People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Medication users have been sharing their experiences to help beat the stigma (#ShowUsYourMeds)

Mental health advocates are urging people to share pictures of their medication to show others there’s no shame in getting the help they need.

Emma Dalmayne was inspired to launch the #ShowUsYourMeds campaign to make people realise they’re not alone but also to dispel a number of myths and misconceptions about antidepressants.

The CEO of the Autistic Inclusive Meets is sharing people’s pictures and stories on the support group’s Facebook page as well as its website and hopes to get more mental health charities and campaigners on board.

About 11 years ago, Emma fell into a deep spiral of depression which left her family feeling powerless as she struggled to function. Despite many people’s scepticism about their benefits, she isn’t sure where she’d be today if she was never prescribed medication.

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

The #ShowUsYourMeds campaign aims to let people know they are not alone (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

It also aims to dispell a number of myths and misconceptions about antidepressants (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

People are often told that it is ‘all in their head’ and that they don’t have a chemical imbalance (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

Addressing some of the experiences people have shared with her, the mental health campaigner told Metro.co.uk: ‘A lot of them say they get a lot of crap for taking medication, from relatives, from mates. They say they shouldn’t be taking meds, that they could be out getting exercise and doing yoga.

‘You can only get up and go outside and do yoga if you’re able to cope with getting out of bed. I think people believe that they will be addicted to them or that there will be a placebo, we know that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.’

‘It’s an insult these days, it’s like “haven’t you taken your meds today? Are you depressed?”‘

Emma stopped taking Floxotone 10 years ago and says the year she spent on the drug helped her see things through a different lens until she was ready to live life without it.

She said: ‘My depression was so bad that I would walk around the supermarket crying and not even realise I was crying, it was really really bad, there lots of thoughts of “would it be better if I wasn’t here”

‘They were seeing me sit down crying for no reason that they could see. People want to fix it they want to make it better and with depression you can’t. Without the meds that would have continued. It was hard without them and I honestly don’t know what would happen to me.

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Autistic Inclusive Meets director William Vanderpuije shows his meds (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Campaigners say not everyone can simply ‘go out and exercise’ if they can’t even get out of bed (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

While yoga and running can make you feel better, they are not a miracle cure for psychosis and severe depression (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

The mum-of-six from south east London says she will keep taking people’s photos and stories as long as there’s an interest.

She added: ‘It’s made them feel that other people are in the same boat as them or that there’s no need for shame and there’s no need for stigma.

‘I would never say it’s “brave” because that’s inspiration porn, it’s just showing people what we need to get on with life.’

Sharing his story, Chief Operating Officer of autistic advocacy group NeuroClastic David Gray-Hammond said: ‘I take Paliperidone and Risperidone (for psychosis), mirtazapine and trazodone (for depressive episodes), promethazine and zopiclone (for sleep), propranolol (for anxiety), and procyclidine and rosuvastatin (for side effects of my antipsychotics).

‘I have struggled a lot with being on so much medication, but I came to the realisation that I was doing my best, and if medication is what I need, then that is part of doing my best. I trust the doctors, and so far they haven’t steered me wrong.’

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

‘It’s made them feel that other people are in the same boat as them or that there’s no need for shame and there’s no need for stigma’ (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds’

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Bobbi Elman said: ‘These meds allow me to work and function. Without them I would not be able to like everyone else (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Autistic Inclusive Meets director Alex Forshaw shows her medication (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

Talking people through her medication, Ginny Grant said: ‘Clomipramine – aka Anafranil – a tricyclic antidepressant and my twice-daily medication to help combat the anxiety, depression and OCD that I experience. I take Clomipramine morning and night. Of the numerous medications I’ve tried over the years, this one suits me best. Note to self – and the general population: mental illness is not failure – not by a long shot. Prioritise self-care, take your meds, reach out for help if you are struggling.’

Describing how for many the coronavirus lockdown has ‘magnified mental health conditions’, she said: ‘People are at home and rather than taking their meds, getting up, going to work, having a social life, now you’re at home, there’s no escape, especially if you’re shielding.

‘They are stuck at home they’re too scared to go out and medication is a big help to them.’

Research by Bupa in May found that eight in 10 Britons are experiencing symptoms of poor mental health during lockdown but that half haven’t told anyone.

