15 Men Reveal The Truth About Why They Decided To Medicate Their Depression

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Men Share The Truth About Why They Decided To Medicate Their Depression

For whatever reason when it comes to talking about personal struggles, including those with depression and anxiety, men just aren't as open with their feelings and with their experiences. A lot of this can be chalked up to the dangers and evils of toxic masculinity.

The issue of toxic masculinity is one thing keeping men from speaking up when it comes to how they cope with depression and anxiety and medication for depression. Is it any wonder with the state of the world as we know it that so few men out there are comfortable expressing what men think about touchy subjects like seeing a therapist or trying to take depression medication to treat their symptoms? 

If you want to find a place where men speak candidly about many issues, the AskMen subreddit is a great forum. In fact, when one of their members reached out sharing that he was concerned about taking medication for depression, the other men in the forum happily chimed in with their own experiences using drugs to help with their mental health.

RELATED: What It Feels Like To Have Anxiety And Depression At The Same Time

Some of the stories were scary, some were inspiring, but all are a great example of how our culture should be: a safe, open place where men feel free and comfortable and safe enough to talk openly and get the help that they need. Here is what 15 different men had to say about their experience using depression medication. 

1. Taking the risk was scary, but it pays off.

"I have some form of Major Depressive Disorder. Not some situational depression. Genetic, chronic, long term depression. Grandma had it up until she committed suicide, my dad does, I do. I ignored it for years and years. Tried to 'man up', didn't think it could be real, I had to just be complaining. All the while being borderline suicidal, not taking care of myself, regularly spiraling down.

I was about 22 when I brought it up to family. They were supportive. I tried out off-brand Prozac, and that was how I knew it was real. A few weeks in and suddenly I felt things. Like running wasn't just a slog I forced myself through, I could eventually get that rush. Waking up felt better. Life felt physically better... It has only benefited my life to try, even when a med wasn't for me. I'm more productive. It's never driven anyone away. If anything it's always made romantic relationships stronger."

2. Drugs are miraculous.

"Ativan is a wonder drug for shutting down anxiety when it’s overwhelming. It can stop you from pacing around a room crying for hours, and lets you sleep."

3. It can be life-changing.

"Honestly, the medication has changed my life. It sounds cliché, but before I started on anti-depressants, every day was a roll of a die, some days I'd be manic as all hell, looking like a 'normal' human, and other days I'd be so depressed I couldn't get out of bed. There was no real in-between.

Now, every day is less of a roll of a die, and more like slight tweaks from a baseline. The meds work to bring down those manic highs and bring up those depressive lows, and normalize out my moods so that my life is not such a rollercoaster. When I wake up in the morning, it's no longer a question of whether I'm going to be a functional human being or not, it's about whether I'm going to be happy or sad while continuing to be able to work my job and do my social activities."

4. It's not that big of a deal. 

"It's not as scary as you think. You'll know in a month if it works or not. What if you had diabetes? Are you not going to take insulin?"

5. It can alter your mood.

"For about the first 2 months, it's not really noticeable. It's meant to be a hormone therapy, to correct an imbalance in the chemistry in your brain. The following 7(ish) months were... the best way I can describe it is the grayest shade of gray imaginable. Nothing was misery inducing, but you don't get excited about anything either. It's nice not being mentally beaten down by your lack of self-worth every day, but you don't get the 'heck yeah' feeling when you get a huge win."

6. Meds and talk therapy work best sometimes.

"150mg of Buproprion over the past year has done two major things for me: elevated my baseline mood from depressed to pretty okay, and reduced my anxiety in difficult situations. Combined with 1.5 years of weekly talk therapy, I have become a happier, more stable partner for my girlfriend, a more effective, outgoing manager at work, and just generally more content. I now have a chance to be my best self everyday."

7. They make you reassess your perceptions.

"At first, I felt worried about taking a prescription that would affect my mind and my emotions beyond my control. Only later did I see that a lot of time, I didn't have much control over those things anyway, and patterns of social anxiety, internalized resentments, and extreme shyness had warped a lot of my existing relationships as well as my ability to make new ones. I think of my prescription as bowling with bumpers: it keeps me from throwing gutter balls, so I can focus on developing good technique. I don't know how long I'll be on this prescription, but if I end up taking it for the rest of my life, I'm okay with that now."

