You know what sucks?
Suicide. Panic attacks. Self harm. Self-inflicted starvation. Addiction.
You know what else sucks?
That people who struggle with these things get limited/little/no treatment or help.
Do you want to know why?
Because there is some ridiculous stigma surrounding mental health that implies weakness—so many people who struggle do so alone. (Not to mention the complete absence of mental health coverage in health insurance or the limited access to treatment in general.)
But what sucks the most isn’t just the stigma behind “getting help.” It’s the stigma behind using medication as a tool to battle mental health disorders.
Here are 4 reasons why you should consider mental health medication for yourself:
(from someone who has experienced the benefits and has no professional health background… so I’ll leave my credibility – or lack thereof- to your opinion, I guess.)
It’s a tool- not the solution.
As it is with all medication, it is a tool and not always the solution. Advil and Tylenol relieve pain, but both do not heal the source of that pain. In the same way antidepressants and anxiety medications relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. They should not serve as the only solution to the mental health problems. Medication should be used after or in conjunction with counseling, treatment, and/or lifestyle changes. To simply numb the issues of anxiety and depression denies a person of growing in spiritual maturity, strength, and understanding their emotions. I believe they should be used for seasons under the supervision of a biblical counselor. This way, healthy coping mechanisms and understanding of spiritual health can be formed for a holistic and long term solution.
It exists for a reason.
There are strict FDA guidelines, tests, and laws that all drugs need to meet before they are administered to the public. This means there are test results that prove antidepressants and anxiety medications WORK. There are tons of medication options out there all unique enough to serve different people. There’s even DNA testing to find out which medications will or will not work for you as an individual. Biological evidence supports the use of medication. It can even be specific enough to determine which chemicals in the brain need reinforcement and how your DNA would respond to each medication.
Mental health disorders are a disease- and medication can help.
It’s funny when people question why someone would take medication for a mental health disorder. Wouldn’t they scoff at the idea of someone with diabetes not taking insulin, or someone with asthma not using an inhaler? Mental health disorders are biologically induced, and there’s peer-reviewed evidence of it.
“Depression is not a moral weakness. Some people are more susceptible than others even before they are born . . . [There is] genetic and molecular proof. You have to cope with whatever genes and childhood you inherited, but it’s not a “level playing field.” Some people start the race ahead of others, some way behind (ouch).”
Again, like many diseases, you hope that you won’t have to be on medication for the rest of your life. Depression and anxiety are most likely a battle that you will fight for the rest of your life if it is a biological disposition. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be seasons of “remission” where medication isn’t needed.
In my own experience, after a lot of prayer and a few months of biblical counseling, I decided that medication would be crucial if I wanted therapy to be the most effective it could be. I couldn’t process certain emotions and past experiences without having severe anxiety attacks. I needed to take the time and energy to process those emotions if I wanted to find true healing and growth. I’m looking forward to when I get to wean off of the medication and use the healthy coping mechanisms I’ve developed to live life without them.
If you get the right medication/treatment for your body- you don’t go “numb.”
I hear this all of the time,
“You’re not helping yourself by going ‘numb’ to your emotions.”
Okay. This partially goes back to how medications are a tool, and not the solution. I DO NOT believe that medication is the end-all-be-all of mental health disorder cures- at all. However, they make the process of handling those hard emotions and creating new coping mechanisms much more manageable for someone who has the barrier of a mental illness.
The BEST way to use medication (in my personal experience and opinion) is to be under the supervision and care of a mental health professional. They can use the season that you are more mentally stable (with the help of medication) to face past hurts, hard emotions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms to create a healthier you. When your health professional believes you are in a healthier state, you can begin to wean off of the medication. Then begins the seasons of putting those new learned behaviors and coping mechanisms into practice!
BUT HERE’S THE KICKER.
You need the right medication for your body. And there are SO many different options out there. Many times if you go to a general practitioner they will prescribe the most popular medications 1st and use a trial and error process– which can literally take months (or even years) to figure out.
Many people start down the medication road and end up giving up before they ever find a medication that works for them. That road isn’t worth it. Especially when there is genetic testing to find which medications would cause adverse effects and which medications would be the best for your case and your genetic makeup.
My genetic test came back and showed that the top 6 most prescribed antidepressants would cause adverse effects. It also showed that it would increase my anxiety because many of them included stimulants to treat depression. If I went through all 6 of those most prescribed medications I would have spent a MINIMUM of 18 MONTHS on medications that would make me numb, potentially give me hallucinations, make me physically sick, worsen my depression and/or anxiety, and so much more.
BUT, by taking the genetic test I got on the best medication for me IMMEDIATELY and had no adverse effects. I could continue my therapy with the stability that I needed to make the necessary changes in my eating disorder behavior and bad anxiety coping mechanisms.
For Heaven’s sake, play the part that you need to in destigmatizing the use of medication in mental health care. Whether that’s considering medication for yourself, or supporting a loved one, don’t count this tool out and believe that it’s a “last resort.”
Too often the last resort comes too late.
Do what it takes to see a counselor or therapist. Do the research and commit yourself to prayer to consider a season where medication might be involved. Lay aside the LIE that mental health disorders aren’t serious enough for medication. Fight the lie that you or your friend just needs to “get themselves together” by praying and trusting more.
That’s not true. Medication and treatment is out there, it is available, and it WILL help if you let it.
Share with someone who might need to hear this today- or just to help fight to end the stigma of using medication for mental health issues!