Now onto my favorite (*cough* *cough*) advice for treating Depression: medication.
Whoa –what?! YOU don’t like being dependent on pills? We should hang out. Oh, wait. We kind-of are.
Like, my entire anxious life I’ve worried about The Day: that point at which the doctors would finally tie me up in a straight jacket, cart me away, and dose me full of anti-depressants. As relative after relative succumbed to depressive tendencies, I’d mentally count down to when my turn would come.
I watched a friend balloon in weight on anti-psychotics; saw the not-so-fun of adjusting medications in another. I read and heard and watched people being negatively affected by their cocktail of drugs.
There is a lot to be depressed about in terms of depression medication.
But this sort of thinking is clearly that of someone in a depressive mindset (aka ME). I love to take the easy route of negative self-talk; of assuming the worst.
The truth -no, The Truth is that medications are extremely helpful. They are often vital.
A close friend of mine was married for a couple decades to a guy with serious schizophrenic issues. Super nice guy, by the way. My friend’s spouse became concerned that apocalyptic situations were nearing, and concluded that medication dependency was a bad thing. So, of course, he went off of his pills.
This is not one of those “happily ever after” stories, but it is one in which life had to keep going and did (and, still does). After severe manic/depressive episodes, a necessary divorce, and removal of his ability to get credit cards; he’s back on a higher dose and back to the person I knew before.
No, not every story is that extreme. Yes, some are more so.
In my vast experience of talking to a lot of people about deeply personal issues like mental illness ’cause I’m nosy, most use medication for its intended purpose: a leg up. Prescription drugs are meant to give our poor minds and neural pathways a little help.
They are meant to be taken WITH therapy, because we need to teach ourselves to form automatic pathways to brighter fields of mental flowers.
I found some really great sources of information online (Mayo Clinic, WebMd, MedicineNet) that go into more details about common medications, their types, and side effects. They’re especially good if you want to get worked up about how you have a 5% chance of a limb detaching once on a course of Prozac.
So, this is the part where a psychomedicaldoctordude comes in handy. After talking through what you and he think is going on, he may prescribe you something to try.
The most common medications to treat Depression are:
-Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil.
-Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta and Effexor.
-Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) like Nopramin and Nardil.
-Other classifications, like Wellbutrin (aminoketone class), Trazodone (serotonin modulator), or Remeron (tetracyclic).
You may have a mix of mental illness, in which case anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic medications are prescribed. Ones like:
-Antipsychotics: Seroquel, and Zyprexa with Prozac.
-Some stimulants like Ritalin.
-Anti-anxiety, like Buspar.
Like me, and for those who deal with related issues like thyroid deficiencies, the prescription may simply be:
-Supplements to raise natural levels in the body
-Specific thyroid medications
Whew! That’s quite a list. I swiped it from WebMd, mostly, leaving out the fun side effects notes.
What you need to know, besides these being a mental leg up, is that all of these affect serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in some way. An article by Harvard Health also referenced Glutamate and GABA. The truly encouraging piece is that the medications are a bit of a shot in the dark.
In reading over these sites, I get the idea that Depression is a tricky bugger. The medications tend to improve symptoms in about 70% of sufferers, but doctors are not entirely certain why. Yes, they affect these hormones or connectors -however, simply affecting said things in isolation does not always work. That, and some people are still not helped by the good old anti-depressant classics.
Besides boring you all with technical details about prescription drugs, I wanted to hit my main point home for ya: Pills aren’t all that bad.
During my brief stint on hormones, I experienced something wonderful. The sensation was very much like the gift of sight despite not wearing contacts. I looked around at the world and saw light, felt hope, and assumed better outcomes instead of the worst possible ones.
Prescription drugs can be the big-brother boost to get into that impossibly high tree. Instead of constantly staring up at all the other people who got there, you can get help. With The Pill, you will be able to see knotholes or branch stubs or bark indentations. With psychotherapy, you’ll gain the strength to use them.
The journey to a brighter place may necessitate medication. Don’t be hatin’. Try what your paid medical friend suggests, pay attention to side effects, try again. Train your mind, young padowan, so that you may someday need fewer legs up -or, perhaps, none at all.
These pictures were swiped from JES’ database, which uses Unsplash.