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.  

Culture Kick: Judith Okoh

Students on De Montfort University’s Arts and Entertainment Journalism module pick the films, plays, music, TV shows and books that shaped them.

My favourite film 

I don’t think I have ever been able to choose just one favourite film because they keep changing over time but one thing I am sure about its that it has to be a romantic film.
I think one of the main reasons I love this type of film is because they are so far from my reality. I mean I cannot relate at all, but it is nice to see people being deeply in love and having a happy ending. 

The first time I went to the theatre 

The first time I went to the theatre was when I was in primary school for a school excursion. I remember me and my friends being so excited about it but left so disappointed, I cannot tell you much about it because I fell asleep halfway through. I promised myself I will give the theatre another try someday but it’s never happened. 

The TV show I’m currently binging  

I am completely obsessed with TV shows, I can go as far as watching Spanish TV shows that have maybe 40/50 episodes, like the one I am watching right now, called La Reina del Flow. But I’m also very strict when it comes to TV, if I do not completely love a show from the jump, I will not give it a chance, like I would if it was a film.

The first song I adored 

The first song I adored was the High School Musical song Breaking Free, it made me fall even more in love with the show and the main characters, I remember singing it along with them and felt like I was part of the musical. 

My karaoke tune 

Any old R&B love song like If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys or Mariah Carey’s We Belong Together I will completely sing it word to word till my lungs collapse.
Also, I should mention I wholeheartedly believe that I can sing, even if my friends might disagree. 

The lyrics I love 

I love songs that have lyrics with a deep meaning, the ones that keep you thinking. I love the ones that have a play with words and you need to rewind it to understand it better and the ones you wish you could hear again for the first time.
For me, these lyrics have such an important impact once you realise what is truly going on in society.

The book I couldn’t put down 

I remember five years ago when I was completely obsessed with reading. I could finish a book in a day and there was this specific series that was so popular at the time – After by Anna Todd – and my mum used to tell me she couldn’t afford to buy all of them for me, so I had to content myself with reading them online. My phone was with me 24 hours of the day, so I would start reading them from the moment I woke up until I fell asleep. I couldn’t tell you how many times my phone fell on my face while in bed because I was sleepy but also too invested in the book so I always had to finish the chapter.

Overrated 

I think some UK shows like Too Hot to Handle are very hyped up, the concept of the show makes no sense at all and it’s ridiculous. I don’t know who is worse, us, the viewers who watch it and give them the ratings, or the people who actually apply to go on to these type of shows.

My guilty pleasure 

Although … if I had to choose a guilty pleasure it would be Love Island. It’s a show I watch every night when it’s on, but also a show I will criticise every time I get a chance, but there is just something about it that makes it so entertaining. Maybe watching other people’s drama distracts me from my own or perhaps I’m actually a messy person who enjoys drama…

Culture Kick: Chloe Rowe

Students on De Montfort University’s Arts and Entertainment Journalism module pick the films, plays, music, TV shows and books that shaped them.

My favourite film

50/50. An odd film title but essentially it’s about a guy who has cancer and has a 50/50 chance of surviving, which maybe isn’t the most expected subject for a favourite film, but it’s full of surprising laughs, and of course some heartbreak.

Top theatre experience

The Kite Runner. I had read the book, so I knew what was going to happen, but I still couldn’t stop the tears.

The TV show I’m currently binging

Criminal Minds. It’s got mystery, serial killers, and good characters. But it’s a long show so I can’t promise that I’ll finish it.

Earliest experience of music

Trance music. My mum has always been big on trance music and I grew up listening to it pretty much all day every day. Even on cleaning days, trips in the car and whilst my mum was getting ready to go out with her friends to the clubs.

The last gig I saw

Peach Pit. I had been waiting five years to see them but I had to miss the end of the set so I could catch the train home. Next time I will plan better so I don’t have to miss out on great live music. Their song Vickie was definitely a crowd favourite.

The book I couldn’t put down

Allegiant. I am not as well read as I used to be so the last book that I really got into was a part of the Divergent Trilogy, which I read as a teen. I remember in the final book I was reading the pages so fast trying to keep up with the action. I don’t think I’ll ever find myself in a moment as dramatic as the end of that book.

