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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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Comments (15)

Sorry for the RANT Shawn, b... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Sorry for the RANT Shawn, but you've touched on a sore spot.

In sunny California, where we have 'compassion' for those less fortunate, in the early 70's all the asylums had their gates thrown open and the 'mentally ill' were allowed their "freedom". They would be cared for by 'community clinics', where they'd be monitored. Well it all got done, but the part about the clinics. So now our 'compassionate' state has a lot of mentally ill IN STATE PRISON.

Our 'compassionate' legislators were not hard hearted. They drew up guide lines to determine who would remain locked in mental wards and who would not.

Those who could find food, shelter and clothing could leave. TRANSLATION: Those who could find a GoodWill donation bin, those who could find a freeway overpass, and those who could locate a MacDonald's dumpster were free to leave.

I've met a lot of mentally ill. For the most part, they do more harm to themselves than others. ALL were on medication at one time or another. Either they did not like the side-effects of the drugs they were taking, or once they achieved a level of normalcy, believed they no longer needed the drugs, they were 'cured'.

My daughter suffers from depression. She's monitored by her doctor and occasionally has to have her meds modified. She realizes that she'll be on medication for the rest of her life. She doesn't like it, but she knows it's the only way she'll be "normal".

I wish you luck with your friend.

Interesting post...but if y... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

Interesting post...but if your friend wasn't a fan meds and psycho-therapy before this post, she might not even be a fan of YOURS right now...
Still very interesting....

That's alright.She... (Below threshold)
Shawn:

That's alright.

She doesn't know I write here anyway.

Keep the faith, GarandFan.<... (Below threshold)
Shawn:

Keep the faith, GarandFan.

She has a parent that cares for her.

Depression is said to be un... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Depression is said to be unexpressed anger. I don't know if that is true or not, but it seems likely. ww

I personally take aspirin f... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

I personally take aspirin for headaches etc, but i understand the point of view of those that don't want to take any type of medication whatsoever. It's someone's choice what they put in, or don't put into their body and ultimately they should be the ones to pay for a consequence/not pay for a consequence.

"It's someone's choice what... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"It's someone's choice what they put in, or don't put into their body and ultimately they should be the ones to pay for a consequence/not pay for a consequence."

I would tend to agree. Personally, I hate taking meds for anything, and I'm not a real 'health nut'.

However, there are people who become dangerous to themselves and others if not medicated. Unfortunately, our 'compassionate' legal system has to wait until someone becomes a "victim" before anything is done.

And for those mentally ill wandering the streets, I wonder what future 'enlightened' generations will think of our 'compassion'.

The folks who are now "free... (Below threshold)
epador:

The folks who are now "free" and "assimilating" are also a pressure on the emergency rooms and outpatient health clinics that a certain proportion of these folks abuse over and over in search of relief from their mental torments or from the side effects of the medications that allow them to mainstream. A fair proportion of the morbidly obese with diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and other medical problems are taking atypical antipsychotics, pushed because they don't cause crippling movement disorders, but sadly do cause extreme obesity in a large proportion of folks on these meds long term. The billions used to treat their medical complications through Medicaid and Medicare could likely fund a fairly adequate protected environment facility approach.

So meds are not always a benign way to treat mental illness.

But I'm not talking about simple depressive disorders, which it sounds are the main topic of the post. Medication and counseling, especially CBT approaches, are effective. There is even evidence that specialized high magnetic filed therapy works in a manner similar to electroshock therapy.

The denial your friend exhibits is not all that different from the alcoholic who doesn't have a drinking problem, the smoker who can quit any time they want to, the diabetic who doesn't have to follow a diet, exercise or take their medication because they've found a wonderful herbal treatment to complement their meditation therapy, or the Democrat who knows all our economy needs is a lot more government spending and taxation.

I am a successful businessm... (Below threshold)
anon:

I am a successful businessman, well educated, own a house (within my means!), no debt, good positive net worth (even in this economy) and would generally be considered successful.

And for six months last year I wanted to crawl into a hold and not come out. "Prison" is a good word to describe what I was in, one created by my own mind.

Little miss smarty pants can talk about "owning your feelings" and all that bull#$%%,but she has no clue what clinical depression is all about. I have two college degrees, excel in sports, and have always been outgoing and successful. This was not about "snapping out of it" or being down. This was something different.

