I have been ‘in the system’ for approximately 12 years. I have been on numerous medications in that time period, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Medications have at times saved my life, they have brought the level of blah, up to meh. It might not seem like much, but when you are in a downward spiral it can be like a rope thrown down into the hole you are digging yourself.
I admit that I haven’t felt ashamed of taking the medications that I do, because I don’t believe that I need to be. I shouldn’t feel ashamed for taking a medication for a physical ailment and I believe that mental illness is no different. It’s just a different part of our body.
Every week there seems to be a new post written by a different guru on the evils of medications created for the mentally ill, that we are being drugged unnecessarily and to excess. I agree with this to a point.
I feel that sometimes people are not informed about the medications and the possible side effects they may encounter. For me personally I have had to Google my own medications numerous times, or rely on a pharmacist to let me know of any side effects. This is not always ideal, especially in a busy chemist when the Pharmacist may be pushed for time.
I do not believe that medications are created to make us more sick. There are people who react badly to medications, and the side effects outweigh the benefits, so they have no choice but to go medication free. However I feel that this is probably and exception to the rule rather than the norm.
I believe that these articles are bordering on dangerous. These articles are rarely written by anyone with a medical degree (Dr Google doesn’t count) or by people who work closely with the mentally ill. The people who pen these articles write them from a purely negative point of view, ignoring the good that these medications have done for millions of patients.
I am aware that psychiatric medications have side effects, they have the potential for long term effects if not monitored correctly, however the same can be said for all types of medications. I wonder if maybe, because there is no way to physically detect a mental illness, there is no definitive test, then it is easy for people to dismiss the need for medications.
I hope that science continues to make advancements in the medical field. I hope that medications can be created with minimal side effects. I hope that the shame and stigma around taking medications for a mental illness reduces, that people realise it is no different to take an antibiotic for an infection. The desired result is the same..to make the unwell person well again.
Do you believe that medication for mental illness gets an unfair reputation?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT
I may be naïve, but I didn’t know medication had a negative stigma. I actually thought it was seen to fix the ‘negatively perceived’ mental illness. But then I think there is a fix for everything and hold the medical profession in the highest esteem, which I know is not common (and I am always stunned when someone dies of a disease, as I always think it can be cured).
I had a long think (about a month or so) before I went on my medication. My husband was against it at first but after many long chats, he backed up my decision to go on it and he’s been supportive ever since.
I do agree with you that medication can be abused and for whatever reason, people aren’t sometimes fully informed and educated on its effects.
I also think that alongside medication, therapy is important too.
Well said. I think it’s important to have a holistic approach to mental illness, and have therapy alongside medication. I also think it depends on the circumstances of the person and the severity of the episode.
I’ve had periods (when I was young and single with no responsibilities experiencing mild illness) when therapy alone was ok. Recently, however, I’ve needed help again. With a more serious bout, two small children, a house to run and a job to get to, the combination of therapy and medication has been absolutely invaluable.
I was lucky enough to have a GP with a dedicated mental health nurse who spent an hour with me devising a plan including medication and therapy, which I have followed. I have, however, heard of people that have just been prescribed valium and pushed out the door again. That sort of use of medication I think is, at worst, counter productive and, at best, not a long term solution.
I think there is still a huge amount of stigma about psychiatric medication use. As you know I take a lot of psych meds and have tried dozens of them before settling on my current cocktail. I know I have to take these meds for the rest of my life and while I’m not overjoyed by that prospect I accept it fully because currently the alternative is unliveable.
One thing about psych meds that concerns me is that they can be prescribed willy nilly by GPs. I think most psych meds should have to be prescribed by a psychiatrist first before then being able to be re-prescribed by a gp. OK, that would be expensive for the patient. I get that. But I also think that there are way too many GPs out there who have no idea about psych meds, their side effects and their contraindications with other drugs.
My best friend has been on antidepressants for about 15 years and has never once seen a psych. I think her GAD and depression could be so much better managed by a psychiatrist than getting her repeat prescription posted to her every six months. Her GP doesn’t even require her to come in for an assessment to get the new script.
I’m on Concerta which is slow release Ritalin for my ADD. I had to get the opinion and sign off by two psychiatrists to get that drug because it is a schedule 8. Antidepressants, anti psychotics, anti convulsives, anti anxiety and the multitude of other meds used for mental illness on the market can have a massive amount of side effects (all depending on the individual) both short and long term. They can be life savers but can also do the opposite in the wrong hands.
I pretty much agree with everything Vanessa has said. Mental illness should be diagnosed and treated in the acute stage by a psychiatrist with ongoing management provided by a GP.
That said, I’ve been tricked by psychiatrists over medication before now, and it’s really hard to play devil’s advocate and research things for yourself when you’re unwell.
