Three Myths and Misconceptions About Antidepressants

Have you ever wondered if Prozac or other psychiatric medication might be helpful?  If so, you’ve probably also heard stories of people who had horrible experiences or you’ve heard some of the common myths that make many people afraid to try these medications.Throughout my practice, I’ve often come across patients who are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or panic attacks, but are hesitant to try medication.  While medication isn’t necessary or appropriate for everyone, some people can really benefit.  Medication is often the extra piece of treatment that helps people get over a hump that may be holding them back from getting better.

Antidepressants are the third most prescribed group of drugs in the US, yet despite the number of people using and prescribing Prozac, a number of myths and misconceptions still remain.


  1. Prozac is addictive. 

Unlike alcohol, nicotine, and benzodiazepine medications such as Xanax and Valium, antidepressants do not require frequent dosage increases to maintain a certain effect, and the users do not tend to develop cravings for antidepressants.  Most people will not need medications like Prozac forever and they are
able to maintain their progress after stopping the medication, especially if they have participated in therapy as well.  However, some people using antidepressants classified as SSRIs and SNRIs may experience withdrawal effects if they quit taking them abruptly, and this is why it is so crucial to work with a board certified psychiatric provider to monitor any medication treatment plan.


  1. It causes suicidal thoughts.  

This is a big one.  Just as with any medication, Prozac comes with a laundry list of potential side effects.  Luckily, most of the side effects are not common, and those that are more typical are not generally serious.  There have been some reported cases of suicide related to medications like Prozac, but these are quite rare.  If suicide is a risk factor, you must discuss this with your psychiatric prescriber before starting any medication and more frequent monitoring may be required or a different medication might be recommended, depending on your individual situation.  I always encourage my patients to consider the risk of not getting the right treatment.


  1. It’s a band-aid that just temporarily masks the situation.  

Woman distancing herself from social groupProzac is not a wonder drug, and it is just one piece of the vast treatment puzzle.  Although the desired
effect is to lift your mood a and make daily life a bit easier, it is also crucial to address the underlying issues.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, EMDR, various other types of psychotherapy and lifestyle changes are generally incorporated.  However, some people are too depressed or anxious to fully participate in therapy or make lifestyle changes which makes improvement and growth challenging.  This is where medication such as Prozac can aid in the process.  It can help to make people feel enough better that they can participate in therapy and gain the skills they need or heal from trauma or other symptoms in order to feel like themselves again, and eventually stop taking the medication.  While some people may need to take the medication long-term, many do not.

The ultimate goal of any medication is to allow you to be yourself more fully and freely.

If you’re ready to learn more, or would like a 15 minute phone consultation to get to know our psychiatric providers and their medication approaches, you may schedule an appointment through our secure client portal or contact us.

*This article cannot replace advice from your medical provider.  If you are considering taking Prozac or any medication, consult with your medical provider to learn what medication is most appropriate for you.  In some cases, your provider may recommend psychotherapy or other approaches instead of medication as it is not appropriate for everyone.*