As a medical provider, I often see that when the question arises about past medical history, rarely does anyone feel hesitant to say high blood pressure or diabetes. Yet when it comes to depression or anxiety, there is some uncertainty in their response. And it always seems to follow by some long, drawn-out explanation as if to justify the diagnosis. Even better are the patients who deny it altogether, but then list a medication on their medical record that will include an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. And when I ask them why are they taking it, they respond, ” I don’t know. My doctor just said to use it.”
Granted I have to agree that sometimes patients don’t fully understand why they are put on medications, and this is probably their practitioners fault, however there are also patients that choose not to listen to what their practitioner has to say. Whatever the reason, a patient should always be aware as to why they are on any medications especially this class of drug. There may be certain side effects that are involved as well.
It is important to know that if the choice was made by a clinician and patient to be on this medication that it was a reasonable decision and that they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed by it.
Stress is a part of life and a lot of times there is so much more demands out there whether it be your social life, domestic issues or work/school environment, these “things” can add to the “normal stress” that we are built to endure. And we may need that extra bit of help to cope with these issues, whether temporary or not. Usually only time will tell if this is a temporary treatment or if long term management will be needed. It is extremely important to discuss this with the practitioner as time goes on. And if the individual is finding it difficult to accept the diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety then this may also be adding unnecessary stress to an already difficult time.
Really, it is important to know that is OK to be on these medications and not feel that there is a stigma attached to it, the probability that the next person you speak to is on one of these medications themselves is very high.
There have been times that I am out with friends and out of the blue either they will say that they were just placed on a certain drug to help with their stress level or they will admit they have been on it for awhile and were just embarrassed to mention it in the past. My response has always been the same to my patients, family and friends. “Sometimes we need a little help to cope.” If it is too hard to deal with something on our own then the addition of a pharmaceutical agent may be beneficial along with a great support network. The largest issue is at hand when it is difficult to admit these concerns.
I am not saying to run to every single co-worker and tell them that you are on these medications or that you are having certain problems, however I am saying not to feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit it. Initially it may be uncomfortable but if the opportunity arises it may actually be beneficial to talk about it.
Personally I have found that when someone openly discusses these issues so much more is learned and shared and in turn this opens up a round table discussion and everyone involved actually feels a sense of reassurance and acceptance.
The only stigma attached to these medications and diagnosis is the one that we create ourselves and this is true for just about every disease process out there, so do not be ashamed of who you are.