Mental Health

Antidepressants: Do they work?

Recently, there was a show on TV called ‘The Doctor Who Gave up Drugs’ and it followed the journey of a small sample of teenagers that have been placed on antidepressants. He wanted to explore why so many children were being placed on these drugs by the doctors.

I will hold up hands up and say, that I am on antidepressants. I am currently taking a dosage of Fluoxetine which I recently found out is a form of Prozac. Prozac, for anybody that doesn’t know, is a highly addictive drug that is also used to treat depression and other complusive disorders. Prozac isn’t prescribed as Prozac as much anymore because of how highly addictive it is. When I was first put on Fluoxetine I didn’t know it was a form of Prozac, it was only until my dad and I watched this show that we realised. In total honesty, I am annoyed that I was never told that it was a form of Prozac because it probably would have changed my mind about taking this drug. However, I think it was good that they didn’t tell me because I can definitely say that Fluoxetine has helped me to be able to cope and act more like my old self. If you are on antidepressants it’s worth looking up what kind of antidepressant you are actually on.

This doctor, Chris van Tulleken, just wanted to see what the affect of antidepressants were on children and teenagers. He done a study which included the most common types of antidepressants and showed which ones were most effective and which ones weren’t much better than if you were taking a placebo. Fluoxetine came out on top, it reduced the most symptoms out of the drugs tested. Tulleken also noticed that a number of individual who took these tablets ended up trying to take their own lives due to the tablets not reducing or eliminating their symptoms.

The show followed a young girl called Jess who had recently been put on Sertraline. Jess was really struggling from depression and anxiety, she never went to school or if she did, she walked out. Jess tried to commit suicide several times even after she was put on Sertraline. Jess also took part in Wilderness therapy to help her to overcome her anxious tendencies. (You can read more about Wilderness therapy here:

What I found interesting about this programme was that there was no success stories. I’ve been on Fluoxetine since I was around 13 and I found it really helpful. I struggled at the start and my dosage had to be increased a lot but it helped me. It helped me to act more human, get up out of bed and just participate more. It was a long journey and there was times I didn’t want to be here anymore but Fluoxetine is the reason I am still here. I was also put in for intensive therapy and have been doing these on and off for years. The therapy works but the struggle is that you can only have a set amount of sessions before they discharge you. It’s a struggle for the services to keep you in due to such long waiting lists. This also means, you have to be put on the waiting list again if you need more therapy sessions which can lead to months of waiting. If I didn’t have my Fluoxetine throughout this time then I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here now. This programme only focused on the more negative stories about the individuals that didn’t survive or that the medication didn’t help and this isn’t what happens to everyone!

The programme did highlight a few key points surrounding mental health. They touched upon how the GP’s are just following guidelines when it comes to helping individuals with mental heath struggles. The problem doesn’t lay with the doctors, they are only following the guidelines set by NICE – National Institute for Health Care and Excellence. New guidelines need to be established and more services put into place to help these individuals like me. I think it should be recognised also that mental health doesn’t just compromise of Depression, OCD and Anxiety. It includes mental health issues like Schizophrenia, eating disorders etc.

If you have the chance go watch the programme on BBC IPlayer, it is series 2, episode 2. Also look at the hashtag #TheDoctorWhoGaveUpDrugs. I find this hashtag so interesting to find out what others think of the programme as well and their journeys with mental health drugs. It’s a great way to see the general consensus of things and have an insightful conversation with people. Whilst you’re there, you should follow my Twitter too @elenasianxo ;).

I’d love for you guys to leave me some comments so I can hear your thoughts on the subject as well.


Els xo

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