Students discuss their experiences with antidepressants and deduce the stigma surrounding dependency and reliance 

By Kelly Gowe

The prevalence of antidepressant prescription is astounding with 70 million prescriptions written last year for the 7 million adults who used them.  

It is time to take a more nuanced approach: Antidepressants can be lifesaving for some people while having no effect on others.  

But who are we to say that someone is wrong if they see it as a last resort or something to make them feel better? The stigma must be lifted. 

I interviewed two students about their university experiences with SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to see how the medication affected their lives. 

Valuable: Abubakr Razak (left) and Heebah Hussain found antidepressants helped them

Abubakr Razak, 19, began taking SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) while studying law.  

He had struggled with anxiety and depression throughout college, which led him to being prescribed an SSRI called Sertraline. 

“I often had anxiety in social situations,” he said. “But very traumatic situations as a child eventually built up to this. My SSRIs were paired with talking therapy, which helped massively.” 

He said they made him feel “level” throughout university and found dealing with difficulties a lot easier. 

Heebah Hussain, 18, said: “I’d encourage anyone in a dark place to think ‘If I were really physically unwell, would I take medicine to help me feel better?’” 

Unfortunately, many people are still reluctant to take medication for their mental health because society has often portrayed it as a sign of failure.  

In fact, making such a decision for yourself is a sign of strength. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you require some additional assistance. 

So, even if you are aware of the risks, your only option is to take it or leave it; our mental health system lacks ambition. 

If you are a student who is struggling, I strongly advise you to reach out to others, even if it is just one person.  

If you know a loved one who is struggling, you can  find out more about how to help here

You can contact the Mind helpline by calling 0300 123 3393.  

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