The Anxiety Files: Stop Medication Shaming

The Anxiety Files: Stop Medication Shaming

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a good while but after seeing a few people medication shaming in this past week alone, I felt like now was the time to say what I have to say.

I’ve been on medication for my mental health for a very long time. I’ve always been confident in the fact that I’m doing what’s best for me. I went through years of trying to find something – anything – to be able to help me. It came down to the last resort where we discussed the option of medication. My choices were now very limited. In fact, I don’t even think there were really any other choices.

After adjusting to my medication, I could really see a difference. I wasn’t suicidal, I wasn’t stuck in bed day after day wanting nothing but to not exist. My anxiety wasn’t through the roof. Granted, none of that had fully disappeared, but it was controllable. I was put on medication at quite a young age and it was a decision not to be taken lightly.

It’s been years since that decision has been made and while I’ve had to sometimes change medication to adjust as I’ve gone through puberty and the like but I know fully well that without my medication, I’d be much worse. I’ve had to go through phases without my medication and if you could see what I was like then compared to what I’m like when I’m medicated, you’ll see such a difference and understand.

Medication shaming

Personally, I’ve not let medication shaming get to me. I know the decision was right for me and I can physically and emotionally feel the difference. But I know how much it’s impacted my peers and other people who are on medication. Regardless of anyone’s personal belief towards antidepressants, no one has the right to be stigmatising, patronising or judgemental towards other people’s choices.

For many people, medication is such an important part of mental health care and we shouldn’t be criticising people for taking care of themselves.

Things I’ve heard people say in regards to medication such as antidepressants are, quite frankly, ridiculous. There was a meme that has started to resurface again which I saw this week which referred to a forest as an antidepressant and pills as a lifelong addiction. In some cases, maybe going on a walk or being in touch with nature will work for some people. That’s great. But it doesn’t work for everyone whereas medication may very well be the answer.

Medication shaming
Posts like these are very damaging

The use of medication to treat mental illness such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or any issue is and shouldn’t be no less valid than using medication to treat diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure or anything else for that matter. To be able to seek help is such a strong and brave thing to be able to do and to send the message out that people who take medication to be able to function are weak is straight-up endangerment.

It’s not just sharable pictures that are the issue, though. There’s even a book about it. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression is written by Johann Hari which essentially casts a doubt on antidepressants, suggesting that prescribing them to someone who suffers from clinical depression is the equivalent of treating them as a ‘machine with malfunctioning parts’. This article by Zoe Stavri sums up everything that’s wrong with the book to the point where I can’t think of anything else to add, so if you’re interested in seeing just how flawed and damaging the book is then be sure to check it out.

People often spew out drivel such as “there are many natural ways to combat depression” and yes, there are! If they work for you, that’s fantastic. But when yoga and meditation and herbs and supplements, therapy and support from loved ones doesn’t cut it, medication also combats depression.

It can be so invalidating to get flak for taking meds. I’ve even been aware of people’s partners trying to convince their loved ones to come off medication which to me is revolting. If something like medication is helping someone be able to have their mental health illness in control, you should be supportive. You should be reminding them to take their medication as and when needed. Support is so important because yes, it can feel terrifying to know you need to resort to medication but at the end of the day, it’s an illness which needs to be treated. You wouldn’t tell someone who is insulin dependent to stop injecting themselves or tell someone with chronic migraines to ditch the pills. Mental health conditions are not an emotion, they are an illness and they need to be treated like any other.

No matter what your personal opinion is, please don’t put people down for their decision. Medication shaming is wrong, dangerous and pretty much bullying. When it comes to our own mental well being, we should be able to make our own choices without the judgement of others impacting our overall decision.

Have you witnessed medication shaming? How would you deal with it?

Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

16 thoughts on “The Anxiety Files: Stop Medication Shaming”

  • My Husband was always anti-medication until our daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It has given him a new perspective. Unfortunately, some people can’t understand the benefits until they have no choice but to go the route of medication.

  • as a nurse, I must say that medicine is important. Yes, there are things that can be tried before medication is needed but in the end if all else fails medication is needed we should trust our doctor and prescription and follow orders. As I instruct if we do not feel as if it is helping we can be re-examined and corrected
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  • It’s absurd to see that we have to go to medication shaming. If you have a problem, you have to fix and there is no shame in wanting to get better with therapeutic medication. When you have a fever, you take something to lower your temperature, if you need something to stabilize your mood, you do so. We need to educate the public more. Thanks for sharing your post and educate us.

  • An interesting read Jazz, I totally get where your coming from with medication shaming. I also suffer from anxiety and depression and have tried medication and CBT. I think a lot of problems arise from treatments. When I was a part of a complex needs group one of the requirements is you find off all medication which can be a barrier for some people. I also wonder if you drink alcohol and depression medication etc is more effective without it. Nonetheless, I am glad you have found something that works for you.

  • Medication is so important and shaming people for being on it is terrible. I am so thankful that we have access to medication and that it can make life so much better. Glad you could write this and share your story and how it’s made a difference in your life.

  • I do not und erstand at all the medical shaming… If someone needs medication to help them we should be supportive and loving not putting them down for their need for medical help….

  • Mental health is a touchy subject for a lot of people and the fact that it’s starting to get the attention it deserves right now is great. Medication shaming has no place in this.

  • You take medicine when your body is sick, so why is it any different with your mind? You should never feel bad about helping yourself. Medicine shaming is awful and is keeping people from getting the help they need to live their lives to the fullest. It’s just plain wrong.

  • Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain so medication is definitely needed in almost all cases. Of course, our circumstances can make us depressed, and in that situation, other therapies can help but when there is a clinical diagnosis you need to take medication. I used to be a psychiatric nurse and have worked with a number of severely depressed and suicidal people. You should never be shamed for taking medication.

  • Medication is important and if taken properly, it shouldn’t cause others to shame them. If it wasn’t for medication, most would not be here today to experience life.

  • There’s no difference between someone needing medicines for depression and someone who needs it for their thyroid for example. It’s a medical condition that needs to be treated. My sister has been on anxiety meds for a year now, and I don’t think any different of her. In fact, I’m glad she was able to start them and get help for herself.

  • I don’t like taking medicine, but I don’t understand why anyone would be upset about another person taking it for a reason like depression, or any medical condition really. It can also be hard to find a medication that suits you, and I’m glad you did. It’s great there are a lot of options these days! 😊

  • Thanks so much for sharing your hearts content and being so honest about this. It really is something I never understand or ever will. You have written and incredible article.

  • A lot of people just don’t understand things that are different than what they need. Sometimes medications is the only thing to help.

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