To Medicate Or Not

Friday 16 September 2016

I am not advocating self-medication. Please follow doctors orders. My experiences are with SSRIs for anxiety and depression only - other drug classes and disorders may differ.

I'm a week late for World Suicide Prevention Day, but for those of us suffering with mental illness, every day can be suicide prevention day. Sometimes you just need to know someone is out there, offering advice, help, or friendship. I hope this post manages to do a little of that. And if it doesn't, I hope it at least makes you more aware of what medication can do.

Medication is nothing to be ashamed of. People take it every day for cancer, colds, cholesterol, you name it.

Medication for mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It's not the be all, end all, and it's not the devil's work. People will try to tell you that you don't need it or that it's bad for you, but I have news for them: some people do need a little biological and chemical help - myself included - and so long as you're not abusing your dosages and doing as your prescriber says, it won't be bad for you.

Yeah, you'll be in for a rough few weeks as things get into your system and your body gets used to it, but the 'you shouldn't take antidepressants unless you have a diagnosis of clinical depression' argument is nothing more than scaremongering. All SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) do is block the receptors that absorb serotonin - a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy - meaning more of it is left in our bodies. More happy chemicals means a better mood. A better mood means anxiety, depression, and a lot of other mental health problems are improved.

That being said, medication isn't for everyone, and you should only take it if it's been prescribed to you by a professional. You may find that you're able to cope better without it, and that's fine.  It may take some time before you find a drug or a dosage that works best for you. I'm on my third different tablet and it took some fiddling with the dose to find the right balance. Sometimes increasing can make you feel fantastic. Other times it can make you worse. What works for one person won't necessarily work for everyone. It's perfectly natural (although downright annoying) for a medication to exacerbate the problem before it fixes it. If it fixes it at all.

Of course, medication can't magically cure all of your problems for good, and if you stop taking it things will return to how they were, but it can make things bearable. Yes, you'll still be depressed or anxious, but there will be a light at the end of the tunnel that was previously pitch black. Recovery seems like more of an option, you can tackle each day - if not with a smile on your face then at least with a healthier mindset.


  1. BLESS THIS POST!!!!! Of course medication doesn't work for everyone - because mental illness is very individual. But the demonising of meds just makes people (*puts own hand up*) feel bad about taking them - and that's the *opposite* of what you want. I also think it tends to put people off getting help when they need it, and add even more to the stigma around mental health. So, yes, I take 150 mg of Sertraline, every single day - and thank god I do.

    1. I completely agree - when I was put on my first lot I refused to talk about them and whenever I mentioned 'my medication' I was terrified people would ask what it was for. Thankfully I feel a lot more comfortable about it now, because there's nothing wrong with needing a little help.


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