The Great Depression

During a long conversation with an acquaintance the other day, discussing subjects from birds to politics, we started talking about people and depression. I don’t mean the kind of depression one gets because someone burned a cake, I mean clinically diagnosed depression. Depression deep enough that it affects the daily lives of people. Shutting themselves off from the world, afraid to do certain things which others take for granted.

My friend doesn’t “believe” in taking medications for it, specifically SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). These include medications like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc.

Aside from my personal feeling that she could actually benefit from taking one of those herself, she was very critical of people who do take them. She felt that people who need them are “weak-minded” individuals, people who just need to take responsibility for their feelings and need to be stronger-willed. Mind you, she also doesn’t believe in the benefits of psycho-therapy either. I was quite surprised at the ignorance displayed, and try as I might, I could not get her to budge one bit in accepting the value of such treatments.

I am of the mind that if I have a headache, I’ll take a Tylenol. Hell, if I am sick, I’ll eat a urinal cake if it will make me feel better. I take blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, and an occasional Ambien when I can’t “saw the logs”. And if I had an emotional problem, you could be damn sure I’d scarf that kind of shit down.

In college, I majored in psychology, so I have always felt that medications and therapy had distinctive values to a person’s mental well-being.

Medications, especially. Before these types of meds existed or were prescribed regularly, people who suffered from ailments like clinical depression or anxiety lived in nothing less than mental prisons, afraid of others, scared to leave the house, uncomfortable in various situations, and just sad beyond comprehension. And while psycho-therapy may work to an extent in helping deal with the experiences, you still need to correct the physical imbalance. If your serotonin is just off your particular level, it won’t matter how much therapy you obtain. These medications are miracle drugs for some people. They enable them to crawl out of their fragile shell, to live normal lives, and to interact comfortably with others in various situations in which they would otherwise have problems.

Do some doctors automatically prescribe them as a first line of defense? Yes. Should one get a second opinion? Yes. Explore therapy? Yes.

I have friends who suffer from one type of emotional problem or another, and from being around them for as long as I have, watching how they struggled and suffered, to seeing the therapeutic success they experienced from availing themselves of these medications, I have seen the improvements first hand.

Does it take some experimenting to get the cocktail right? Sometimes.

Is is worth it?

You’re damn right it is. So much so, I am happy for them.

And sorry for my friend.

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