Let's address antidepressants and self-stigma

Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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#1
There are a number of reasons why someone diagnosed with mental illness refuses psychiatric medications and I'd like to understand why some stigmatize it.

Can mental illness be treated, tolerated without meds - yes of course, I know this from personal experience but let's discuss why patients feel such medicine is bad.

Side effects
Yes, every drug has them and some are noticeable while others aren't. Some are so severe that discontinuation is necessary, there's no doubting this happens. However, I often hear this objection made categorically so I ask, "what are the side effects of not taking any antidepressants?" Living with debilitating symptoms is preferable, why?

Fear
What does it say about me that I need to pills every day for my whole life? I don't see why this is an issue for antidepressants if it wouldn't be for any physical ailment or condition. Is it because they affect the brain and therefore free will or that-which-is-you is somehow threatened? I've seen this expressed as, "I don't want to give control to a drug".
Addiction? If there's physical dependency, definitely a concern but I'm not addressing opioids or Benzodiazepines. So far as I know, conventional antidepressants do not pose an risk of physical dependency.

Unresponsive to first, second drug
Finding an antidepressant that relieves your symptoms can be a trial of one's patience as well as tolerance, so help me I know. There are many categories, types within categories and then various combinations. A lot or maybe most patients do not find relief from the very first or second medication and this leads them to believe that they categorically do not work. I think pdocs and drug companies are not helping to shape expectations properly.

What are other stigmas of taking antidepressant medications?
Belief that they are overprescribed?
Belief that you shouldn't need them?
Belief they're ineffective?
Big Pharma worries?

Please share what you think.



About me: I'm diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder - Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD). I've tried antidepressants from at least 6 categories but so far have my symptoms haven't responded to any. The only drug treatment that's worked for is experimental.
 
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

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#2
Hi Bizarre. Thanks for opening up this line of discussion. It works the same way with bipolar. People think the drug is a crutch and they should be able to manage on their own. God made them this way and there's nothing wrong with being an erratic pain in the ass to everyone around you; they all should adjust to YOU.

As for anti depressants, I can't take them because they make me manic.

There is a lot of posting going on about anti-depressants being responsible for violent behavior in teenagers. It is being said that the school shooters were on anti-depressants and this is what made them violently act out. That's a helluva side effect.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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#3
Hi Bizarre. Thanks for opening up this line of discussion. It works the same way with bipolar. People think the drug is a crutch and they should be able to manage on their own. God made them this way and there's nothing wrong with being an erratic pain in the ass to everyone around you; they all should adjust to YOU.

As for anti depressants, I can't take them because they make me manic.

There is a lot of posting going on about anti-depressants being responsible for violent behavior in teenagers. It is being said that the school shooters were on anti-depressants and this is what made them violently act out. That's a helluva side effect.
Thank you for the comment, Poopy Doll. I agree, there are some people who consider medications to be a crutch, cheating, taking the easy way out, a scam - and on and on. And sadly, I believe we who suffer from mental illness often internalize this detritus that wouldn't be flung at somebody taking medication for a physical ailment.

I appreciate you raising the the connection being made between mass shootings and SSRIs. As this has been touted in the press and by politicians both in the US and UK, I think it's a particularly egregious example of the stigma of mental health medications. I can understand it's appeal both to patients and non-patients, it harmonizes with a fear or discomfort that's already present: pill affects brain, therefore pill affects mind which suggests the relinquishing of control of the mind to a drug.

Correlation is not causation. I accept that we all have irrational fears of something, I find it sad when it steers people away who could be helped which is the reason for the post.
 
Poopy Doll

Poopy Doll

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#4
I have a son who has something wrong with him but he refuses to go to a doctor and refuses to consider medications. I don't know for a fact if he has the bipolar but he is very moody and INTENSE and egocentric.

There is no chance he will ever seek help. He considers it abuse that I tried to get him to try lithium when he was younger.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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#5
It's a difficult situation for you and your son and I have a situation that's not entirely dissimilar. I have a mother who has mental illness and she refused care in spite of my urging until she witnessed me getting help. She's taking Wellbutrin and doing better.

I have a brother who is waiting for a day when life becomes so intolerable that he has no other alternative. Until then, I have to watch him wrestle with problem behaviors, addiction and coping mechanisms that are barely adequate and unsustainable. I love him all the same.

The best I feel that I can do is to model the behavior I hope will inspire him to accept help. I remind myself that nobody can be made to accept help and I try not to dwell on what may be necessary for him to change his mind.

So I hope it will be that your son will see in you the change he wants in himself, however long it may require.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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#6
Drugs and how mental illness sufferers inadvertently self-stigmatize

Let me start by telling you a bit about my journey with antidepressant medications. I've tried 9 different drugs across 6 categories and exactly zero of them improved my symptoms. So please be assured, I am not the spokesperson for drug companies. Yet I remain a semi-advocate for the use of antidepressant medications because they do work for people I know. My mother, who suffers from depression, responds very well to Bupropion (so unfair!) and I know my experience shouldn't be and isn't typical of most.

I also think it's entirely fine to have a good moan about the side effects of meds we take, also about the discontinuation effects when we cease taking them and about frustration when a medication randomly ceases to work after months or years.

In the course of my journey I've learned to mind what comes out of my mouth when I talk about depression drugs because people who're listening often bring their own fears and biases which I don't want to inadvertently validate. But tragically flawed such as I am, I have done just that. So here are some examples of what I used to say and how I would say it now:

:curseyou:The pills! They don't work!
Better example: I've been given Fluoxitine (Prozac) and tried Sertraline (Zoloft) but neither have helped. I might not respond to SSRIs but there are other categories I haven't tried yet. That's true for most of us.

:curseyou:The effects are worse than the illness!
Better: In certain, very rare cases, these drugs can actually make depression symptoms worse and we know this because they're on the warning labels. Other side effects can be intolerable, too. However, I doubt that nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, cloudy mind and other common side effects are as nasty as MY depression symptoms: inability to function, flipping over tables and conceiving new ways to top myself every damn day. But you decide for yourself.

:curseyou:I don't want to be addicted to antidepressants/take pills my whole life!
Better:
  1. Antidepressants are not addictive. Stopping an antidepressant medication "cold turkey" can be dangerous. In some cases, when we stop taking an antidepressant we experience "discontinuation syndrome" effects which last until the chemical is out of our system and our bodies adjust. This is not the same as withdrawal symptoms from an addictive substance.
  2. We don't believe the person with Type 1 Diabetes is "addicted" to their insulin injections or that they deserve to be shamed for using it their entire lives. This is an example/comparison I hope most people can understand.

:redface:I feel ashamed for taking a "happy pill" because I can't cope.
Better: There's no happy pill. The antidepressant I take brings me closer to the functional and emotional baseline of a person who lives without depression. It gives me no advantages. It's not a "cop-out".


No question there are many more but these are what come to mind at the moment. The jist of all this really is to encourage the consideration that each of us is an ambassador of mental health to someone(s) who hasn't yet decided to seek treatment. Our personal experiences are important but our overall perspective is, maybe, more so.

Any additions, reactions, comments, criticisms, inscrutable emojis are always welcome.

Thank you for reading and be well,
- Bizzarebitrary
 
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