed antidepressants in clinical practice, and it really shouldn't be something to be ashamed of. I'm really glad that you got better on antidepressants and that they helped you. And it's amazing that you are in a much better place with your mental health now :) xx

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  4. Such a great post! I've been debating going onto anti-depressants, and the stigma really is a big factor- however, it shouldn't stop you from taking a positive step towards getting better!

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    1. Thank you very much Ellie! Antidepressants definitely helped me and I would recommend them if your doctor thinks they could help you too, but psychological therapy like counselling is great too. Sometimes you need one to recover, sometimes you need both. But definitely don't let the stigma stop you from taking them! xx

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  5. Such a great post! I've been debating going onto anti-depressants, and the stigma really is a big factor- however, it shouldn't stop you from taking a positive step towards getting better!

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    1. Thank you Ellie! Please don't let the stigma stop you from doing something you need, as you said if it helps you get better then it's a positive thing :) xx

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  6. I'm so happy for you :) It must be such a good feeling that you have come to a stage where you are happier not to take them. I also appreciate how you have mentioned that the treatment for depression is different for everyone but that taking antidepressants is not something that should be frowned upon. It must feel like such an accomplishment not taking them anymore but also as you said it is also an accomplishment starting to take them too. When I was diagnosed I already had my own views on antidepressants and their effects and completely refused to take them, but then when it really came down to it, I realised that I couldn't live another day the way I was at that period of time (I was in a lot of physical pain) and it did in fact help. I have tried a few now antidepressants and as much as I would like to I am not in any position to come off them unfortunately but I like how you mention that it is a big thing to come on them as well as off them :) Hope you have a lovely day! xxx

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    1. Thank you very much! I'm really glad that your antidepressants are working for you, it's such a positive step to take when you start taking them. I'm sure at some point in the future you will be able to come off them, but for now it's fine that you're taking antidepressants :) xxx

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  7. What balance. You managed to find the balance between glorifying anti-depressants and condemning them. One of the ways you did this was by defining what depression is. I think one of the reasons that anti-depressants have received a "bad name" in Christian circles is that some people take them to cope with problems when they are not truly depressed. But they are an absolute necessity for those who are chemically or Clinically depressed, and you struck the balance in that perfectly.

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