Welcome To My Parlour...

I've been trying to avoid this for a little while, but I find myself constantly being redirected to the subject. This is something that will no doubt incite the wrath of many, and I am prepared for that. In fact, I welcome it on the condition that any differing view points are presented in a rational, civil manner. This is a divisive topic that a few people have gently touched on here. I have posted a few comments in other people's stories, but still I feel there needs to be a stronger statement made.
My concern is the attitude surrounding antidepressants (AD's) and the people who take them. I'm reading much about how AD's are not necessary, they are tools of profit created by drug companies, alternate remedies or therapy are effective alternatives and so on. I also hear many people expressing fear and shame about beginning or continuing to take AD's. I think these are linked as cause and effect.

Why does this matter? When I was diagnosed with depression, I was reluctant to start a course of medication. I investigated the issue thoroughly and found many people suggesting that AD's were not necessary, and that if a person tried hard enough they could beat depression without medication. By extension, anyone requiring AD's must not be trying hard enough, implying weakness of character or constitution. That certainly did not describe me, so I set about fixing myself by all means of non medical therapies. For me, they all failed. Broken by defeat, my doctor finally persuaded me to try medication, having exhausted almost every other option. I was fortunate because the medication was very effective. It succeeded easily where every other attempt had failed. Not only did it work, it far exceeded all expectations I had for recovery.

So why then did I still feel amiss? I was nagged by the opinions, including my own, that had convinced me that I was weak and addicted. Now possessing the gift of clear thought however, I realized that this negative opinion of AD's and those of us who need them was folly. I immediately became aware of how pervasive this idea was, so much so that I had bought into it myself without scrutiny. I also realized how this mindset delayed and nearly prevented successful treatment of my depression. That's the point where I became angry.

Angry with whom? Angry with the the group most responsible for propagating this misinformation, other depressed people. Some of us have become our own worst enemies. It sickens me to read about people who are suffering yet refuse to try medication, or even those successfully treating depression with medication yet are compelled to stop because of the stigma associated with AD's and becoming “addicted”.

Medication will not work for everyone (and can indeed make some worse), and even those for whom it is effective it may only be a part of the required treatment. Medication does require that you work as hard as it does, and that you respect the manner in which it is taken. It is also clear that many people are able to manage their depression entirely with non-medical therapies, and these bear consideration. Please make sure you understand my position on these points before continuing.

Still though, there are those of you who insist on taking the position that there are always or usually better alternatives. The idea that the mind has the power to heal itself, and only strength and will are required to defeat depression. Then there is the talk of the “addiction” to AD's, and the negative connotations of needing to take them indefinitely. These ideas are dangerous and irresponsible. There is no shame in needing AD's, and like any treatment of a chronic condition, there should be no stigma associated with long term medical therapy. I'm saying this not in defence of my own character, but to try and prevent someone making a bad choice based on these faulty perceptions. Too many people sabotage their own recovery by believing that medication can never be the answer. If I hadn't overcome this idea, I might still be suffering. It troubles me to think, to know, that there are others that could benefit from medication, yet won't, for no other reason than they are ashamed or afraid.

Ultimately we are here to help and provide support to each other as we manage depression, we all need to remember this as our prime directive. It's important to consider that people are listening to us, and we need to be responsible in how we present opinions and facts, and make sure that the distinction between the two is clear. It should be self evident that different treatments will effect people in different ways, and although we should all share what has and hasn't worked for us, we must be very careful not to extrapolate that to “that never works” or “there is always an alternative”.
Again, I want to be clear so that you understand my position. I am not implying in any way that natural, cognitive, psychological or alternative therapies are ineffective or less effective; these obviously work for many people, and in most cases should at least be part of a healthy overall management strategy. Be forewarned however, I will be rebuking comments that I feel promote the negative stereotype of AD's or people who need them to manage their depression.
Take care,
TheWendigo
TheWendigo TheWendigo
36-40, M
2 Responses Jul 26, 2010

well written and I agree.<br />
I have been on and off meds since 2000. I am back on them again and know I need <br />
to take them. I am tired of feeling this way. I've also added .05 Clonazapam and it helps greatly<br />
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There is a lot of stigma attached, and I see so many people suffering....>WHY??? There is an answer out there and NO you do not have to be addicted

That makes me angry too, the misinformation and recommendation against taking any form of antidepressant. I feel robbed of the time I spent in agony because I thought this was the only way to be, and that antidepressants are just a product of money hungry pharmaceutical companies who do more harm in the long term, creating the medication and then afterwards putting a name to a non-existent disorder. <br />
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This infuriates me. These types of comments are made by people who are mentally fine, who dont understand what it is like to have depression, and to make those comments means that the people who are saying this are claiming people with depression dont have depression because they dont think it exists, and because they believe this, they are thinking the depressed have a personality or attitude fault, not an impairment or handicap just like any other. <br />
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It scares me that many people will not know what it means to have relief from Depression because the propaganda stifles the education of the public regarding the effectiveness of antidepressants. It saddens me that these campaigns obliterates hope for many because of the stigma it creates to be on medication for such a disorder and pushes people to other forms of help like counselling, or yoga, or meditation- which does help but not when you have a chronic lack of chemicals, no external influence is going to change the agony inside.<br />
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I was also a part of that group who stayed away from medication, rejecting it on multiple occasions, even if it was the recommendation of my doctor to take them. <br />
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I think everybody with depression here who have been saved by medication agree with you on the points you have made above and THANK YOU for putting this up because many, many people on EP depression stories can find hope in this.<br />
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All the best,<br />
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Ali