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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Does Depression Speak Your Language?

Topic: Does Depression Speak Your Language?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    6 January 2018

    Hi all,

    A few days ago I started antidepressants again. I say again, cause it’s not the first time. My experience in managing my depression, anxiety and mood swings has been as episodic as the illness itself. What I’d like to discuss in this thread is how medication management is seen in your culture. What notions do people - professionals and others have in regards to treatments. And particularly, how are you seen by others, family, friends etc if you choose to start medications. I understand there’s a section dedicated entirely to depression on these forums but my interest is the reactions people have once they find out you are on meds or starting meds or thinking of stoping meds. How do people commonly respond in your group? I still find that most people react surprised, as they don’t believe I’m depressed or suffering from anxiety and mood swings. Many give me disapproval either by words or body language. Others avoid the topic altogether and don’t talk about it. There are also the ones who jump in and give advice, give links to alternative therapies and send me information on the benefits of various foods, exercise, mindfulness etc. Please don’t misunderstand me. I find everything beneficial and believe in a wholistic approach that incorporates medication if necessary with counseling and peer support plus lifestyle changes to help manage this illness. Like many people, my medication intervention has been periodic - after my migration, when dealt with my childhood issues, parenting, divorce, financial hardships, health issues, loss and grief etc. At different times and when everything else I tried wasn’t enough, I looked at the medication option. After a period of time, usually a year or two, I would stop and have years without it. Then start again if needed at a future point. This is where I am now. This time around though, nothing particular has taken place. No trauma. No stress. No incident to pin point why. I’m happy. Work in areas that I love. Life is good. Only I have many physical symptoms like migraines, lethargy, inability to focus etc and thought I’d give medication a try again purely to address these symptoms. The reactions from people can be startling, overwhelming, surprising. What’s your experience and how does that make you feel? How do people in your circle view medications and the use of them in treating mental illness and how does this affect the way you view this? Interested to hear from you. :)

  2. Hawraa
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Hawraa avatar
    9 posts
    17 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    From a cultural perspective, Mental Health is generally taboo and horribly misunderstood. When it comes to medication I get mixed responses, because there's also a paranoia around medication. Even women taking the pill for whatever reason is loaded with misconceptions and paranoia. I'm not fully certain if that's culturally specific though. When I tell people I used to take medication for my anxiety, one of two reactions; "oh no, don't take that stuff" or the perception is there's something wrong with me. Even when I give advice to those that are exhibiting mental health concerns and uncertain what to do, they're very reluctant to the idea of medication and counselling. I'm very clear about emphasising the need for a holistic approach in treatment, especially wanting to consider long term solutions, but I do also emphasise that there is nothing *wrong* with taking medication to help you cope and regain control to seek other avenues of treatment and copping.

    Then on the flip side, culturally, once people see you doing "better" on medication, they encourage you to stay on it and no one really considers the need for therapy, when there clearly is one because the underlying causes of the anxiety/depression that are being medicated, are being swept under the rug.

    It's difficult territory to navigate that's for sure.

    Thank you for starting dialogue on this!

    1 person found this helpful
  3. J.M.12345
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    J.M.12345 avatar
    46 posts
    17 January 2018 in reply to Donte'
    Donte', I 100% agree with Hawraa, which makes sense considering we're from the same cultural background. I get very negative reactions surrounding medication, as it is considered harmful. "Don't take that stuff" is something I commonly hear. However, I think it's important to trust the judgement of medical professionals in order to get the best treatment possible.
    1 person found this helpful
  4. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    18 January 2018 in reply to Hawraa

    Hi Hawraa & J.M.,

    What you are describing is very similar to my experience too, even though I come from a different cultural background.

    Most people often question why should we start medication. Many refer to the pills as the 'crazy pills' or the 'la la' pills. There is a notion that these pills (antidepressants) will alter your personality and change your character.

    I find that people often are happy to keep drinking alcohol and smoke cigarettes and generally try to self-medicate, but once someone starts a proper antidepressant treatment all hell breaks loose. I find it very interesting.

    However, it is important to seek medical intervention and I agree with J.M. that we need to have some trust in medicine in order to get the best treatment.

  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    18 January 2018 in reply to J.M.12345

    Hi J.M.,

    In my culture there seems to be a certain element of shame and secrecy and guilt when it comes to medications and depression so many won't openly discuss this issue.

    Taking antidepressants is often looked upon as a 'weakness' that reflects on one's personality and character.

    There's an underlying notion that permeates our culture which suggests that there's something wrong if you can't cope and/or seek for a medical intervention. Or that you seek the 'easy way out' by being on antidepressants.

    A big part of our culture is being built upon the notion of suffering and martyrdom, so taking medication to help you deal with mental health issues can be seen as something that goes against this notion of perseverance and suffering.

    Many view 'trials' as something given by god to make us stronger and believe we should accept challenges as it ultimately is for our own good. Many call antidepressants the 'happy pills', which of course we know it's not a true representation of the way antidepressants work.

    All these deeply ingrained notions that are embedded into our cultural and religious identity can become barriers that prevent people from seeking medical interventions and can contribute to stigma and perpetuate negative perceptions and stereotypes that are harmful and lead to more hardships.

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