Please note this post is based on my opinion, I am not a mental health professional. All levels and severity of condition vary from person to person and therefore not all cases are the same. I am not denying that, for a large number of cases, medication is required for people to function and I believe that is a great thing and that it allows them to do so.
“I want blues and pinks, I just want to avoid the blacks and reds. Because the red is when you’re manic and you’re burning everything up, the black is when you want to kill yourself. I don’t mind blues, I don’t mind pinks.” – Patton Oswalt on depression.
I am certain that mental health professionals, psychiatrists and psychologists, do the best they can with what they are given from their patients, and that the diagnosis of specific mental health issues is not black and white. I do believe however, that prescription drugs for depression and anxiety, on occasion, can be prescribed too easily. I believe this to be true for a number of reasons and through my own experiences.
The process of diagnosis can be very hit or miss. Patients are, sometimes, inclined to lie. They can feel like they are being forced to be there, they may be ashamed or they think that things are so bad they will say anything to get better. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to notice when their patients are being evasive, but if a person has been able to convince themselves of something with an unshakeable conviction, such as the terrible things they tell themselves, it becomes possible to deceive even the most astute of mental health professionals.
Mental health practitioners see antidepressants as a weapon in the arsenal of the profession and, therefore, believe that all weapons should be used to combat an invasion. I do understand that if a patient is in such a bad place, enough to attempt suicide say, that those weapons should be used. Even though, in some cases, the use of medication may increase the thoughts of suicide.
Psychiatrists have to be well versed in all the relevant data regarding the medication they prescribe, clinical trials, possible side effects etc. Just as physicians need to be with the antibiotics they prescribe. But because there are so many of them, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) to name but a few, all with their own myriad of side effects, the prescription of the correct one can also be very hit or miss. It can take months to find the correct medication or even combination of medications. The side effects can be so debilitating that the patient just stops taking the meds. This however should not be done, this can causes discontinuation symptoms, which can include anxiety and depression. So the patient is left to suffer with side effects ranging from loss of sex drive to headaches, until the correct dosage, type and combination of medication is reached.
Patients not wise to all the above mentioned side effects and complications may even request antidepressants as a means to cope. Seeing it as the solve all, quick fix solution to a much larger problem, that will inevitably go unsolved. In some instances they may even be granted them, as mentioned above, patients are inclined to lie. So if they are willing to lie about what has happened to them or how they really feel, why would they not lie about feeling worse than they actually do just to get the meds? Even Biral ® “South Africa’s #1 stress-beating brand” (which is all natural and with no documented side effects) is too accessible, it allows people to reach for a pill instead of dealing with the problem at hand. “You’re anxious, have a pill”, “you’re depressed, have a pill.”
So this brings me to the real point I am trying to make. I think the value of targeted treatment, support, mind-set, routine, adequate sleep, eating healthy and exercise should never be over looked or discounted. I attribute the greatest portion of differences I have made in my life to the dedicated practice of self-development, support and healthy living. People need to understand that medication, required or not, is not even half the battle. The rest is down to you and your dedication to illicit a change.
So if you ever feel down and think you might be getting depressed I urge you to look at your lifestyle, diet, habits etc. before reaching for the pill bottle. Changing these aspects of your life will have a long lasting and profound effect. Then if through proper evaluation, by a trusted psychiatrist you still feel that route is for you. Educate yourself first on all the benefits and possible side effects that specific antidepressant may have, ask questions, get all the information. It is your brain after all, you need to take care of it, it’s the only one you have.
Resources and other interesting reads/listens on the subject.