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In Response to the Daily Mail's Article 'A Nation Hooked on Happy Pills'

January 3, 2018

 

 So, the Daily Mail released a headline article and front-page last week which has caused an awful lot of controversy; 'A Nation Hooked on Happy Pills'. Now there is so much wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin. 

I really did think in almost 2018, a well-known newspaper would know better than to refer to anti-depressants as 'Happy Pills' - this term was originally used as a nickname for Ecstasy. The entire title itself gives you this ridiculous image that they are these magical pills that make everything right in an instant - as though they are some sort of recreational drug to give you a quick high. So much so, that people are 'hooked' on them?

 

Anti-Depressants do not work like this at all. Once you start a course of Anti-Depressants they often take weeks to enter your system. They work by balancing chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, that affect both your moods and emotions. There is no defining moment when you realise that these pills 'work' either, and have often left me questioning whether they are helping me or not.

 

Throughout my struggles with mental illness I have taken Citalopram (10mg, 20mg), Fluoxetine (20mg) and Sertraline (25mg, 50mg, 100mg) and my overall view has been impartial. I neither love nor hate these pills, but yes I continue to take them everyday and have done for a few years now. (If you'd like to find out more about anti-depressants click here.) And I do so because I've really no other option. The waiting lists for counselling are catastrophic and even when you get in the door, it's very hit and miss. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often prescribed as a 'one size fits all' therapy and is never a permanent fix. Sufferers often return many times - I have had CBT three times and am currently waiting for a higher-intensity CBT in February, after being on a waiting list for 6 months. 

 

This situation is often the same for most. Yes, there's a rise in the use of anti-depressants but there's also been a rise in mental health awareness. I believe that this has been massively helpful and given people the courage to reach out and ask for the help they often desperately need. So, publishing bullsh*t like this only makes people reconsider and may affect others who are considering seeking help. And whilst there are other forms of therapy available privately, they will cost you an arm and a leg and more often than not, people just can't afford it - I know I certainly can't.

 

This article itself is a mish-mash of statistics and quotes with very little aim. There are no details of where to go to should you be suffering yourself with depression and it also ends very abruptly. Now there are multiple things wrong with this article but I'll just paste a couple quotes here;

 

'Carmine Pariante, a professor of biological psychiatry at King’s College London, said society was becoming less tolerant of emotional pain.' 

 

‘"Perhaps the message should be that these situations happen to everybody. We all have losses and there’s an element that brings progress and personal development, but we have to accept that feeling like crying for a few weeks is perfectly normal."’

 

These two sentences in particular really p*ssed me off. The fact that this has even been published has left me speechless.

 

We live in a country where suicide is a huge issue. Looking at stats from 2016 - 5,965 people took their own lives. That's 16 people everyday who saw no other way out, and did not have the help that they needed. That breaks my heart, Daily Mail it should yours too.

 

The only positive here is that's a 3.6% decrease from the previous year, which may suggest as the anti-depressant prescriptions increase, suicide decreases. So yes, Daily Mail, you can stick your complaints about the rising increase of the cost of anti-depressants up your arse. The NHS was created to help people and mentally ill people are included. Mental health MATTERS.

 

Now the one (and only!) thing I will give the Daily Mail here is that they have discussed (or rather quoted info on) the long waiting lists and lack of alternative healthcare, so there is an informative edge to this article but there really is no excuse for it's title and lots of it's content. 

 

As a sufferer myself it is very upsetting to read and makes me think of the friends, relatives and family members that might read it and consciously or subconsciously judge me for my current position in life. It is not fair to create content that may reduce the progress in mental health awareness and which also may stop people seeking help.

 

This sort of stigmatising and disrespectful content should have no place in 2018 and I'm flabberghasted that 1) it was published and 2) it's still there.

If you want to have a read of the article, click here. I'd love to know your thoughts on it!

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