Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D. on the issues surrounding women and antidepressants.
Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, so I’ve worked with hundreds of people struggling with depression and the medications that sometimes go along with it. Sometimes women have reservations about antidepressants and this prevents them from taking them regularly and as prescribed by their doctors. There are a few reasons for this:
1) There is still an enormous stigma when it comes to mental health. So someone who has taken the time to find a psychiatrist, make the appointment, go in for the intake and fill their prescription is doing a great job and is ahead of the curve!! AND they are still not immune from feeling that stigma that so many of us do when we acknowledge that we’re struggling with our mental health. So actually taking that pill might make a person, especially a woman, feel “crazy” which might get in the way of taking the medication.
2) The stigma that most of us feel regarding mental health is exacerbated for women due to patriarchy and misogyny. Sound a little extreme? Hear me out: part of what women are always being accused of when we are upset or angry is that we are crazy. Women are always being told that we need to settle down, calm down, that we’re being too sensitive, etc. All of these messages are meant to convey that our feelings, our thoughts, and our experiences are not valid. And hearing these messages over and over and over again starts to mess with us! It makes us question and doubt our thoughts, feelings and experiences. It makes us wonder if the problem IS actually us. So again, the decision to make medication is a significant one, but it’s a decision that’s even harder to make when we’re not trusting ourselves because we’ve been given the message most of our lives that we can’t be taken seriously.
3) The other thing that I hear a lot about is the apprehension about taking this kind of medication and what it all means. This is compounded when someone also struggles with anxiety. There is the logistical worry about side effects, including the fear of losing one’s sex drive, gaining weight or feeling like a “zombie.” There’s concern about the interaction with other medications that she might be taking as well as the uncertainty about drinking alcohol while taking medication. And then there’s all sorts of bigger-picture, existential woe about how long the medication will be needed—and what does it mean if the medication has to be taken for years . . . or forever? I think all of these concerns can feel daunting to address and can easily get in the way of taking the medication regularly when it is needed.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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