For as long as I can remember, I've always been encouraged to not rely on medicine or antidepressants to solve my problems. I remember getting teeth pulled and not filling my Vicodin prescription. I remember not taking NyQuil when I've been sick or taking Advil when I've had sore muscles, just to make sure my body doesn't come to rely on it for help and healing.

Over the years, though, I've realized that medicine isn't necessarily a bad thing. I learned that friends of mine take medicine for more things than I could have imagined, for depression and anxiety, for thyroid conditions, for migraines, and for anything that caused them trouble enough to not be able to live their everyday lives to the fullest potential.

So I started to wonder, what's the deal with medicine that's designated to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, such as SSRI's like Prozac or Lexapro? Why is this medicine stigmatized so much more than any other medication that you can take?

Then, my junior year of high school, when I was in the midst of realizing the mood I had been in for the past months was simply a sign of depression, I heard someone say "Depression isn't a real thing. It doesn't exist. It's what people say when they want attention."

Sam Davis

Try and tell me now that antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications aren't stigmatized. For someone suffering from depression and social anxiety, I wondered how someone could be so ignorant as to say that. You wouldn't say that diabetes is fake, would you? You wouldn't deny a heart patient the medication that could possibly save their life, right? So why stigmatize a medication for a mood disorder that could also save someone's life?

Abby Mills

My freshman year of college, I hit a low point in my life again. And finally, I knew what I had to do. I had to start taking an antidepressant, no matter how hard it might be or how worried I was that people would judge me for it. But, in the four months that I have been on this medication, I've realized that there's no reason to feel ashamed, and here's why.

Medicine is medicine

We know that medicine helps us with all sorts of illnesses, so that's why we take it, right? So if a medicine promises to help me return to a normal everyday life, I'm going to take that chance. Even though it's hard for me to say that I'm taking a medication to treat depression, I've learned that I have every right to take this medication, just as a diabetic has every right to their insulin.  

I've learned to enjoy things again 

Veronica Kampfe

SSRI's help to improve the function of serotonin within your brain, which is generally known as the happiness chemical. When that doesn't work, it becomes really hard to feel joy or happiness from the things that used to. For me, I'd rather take being happy over seemingly being judged by someone who doesn't know me or know why I need this medication.

My social life has improved

Emily DiNuzzo

This medicine doesn't just help you continue life, it helps you truly live again. I found myself shutting down and shutting out my friends because of the conscious effort I had to make to be happy without this medication. But, now that my focus isn't on simply trying to remain happy and even present, I've allowed myself to become more social and to branch out with new people.

I realized that I am strong, not weak

beer, cake
Samantha Dilling

Sometimes, depression and anxiety are stigmatized as signs of weakness, and as signs that something is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you. It has to do with your brain. What I've learned is that by admitting that I needed help and needed something to fix the chemicals in my brain, I've proven that I'm strong enough to ask for the help that I need.

I am not the only one 

kettle, beer, pizza, tea, coffee, cake
Meredith Ross

It is roughly estimated that between 8% and 11% of Americans take some sort of antidepressant. This alone should be a sign that taking an antidepressant shouldn't be stigmatized—if almost one in every 10 people takes them. I am not the only one, and you are not the only one.

I'm not ashamed to admit to the fact that I have suffered from depression and social anxiety, and that I am someone who takes this medication. I hope that one day, the world will realize and acknowledge depression as a disease, not an attention-seeking mechanism. And I hope that one day, we will find a way to end the stigma.