The #MedsWorkedForMe Debate

You all know by now that I am frequently on Twitter, interacting with people through the various hashtags, helping them with their mental health struggles.  It’s a part of what we do at Pushing Back the Shadows.  Anyway, while interacting, I’ve come across the debate that’s been going on about antidepressants and other mental health pills.  More specifically: the #MedsWorkedForMe or #MedsDidntWorkForMe debate.

So what’s it all about?

In a nutshell, the debate centres around the effectiveness of medications used in treating mental illnesses.  Scientists are arguing that they have proved antidepressants work, despite many studies previously disproving their effectiveness.  Now, the people of social media have taken to platforms such as Twitter to state whether or not medication worked for them.  In truth, it’s been quite a divisive argument and it seems to be taking two rather extreme approaches:

  1. Medication is absolutely necessary.
  2. Medication doesn’t work at all, therapy is the only route.

Hmm…does anyone else see a problem with this?

Medication Matters

Personally, I find there is a stigma around taking medication for mental health issues that needs to be addressed.  That thought aside, how effective is medication?  Does it work?  Well, I’d say it does.  Granted, medication – particularly antidepressants – come with a large amount of baggage in the form of side-effects, but the long and short of it is that they do work.

But how?

Antidepressant PillsSimply put: they block the symptoms.  Whilst those are crude terms of explaining it, that’s effectively what they do.  While we are struggling with the symptoms of our mental health condition, we are sometimes unable to function or missing key chemicals in our brains. These pills will work on correcting that to bring us back into a better place.  Sometimes the side-effects outweigh the benefits and so some experimentation and tinkering is required, but they do prove to be quite effective.

There are people who will require medication for the rest of their lives – bipolar, for example, is usually treated for life with medication – but there are others who will only require a short burst of medication, a quick fix if you will.  If anything, that quick fix prepares them for therapy.


Therapy in itself is the long-term fix.  Instead of simply blocking the symptoms and enabling us to function, it deals with the root cause of the problem and helps us fix that.  Many experts say that it’s through therapy that we heal, that we recover and that we put all the pieces back together.  So it would seem if we want to get better, we need that therapy.

A man receiving therapy.Many people find therapy incredibly beneficial.  Being able to open up about our problems, talk them through with someone impartial to the situation and get advice on how to deal with our situations can be such a benefit.

That said, it doesn’t work for everyone.  My first course of therapy was quite unhelpful.  After deciding to tackle my insomnia as the first port of call, my therapist went through multiple techniques to try and help me sleep.  One by one, I replied that I’d tried them.  Eventually he reached the conclusion that there was no reason why I shouldn’t be sleeping.  Yeah…not so good.

Despite my experience, therapy can certainly be beneficial in dealing with the root cause, putting those fixes into place and helping us move on.

#MedsWorkedForMe and My Thoughts

So which approach is the right one?  Both?  Neither?  It’s a difficult question to answer.

Personally, I believe it’s neither and both.  Really, it’s whatever works for you.

That’s right: I said whatever works for you!

See, one thing I continually say is that mental health is very unique, very individual and, as such, is subjective to each person.  What works for me will not necessarily work for anyone else, and so on.  Thus, the approach that we should take in treatment is whatever works for us.   As I mentioned previously, for some people those pills will be a necessity for them.  For others, it will only be temporary.  Some find medication works, some find therapy works, some require a combination of the two.  Yoga, meditation, prayer, video games…the list is endless!  But really, whatever your coping mechanism is, whatever helps you get through your mental health struggles, that is what we should be focusing on (within reason, as naturally things like recreational drugs and self-harm aren’t necessarily the best).

If you need meds to get through, that’s fine.  There’s no shame in that and there should be no stigma.  If you need therapy, that’s also fine.  If you require a combination of both or require neither, that’s also fine.  Realistically, whatever your treatment is, whatever works for you is what you need.

So keep fighting.  You’re worth more than you think you are!

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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