Why Don’t People With Mental Illness Take Their Meds?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2015 Nancy Virden

photo-24783113-african-woman-holding-her-hairRichard* was hearing voices. He went to a psychiatrist who prescribed medication for the symptoms. In a matter of weeks the voices went away and Richard was able to resume a normal life. Two years later, feeling healthy and strong, a thought crossed Richard’s mind; I don’t need to take pills anymore.

Jasmine* was growing majorly depressed. As her mood plummeted she lost any desire to take care of herself. Showers, getting out of bed, and eating were struggles. Medication she had been taking for years for depression began to be ignored. Why bother, she thought. I don’t matter.photo-24706337-old-woman (1)

Grace* hated taking pills, especially for mental health. Stigma had her thinking she shouldn’t have to take them because it meant she was less-than who she wanted to be. Her view of strength did not allow for such illnesses or their treatments. She determined her “bad mood” was over, and stopped taking the medication.

Some people can reach the point they do not need the medical help they once did. Others will be on medicine for the rest of their lives. What determines the difference I am not qualified to say. I do know from experience that untreated depression tends to become more frequent and intense as time goes by. Major depressivephoto-24774920-stressed-man-with-laptop episodes can actually weaken a brain so it is more susceptible to future episodes. Continued treatment may not be optional.

Richard began to hear voices again. This time they are louder and more controlling. He is struggling to gain some ground against his disease as the treatment that was working no longer does. He tells people to never stop their medications because that choice will backfire.

Jasmine tried to end her life. What a simple medication change could have accomplished went unchecked because she didn’t disclose her worsening symptoms to her psychiatrist. She survived, but because of her mental illness took medication sporadically for a long time. Her brain continued to tell her she was worthless.

Grace stopped taking her pills. In a few weeks she was back on them. She went from feeling the symptoms of depression to more lightheartedness and energy.  She told herself and everyone else she would not be on the second round of pills for long; stigma overwhelmed her need for care.

Another reason people may not take their medication is because they never get the prescription filled. Some people can simply not afford care for potentially fatal mental health diseases.

For more information, see Psychology Today’s article: http://bit.ly/1VhWPjV


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com

*names have been changed

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