There's always a story floating around the Internet defending antidepressants against the misconceptions people have about them. But it's more rare to find a story defending the people who take antidepressants against society's misconception of them. As someone who's taken antidepressants, and who openly talks about depression and anxiety on the Internet, I'm quite used to hearing people's opinions on the matter ... particularly in the comment section featuring the surprisingly widespread yet unintelligent opinion that people who take antidepressants are lazy, or other opinions regarding the consolidation and generalization of the types of people who take antidepressants. I've been told I'm a drug addict, a pill-popper, a walking red flag — I've heard it all. What's always been most striking is that people who are are not prescribed antidepressants are very quick to say that someone who is on them "has issues" rather than "has a solution".
When did it become OK to shame people for getting help? Wouldn't suffering in silence be the definition of having a problem? Because I speak so openly about my own mental health, I've had to opportunity to speak to lots of young women who have been brave enough to share their own stories. What I find so interesting is the amount of shame and stigma associated with antidepressants. When they're as popular as vitamins, why is there still so much we don't understand about them? Why do so many people hide from their spouses, friends, bosses and families that they're taking antidepressants? It's because they don't want to be wear the label that society is all to happy to slap on anyone with a prescription. The only way to change that is to just continue to participate in the conversation and continue to empower people to take care of themselves, in whatever way works best for them. Here are a few misconceptions about people who take antidepressants that we can squash while we're at it:
Everybody On Antidepressants Has Had Horrible Things Happen To Them
Mood disorders and mental illnesses are all serious because they can severely lower the quality of life, and even be fatal. But not all people who are depressed have suffered from trauma or abuse. Most people who suffer from depression suffer as a result of a complex chemical imbalance in the brain. Of course there can be obvious contributing factors leading someone to a depression, but by no means are all people who take antidepressants surrounded by death, failure, tragedy or anguish, and they don't have to be in order to have "earned the right" to take antidepressants.
Everyone Using Antidepressants Is Depressed
Antidepressants work to fight various different mood disorders and health issues. But something that many people don't know is that antidepressants are used in various other ways. Wellbutrin for example can be used to help the cessation of smoking and drinking, while other types of antidepressants work wonders on people with anxiety or eating disorders. Not everyone who takes an antidepressant suffers from depression.
People On Antidepressants Should Be Happy
They're not happy pills. They don't make people happy — they help to balance people out. They stimulate serotonin or dopamine production to make up for an existing deficit. Just because you take a pill that increases the brain hormones that contribute to positive feelings, doesn't mean you turn into a walking glass half full.
Everybody On Antidepressants Is Suicidal
Not all people who take antidepressants have experienced suicidal thoughts and not all people who take antidepressants are subject to side effects that can increase such thoughts. Many people decide to go on antidepressants for reasons beyond or aside from intense depressed feelings. While suicide and depression are both incredibly serious matters that are, unfortunately, often linked, that doesn't mean they are in all cases.
People On Antidepressants Just "Can't Deal"
Many people look at antidepressants as a last resort, but for many patients, they're a necessary first step. Not everyone who turns to prescription medication is at the end of their rope, plenty of people see a doctor at the first signs of depression and quickly work out a plan that will help them function more efficiently. It's the opposite of not dealing with it, it's one of the most proactive things you can do. Plenty of people who take antidepressants go on to live happy, healthy and balance lives because of that choice.