You may have encountered individuals in your life who are “anti-medicine.” Simply put, anti-medicine individuals don’t trust the modern medical system and its recommendations. Instead, these people question the system and often pursue alternative solutions to medical problems, such as naturopathic remedies. Unfortunately, harmful consequences can occur with the anti-medicine perspective, especially in the mental health space. Keep reading for an overview of how anti-medicine beliefs can contribute to mental health stigma and cause harm to individuals who need help.

Understanding the ‘Anti-Medicine’ Stance

First, it’s essential to understand the anti-medicine stance. People who take this perspective aren’t evil. They simply have an inherent mistrust of mass authorities, such as governments, pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions.

These fears and beliefs often stem from a negative or dangerous experience with the medical system — either personally or through association.

Common Beliefs of Anti-Medicine Individuals

Below are some of the most common beliefs anti-medicine people hold.

  • Pharmaceutical companies are all about profits and sell people medicine that makes them sicker to keep earning more money.
  • Doctors and health care workers are corrupt and don’t have the patient’s best interest in mind.
  • The government benefits from having sick individuals, as this stops people from revolting. So the government is weakening people and causing them to become ill through food, medication and vaccines.
  • Vaccines are used to control and subdue the general public.
  • Medical information given to the majority of people is false and misleading.
  • Everyone who trusts modern medical practices is brainwashed.
  • Therapists and counselors create problems in a patient’s head that aren’t really there.
  • Therapists and counselors can (and do) brainwash and manipulate their patients.
  • Before modern medicine, humans were able to live and survive without pills, surgeries and all the interventions we rely on today.
  • Mother Nature can heal all medical problems if you know what to do or take.
  • Taking medications or accepting treatment is giving in to an authoritative power that’s trying to control you.
  • Mental health conditions can be overcome if you become strong-willed; medication and therapy aren’t necessary.
  • Addiction isn’t a disease, it’s a choice.

How Being Anti-Medicine Contributes to Mental Health Stigma

Every person is free to hold their own beliefs. However, there are real consequences that can be attributed to anti-medicine challenges. Most notably, the core values of the anti-medicine movement are to mistrust science and medicine and not seek the standard level of care offered to individuals in the United States.

Someone who’s anti-medicine may not pursue chemotherapy treatment for their stage 4 cancer because they think a change in diet can cure them. Another anti-medicine individual may not vaccinate their children from dangerous diseases because they believe vaccines are a tool to control and subdue the population.

There are also obstacles to mental health care. Many serious mental health conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, can seriously benefit from both therapy and medications. In some cases, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the condition’s symptoms can’t be managed without medication. Anti-medicine beliefs dissuade people from using medication or trying therapy.

Ultimately, the anti-medicine movement adds to mental health stigma because it spreads the belief that mental health issues are just people being weak. Their stance is that anyone can overcome mental health conditions simply by changing their attitude or improving their willpower.

This approach to mental health conditions is quite literally out of a previous century. For centuries, people dismissed mental health issues as simply people vying for attention or being weak. Over time, perspectives shifted with the advancement of science, research and medicine into mental health. Now, the common understanding by those in the educated medical community is that mental health conditions are serious issues that are out of the person’s control. Trauma, childhood experiences and genetics can bring on these conditions. And the only way to treat mental health issues is with therapy and (sometimes) medication.

One of the most common arguments anti-medicine people have against mental health medications is that they turn you into a zombie or change your personality. However, your therapist or doctor will always tell you that your medication should make you feel better. If that’s not the case, it just means you may need to try a new brand of medication or change your dosage.

Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions About Medication

Despite a lot of breakthroughs in research and awareness, mental health conditions still hold stigma. One study found that 86% of survey respondents reported that they fear being discriminated against for their mental health condition so much that they avoid taking actions they want to, such as seeking treatment.

If someone who’s struggling with a mental health issue comes across an anti-medicine person, they could be discouraged from seeking the life-changing help they need. The individual might be shamed into feeling therapy and medication aren’t the right solution. This is an incredibly harmful and dangerous road to go down.

How to Deal With Anti-Medicine People

If you have someone in your life who’s anti-medicine, it can be natural to feel frustrated and angry when you talk to them about their beliefs. After all, their belief in what’s right and wrong directly opposes what you believe.

But compassion is the way to get through to people, not anger or shame.

Try to understand their reasoning and what led them to mistrust major institutions. Do your best to politely question their reasoning and share educational sources that may guide them in a new direction.

However, compassion is only possible when the person isn’t negatively impacting others. If you see a person with anti-medicine beliefs shaming others or convincing them not to seek help for their physical or mental health conditions, it’s appropriate to step in. Sometimes, someone struggling with a mental health issue is vulnerable enough that they can be convinced to go down the wrong path. In this case, step in and talk about all the benefits of getting proper treatment for mental health conditions. This reminder can be the thing that saves the person’s life!

Sunlight Recovery Offers Science-Backed Treatment Options

You can’t argue with treatment programs that have helped thousands of people through their addiction and mental health problems. At Sunlight Recovery, we know our treatment is effective because we’ve seen it change people’s lives for the better again and again. Let us show you what it can do for you. Contact us today to get started.