Today I’ve not been very well and after spending most of the day on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, I thought I’d do something semi-productive and take the opportunity to do a new blog post. It’s been a while!
Today’s post is all about anti-depressants and other mental health prescriptions that often come with a stigma attached to taking them. I thought, as someone who takes them regularly, I’d tackle a few myths and spill a few truths on what it’s really like to take anti-depressants and why you shouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctors if you feel you need them.
Myth #1 – Antidepressants are basically ‘happy pills’:
While antidepressants are ultimately used to treat depression and make you happier overall, they can also be used to ease anxiety, control your emotions and essentially bring you closer to a healthier state of mind.
Depression has 3 main causes: 1) emotional 2) social and 3) a chemical imbalance in the brain. The 3rd one is what antidepressants treat – the other two parts take time and is often led by the individual.
Myth #2 – Antidepressants work instantaneously:
If only that was true! Antidepressants tend to take at least a month to start feeling some sort of effects. Everyone is different, some feel it after a month, some feel it after 3 and some don’t feel it at all.
Like any illness, it might take a bit of trail and error to find something that works for you and unfortunately, taking anti-depressants or any other mental health perscription is only the start of your journey to recovery so you do have to be patient and trust you’ll get better in the long run.
Myth #3 – The only way to treat depression is with antidepressants:
While I’d recommend anyone who is suffering from depression to go consult with their doctor to decide a treatment plan, you may choose to not take medication all together and that’s totally fine. There are many methods of treating depression that do not require medicine – it depends on the severity of your illness and the support you have around you. I personally don’t think I’d be as well as I am today without the help of antidepressants, but I know other friends of mine who have used exercise, mindfulness and therapy alone to treat their depression.
Myth #4 – Once you’ve taken antidepressants, you can’t come off them:
In an ideal world, antidepressants are meant to be a temporary measure but like all illnesses some mental health issues are more severe than others. I came off my antidepressants around July last year and was back on them again at Christmas. I have had a conversation with my doctor about staying on them for longer this time and taking my dosage down over a longer period of time to prevent relapse.
The truth is, no one really wants to be on antidepressants and a supportive doctor/ support system will work and listen to you to try and work out what’s best for you and ultimately help you cope so you don’t rely upon them for a healthy mental state of mind.
Myth #5 – Antidepressants makes you crazier than before you were on them:
First of all – this goes back to everything I’ve ever said about mental health carrying a negative stigma. Anti-depressants can have some mild side effects – mainly that it can make you feel worse for the first few weeks of taking them. In some people it can cause mood swings or a bad tummy. Obviously I can only speak about my experience related to depression but I did not have any side effects other than I still felt pretty shit for the first few weeks.
I think the main thing you should take from this post is that you should not let other people’s naive opinions affect your road to recovery. Your health is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than what they think and if they think that they’re also NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH to be in your life.
Positive of the day: While physically I feel pretty rough today, mentally I’m feeling good at the moment and am very appreciative of my friends (particularly the 3 that came to visit over the weekend).