One of the latest trends is attacking antidepressant medications.
I am approaching this as a nurse of 23 years including psych and substance abuse experience. Plus a person with a history of depression and have had personal friends that have suffered depression. I really don’t want to hear from people with education from Facebook University or that read 1–2 articles on the subject and think they know something. Especially when the person commenting is against all medications, especially psychoactive meds.
Now, do these medications sometimes have negative side effects? Yes, they do. Any medication can have adverse side effects. That’s why there are so many of them.
However, one thing to understand about antidepressants is some of their intended actions. Such as reducing inhibition, which is useful for such problems as social anxiety.
The down side to this is that it reduces inhibition in general. That can include the inhibition of showing how a person truly feels. Often a person has real world problems which the medication can NOT treat. Yet they hide their emotions either for the benefit of people around them or BECAUSE of the people around them. So when they start taking a medication that releases that inhibition, they stop hiding their true feelings. That is NOT a fault in the medication. The medication is doing EXACTLY what it was designed to do.
Mental health in general is a huge problem in our society and our medical field. Too often people with an emotional issue, chronic or acute, are seen as “flawed”.
Personally, I frequently object to the long list of what are considered “disorders”. Basically any human being can be diagnosed as having some form of mental or emotional disorder. If you’re energetic, you may be diagnosed as having ADHD or a manic disorder. If you have a short attention span but intelligent, ADD. If you lack energy or are introverted, you may be diagnosed as autistic or have social anxiety disorder.
I in no way deny a lot of this is driven by large pharmaceutical companies. That is absolutely true. But that is not the only factor in play.
One big issue here is lack of access to therapy.
Insurance companies will often deny coverage for psychological therapy, which can be extremely expensive out of pocket. Yet they will pay for pills. Sometimes they won’t even pay for the pills but that is all the patient can afford. So they take the pills and hope things get better.
Another issue is the social and professional stigma attached to therapy, which is less than it used to be but still definitely exists. If you have it in your medical record that you have taken an antidepressant, it has little or no effect on your life any more. If you have it in your record that you have been treated for major depression, anger management or suicidal ideology, it can result in denial of entry into the best schools, the best jobs, even licensure for some professions. Such things can follow you for the rest of your life.
Socially, people with genuine emotional issues are too often misunderstood and ostracized, leaving them feeling judged and isolated, adding to their existing problems. Over time the stress builds up, making it far worse than it was to begin with.
Much of the time, some of the people raging most against antidepressants are from the left, using it as an indictment against big pharmaceutical companies. Now they are being joined by voices on the far right, who are using the same issue to divert attention from the gun control debate. So the left is MINDLESSLY helping to shut down any debate. Basically saying, “Let’s not even talk about it.”
How about this? Put your priorities in order. Let’s talk about the antidepressant issue AFTER we talk about enacting stricter gun laws, like eliminating assault weapons. Can you control YOUR impulses for a while? Can you lay aside YOUR prejudice for just that long?
In the end, we need to recognize the fact that people who take medications for depression and anxiety have a problem to begin with which results in them taking these medications. Taking the medications away will NOT help them and will leave them feeling MORE helpless than they did in the first place.
These medications are taken by millions of people and they have improved millions of lives, either short term or long term. They are not an instant fix and will not address real world problems. They are not designed for that purpose.
I was going to address real world issues in this but decided to break this into two parts. Real world issues will be covered in the second part. Because what is needed is a more holistic approach to mental health and open discussion of much larger problems in our society which have led to the rise of so many people needing these medications in the first place.
Please join me for part 2.