• Rachel Paige

Is Medication Bad?

Yes, I take medication for my social anxiety and depression. No, I am not ashamed of that.

I have been on several antidepressants over the years, and not all of them have worked. Some didn’t do anything, some gave me awful side effects. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have taken them.

Currently, the popular theory is that anxiety disorders and depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, specifically serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Someone may have an imbalance of just one or multiple (like me).

I have been on the same anti-anxiety for 4 years. It regulates serotonin. It’s the first one I was prescribed and it’s incredibly rare for the first one to work that well for so long. Especially because social anxiety is situational, meaning I only experience it in anxiety triggering situations which makes it tricky to treat. For whatever reason, it works for me.

I was on an antidepressant that also targeted serotonin and that worked well for about a year, then stopped working, which isn’t unusual. I tried a number of others over the next few months and my psychiatrist finally found one that’s worked for well over a year now. This one is in its own class of antidepressants called Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) and targets (surprise, surprise) norepinephrine and dopamine.

I also have a vitamin D supplement, because a vitamin D deficiency doesn’t cause depression, but it can contribute.

AND I have a fast-acting anti-anxiety that I take when I need it, usually during an anxiety attack or before what I know will be an anxiety triggering event (like a presentation or big event). I keep these in my backpack at all times.

My guess is everything I just said was a little confusing. Good, that was kinda the point. Mental illnesses are complicated and hard to treat correctly on the first try.

Basically, its likely I have an imbalance of all three of the chemicals I mentioned earlier, or at least two of them. That’s why my first antidepressant only worked for a little while, there were other chemicals that were still thrown off.

A lot of people are against mental health meds because of the side effects. The truth is, there can be a lot of side effects, and some of them can really suck. But without meds I couldn’t raise my hand in class without crying and some days it was hard to get out of bed at all. The side effects are still better than no meds at all.

Plus, ALL medications have side effects. ALL medications have the risk of not working at all. ALL medications can make the problem they’re treating worse.

Other people are against meds because (and this is something I’ve heard directly) “your body should be able to make those chemicals on its own.” Well yeah, it should, I’m not denying that. But it doesn’t, that’s why I have medication to help it. People with diabetes should be able to produce insulin on their own, but if they can't are you going to take the insulin they take away from them? Obviously not. Why is my brain less deserving of help?

Taking medication for a mental illness should be no different than taking medication for a physical illness. I mean, think about it. My brain is physical, it’s in my body. Something wrong with my brain IS a physical problem.

So yes, I take medication for my social anxiety and depression. No, I am not ashamed of that. I have no reason to be.

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