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Why I'm Not Ashamed to Take Antidepressants

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

In an age when everyone is encouraged to talk about mental health, recovery seems to be our biggest problem. The media portrays therapy, rehab and medication as personal failures — a total dependency on an outside force in an attempt to be “fixed.” The damaging stigma surrounding antidepressants has led to people feeling ashamed for taking medication. I know some people refuse to take it at all because they feel it makes them weaker.

It’s time we stopped demonizing the use of antidepressants.

I was one of those people who demonized medication. I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder in 2014, a year when doctors were practically throwing antidepressants at you at the first sign of a psychological problem. I didn’t want them, but what other choice did I have? I wasn’t referred to any counseling or told about other treatment options; just, “Take these pills and you’ll start to feel better.”

The attitude surrounding medication and the “happy pills” scrutiny that followed made me view my own medication in a negative light. I thought to myself: “I don’t want to become reliant on these!” People were misinformed, and this misinformation led to fear. For years, I never admitted to anyone that I took antidepressants. It was hard enough to talk about a mental illness, never mind the pills. I even tried to wean myself off them so I wouldn’t have to lie any more (which is definitely not advised — please speak to your doctor if you want to stop taking your medication).

The important thing to know is that you’re not alone. Many people with a diagnosed mental illness might have been prescribed antidepressants at some point. And while it might not work for everyone, we mustn’t forget the lives that have been greatly improved (even saved) because of medication. Some people need antidepressants. Sometimes depression can only be controlled with medication, and that’s OK. What works for one person might not work for everyone and that doesn’t make it wrong. I have a much more positive attitude toward taking antidepressants now, and I’m happy to say that I’m not ashamed to take them any more.

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Originally published: November 7, 2018
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