Before I thought rationally about my mental health, I bought into the idea that antidepressant medication was bad for you – that it would somehow permanently change my brain and personality, that it was an unwanted intrusion into my person. I eventually went to see my GP when things got too bad for me to bear anymore, and I realised that the medication I was given did alter my mind – to allow me to be the person I was before I got ill. There is a ton of dodgy advice out there pushing the “natural” option, 99% of which is from people with no medical qualifications. There’s a conspirational-level anti-psychiatry movement, whose followers seem fixated on the idea of “mind control”. With so much nonsense being spewed under the guise of advice, it’s no wonder that there are misconceptions about mental health and treatments. And this gem appeared on my Facebook feed earlier this week (I suppose this is the downside of having unlimited information at one’s fingertips); which is just bloody dangerous and irresponsible:
Fortunately, someone fixed it for them:
And there are plenty of variations on this theme out there. And you know what Google is for, so go discover them yourself! But although this debunking seems like light-hearted fun, the attitudes behind the original post can have very damaging consequences. Pseudoscience kills. We could also do better with science reporting, too. This BBC News article has a valid point to make, but saves the good stuff until after the sensationalistic claims (the “extreme” side-effects described are well-documented and are listed in information leaflets accompanying the medicine. They are manageable, and should be monitored by a doctor, who may prescribe something that suits the patient better. I’ve used medications that really didn’t suit me, and so I worked with my doctor to find ones that did. There’s no one-size-fits-all, and zero-nuance articles just make life more difficult for doctors and patients). Science communication is important, and we have a responsibility to do it properly – else there is little for the unwary to distinguish between actual science and fantasy-holistic-woo-woo.