Anti-Depressants are a Crutch – Why that’s not Bad

Anti-depressants are a crutch.

Being autistic isn’t necessarily tied to depression and the like, but it is very commonly a co-occurring and difficult condition to manage. As such, I’d like to talk about medication. If you’ve been on anti-depressants, you know what I’m talking about when I call anti-depressants a crutch: all the people who suddenly come out of the woodwork to tell you that if you just try this diet, do yoga, and smile more, then everything will be better and you won’t need to give big pharma all your money. That you’re just using the pills because you’re too lazy to do things right, or the way they think you should do things. As if no one who goes on anti-depressants has ever thought of trying alternatives before getting a prescription.

Here’s the thing about crutches – picture someone who needs a physical crutch. Maybe they lost a leg due to an accident. Maybe they broke a bone and won’t need a crutch forever. Maybe they were born with a condition requiring that they use mobility assistance. The thing is that if you take a crutch away from someone who uses it to walk, they’ll lose their balance and fall flat on their face because they physically cannot walk without it, and taking away that crutch actively harms them rather than allowing them to function in the world. So why would anyone ever say “it’s just a crutch” as if that means it’s not necessary? As if it means it’s not vitally important?

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Image is of a woman on crutches working with a physical therapist to walk.

Really, that should be the end of the argument. But people don’t want to leave it there. They’ll argue that it’s just all in your head, and with enough willpower then you can fix yourself and “just be happy” or “just stop being anxious” – as if it were that simple.

Mental illnesses, disabilities, and conditions ranging from the severe and debilitating to the mildly annoying are real illnesses, disabilities, and conditions. Your brain is an organ. Just because you can’t physically see it doesn’t mean you can just think your way out of something –  though I will acknowledge that the brain is a powerful organ and it can help to try. That’s just not always enough.

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Image is of two brain scans, demonstrating the physical difference between a depressed brain (left) and a non-depressed brain (right).

No one would ever go up to a person with diabetes and tell them to stop taking insulin because big pharma just wants their money and is pumping them with poisons. You know what happens if you take away a diabetic’s insulin? They die.

Your brain is not that different from your heart – it just happens to be vastly more complex and difficult to understand. However, it is not difficult to understand that just like your heart, it is an organ. And sometimes organs get sick or have trouble. If that’s the case, then medicine is there to help. It might take time to figure out exactly which medicine, but you should never feel ashamed if you need medication for a mental condition of any kind. You are strong for getting help, for recognizing that there is something your brain isn’t doing right. Perhaps you don’t produce enough natural serotonin. In which case, store bought is just fine.

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Image is a meme that says: If your brain can’t produce its own serotonin and norepinehrine, store-bought is fine.
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