6 Antidepressant Medication Myths

Learn the facts so you can make meaningful choices.

Posted Sep 13, 2020

 Arek Socha/Pixabay
Source: Arek Socha/Pixabay

When it comes to mental health, the best treatment approaches generally include a combination of talk therapy and medication, clinically called pharmacotherapy—the use of medication to help alleviate mental illness symptoms.

If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with a mental health disorder, research what the best treatments are—and learn about the myths that often come with the treatment of mental illnesses. This will deepen your understanding and reduce stigma.

In particular, make sure you learn about the myths surrounding medication. Studies have long shown that how you feel about taking medication will set the trajectory of your health and wellness. When it comes to depression, there are many myths surrounding antidepressant medications. Here are six to explore.

1. Antidepressants are “addictive."

False. Antidepressants are not addictive in the way that most people would use the word. You don’t crave your antidepressant. However, the medicine that gets introduced to your central nervous system becomes something your body recognizes each day. Stopping medication without guidance from a professional can cause your body to react to the loss of these neurotransmitters. This experience, called discontinuation syndrome, can be avoided completely when proper dosage-stopping is monitored.

2. Antidepressants are “happy pills.”

False. Antidepressants don't induce immediate states of bliss. Unlike drugs like amphetamines or MDMA that offer a state of euphoria, antidepressants only improve the mood of children or adults with a mood disorder. If someone who isn't depressed takes antidepressants, the only change that they'll notice will be possible side effects... which, really, are not very happy-inducing.

3. Antidepressants are a "quick fix" and don't really cure depression.

False. One thing antidepressants surely aren’t is quick. Most take a minimum of four to six weeks to reach a full therapeutic level. And they are not meant to "fix" your depression, per se. Most people with depression need to address the psychological, social, and environmental issues that contribute to their depression. 

4. Antidepressants will change your personality.

False. Antidepressants normalize the mood ranges of children and adults who have a mood disorder. Who you are doesn’t change, your personality stays intact. 

5. Antidepressants will make you "forget" your problems instead of dealing with them.  

False. Antidepressants don't numb your awareness—or make you forget your problems. These medications lift depressive symptoms, improving your thinking, judgment, and reasoning—making it more productive for you to problem solve and address life issues. 

6. Once you start taking antidepressants, you're on them for the rest of your life.

False. For the majority of people, this is not true. Many who take antidepressant medication will stop their prescription when remission from depression occurs. This generally occurs within one to two years of taking antidepressant medications.