Julia Maher ’23
In recent years, there seems to be a rise in anxiety and depression among people, particularly adolescents. Although anxiety and depression are potentially crippling, those who are diagnosed do not have to feel miserable for the rest of their lives. In the 1950s, the first two antidepressants were formulated: monoamine-oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants. While these changed the game for depression sufferers and are still helpful for people today, the most effective and commonly prescribed antidepressants today are called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Taking SSRIs in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective way to treat depression.
Although SSRIs and other antidepressants are highly effective tools to alleviate depression, there still is a stigma around taking them. Many people believe that those who take antidepressants are weak, lazy, or that they simply do not have the willpower to overcome their depression and anxiety. The people who are against taking antidepressants seem to believe that combating mental illnesses is simply a matter of changing your mindset, which anyone can do; however, anxiety and depression are very real medical conditions, and they should be treated as such. When somebody has a physical illness, like lack of a thyroid hormone, they are not told that they should simply produce more of that hormone. Instead, they are prescribed a medication to supply more of that hormone in their body. In a similar light, somebody who has anxiety and depression should not be embarrassed to take antidepressants because of their mental illness. Mental illnesses should be viewed less as personality traits and viewed more accurately as medical conditions. As any other medical condition, they should be treated properly.
Antidepressants are truly life-changing. They can help people feel like life is purposeful again, make them feel more motivated to complete daily tasks like personal hygiene, and can even save lives. Let’s remove the stigma of weakness associated with antidepressants and empower sufferers of anxiety and depression to take them if they so choose.