I found it a big deal to speak about my experience of taking anti-depressants on BBC Newsnight as an ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness this week.
The reason for my appearance on the show was that this week a new study was published which showed that some common anti-depressants are more effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression than taking a placebo.
The reaction to my appearance on BBC Newsnight has shown what I already knew – medication and its role is a controversial topic. This is a hugely complicated area with differing views, and which doctors and those who suffer from mental illness have been discussing for years.
What is certain is we need even more research, and we still don’t exactly understand the workings of our individual brains, nor exactly how the drugs work. I’ve had positive and negative feedback, as others have experienced medication differently to me. I’m lucky enough to have recovered from two serious depressive episodes, but others haven’t been so blessed.
In my opinion, ideally anti-depressants should only be used short-term and for acute and severe cases. They also aren’t the only answer. Talking therapy, poetry, mindfulness, diet, exercise and even Sammy the dog have all played a crucial part in my recovery and stability.
I’m much more comfortable talking about these other wellbeing strategies and will continue to share the good, evidence-based ideas that have helped me so much.
It is important that the conversation continues, to help break down stigma attached to mental health issues. Let’s continue to talk.