I think medications have their place, and I have taken medication for depression in the past. I did try to get off it pretty quickly, and with therapy and some positive changes in my life, that worked for me. I do think we are an overly medicated society in general – antibiotics over-used, cholesterol reducing medication etc, and perhaps also psychiatric medication at times. I do see the nexus between Big food and Big Pharma – when the same big multi-nationals are making unhealthy processed food that makes us unwell and then selling the drugs to treat the resulting illnesses. I certainly think there is a growing awareness of other ways to manage illness, including mental, that may assist in reducing reliance on medication, whether it be meditation and mindfullness, nutrition and alternative health therapies. I guess it comes down to the need for a more balanced approach.
I didn’t realise that people thought that mentally ill people are being negatively medicated. I know that there is a stigma to mental illness and that by taking medications to treat mental illness you are admitting to a problem and allowing yourself to be open to this stigma.
My opinion is generalised, in that I don’t like that medication treats the symptoms rather than the causes. AND, personally that I end up with so many side effects that also need medication. A stupid cycle that I can’t get out of. I’m conflicted because of this. I’d love to stop taking my daily meds, but I KNOW that they are working. Finally after years of playing with brands, types and dosages, my professionals and I are somewhere that we are happy with. But, I would like to be medication free. Maybe a part of this is social stigma. I don’t know. I do know a big part is certainly financial and due to the side effects.
Its one of those things where you have to forget what other people think and medicate just like your doctor has prescribed. Does the negative stigma come from those that do suffer depression and don’t want to be on medication? I’ve had friends who have tried constantly to lower their doses or go cold turkey with their meds and it doesn’t do anything for them – they go worse. I don’t have the answer, but I do know that if I had an illness I would medicate as needed.
I think there is a negative stigma. I think people who have never experienced any type of mental illness or seen it first hand just have no idea, and think that people should ‘get over it.’ I think gradually that view is being broken down, but it’s amazing how many people just don’t understand things.
Until more people are accepting than un-accepting, that view of medication will be twisted. Because to someone who doesn’t ‘get it’ why would you take tablets cause you’re a bit down? They just don’t get how much more there is to it than that.
Everyone needs to find their own path to wellness, whatever that may be. Judging others especially if you have never had the need for that type of help is just wrong. Don’t understand why people do that. xN
I remember being put on anti depressants when I was diagnosed with PND, and telling a friend, who turned to me and said “Just be careful taking that stuff.” I looked at her like “What do you mean?” And I can’t even remember her exact response now, but it was basically along the lines of “They’re dangerous.” How ridiculous. I read an “article” from someone saying that all these mass shootings in the US have one thing in common – the people doing them are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs. Well, they MAY all be on something, but there are also MILLIONS of people who are on those things, and they don’t go around shooting people! I try to say to people “If you had a headache would you take a pain killer?” Well, this is the same thing. I hope too that one day there is no stigma related to mental illness and the drugs used to combat it. x Aroha (for #teamIBOT)
Oh my gosh yes! Such an important topic to bring out in the open. If people had an infection there would be no doubt or debate over taking antibitoics – yet with mental illness, it is almost a “suck it up” attitude that happens instead. I wholeheartedly believe that this conversation needs to shift and the taboo of taking medication for metnal illness shed xx
Don’t listen to what the “gurus”say, keep doing what you are doing if it is working for you.
I think it’s scary for people who need medication to be jumping on and off it because they feel stigmatised or pressured to do something more ‘natural’ about their condition. As you’ve said – it’s just another part of the body, and medication should be taken just as it would be for any other illness. If you are someone who’s inclined towards alternative therapies anyway, then by all means give those a crack – but not because someone who’s trying to sell their own wellness philosophy tells you to.
I think everyone’s story is different. Some people could definitely benefit from further therapy but when that just isn’t working and people need something more effective, people suffering from mental illnesses need to turn to medical help.
Great post, I hope it widens some eyes to the dangers of avoiding medication
Hmmm… interesting article. I agree that medication for mental illnesses probably gets more negative publicity than it deserves particularly without medical research to back up opinions and statements.
One comment I would add is that there seems to be a natural alternative to almost all antibiotics (including the option to do nothing) and personally I think in general people default to medication far more quickly than necessary, rather than assessing all potential options to remedy an illness. That being said, I can’t judge anyone taking medication for mental illness as I’ve been fortunate enough that I have not required that type of medication myself.
Thanks for bringing up the conversation though!
I have no issue in regards to taking medication that is needed. I do however believe that especially in situations like early stages of depression, that access to counselling of some kind could benefit a patient more than medication alone. Medication holds a necessary place in this world, but I believe it is sometimes used to treat symptoms before the cause has even been sought. It needs to be used alongside therapy or the likes to be truly beneficial to the patients quality of life.
I think that Mental illness has the negative perception and that the stigma associated to the medicine would lift if the illness was looked at in a better light.
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The issue is big pharma and lack of alternatives. I for one will never take that shit, but hey all to their own.