There is a common practice among those who take medication for depression and other mental illnesses – they discontinue they medication because “They feel better,” not realizing it is the medication that is helping to stabilize the chemical imbalances, or stop taking it because of the stigma.
Most often than not it is the stigma that stops medication, having to answer questions as to why they take a certain medication will mean admitting their mental illness, a fear greater than the illness itself.
It has been seen in recent college campus shootings that the gunman had recently stopped taking his Anti-depressant. Most of these medications are used to stabilize mood and when suddenly stopped, the person’s system is put in turmoil and their actions take on a life of their own, so faithfully taking their medication is vital.
So, why do people stop taking it? As I mentioned stigma is a big reason – medication brings the feeling of being an outcast – the mentally ill are not exactly accepted with open arms. Side effects also play a part in stopping medication, when the side effects begin; it no longer seems worth the effort. Another reason, and it is a sign of our times, is many can not afford the medication when insurance money runs out. When you need to make a choice – do you eat or take the medication. Food and shelter will win.
Whether it is stigma, financial or side effects – stopping medication is a dangerous choice. These medications are made to help stabilize mood and help with chemical imbalances stopping and starting these medications will further complicate an illness, often sending the person into a tailspin or suicidal thoughts, mania and/or dangerous activity.
Knowledge and acceptance is vital.