We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the most annoying misconceptions people have about taking antidepressants. Here’s what they want you to know.
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1. Antidepressants work differently for different people.
“I wish people knew that antidepressants aren’t one size fits all. There are different types that work differently for every person. You go through up and downs, deal with side effects, all in the hopes that you will find anything that helps.”
2. And it requires a lot of trial and error to find the right fit sometimes.
“I’ve been on and off antidepressants for 16 years and have tried at least 12 different medications. Sometimes the side effects cause more problems and sometimes the medication doesn’t help at all. It’s all trial and error until you find one that works that your insurance covers.”
3. It’s just like taking medication for any physical illness.
“A professor told me once, ‘I take medication for arthritis. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to live my life the way I need to. There is no difference in taking antidepressants for depression.'”
4. They aren’t magic pills that make you happy all the time.
“Everyone has their good days and their bad days. They can definitely help you be more buoyant and resilient in the face of hardship, but everyone experiences rough times. A combination of antidepressants, counseling, a healthy lifestyle, and a strong support network is the key to success for some.”
5. Yes, they might affect your sex drive.
“I started taking antidepressants to deal with debilitating migraines years before becoming sexually active, so I didn’t know the difference. No matter how wonderful the sex, it would take me eight years to finally achieve climax with someone who wasn’t me.”
6. “Are you off your meds?” is pretty much the most annoying and inappropriate question ever.
“People on antidepressants do still have emotions. Just because they get sad or angry or upset in any way does not mean that they aren’t taking their meds. It is insulting to dismiss someone’s very valid feelings and to say things like ‘Did you forget to take your meds?'”
7. The first few days on antidepressants might be a little rocky.
“The way that you feel when you first start taking antidepressants is not necessarily how you will always feel while taking them. Those first few days are really dramatic while your body figures out how to deal with this new influx of chemicals. The first time I took Lexapro, I felt as if my emotions had been chopped off at the knees, like I couldn’t really FEEL anything, and that was frightening. But after a week, my body adjusted and I started to feel not just like my old self, but even better. This is something that can take weeks. So, if you don’t like how it feels immediately, be patient.”
8. You don’t have to reach a certain “low” to need them.
“When I first started taking antidepressants, my boyfriend at the time told me I wasn’t ‘bad’ enough to take them. No one besides yourself can fully understand what you are going through mentally and physically. There is not a degree of ‘bad’ in which it is acceptable to take medication. It is what you and your doctor think is right for you and to help you out.”
9. You don’t necessarily need to be on them forever.
“I had a doctor describe my antidepressants as a cast: you break your leg so you wear a cast for support so it can help heal; you couple that with physical therapy to strengthen your leg and get it back to a healthy point. You can do the same with antidepressant medicine. Take it, coupled with therapy, then as you sort things out, work with your doctor to get to a point that you don’t need to take the medicine anymore.”
10. But if you do need to be on them for a long time, there’s nothing wrong with that either.
“When I first started taking antidepressants, I thought the end goal was to get off of them. Every time I started feeling better, I’d stop taking my meds and things would get bad again, because antidepressants were the reason I was feeling better. Maybe one day I’ll get off of them, but I’m OK with not knowing when that is.”
11. They’re not meant to turn you into a zombie.
“Before I took them I felt like I was living under a wet blanket that I couldn’t lift no matter how hard I tried. Once the antidepressants started working, I vividly remember thinking, ‘Oh, these are what emotions are!’ Antidepressants help me have ‘normal’ moods. That means I experience the full range of emotions, from good to bad. I just have more control over them now.”
12. They’re not always used to treat depression.
“I began taking them for chronic migraines. Since taking the medication I sleep better and do not constantly suffer from the pain of migraines.”
13. Antidepressants won’t necessarily stifle your creativity.
“The whole romanticized idea of the ‘depressed artist’ drives me CRAZY. Do NOT avoid going on medication because you think it will ruin your creativity. Depression makes it so you can’t get out of bed, let alone create art. Antidepressants help me be the artist I want to be.”
14. And they don’t just give you “fake happiness.”
“I hate when people say something along the lines of ‘I would hate to depend on a medication for happiness’ or ‘feeling happy while you’re on antidepressants is not REAL happiness.’ Tell that to me while I’m laughing with my best friends, or having the time of my life traveling (two things that I wouldn’t be able to do if I didn’t have my medication). My medication simply makes it so that I can actually FEEL happiness again, it doesn’t create it.”
15. They don’t change who you are — but they may help you be the best, most capable version of yourself.
“At the age of 15, I refused to take antidepressants because I did think it would change my thinking and essentially make me a different person. After taking them I realized that is not true at all. In fact, it revealed to me who I was and could be.””
16. And lastly, taking antidepressants doesn’t make you weak.
“Asking for help when you feel like you can’t go on is one of the strongest things you can do.”