Debunking the Myths About Antidepressants

by Lionel Casey

The conversation about mental health has increasingly become part of our daily narrative. With the pandemic’s impact, open dialogue on social media, and more people sharing experiences, mental health is top of mind.

If you’re wondering whether medication could be right for you, you may have some questions. The internet is full of misinformation, especially when you open the comments section on a social media post. Do your research, speak with your healthcare provider, and learn about the most common misconceptions before you make a decision.


Myth #1: It’s Too Expensive to Get Antidepressants

Healthcare in the United States seems to evolve overnight, and the cost of care is no exception. Whether you’re covered by your employer’s health plan, a family member’s, or through the federal Marketplace, understanding coverage can be challenging.

Review your provider’s benefits information, paying special attention to prescription coverage. Some plans pay a percentage of the medication cost, while others categorize them by type and necessity. Pay special attention to the tier level of the medication you’re considering, as coverage may differ.

Even if you have traditional insurance, you can access mental health treatment online, which can save you time and money. You’ll complete a questionnaire to determine whether mental health treatment would be right for you. From there, you can message with a provider who can assess your needs and issue a prescription, if indicated. You’ll receive your medication through the mail each month, usually at a competitive rate.

Myth #2: You’ll Become Dependent on Medication

One of the most common myths is that people become dependent on medication for mental health. The fact is, some people choose to abuse medication or ingest medication not prescribed to them. Those with a true medical need and prescription shouldn’t worry about becoming dependent.

Medications for depression, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), help increase levels of serotonin in the brain. An important hormone that modulates mood, learning, and memory, serotonin is an essential chemical for daily life. If your body doesn’t produce enough serotonin, the way you experience life and manage stress will be out of balance.

One way to think of this is to compare your body to a car, with serotonin being the fuel. Without fuel for your car, it’s easy to understand that it won’t go, no matter how much you want it to. Similarly, without serotonin, your brain can’t understand the signals it’s getting from the outside world. A depression diagnosis is one way to better understand your unique body and how to support its functionality. With antidepressant medication, you can fill in the gaps so you can function at your best.

Myth #3: Your Personality Will Change

The idea of your personality changing involuntarily is scary, so it’s easy to understand why this myth is so prevalent. The fact is, as an individual with depression, you’ve managed life differently than you would have without depression. Often, people with depression feel hopeless, angry, or unable to find pleasure in things, even activities commonly known to delight.

If you begin antidepressant medication, it’s likely you’ll notice changes in your feelings and behavior. What won’t change is who you are as a person. Depending on how long you’ve been experiencing depression, you may notice a return to earlier versions of yourself. This could feel like an abrupt shift for you and those around you, so it is important to be observant.

Keep a log of your thoughts, feelings, and actions before beginning medication to establish a baseline. Once you begin your prescribed dosage, take notes on what changes you’re feeling and observing, good and bad. If you feel like something is wrong, reach out to your provider to determine if an adjustment is needed. Understand that improvements in symptoms are what the medication is designed for, not changing who you are.

Myth #4: Medication Will Fix Everything

If there were a medication that would fix all of life’s problems, it’s likely you’d already know about it. The truth is, medication can help individuals with depression manage their symptoms, but it won’t fix everything. Life is still challenging, and if you’ve been diagnosed with depression, things may feel more overwhelming for you than others.

Medication is a tool, as are therapy, lifestyle changes, and daily habits. When used according to your prescription, medication can reduce depressive symptoms so you can live a full and rewarding life. Nearly 300 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression, and the difference between pursuing treatment and not is staggering.

If left untreated, depression can lead to life-altering issues at home, at work, and among friends. At its worst, depression can cause individuals to feel like they’re out of options. While medication isn’t the golden ticket to feeling like you can conquer the world, it isn’t an option to ignore.

Consider Antidepressants as Part of a Total Mental Health Treatment Plan

Mental health plays a major part in how you experience and enjoy your life. As you explore treatment for your depression, commit to a total mental health treatment plan. Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can all support your efforts to manage your diagnosis.

Pursuing mental health treatment may require some trial and error, but the lasting impact of your efforts will be worth it. When you prioritize your mental and physical health, you can be at your best in every area of your life.

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