The first appointment with a psychiatrist is usually quite frightening. The decision to seek help is finally made after a long period of suffering with symptoms, not understanding it, not knowing how to explain it. After suffering for a long time seeking treatment feels so frightening and leads to feelings of vulnerability. I have had many people come to the office and express the feeling that being at the appointment is the ultimate acknowledgement of defeat and resignation to the fact that they have sucummed to mental illness after a very long time of resistance and fighting it, as though it is moral failure.
The whole idea of chemicals that alter your mood, thinking and behaviors are frightening to many people. The internet is full of the propagation of this fear (almost to the point of instilling paranoia) of medications, psychiatry, psychology, alleged "thought control", etc. In opposition to the medical community's attempt to help suffering patients, pop media preys on fears and guilt and offer no alternatives. Though our culture accepts mood and behavior alteration of Miller Lite, Starbucks, tobacco, and even marijuana, to some extent, Prozac, Zyprexa, etc becomes a dreaded and even hated concept. There isn't such a drive against alcohol which causes more illness and deaths than all the psychopharmacueticals will ever cause. Even caffiene is not benign, contributing to peptic ulcer, GERD and hypertension, but no one gets upset over Americans' increased dependance on it.
I have heard ministers discouraging their parishoners from taking antidepressants, as though it is a spiritual weakness that chemical imbalances occur.
I am not trying to belittle the point that all medications have the potental for harm, including death, but emotional illness can be even more devastating to patients who suffer and the families who are also affected. People die of mental illness every day and pop media and internet should be supportive of patients and help them in their quest for alleviating their affliction and not alienate them from a potential for remission.