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4 Myths About Medication for Mental Health

Recovering from a mental health diagnosis is a long and arduous journey for many. Mental health specialists recommend various treatment methods to battle the ongoing issues throughout recovery, including medication. Although not recommended for all mental health diagnoses, medications can reduce or potentially relieve symptoms depending on the severity of the illness.

Because medications have become widely abused outside their intended purpose, a negative stigma surrounds using medication to combat mental health issues. People are referred to as “pill-poppers” or “addicts” simply because of the use of medication at all. This has deterred people from considering this kind of treatment because of the increasingly negative perceptions. However, this shouldn’t be the case. The abundance of research is evident; taking medication as prescribed to improve mental health can help people regain control of their lives.

As we work together to fight against the stigma, here is a list of four myths about medication for mental health that you should know:

Myth #1: I Will Become Addicted

It is a common misconception that people who take medication will become addicted as soon as they start. This can lead individuals to avoid seeking help for their mental health as a precautionary measure to avoid medication. 

However, psychiatric medication is not addictive when compared to illicit substances. When initially prescribed, your therapist will provide medication in controlled doses to manage your symptoms. After taking them for a couple of weeks, if you notify them that you see no change, you can discuss with your doctor if you should increase your dose or be taken off the medication. 

Some individuals may be concerned about their own tendency to abuse medications, or would like to consider alternative options for recovery. Make this a moment to discuss any reservations with your specialist. Medications are not always recommended and can be avoided if you and your specialist come to more comfortable preferences.

If you believe you may be experiencing addictive symptoms, contact your doctor. You are under constant observation during this period, and as long as you have honest communication with your therapist, your journey should be steady and controlled. 

Myth #2: Medication Is a Quick and Easy Fix

Everyone’s mental health journey is different, but not all are easy. Psychiatric medication is one possible solution out of many. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), “Be persistent until you find the medication (or combination of medications) that works for you. A few psychiatric medications work quickly, and you will see improvements within days, but most work more slowly. You may need to take medication for several weeks or months before you see improvement.”

Alleviation for your symptoms will not come fast or easy, nor will it always have to come from medication. Depending on the methods you’ve chosen, the medication you’re using, and the way your body reacts, it may take a couple of tries before finding the right routine for improvement. 

It’s important that you remain patient during this trial period. Treating yourself with kindness is the best way to keep yourself calm, even if you feel like you can’t. As long as you are willing to fight, the journey is worth it. 

Myth #3: Taking Medication for My Mental Health Means I’m Weak

Taking medication for your mental health is far from a sign of weakness. The struggles regarding mental illness are a serious issue that needs to be addressed more. It takes an immense amount of courage to bite the bullet and seek help. The strength it takes to accept that you might need medication is a mighty feat that takes vulnerability. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone isn’t easy and is something you should be proud of. You and everyone else want to prove their independence by conquering their own problems, but it’s okay to ask for help. Nothing shows mental strength more than admitting you need help. 

Knowing your own limitations is an act of strength in itself, regardless of the perceptions of those around you. If you’re still uncomfortable with pursuing certain medications as a means of self improvement, discuss your apprehension with your specialist. They’ll help tailor personalized treatments to address your diagnosis in the most accommodating way possible. Creating a dialogue can open yourself and your specialist up to the most individualized treatment methods available.

Myth #4: I Will Change Who I Am as a Person if I Take Medication

In no way can taking medication change who you are as a person. The purpose of taking psychiatric medication is to manage your mental illness symptoms and improve your quality of life. It primarily targets neurochemical imbalances, and you should experience no drastic changes to your personality. More specifically, your medication is meant to make you feel more like yourself as it manages these imbalances. 

If you do believe the medication you’re taking is affecting your personality or negatively impacting your daily routine, discuss any issues with your specialist. This dialogue may change what your specialist can recommend based on your body’s responses, or eliminate the recommendation for medication at all. A specialist's recommendation should always be individualized to your comfort and progress toward a healthy mind.

Overall, society shouldn’t view psychiatric medications negatively. Just like other mental health treatments, it aims to correct imbalances to improve your quality of life. Your mental health journey is by no means easy. It takes a few falls to stand, and it's okay if you need a little guidance along the way. That’s what your friends, family, and your doctors are here for. 

We at Jackson House understand the struggles of living with mental health issues. If you’re ever in need of guidance or help, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We welcome you with open arms. 

*Important Note*

If you or someone you know is in a severe situation, please call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.