Medication for Mental Health

I keep up with the Freeform show, Grownish, and was impressed with how they tackled the topic of mental health meds in this week’s episode. So today, I’ll be sharing some of the insights I gleaned from the episode (Sidenote: you don’t have to be familiar with this show to learn from this post.)

To start, I love that the episode title is “It’s ok not to be ok.” I see this phrase a lot on social media and it is definitely a step in the right direction, as mental health concerns, therapy, and psychiatry were very stigmatized when I was in middle and high school.

This episode focuses primarily on a college senior, Jazz, who is struggling with symptoms of depression resulting from a ton of recent life changes:

  • Her twin moved out of the country.
  • A recent breakup.
  • Graduation is approaching and she has no clue what’s next.
  • Recently quit running track at an Olympic level.

Freeform

The picture above captures the scene where Jazz is at her lowest. Her symptoms include apathy, loss of motivation, sadness, and hopelessness to name a few. After her roommates find her staring deadpan at the tv, they become concerned and ask when she last saw her therapist.

Sidenote: Something that I’ve loved about this season is that they highlight a Black person going to therapy. This is important because folx of color still face a lot of stigma within their communities about mental health treatment.

“We weren’t raised to reach for a pill when something’s wrong.” ~Doug

So after being encouraged by her friends to schedule a follow-up with her therapist, there’s a scene of the therapy session. As the therapist asks questions to assess the situation, Jazz reports that none of the coping and calming skills discussed in previous sessions seem to be alleviating her current symptoms. At this point, the therapist explains that sometimes therapy is just a component of a holistic mental health toolkit and that there are other ways to supplement the counseling. She prescribes Jazz an antidepressant.

In the days that follow, Jazz discusses with her friends the pros and cons to help decide whether or not she will take the pills. She has mixed feelings given the stigma that taking meds = weakness. Her roommate, Nomi, encourages her by sharing that she took antidepressants to treat her postpartum depression. Nomi also makes a great point that being prescribed a psych med doesn’t mean that you’ll be taking pills forever; for example, Nomi tapered off the antidepressants once the postpartum passed. Jazz expressed concerns about becoming addicted to the meds and her other roommate, Vivek, discussed how most mental health medications don’t result in chemical dependence (addiction), noting that many antidepressants take several weeks before you even notice the effects.

On an unrelated note, I loved that the show got Jazz’s diagnosis correct (Adjustment disorder with depressed mood). Here are some features of that diagnosis:

  • The symptoms result from specific stressors or life transitions (Jazz had several.)
  • Distress that is out of proportion to the aforementioned stressor(s.)
  • Impairments in social, biological, and emotional functioning that impact activities of daily living.
  • This diagnosis is not given to someone experiencing grief.
  • If symptoms exceed 6 months, a more formal diagnosis is given.

Conclusion

I’ve enjoyed writing this post and celebrating a time where pop culture handled a stigmatized topic very well! If you are familiar with Grownish, search for Season 4, Episode 13 to watch.

For more on mental health medication, check out previous posts on meds for kids and medication management in general.

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2 thoughts on “Medication for Mental Health”

  1. Ashley says:

    That’s fantastic that a show is addressing this topic in such a reasonable way.

    1. Thanks for reading, Ashley! 😊

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