Mental health medicines like Antidepressants, Antipsychotics and Mood Stabilisers are very common, and have helped a huge range of people to improve their mental wellbeing.
However, there are many myths attributed to psychiatric medicines which threaten to cause patients to be misled and confused about these medicines.
This article takes a look at some of the common myths and misconceptions about mental health medicines, and shows the truth about them.
Myth: Mental health medication isn’t safe
One of the most common misconceptions surrounds the safety of psychiatric medicine. It is important to state that no medication is wholly safe, but for the vast majority of people, mental health medicines are safe.
We have an article that looks at this topic more. It is also important to know that all medicines have extensive research and trials on them to ensure their safety and effectiveness. You can read more about how a medicine becomes available here.
Myth: Mental health medication has bad side effects
Any medicine – from Paracetamol to morphine – has the potential to cause side effects. Common side effects of mental health medicines include dry mouth, headache and sedation.
But most side effects are rather mild. Before you take any medicine, your GP will have a discussion with you about the medicine and tell you about potential side effects.
You are likely to be given a lower dose to begin with, before the dose is gradually increased up to the therapeutic level required.
Even in cases where there are side effects, the body will slowly get used to the medicine, meaning side effects are unlikely to last for long.
Myth: Mental health medication doesn’t actually work
Many people have the ill-informed opinion that mental health medication doesn’t work. Some argue that it is just a “placebo” effect, and that in truth, medicine doesn’t actually do anything.
However, studies show that mental health medication does work. For example, a large study into the most commonly prescribed mental health medication (antidepressants), found that these medicines do have a positive effect on many people . Other studies can back this finding up.
In fairness, medicine rarely works alone. A combination of medicine, regular outdoor exercise and therapy can be a great mix that can aid recovery.
Myth: You will be on mental health medication for life
Another common misconception is that once a person starts taking mental health medication – they are on it for life. But this simply isn’t true!
Most people will find that a 6-12 month period of taking medicine helps them sufficiently. While some will go back on medicine later in their lives, others won’t.
However, it is important to point out that some people will be recommended to take medicines for the rest of their life. This is typically for severe conditions like Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia, where coming off medicine poses a serious danger.
Myth: You should only take mental health medicine if you are very ill
While this isn’t entirely a myth, you don’t need to be seriously ill in order to take mental health medicine. Instead, those with moderate to severe symptoms can also benefit from psychiatric medicine.
However, in mild cases of mental health conditions, it is advisable to not go straight for medicine. So while you don’t need to be seriously ill for the medicine, it shouldn’t be given out routinely.
Myth: People will judge you for taking medicine for your mental health
Sadly, a stigma towards mental health conditions still exists. However, in recent years there have been large strides made in terms of mental health being more openly discussed.
As so many people now take a mental health medicine, acceptance towards medication is at an all-time high level. Hopefully the stigma will continue to lessen in years to come.
Myth: Mental health medicine leave a lasting negative impact on the brain
Some suggest that once a person stops taking a mental health medicine, that their brain is changed forever. However, this is a misconception that can be very damaging.
While the brain does take time to adjust to life post-medication, the medicine doesn’t leave behind a negative impact. Instead, it should improve a person’s brain!
Myth: Mental health medication is addictive
One of the biggest concerns that people have is that mental health medicines are addictive. It links in with the aforementioned myth that once you start taking mental health medicine, that you can’t stop.
Instead, medicines like antidepressants and antipsychotics are not addictive. While abruptly stopping these medicines will cause problems, as long as you carefully withdraw from them, you will be fine. They aren’t addictive.
However, it is worth noting that some medications used in the treatment of mental health medicines – such as Diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax)
Myth: You can’t drive while you take mental health medication
Driving is a critical part of everyday life for many people. Therefore, it is understandable that some people are concerned that if they take medicine, that they will be unable to drive.
However, this is a myth. While it is advisable to not drive for the first few days after you take medicine, there is nothing to stop you from driving as normal. There are no restrictions on driving while taking psychiatric medicine. You can read more about driving and mental health medicine here.
Myth: Mental health medication will change your personality
Some people are concerned that when they take mental health medication, their personality will change. They fear that they will become more dull, quiet and
However, mental health medicines don’t alter your personality in any way. In fact, the idea behind these medicines is to return yourself to your old self. They are unable to change your personality.
It can be challenging to make an informed decision about whether or not mental health medication is right for you. Having misinformation on the internet only adds to the problems.
But for all of the myths and misconceptions involved, there are several positives too. This article has hopefully helped to assuage any of your concerns!
- 10 Common Signs of an Overdose and What to Look Out For
- Can You Drive While Taking Mental Health Medication?
- Who Can and Can’t Prescribe Psychiatric Medicines in the UK?
- What Are Controlled Medicines? Explanation of Controlled Drugs
- Are Mental Health Medicines Safe? Are There Long-term effects?
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If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.
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