Let's Talk About Antidepressants

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, so because of that, I want to talk about antidepressants, something that personally affects me, and I know affects many other college women as well.

Thanks to broader education and continued conversation surrounding mental health in recent years, people have felt increasingly comfortable seeking help through therapy, there are even popular sweatshirts with graphics that exclaim “going to therapy is cool!” in a fun, brightly colored font. It’s time we start putting the same energy into antidepressants and other mental health-related medications because while yes, it is cool to feel comfortable enough to seek therapy, it’s much cooler to realize that therapy alone isn’t going to cut it for many of the people who struggle with their mental health.

Antidepressants are too often seen as a taboo subject, but why? A depressed person taking an antidepressant is no different than a diabetic taking insulin. Antidepressants simply work to adjust a chemical imbalance in the brain. My doctor likes to call it, “better living through chemistry.” self-love Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media A common misconception is that antidepressants simply make patients happier, which is how the stigmatizing term “happy pills,” came about. According to sane.org, “they do not make you euphoric, but simply help you react more realistically in your emotional responses,” which is why it’s not only depression that antidepressants are prescribed for, they actually are effective in treating a variety of mental illnesses like OCD, anxiety disorders and even PTSD. In fact, antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in America, with an estimated 10% of adults taking antidepressants. Interestingly, 16% of college students regularly use antidepressants, meaning it is more prevalent among college students.

Krystal Franklin (BS in Public Health, Kent State ’21) has benefited greatly from the use of antidepressants and feels it’s time to open up a dialogue about mental health medications on campus.

“Once you actually start a conversation it is easier to talk about antidepressants. It is definitely present, but it isn’t always in the [mental health] conversation, people need to start it,” says Franklin.

Amanda* (Kent State ’21) is also on antidepressants but says it’s not something she generally discusses, even with friends and family. She says, “I hate telling people. I’m not a hypochondriac, and I don’t want people to think I am.” Laptop with text on the screen that reads Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels

Suffering from mental health conditions can be an incredibly isolating experience, in part due to the lack of open conversations on the topic. Many people are afraid to seek medication even after realizing therapy alone isn’t enough. For me personally, accepting that I needed antidepressants felt like accepting that there was something terribly wrong with me. How dramatic! It really is not a big deal, and I wish I understood that at the time. Show me a person in this world who doesn’t have something wrong with their health, whether it be mental or physical! It’s okay. What’s important is that we do what we need to do to better ourselves and our lives.

“Education goes a long way,” Franklin says. “Just in recent years we have gotten more comfortable, but we need to develop it. We’ve established that it’s an issue so what are we going to do about it? Bring it up in public spaces, groups on campus, start an initiative,” she suggests.

The more the subject is talked about, it becomes less taboo, less scary to accept, and ultimately, more people feel comfortable to get the treatment that they need. Let's keep the conversation going.

*Name has been changed