Why Is There A Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Medication?

When you have a regular health problem, you take medication to sort it out. Nobody will comment if you’re on antihistamines to treat an ongoing allergy or heart medication to treat a cardiovascular issue.

As such, it’s all the more bizarre that there’s this stigma surrounding medication for mental health problems. If someone takes something to help them deal with depression, they almost feel as though they need to hide it. Or, at the very least, they believe that by taking this medication they’re doing something wrong.

It’s a very strange belief to have, yet there’s no denying the stigma surrounding this topic. The question is…why?

A Lack Of Understanding

I think most of this stems from the complete lack of understanding surrounding mental health in modern society. It’s getting better, but when most people complain of depression or anxiety, other members of society simply don’t get it. They think you’re sad or nervous, often suggesting simple fixes. It comes from a nice place – they want to help you – but it’s frustrating when people think that mental health problems can be fixed overnight.

In reality, most mental health issues stem from legitimate issues in your body. These could be chemical imbalances messing up your hormones and making you feel a certain way. In this respect, certain medications help by boosting hormone production or reducing it. Thus, the chemical balance can get back to normal and a lot of your symptoms subside.

Then, you have deep-rooted mental problems that stem from events that happen in your life. If you go through trauma, it can dramatically affect your brain forever. This is why clinical mental health counseling is important to get to the bottom of the matter. Again, medication is often needed to provide some relief from symptoms while you are getting counseling and talking through your problems.

We Don’t Talk Enough

Where does this lack of understanding come from? Simply put, we don’t talk enough about mental health as a society. There needs to be more chatter about this and why people feel this way. From here, people can learn more about treatments and why medication is used.

The stigma tends to come from people thinking that you’re just taking drugs to get high and forget about your problems. Granted, there are also plenty of examples of people that become addicted to mental health medication – but you could say the same for any medicinal drugs. Talking about mental health concerns and the medications used to treat these problems will help society understand more about them.

Hopefully, this can lead to a world where someone can freely take the medication they need to get better without worrying about what others think. They don’t have to hide it – they don’t have to anxiously sneak it when nobody is looking. In turn, this could actually help the medication work better. There’s a terrible irony that you feel anxious when taking your medication that’s supposed to help with your anxiety! The world needs to talk more about this so we can educate everyone on the topic, removing the stigma entirely.

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5 thoughts

  1. I’ve been been trying to say this since I became a mom and struggled with my own Postpartum mental health. I love how elegantly you just opened the door to a difficult/hard to talk about topic of conversation. ❤️

  2. It’s not that simple, Doctors / Psychiatrists tend to “Prescribe” at their first line of treatment without actually talking to their patients. Medication is often used as a “cheap fix to supress social issues in society that do not have an easy solution. The scientific studies to test for the effiacy of these medication is almost always paid for by the pharmacutical industry developing the medications.

    Why should so many people be forced into taking medication when so many of these issues can be resolved by basic human decency and treating everyone is society with basic human respect and dignity.

    Many maybe even “Most” of Psychiatric Conditions are caused by people treating other people with lack of respect, and otherness. Stress of Precarious Employment when you can’t keep yourself in the workforce, Food Insecurity etc.

    If someone does not have food in their house, it is perfectly “Normal” to be stressed out over when you will eat next.

    100 years ago, life was very stressful, 16 hour work days etc. But society was not as demanding, people often worked on a farm, did the same job their whole lives. Now there seems to be a lack of connection, and coldness to people. Your a number, prove your worth on your job by the 5th shift or suffer unemployment / despair until you get things together.

    Very few people are focusing on the Socital stuff and blaming it on “Chemical Imbalances” When a lot of this is normal human reaction to emotional and financial hardship.

    Maybe you think I am ignorant for mentioning all this stuff. But I see good reason for there to be stigma around the current mental healhcare system. Every year these doctors develop new psychiatric “diseases” that are based more on Politics than basic human physiology. If these are “physical” diseases, disorders like Bipolar, and Generalized Anxiety disorder would show up just as clearly as a bone fracture on MRI Images of the Brain. Look at a Bipolar Brain, and a Normal Brain. You would see nothing from these scans.

    Psychiatry is like delivering babies in the 1700s. Sure the doctor knows a bit about anatomy, chemicals etc but he will not wash his hands.

  3. The progress has been very slow for a lot of people, to gain an understanding of mental health issues. It can be difficult to explain problems of the mind to some people, because if they can’t see it, or touch it, they have difficulty comprehending it.

    I think some of the lack of understanding, comes from the times where people would attribute mental health problems to people who were “not right in the head” and that was it. There are plenty of people who are unknowledgeable of physical health problems, so expecting them to understand anything about mental illness, can be a bit of a stretch at times.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. There needs to be better education about mental illness and how it is just as valid and can be just a debilitating as physical illness.

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