There's Nothing Wrong With Medication For Depression

There's Nothing Wrong With Medication For Depression

We need to stop acting like the medication of mental illness is a bad thing.
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It dopes you up. It numbs you to real life. It’s inorganic. It brands you as a “crazy person.” These are just a few limbs of the monstrous stigma associated with anti-depressants and other mental health medications. And such fears don’t come from nowhere: it makes sense to be afraid of chemical supplements that alter the functioning of one’s brain. But is there really reason for such ambivalence, and even outright opposition?

I don’t think so.

In order to break down exactly why mental health medication isn’t worth fearing, we actually need to de-romanticize it. Taking pills to help with depression, anxiety, and other disorders does just that--it helps. It doesn’t ‘cure’ anything. Mental illness more closely resembles a chronic disease than a temporary physical impairment: nothing can make it go away permanently, but there are ways to cope with it, and to keep oneself at the level necessary to function in daily life.

Function is the key word here. Let’s hone in specifically on major depressive disorder. Depression is very widely associated with sadness, to the point of presumed synonymity. But sadness and other negative emotions, including boredom and anger, are symptoms of depression, not core features or causes. The illness itself is much more complex--and more difficult to handle.

Depression, even at high-functioning levels, is disabling. It keeps people from reaching their full potential, because simple tasks become exhausting or even insurmountable. Not only is this unpleasant for the afflicted person; it disrupts the lives of those around them, as they become unable to perform their jobs and maintain their relationships.

Antidepressants don’t force you to be happy or control your actions--they simply enable the execution of previously difficult tasks.There’s nothing sci-fi or eerie about it. It’s true that genuine happiness doesn’t come from artificial chemicals--it comes from satisfactory accomplishments and beneficial life experiences. However, said accomplishments and experiences can’t be achieved when executive function is massively impaired by mental illness. When they work as intended--and keep in mind, they sometimes don’t--antidepressants will bring one’s serotonin and other such substances necessary for proper functioning back to a typical level. In other words, they’ll even out the chemical imbalances of a brain, thus giving the patient the same set of mental tools to work with as everyone else. They don’t create happiness--they just level the playing ground. They give us what we need to be functioning members of society, and when we can operate on the same level of productivity and reward as everyone else, we just happen to be a little bit happier.

The stigmatization of antidepressants--and other drugs that assist with myriad mental illnesses, including mania and psychotic disorders--needs to stop. Anyone taking a medication for mental health benefits can assure you that they’re by no means “doped up.” These medications improve and save the lives not only of the people taking them, but of their friends, families, and coworkers. And is there really any good reason to stand opposed to something that saves lives?

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Better Not Bitter

"Let your past make you better, not bitter."

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After completing my junior year at Iowa State, I have found myself reflecting on a lot of the experiences and people who have helped me get to the point I am at today. Family obviously comes to mind, followed by my friends, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, my professors, and my mentors. I am able to contribute a lot of my success to their support and compassion that they have shown me throughout my past three years. I am also able to contribute my success to the woman I have grown to be and to the woman I have always wanted to be. You see, three years ago, the woman I was was buried in a toxic relationship that didn't allow me to flourish into the woman I was striving to be.

Let me take a step back, this article is not meant to bash the person who it is about. In fact, it's more of a thank you. Because you see, without him letting go of me, I would have never taken the leaps and bounds out of my comfort zone to become the woman I am so damn proud to be today. This is also not meant to say that I am I glad I was in such a toxic relationship, it was honestly so terrible that I wouldn't wish it upon anyone but I am in fact, thankful. I learned more from that relationship that I have in anything else in my life.

First, I learned to be a fighter, and not in a bad way. I learned to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I have become vocal about my passions and stand up for people when they are treated wrong. I no longer let people walk all over me, but rather I stand my ground firmly and confidently. Thank you.

Second, I learned to be fierce. Fierce in love, kindness, compassion, and willpower. I believe in my abilities and the things I am able to accomplish if I set my mind to something. I have learned that in being fierce, there is absolutely no time to doubt myself which has worked greatly in my favor. I learned that demanding respect in all relationships I have formed has been about me making the decision to make myself a priority and learning to never settle for any less than I deserve, ever again. Thank you.

Third, I learned compassion. I learned to be kind to the other woman, and mostly, to the person who chose to hurt me. It took everything in me to remain kind while I was being hurt, but I am so thankful that I stayed true to the values and morals I was raised on. I have carried this with me throughout the past three years by choosing to show compassion to all people around me, and looking deeper into the reasons behind the actions and decisions that people make. Often times there is something going on behind closed doors and because of that, it is important to always, always radiate kindness. Thank you.

I wanted to extend my gratitude to the person who hurt me because if you hadn't, I wouldn't be the badass, boss girl, powerful woman that I am today. I am confident, smart, loving, and fully capable of giving and receiving the kindest, most sincere kind of love. My life has changed for the better, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I wish you the best, because let me tell ya, it feels great.

By the way, if you ever feel like you deserve better than what you're receiving in a relationship, trust your gut & walk the hell away. It's worth it.

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Denver's Decision To Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms Offers New Hope For Those Struggling With Mental Illness

If we want to really make progress in mental health treatment, we might have to start considering solutions that are a little bit unorthodox.

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Admittedly, magic mushrooms are not the first drug that comes to mind when you think of Denver, Colorado. However, this week the residents of Denver will vote on whether to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms as part of a movement nicknamed "Decriminalize Denver." The movement is the nation's first public referendum on hallucinogenic mushrooms. Initiative 301 aims to ratify the directive that enforcing laws for personal use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms "shall be the lowest law enforcement priority in the City and County of Denver."

While the motives behind decriminalization are undeniably varied, one major reason to support the legalization of magic mushrooms is the fact that they offer a lot of potential in long-term treatment of mental illness and addiction. According to a study led by Jeremy Daniel and Margaret Haberman at the South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy in 2017, psilocybin mushrooms have high affinity for several serotonin receptors located in numerous areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex and thalamus.

Findings like these point to the fact that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, may be an effective treatment for addiction, depression, chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The benefits are so convincing that the FDA has granted "breakthrough therapy" status to study psilocybin for treating depression due to the fact that preliminary evidence shows "the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy," meaning magic mushrooms might be closer to their namesake after all, bringing new hope for those who have exhausted other options and found them more harmful than helpful.

Kevin Matthews, the campaign director of "Decriminalize Denver," credits psilocybin mushrooms with "really saving [his] life" following his medical discharge from the United States Military Academy due to his major depression. Matthews says his "life had crumbled beneath [his] feet" and suffered without a solution for years until his friends introduced him to magic mushrooms. Since discovering their potential for treating his depression, he's dedicated his life to bringing others with severe mental illnesses the same opportunity.

A 2015 paper from the University of Alabama went so far as to find that "classic psychedelic use is associated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality in the United States adult population." Findings like these are imperative, especially in a time when suicide rates have risen 30% in the last decade.

If we want to really make progress in mental health treatment, we might have to start considering solutions that are a little bit unorthodox.

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