Recalling her experience with antidepressants, co-founder of the Positive Planner mental health journal Ali McDowall said: ‘I couldn’t afford [private] therapy at the time I was on the waiting list for about six months.

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Campaigners warn lockdown has ‘magnified’ people’s mental health conditions (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

People respond to certain medication differently and you should always consult with your doctor before taking it (Picture #ShowUsYourMeds)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

The campaign seeks to show there is no shame in getting help (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

‘I think there’s a lack of education around medication, that you need to be at complete breaking point to take it. Sometimes people take very low doses of mood enhancers just to keep them pepped up.’

The mental health advocate says she stopped taking antidepressants for a year but has been back on them since Covid-19 hit.

She added: ‘There’s going to be another pandemic and it’s going to be a mental health pandemic. It’s already happening and we have to be prepared for it.

‘I think unfortunately there’s still this old fashioned view of mental health being “the madness”. This was in reference to a controversial front cover of Vogue Portugal depicting a naked woman sitting naked in a bathtub having water poured over her head by women in old-fashioned nurse uniforms.

While she thinks things are slowly changing as more people have open conversations about mental health but that there’s ‘still work to do’.

Former Government drug adviser and Imperial College professor David Nutt told Metro.co.uk how a number of different camps are attacking the use and prescription of antidepressants.

Since publication of The Myth of Mental Illness by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz in 1961, Professor Nutt says a battle is being fought over whether such disorders even exist or whether they are a social construct.

Professor David Nutt Professor David Nutt Gives Talk, Maidstone, Kent

Professor David Nutt says modern antidepressants are ‘probably the safest drugs ever made’ (Picture: REX)

People show their medication as part of the #Showusyourmeds campaign led by Emma Dalmayne, CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets

Professor Nutt compared some critics of antidepressants to anti-vaxxers (Picture: #ShowUsYourMeds)

He said: ‘There are people who don’t want to believe that you can be mentally ill, they like to label everything as a social stigma. They’re a minority but they’re a very loud minority.’

In the other camp, Professor Nutt said there are ‘people who believe that you can have a mental illness but they say that they’re psychological rather than physiological and therefore you don’t need to use drugs to treat them.’

He added: ‘Of course there’s some truth in that many people can be helped by psychological treatment but many can’t.

‘There are people who have been on medication treatments who have withdrawal reactions coming off or sometimes funny reactions coming on and these people have become a very vocal group.’

‘When you look at the evidence, antidepressants are extremely safe, they’re probably the safest drugs ever made. Most people don’t have problems and most people get enormous benefits from them.

‘There’s a lot of disinformation, they’re in a similar sort of camp to the anti-vaxxers. They tell people these drugs don’t work, they scare people from taking them, people who do need them.

‘When I started in psychiatrics back in the 1970s people were taking powerful drugs like amitriptyline. The safety of modern antidepressants is absolutely amazing, these drugs are no more effective than the old drugs but they’re so much safer. That’s one of the reasons they have been more and more widely used.

‘We’re beginning to get rid of the use of benzodiazepines because they’re using SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).’

Dismissing the notion held by some that doctors are too ready to prescribe antidepressants, he said: ‘I think people are generally getting better at talking about having mental health problems, I think doctors are getting better at diagnosing them.

‘Depression is the leading cause of health disability in the western world, certainly in Britain, it’s a huge problem, it’s a problem that effects young people, people of working age, and it destroys families.

‘Everyone knows that some people do respond to psychological treatment, great, but if they don’t what are they going to do?

‘Psychotherapy is hard work and it takes a lot of time, if you’re a working person you can be confronted with the choice of not doing psychotherapy or losing your job.

‘I feel seriously for patients who have responded well to antidepressents who are kind of scared to say it. No one is going to force a patient to take antidepressants but to abuse them because they feel it’s the best way forward is rather pitiful.’

However, he advised people not to come off their medication ‘willy nilly’ and to always consult their GP about changing their doses.

For some time Professor Nutt has called for more research into the use of psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms and LSD to treat mental health issues.

He is preparing to launch a working group on the topic next Thursday, which he hopes will help those who ‘don’t respond well to psychotherapy and don’t respond to antidepressants.’

Professor Nutt was behind a study earlier this year which said these drugs are a powerful tool against a number of mental health conditions but have become a victim of the global war on drugs.

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