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 your employer’s health plan covers you, a family member’s, or the federal Marketplace, understanding coverage can be challenging.

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

Even if you have traditional insurance, you can access mental health treatment online, saving 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 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 drugs or ingest medication not prescribed to them. Those with a true medical need and prescription shouldn’t worry about becoming dependent.

Serotonin is an essential chemical for daily life, an important hormone that modulates mood, learning, and memory. Medications for depression, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), help increase serotonin levels in the brain. If your body doesn’t produce enough serotonin, how 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 vehicle, 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 understand better your unique body and how to support its functionality. With antidepressant medication, you can fill in the gaps to 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. Often, people with depression feel hopeless, angry, or unable to find pleasure in things, even activities commonly known as delight. As an individual with depression, you’ve managed life differently than you would have without depression.

If you begin antidepressant medication, you’ll likely 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.

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

Myth #4: Medication Will Fix Everything

If there were a medication that would likely fix all of life’s problems, you’d already know about it. 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.

Nearly 300 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression, and the difference between pursuing treatment and not is staggering. 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.

If left untreated, depression can lead to life-altering issues at home, 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. Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can all support your efforts to manage your diagnosis. As you explore treatment for your depression, commit to a comprehensive mental health treatment plan.

Pursuing mental health treatment may require 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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