RELATED: 6 Very Unexpected Side Effects Of Finally Going On Antidepressants

8. They help, but they aren't a miracle.

"I take 20 mg of Lexapro and 300 mg of Wellbutrin. I've been on the former for about five years in various dosages and the other is somewhat recent. After some things I told my guidance counselor in high school, I basically was required to start taking medication so it wasn't much of a choice and I didn't go looking for it.

I would say I still think about the same things and in the same way about myself and the world around me, but I just feel less crappy about it overall. I still don't like myself, I can't imagine a woman wanting to be around me and the future looks pretty bleak and hopeless. None of that is anything new, and maybe if your therapist is suggesting medication you can relate to some of it. 

But I can wake up at a reasonable time when I need to and I don't go and cry in the bathroom when nobody else is home, I don't just break things when I'm mad and I don't have a panic attack after meeting new people. Maybe it's tricky to describe but in a nutshell content of my thoughts is all the same, but my disposition towards them is easier to live with."

9. You may find they aren't for you.

"Got sent to a counselor after a really bad breakup, and she and my regular doctor got me on some insane, mind-bendy stuff called Wellbutrin. I started seeing things that weren’t there, hearing voices, and I somehow convinced myself that my whole family hated me. But when I brought this up to my therapist and my doctor, they both told me, 'The first three months are the toughest, stick it out.'

So I did. I stuck it out for a whole year. A whole year of not being able to be intimate. A whole year of visual and auditory hallucinations. A whole year where my friends drifted away, my family just said, 'Oh, he’s going through a rough time,' and where my talk therapy basically consisted of my curly-haired therapist asking me what being a man was like (she was a lady).

It’s been said once and I’ll say it again: how can a 22-year-old guy like me be helped in any way, shape, or form when the therapist is some old white woman who’s never had any of my struggles? The worst part was that my college escorted me off-site once they found out I was taking Welly. They called me a danger to myself and others as long as I was on the meds. After that year, I was a wreck. I had heard that drinking booze nullifies the medication, so in my therapy session that week I drank an entire Corona right in front of my therapist."

10. It depends on what's causing your depression in the first place.

"Medication should only be taken if your depression is caused by neurochemical imbalances. If your depression is a result of how you live your life (eating unhealthy, not working out, no social life), I would start working on those root causes before fighting the symptoms."

11. Your relationships will improve.

"If I was being completely honest with myself, I’ve probably had depression for the last 20 years, but have only been taking medication for the last 2 years or so. It has been nothing short of life changing, it has not only saved my marriage, but has also saved me. Without it, I’m pretty certain that I’d be another white male statistic by now. Diabetics need insulin, anemics need iron, some of us need neurotransmitters."

12. They are a useful tool.

"I found anti-depressants a very useful tool for managing depression. I found myself feeling a lot less depressed while taking them but on the flip side I found myself unable to enjoy life as much. I was right in the middle which was fine for me as long as I wasn't feeling depressed. I have since come off them after taking therapy and I feel like anti-depressants were the right choice for me at the time. I still get depressed sometimes but I'm in a much better place in life to be able to deal with it now."

13. They are also helpful in saving your career.

"I dealt with really heavy anxiety over my work. I'm a structural engineer and was regularly in fear of a building collapsing and killing someone. My wife convinced me to talk to a doctor about it. The best way I can describe it is that it doesn't change your concerns or way of thinking through problems, it just helps you break the cycle of repetitive negative thought. I would find myself in situations where I had checked and rechecked my numbers, then a day or two later would still have anxiety and want to go back and check a third time. It was really debilitating."

14. You end up feeling more motivated.

"I was talking to my doctor and just happened to be having a down day, so he suggested I might be depressed. He sent me to a shrink and I was officially diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. I feel like meds have helped me a lot. I'm less agitated and snappy. Also a lot more motivated."

15. Even your intimate life can be affected.

"I've had limited experience with taking Zotral (Sertralinum) and it only affected me in a way that I kinda lost interest in intimacy-related stuff. I was clearly happier and waking up was easier for me (I hate walking up early). Seeing my buddy who is on drugs for like 6-7 years, it leads to emotional dumbness as anti-depressants suppress both positive an negative emotions... I could probably stay on anti-depressants for longer as I get happy life/mood and lose nothing..."

RELATED: What It's Like To Have Depression That Never Goes Away

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark, on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.