1 out of every 21 people globally will experience Major Depression in their life. Anxiety, the most common mental illness, affects 1 out of every 13 people globally. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 13% of Americans, more than 1 in 10, take an antidepressant. Yet, there still exists a very strong stigma surrounding antidepressants and other medications of the like. So let's get a few things straight to get rid of the stigma society has.
First up, what exactly do antidepressants do? They aim to correct chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be responsible for changes in mood and behavior. These chemical imbalances frequently occur when someone has depression.
The stigma is often felt when someone reacts to someone struggling with mental illness mentions medication for their illness. The following statements and questions are entirely unhelpful and possibly hurtful to someone struggling with mental illness who is considering medication.
“Why don’t you try therapy or counseling?”
Often prior to trying medication doctors suggest this and once taking medication it is normally required. You can do both and most people do.
“Antidepressants?” “Do they really do anything?”
You wouldn’t say this to someone taking a medication for a physical or visible illness so don’t say it to someone with an mental or “invisible” illness.
“So you’re giving up?”
How does society equate going to seek medical help- from a medical professional- as giving up? This questions is the same as if you were to tell someone who takes medicine for asthma they are giving up on their health. This extremely harmful to the individual because it delegitimatizes their effort to take care of themselves; which is hard enough in the first place if you are struggling with your mental health.
Before you make judgments on how other people choose to take care of themselves, do some research or you could even ask your doctor for some information. They are the pro’s on this stuff, right? Educate yourself!
Most importantly, just listen to what the person has to say.