Millennial on medication: time to break the silence about using antidepressants
December 13th 2017
About 18 months ago, when I was 20, I started taking medication – a combination of antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills. It was a long and arduous process – full of CAT scans, dieticians and psychologists – before I could even admit to my depression and anxiety. After exhausting all other avenues I came to the conclusion that perhaps medication was a necessary next step.
The lack of conversation surrounding antidepressants, though, made me apprehensive. This silence exists despite their prevalence. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2013 snapshot of medication use by nation found that Australia was the second-highest prescriber of antidepressants in the world. The defined daily dosage of medication intake in adults more than doubled in Australia between 2000 and 2013.
So we’re using them but we’re not talking about them.
I asked some Millennial friends of mine who have found antidepressant medication effective but have only recently been public about it why they kept medication secret. “I was ashamed,” said one, “because I felt as if the inability to cope was a weakness that I didn’t see any of my other friends going through.”
“There isn’t an open discussion about it, [so] people feel quite scared,” said another. “It’s almost, like, to take this medication I’m … accepting ‘I’m a freak’.”
Antidepressants are certainly not for everyone. There can be negative side-effects including fatigue, weight gain, dry mouth, loss of libido, night sweats, diarrhoea, insomnia or nausea. I experienced a lot of night sweats and “brain zaps”.
And it doesn’t aways work. According to NPC MedicineWise, only about 50 per cent of those who take antidepressants report their symptoms have halved.
When I first started, I was lucky a friend warned me: “You get worse, before you get better.” I’m thankful that my friend told me this, because the first few weeks were tough.
But it did get better and they have been of use to me. I’m now in the process of weaning off my medication and I am thankful for the new perspectives it has given me.
So many of Australians are taking these medications; we should be talking about it too.
My friends and I are Millennials on medication, unapologetically so. We are going to talk about it so we can change the stigma surrounding medication.
This page reproduces an article on the The Age’s website.