Panic Life

Fighting Stigma and Living with an Anxiety Disorder

When Your Friend Tells You Not to Take Anxiety Medication

People who don't have anxiety sometimes advise against medicine.

I am transparent about the fact that I take an SSRI to manage panic disorder. I take medication on a daily basis under the management of a psychiatrist. I used to hide the fact that I took medicine for anxiety, because often people would react poorly when I told them or stigmatize me. 

One time, a friend said to me, "You know that medicine is dangerous. It has a black box warning." He was concerned about the safety of the medicine that I was taking, which I appreciate. What a black box warning means is that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal behavior in some children and adolescents. I am not a child or a teenager, for the record.

Additionally, the studies indicate that the medication I take daily has been around for many years and has been FDA tested and studied for safety and efficacy. For the record, my friend is not an M.D. or a psychiatrist nor does he work for the FDA. 

I do, however, see a real psychiatrist who has gone to medical school and is well versed in how psychiatric medications work as well as what their side effects are. 

I wish that I could say this is an isolated incident where someone told me not to take medication for panic, but sadly this has happened to me multiple times. 

Antidepressants have been clinically proven to assist in the management of anxiety and panic disorder. Telling someone not to take a medicine that has been studied and proven to help their diagnosed symptoms is illogical. 

This is not to say that everyone managing anxiety needs to take an SSRI or another medication to manage it. But, if you find that medicine helps manage anxiety, and you are being managed by a psychiatrist on this medicine, then continue with that treatment plan because it works.

For me, the combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and medicine works like a magical duo together to combat panic disorder. 

If you choose to take medicine for anxiety, don't let the judgment of other people impede your own mental health plan. These individuals are not your clinican. 

Sarah Fader is a mental illness advocate and mother of two living with
panic disorder in New York City.

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