Are antidepressants worth it? Well, I certainly didn’t think so.
When my psychiatrist at the time suggested adding antidepressants to my treatment I was a bit apprehensive.
Being a skeptical person by nature, as well as being depressed and thus inherently cynical, antidepressants seemed too good to be true.
Think about it.
You are suffering from a condition that is overwhelming you – the world seems empty and bleak and there’s no hope.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, antidepressants come into your life, promising to cure you just like that.
It just seemed too good to be true back then, and when something seems too good to be true – it usually is.
But this isn’t just some guy from the street saying these things – this is a psychiatrist, a specialist at the top of their profession.
Antidepressants are widely accepted as a form of treatment for depression, but just how effective are they really?
The answer isn’t as straightforward as I first thought.
How do antidepressants work?
To simplify it – antidepressants can help you with your condition by changing the way that your brain works.
Antidepressants work by altering chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters interact with things that are called receptors, that are located all around our brain and body, and regulate our thoughts and emotions in a variety of ways.
In other words, the idea of antidepressants is that they can change the way that you think by directly manipulating your brain.
This process takes time.
Generally, it is believed that antidepressants take about 3 to 4 weeks to take effect, and not everyone reacts to them the same way.
There are different kinds of antidepressats that are meant for many kinds of people.
As such, you will need to commit to a long treatment process before seeing any results.
After all, this is medicine, not magic.
Do antidepressants really work?
To answer the question – yes.
Studies show that antidepressants are effective against many different types of depression, with the sole exception being mild cases.
In more than one way, this is really incredible.
You can have a debilitating mood disorder, experiment with a few pills (only with the guidance of a professional!), and then just get over it.
It is amazing how far medical science has come, truly.
It hasn’t come that far.
The truth of the matter is that we don’t fully understand the way that our brain works.
Depression isn’t a cold, or an inflammation or anything else that you can just observe and give instructions and pills that will make it better in a few days.
Rather, “depression” is a broad, all-purpose term.
It’s a mood disorder, but what causes it and how it affects people can greatly vary from person to person.
- Some depressed people overeat, some avoid eating.
- Some feel great despair, others feel nothing but apathy.
- In some cases, depression can even result in a great feeling of frustration and rage.
The point is that finding the specific cause for the way that a person’s brain makes them feel is not easy.
As such, it’s no surprise that antidepressants don’t work for, and even harm, many patients.
The truth is that there is no “magical cure” for depression – and it makes perfect sense.
After all, if there are so many causes for the condition, there should be equally as many forms of treatment.
So what *is* the point of taking antidepressants?
With everything that I have said so far, you may think that I hate antidepressants, or that I would tell you that you are all better off without them.
That is not the case.
The truth is that antidepressants are not meant to “cure” your depression.
Rather, they are meant to help you manage your symptoms better so that you can benefit more from other forms of treatment.
One of the main problems with overcoming depression is that the condition can, and oftentimes does, dominate the patient’s life.
The truth is that, as I mentioned previously, treating any sort of medical condition takes time.
A cold might take a few days to get better, depression can take weeks or months, and even then it might only be temporary.
Also, unlike a cold, overcoming depression is something that you needs to be done proactively – it’s not going to pass away by itself.
How is a person supposed to stick to such a long treatment process and put so much work into getting better when all they can feel is emptiness and despair?
They typically can’t, They usually don’t, and I don’t think that anyone can blame them.
That’s where antidepressants come in.
This kind of problem is precisely what antidepressants are for.
By alleviating the symptoms of depression, antidepressants put you in a better state of mind to take care of yourself.
In other words, antidepressants should not be thought of as a cure or even a form of treatment, but rather as sort of a crutch to use while you get the help that you need.
There are people who grow to become reliant on them and abuse them as a result, of course, but antidepressants aren’t really addictive in nature.
As long as you don’t use them needlessly and listen to your doctor, you really can benefit from them.
At least, sometimes. Maybe even ‘usually’.
Antidepressants are prescribed far too often
Remember that I said that you shouldn’t take antidepressants needlessly?
As it turns out, deciding when antidepressants should and shouldn’t be used is actually very difficult, even for trained professionals
In an article published by HealthDay, they discuss this very issue.
According to their sources, prescriptions of antidepressants for actual depression only stood at a little more than half out of all overall prescriptions for antidepressants in Quebec (55%).
That means that about half of prescriptions (45%) were directed at conditions that were not depression.
How is possible that doctors, trained professionals, mess up so consistently? Are doctors from Quebec that incompetent?
Doctors from Quebec are not incompetent, few trained medical professionals are.
Rather, it all comes back to the condition itself.
Depression is very difficult to diagnose
As I said earlier, depression is a broad term for what can be broken down into multiple conditions and disorders.
Groups of people can all have a depressive disorder yet experience different symptoms entirely.
As such, the symptoms of depression are relatively broad and general, and diagnosis usually tends to follow:
- Are you feeling weak, tired, and moody? Are losing weight? You might be depressed… Or suffering from an eating disorder
- Are you feeling worthless and empty? You might be Bipolar and are just going through a “low” period
- Are you losing weight, feeling tired, and irritable? You might have type 2 Diabetes
- Are you literally checking off most of the boxes for depression? You might just be Deficient in Vitamin B12
The list goes on and on, but the point remains the same – Proper diagnosis is sometimes the hardest part of treatment
The side effects of antidepressants
So, let’s say that you have gotten the wrong diagnosis for your condition, or were given pills that aren’t good for you.
What’s the worst that can happen?
As it turns out, quite a lot.
Messing with the way that our brain works in unnatural ways is usually not a good idea.
Antidepressants are normally given in a controlled and measured way, so even if we experience the worst of them, we will usually recover relatively quickly.
That doesn’t mean that this trial and error method is perfect, or that there aren’t any drawbacks to taking antidepressants.
In fact, there are several ways in which antidepressants might negatively impact your overall health.
Here are a few examples:
- Antidepressants may increase the risk of breast cancer
- Antidepressants can harm your memory and limit your learning ability by extension
- They can cause sexual dysfunction, lowering the quality of your sperm and your libido alongside it
- Like any other drug, your body can become dependent on them, and withdrawal is terrible – you can’t just “stop” taking them at will
- They can be dangerous for elderly people, damaging their bones and can possibly cause hypothermia in the long run.
- They aren’t any better with children, hindering their development and can be a major cause for autism and pulmonary hypertension (10% mortality rate)
- Antidepressants might increase the risk of suicide, although this is a controversial issue
Proper diagnosis is crucial, and keeping in touch with your doctor is probably the best thing that you can do to avoid such complications.
Even so, these symptoms shouldn’t be taken lightly, and you should consider them before starting with the pills
Antidepressants aren’t magic
This is perhaps the biggest takeaway here.
Antidepressants can help you by reducing your symptoms, they can give you back your life…for a time.
They can’t give you any long, lasting, changes – for that you are going to need something else.
There are also many possible complications along the way, making antidepressants seem far less attractive.
Even so, many people swear by them, and not without reason.
In severe cases, a person can be so depressed that they might very well be beyond most other forms of treatment.
That’s when antidepressants are needed the most.
At the end of the day though, the only person who can really help you is you.
So why not get started with that?
The Destroy Depression program is what I usually recommend.
It’s easy to get into, is effective, and comes with a 60-day money-back warranty, so there’s no reason to not at least give it a try.
For any other questions feel free to get in touch.
My email: [email protected]