I see a lot of misinformation about antidepressants and how they work., so I wanted to try and address some of that.
I’ve tried many different antidepressants. That doesn’t make me an expert on the matter, not in the slightest, but it has given me a bit of an insight into what they are and how they work.
Five Lies About Antidepressants
Antidepressants make you happy
Unfortunately, antidepressants are not magic. They’re not E and they don’t make you euphoric – if only! What they can do is help your brain make the right chemicals in the right way, which will help you manage your moods. They’re like a little stepladder that you can use to climb up out of a hole, or to reach a much-needed item on a high shelf. Taking an antidepressant doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do any other things to keep on top of your mental health.
Antidepressants make you feel better straight away
When you first start taking an antidepressant, or when you increase your dose, you might feel worse before you feel better. Unfortunately, the only way to know if it’s the right move is to push through that initial phase. But don’t expect to get immediate results, and don’t give up if you don’t. This is very individual, but check with your doctors about what side effects you could experience, so you can be prepared.
Going off an antidepressant is easy
Stopping an antidepressant can be really difficult. Again, it’s individual. I’ve seen some people say they stopped cold turkey and were fine, but for most people, going off or changing an antidepressant will require a slow tapering process. Even then, some pretty terrible withdrawal symptoms can occur. I’m not trying to scare anyone with this – I don’t want you to not try an antidepressant because you’re afraid of coming off it! I have now experienced about eight withdrawal processes, and they were all incredibly uncomfortable. Never try to come off an antidepressant alone, or cold turkey. Make sure you talk to your doctor about how to taper your dose slowly, and what symptoms might occur.
If one antidepressant didn’t help me, nothing will
There’s lots of different types of antidepressants, and you might need to try more than one before you find something that works for you. Trial and error is the only way to know. It can take some time, but most people eventually find the right medication for them.
Taking an antidepressant makes you weak
No. Making the decision to try a medication that might improve your quality of life is strong. It’s very important to push back against the stigma that antidepressants are the easy way out. As I said, antidepressants alone do not create some sort of artificial happiness. Taking them will hopefully mean that you can be well enough to do the other things that will help your mood and maintain good mental health.