Overrated

Greggs. Don’t get me wrong I do love a sausage roll, but their prices are ridiculous now and the merch line they brought out makes me want to roll my eyes into the back of my head and keep them there.

Underrated

Ambient lighting is so underrated. I feel like everyone should have at least one or two warm lamps in their room and maybe some fairy lights for that extra cosy feel. Bright white overhead lights are never used in my room, lest I ruin the vibe.

My guilty pleasure

Watching cheesy teen movies. Even though I’m way too old to relate to any of the characters, I just love the nostalgic feel and the childlike wonder I appear to have lost now.

Letter from Canada: Groundhog days in Ottawa

De Montfort University Journalism student Grace Cushnie is on an exchange year at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

In the second of her features for Leicestershire Press, she meets her can-mate, watches grown men clatter into each other for the sheer fun of it, and searches, fruitlessly, for a Carleton University dog jumper.

But first, there’s a spot of bother with some pesky doors…

Letter from Canada
Groundhog days
Enter
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Culture Kick: Goda Vezeviciute

Students on De Montfort University’s Arts and Entertainment Journalism module pick the films, plays, music, TV shows and books that shaped them.

My favourite film 

The Godfather.  I love old films about the mafia and good stories. One of my favourite actors of all time is Al Pacino, who plays one of the main roles in that film. 

The first time I watched this movie was with my dad, when I was 10. We loved it so much, that next week we watched the second part of it and third part. 

When I grew up, I watched all the trilogy again, but by myself. I loved it even more. 

The first time I went to the theatre 

I don’t remember, but I must have been a child, because I know the fact that in Lithuania I would go quite often to the theatre with my school to see a play for children. 

The TV show I’m currently binging  

How I Met Your Mother, a TV show with so many seasons and episodes, you watch one after another, and basically you are just wasting your time. Nothing good comes out of that, you don’t learn anything from it, but you can’t take your eyes off it.  

The first song I adored 

It is hard to remember the first one because I started listening to music when I was little. Me and my dad used to have this tradition: once a week, in the evening, we would sit down in front of the computer, put on Mozart, and just sit in silence and listen. I loved those moments because it was my special time with my dad.  

When I was a few years older, I started listening to Lady Gaga. I just loved her songs. 

My karaoke tune 

Fun fact, I have never sung karaoke. Even though I love to sing and used to sing in a church band as a soloist, I never was a fan of karaoke. 

The lyrics I love 

“We both said, “No feelings” but we caught feelings already  
Go and tell your father that I’ll have you if he lets me  
Knew you was the one, so I pursued it 
Let’s both get drunk, and make a movie.” 

It’s a kind of guilty-pleasure favourite. I’m not proud of it. But these are the lyrics from a song of D-Block Europe, who are my favourite UK rap band. Basically, most of their songs are about girls, love, sex, drinking. 

To be honest I think these lyrics are my favourite because they are kind of telling me and my boyfriend’s love story. For three years when we were going to the same school, we were friends. But he really liked me and always was by my side because he was hoping to get me one day. But he graduated one year before me and that never happened, I just saw him as a friend.
We hadn’t seen each other for about two years when suddenly I saw him in my home city going to a night club. I was drunk and called him, saying come join me and my friends. We ended up spending all night walking around the city and talking. Slowly I fell in love with him and he finally got what he was reaching for. So, when I hear these lyrics, they are close to me in a way. 

The first gig I saw 

I don’t remember to be honest. I don’t go to gigs that much. 

The book I couldn’t put down 

Looking for Alaska, a book about a teenage love story. This was my first romance book, I read it when I was a teenager. I hadn’t experienced love at that time, so that’s why it was very interesting for me to read it. 

Overrated 

Taylor Swift. She is so popular, has so many fans, but I just can’t stand her. Her voice makes me sick.  

Underrated 

Classical music. The young generation should try listening to this more. They just don’t because they think this is for older people.  

My guilty pleasure 

Love Island. Stupid show, but I just love it.