Myths about drugs people take for Mental Health


Telling people that they're 'crazy' or they'll become an addict if they take psychiatric medications does more harm than good.

One in six Americans takes some kind of psychiatric drugs, mostly antidepressants. Many people who have a prescription for psychiatric medications also use talk therapy, mindfulness or exercise to manage their symptoms. But it's the prescription pills that typically bring out the negative comments.

Experts share the most common reactions to psychiatric medications and what the truth really is.

1. YOU’RE GOING TO BECOME AN ADDICT.

“The vast majority of medications that I prescribe are not addictive,” Dr. Ken Nash, chief of clinical services at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital in Pennsylvania, told TODAY. “You are not going to be addicted.”

2. YOU’LL HAVE TO TAKE THE DRUGS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Often people believe if they start taking a medication, they will always have to take it. But that’s not true.

“For some conditions, like recurrent depression or bipolar disorder, there is not a curative treatment. There is nothing you can take and it is better forever,” Dr. Michael Thase, director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told TODAY. “It is possible that 10 to 15 years from now there might be a curative treatment.”

3. TAKING MEDICINE IS A CRUTCH.

So often people don’t want to take medication for their mental health because they think it’s a crutch, which won't help them solve their problems. But the experts said this is the wrong way to look at it.

 “There are times when people really benefit from using a crutch … in helping you recover,” Thase said.

4. YOU DON'T NEED DRUGS FOR MENTAL HEALTH.

Too often mental health vulnerabilities are thought of as a personal deficiency and taking medicine shows that a person is weak. But that’s simply not true.

These medicines are helping people manage mood, deal with voices and with impulses that are counterproductive.”

5. WHY ARE YOU SO EMOTIONAL IF YOU’RE ON DRUGS?

People mistakenly believe that if someone is on medication for a mental health condition that they’ll never feel sad or have bad days. Medication treats the symptoms but does not alter who you are.

 6. BEING ON MEDICATION MEANS YOU’RE ‘CRAZY’

People with mental illnesses have a condition that creates symptoms, which might make people feel sad, have problem sleeping, experience anxiety or changing moods, for example. Doctors prescribe medications to treat symptoms not because people are “crazy.”

7. IF YOU BELIEVED IN GOD, SMILED MORE OR TRIED HARDER YOU WOULDN’T NEED DRUGS.

When it comes to mental health, people often tell others to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and overcome it. Treating mental health is not simply a matter of willpower and advising people to try harder can be harmful because people feel they do not need to ask for help.

“Having faith helps you be more resilient. People who have faith are better able to withstand suffering better.

8. YOU SHOULD ONLY TRY SOMETHING NATURAL.

Meditation, yoga and exercise can help with some mental health conditions, natural remedies, such as St. John’s Wort or marijuana, but they do not always provide effective treatment. Supplements are not well regulated so experts are unsure what is actually them and there is little research on how marijuana impacts mental health.​

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