about anti-depressants/the good/the bad/and the ugly

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I was going to write a long post about anti-depressants. As I was checking out some health sites, I came across this link, This is very good information. I highly recommend it.

But before you check it out I want to add a few things. Having taken anti-depressants on and off for a number of years, I learned a lot. Not from just my experience but from extensive research as well.

Anti-depressants can be very helpful, especially with severe depression. But pills are only a band-aid.Because they elevate our mood, we start feeling so good, we ignore the issues that brought on our depression. It’s not enough to just feel better. We need to learn techniques to help manage our depression should we struggle with future episodes. Whether we Something caused our depression. It could triggered by a medical condition or certain medications but ordinarily by themselves they are not the only cause of clinical depression.

Also, while we often read that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, there is no test to determine that and there’s no way of knowing which came first, the chemical imbalance or the depression. A physician makes his/her determination of depression based on a list of about six symptoms that are answered by the patient. It’s a self-report. An informed doctor who knows enough about depression will usually recommend counseling. Most don’t. A pill is so much easier than telling a patient they need to work through some things. Plus, many insurance companies only partially pay for counseling visits and the sessions are expensive. Again, there is nothing wrong with taking medication but do you really want your mental well-being dependent on pills for the rest of your life?

Grief and traumatic circumstances deserve to be addressed separately. These are often called “situational” depression. In this case, it’s very common and understandable why medication may be ordered for awhile. As a hospital chaplain, I observed grief up close. Grieving is hard work and anti-depressants can help, but even  grief has to be faced eventually. If it isn’t, it will manifest itself in other ways.

Most research suggests that pills are not the only and final answer for depression anyway. I’ve never read a book about depression (and I’ve read so many I’ve lost count), that doesn’t address the need for change within ourselves. It’s while our minds are clear and we’re feeling better that we need to work through the issues that brought on or contributed to our depression.

I’m certainly not judging anyone who chooses to use anti-depressants in the short-term. I have myself and will again should it become necessary But I’ve learned they are only a tool, like exercise, meditation, rest, etc. For many they don’t work and for others the side-effects are so severe they have to be discontinued.

If you are deciding whether to take anti-depressants or if your doctor has suggested it, do your homework and make the decision that is best for you. But if you do, use the time you’re feeling better to give your life and lifestyle some thought. Read some good books. Do some research. Talk to someone. Check out some websites. Check out some blogs, but be careful. I found a number of blogs that were nothing more than a forum for everybody to complain. That won’t help. Trust. me.

A final note.

(If you are open to it, there is one final resource-God. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I am a Christian. I attribute my success in managing my depression to God. I feel the Holy Spirit has directed me every step of the way, from deepening my faith, to leading me to the right resources . Finally, I believe God also led me to deeper insight into my own behavior, mindset, thinking, etc..)