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Blues Qs: Should I Try Medication for My Depression?

Managing Depression

September 15, 2022

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Collage design by Ryan Hamsher

Collage design by Ryan Hamsher

by Sam Dylan Finch


Medically Reviewed by:

Rebecca Barnhart, PharmD, BCPP


by Sam Dylan Finch


Medically Reviewed by:

Rebecca Barnhart, PharmD, BCPP


Blues Qs is an advice column covering all things clinical depression, written by Bezzy Depression community guide Sam Dylan Finch. Diagnosed with clinical depression over a decade ago, Sam has seen it all — from medication mishaps to grippy sock “staycations.” He’s here to help you navigate your own depression journey with a little humor and a lot of heart.

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone with depression contemplate this question, I would be fabulously wealthy. Major depression is hard to resolve without any support, and medication can be an important tool for those of us struggling along.

Of course, no one can decide for you whether or not medication is the right move. And, it’s true that medications won’t work for everyone that tries them.

However, we can explore some of the common concerns that people have, because — surprise, surprise — there are a lot of myths associated with psychiatric medication.

Let’s start here: Are medications just a “Band-Aid” and a way of avoiding dealing with your problems?

Is a cast just a “Band-Aid” for a broken bone? Your bone will probably heal without it, right? But the cast helps to prevent reinjuring yourself and helps to ensure the bone heals correctly.

Similarly, psychiatric medications do a few important things for us. Perhaps most importantly, they help stabilize us so that we can function well enough to do the healing work we need to do.

Medication alone doesn’t resolve depression — we still have to do the hard work of rebuilding our lives, discovering and practicing new coping skills, and creating routines that keep us afloat — but medication can give us the boost we need to do that work in earnest.

And just like a physical injury, pain is not always useful to us. We take pain relievers so that we can go about our day with less suffering. Psychiatric medications do much the same: they offer some relief, so we can function well enough to return to our everyday lives.

If depression keeps you in bed, sapping you of the motivation to live your life, how can you actually find support or solutions? Consider that medication can offer you a better quality of life so that the problems you’re facing can be dealt with more effectively.

Another common question: Will the side effects be awful? Will I turn into a zombie?

There are side effects associated with just about every medication you can take. From what I’ve heard from psychiatrists, the good news is that most side effects resolve within 1 to 2 weeks, and your prescriber can work with you to ensure the impact is minimal.

This is also true of the “zombie myth.” A lot of people seem to think that psychiatric medications will remove your ability to feel any emotions at all, and will effectively transform you into a shell of your former self.

But with so many different options to try, you’re unlikely to experience this effect with every single medication you try. And you certainly aren’t required to stay on any medication that makes you feel empty or checked out.

In my experience, while relieving some of your suffering, medication still allows me to experience the full scope of my emotions. These medications, after all, aren’t designed to remove all feelings. Rather, the hope is that the intensity of your depression will become more manageable with time.

The biggest question on everyone’s minds, of course: Will they actually work?

Research suggests that antidepressants work better than placebos for moderate to severe depression, indicating something about them — even if we aren’t confident about what the mechanism is, exactly — is targeting depression.

The more complicated truth, of course, is that there’s still so much we don’t know about them and why they work for some people, while they don’t seem to work for others.

There’s no way to predict how any particular medication is going to affect you. What we can say is that, for moderate to severe depression, the odds are in your favor. And with so many different medications available to you, you’re likely to find something that offers some amount of relief (though it’s impossible to predict how much and how long that will take).

Life isn’t just a series of statistical calculations, though: You won’t know how these medications will affect you unless you try them.

But at the end of the day, I believe that the real question is: Is this a gamble worth taking?

And that’s where I can share my own personal experience.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for my psych meds. Before taking them, I spent every day (no exaggeration here) wishing my life would end. While my life isn’t perfect now, it is better beyond calculation.

Each and every time I’ve tried to go off of my medication, I plummet back into a deep depression. I’m unable to function. I withdraw from my life and from the people in it. The things that I care about lose their shine. I become a shell of myself.

I don’t know why these medications are necessary for me, but they are.

And while I have complex feelings about this (“Why isn’t my brain doing its job?” “Why am I dependent on medication?” “Will I always be?”), I choose to be grateful that I live in a day and age in which I have access to the biochemical support that I need to manage my depression.

I am a much better, happier version of myself thanks to medication.

I don’t know your unique situation, and I don’t know how your brain will respond to these meds. What I can tell you is that, for many people who take them, they make a difference. And I believe that you deserve to have access to every tool and support you need to get better. If that includes medication, more power to you.

It’s also important to note that not everyone will require to be on medication for life. The duration of treatment can be based on various factors, including response to treatment, family history, the severity of depressive episodes, and age.

Regardless, as the saying goes, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. If your depression isn’t responding to your best efforts, you may find a great reward on the other side of a psychiatric intervention.

You won’t know until you try — and in my experience, the best thing we can do for our depression (whether it’s medication, lifestyle changes, or therapy) is to keep trying.

Medically reviewed on September 15, 2022

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About the author

Sam Dylan Finch

Sam Dylan Finch is a writer and content strategist based in Seattle, WA. You can say hello on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or learn more at

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