I finally sought help and was put on Prozac. I was better in two months. The Prozac ended after four more months (six months total treatment). A year later after being off the meds I am still fine. But I needed those meds then, and I shutter to think what would have happened to my career and success if it was not available.

So your friend can take a flying leap. She is a fool.

Your friend sounds like a s... (Below threshold)
max:

Your friend sounds like a scientologist.

Have to agree with anon on ... (Below threshold)
Larry:

Have to agree with anon on this one. I suffered from depression for over 20 years. I dreaded family gettogethers, going out with friends, and felt very isolated, anxious, and sad. Finally, my work began to suffer and a couple of my coworkers gave me a mini-intervention. I went to the doctor, we went through my symptoms, and he said I was a classical case of clinical depression. He put me on Prozac (or the generic equivalent of), and I was quite hesitant about doing it. He finally said, "Well, if you came in here with a kidney infection, and I gave you antibiotics to make it go away, you'd be happy, right? It's the same thing."

Needless to say, two years later I have a much better and brighter outlook on life. I go out more, don't dread doing the family thing, and feel much better. If you're depressed, get some help!!

I tried Prozac - leaves you... (Below threshold)
Bill Johnson:

I tried Prozac - leaves you on a very even keel - but it isn't you any more. I know, I've been there. And I also agree with your friend on Psycho-the-Rapist. My wife paid therapists for 20 years. Only one actually challenged her to do something, instead of just paying to have someone hear her complaints. She left immediately, looking for another 'counselor'. Hell, go to a bar - buying drinks for everybody there is cheaper, and loads of people will listen to you and sympathize.

So, Shawn, with me (like you care), you're 0 for 2. I wouldn't eat a urinal cake for $100 bux. I don't listen to what the medical profession thinks - notice how toxic Aleve is? The one doctors love, up until about the 20,000th dose, when your liver fails. Good recommendation, guys. I want to wait a generation to see the efficacy of their solutions - who knew that margarine would be worse for you than butter?

So cut your friend some slack - we don't all trust all of the medical community, nor should we. You live your life your way, she lives hers her way.

Just because it's medicine doesn't remove the usefulness of circumspection.

Bill,Her circumspe... (Below threshold)
Shawn:

Bill,

Her circumspection is born out of ignorance, not a distrust of medicine.

Yes, there are some drugs which will prove to be harmful, but, there is a reason why our life expectancy has doubled the past 50 years. And it ain't cause we're eating right.

You've tried Prozac, and it wasn't for you. Have you tried any other SSRIs? Or did that experience completely sour your disposition to the whole range? I hope you've found some method of help, medicinal or otherwise.

This piece is not about suggesting to someone if they've had a bad day, go take Lexapro. Or if you're down because your team lost, ask for Effexor.

It's about people who have serious emotional problems that can't just be licked by talking to someone for a half hour a week.

I am critical of my friend because she won't even entertain the thought that this medication could be beneficial for a problem which she believes is nothing more than a personality flaw.

These medications have proved to be very beneficial for thousands of people who have legitimate problems, problems which are a combination of physical and mental ills.

Are they cure-all drugs? Obviously, for some, no.

But for others, they have made life worth living.

I have seen depression w... (Below threshold)
MF:

I have seen depression with family and at work. Everyone gets depressed but the deep stuff is not something that one can 'snap out of.
Too bad mental illness is still taboo it should be thought of as any other illness.

My relative crashed and almost did not make it.
It can and has been life threatening.

Sounds like your friend is in denial.
Sorry to hear that.

They are learning more about the brain and how it functions ... we are made of chemicals and hopefully in the near future they will know so much more. I have pondered previously when they do unlock more of the mysteries maybe perhaps these type illnesses can be a thing of the past.

I'm with comment #10: your ... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

I'm with comment #10: your friend sounds a lot like Tom Cruise opening his pie-hole on Brooke Shields. I agree that for some, the drugs do more harm than good, or that some doctors over-prescribe them, but for the vast majority they do so much good that it's the height of ignorance to dispute their usefulness. ADD and ADHD are similar: there are so many kids who are forced to take Ritalin or similar just because their parents or their teachers think that acting like a normal kid is something that should be controlled. But there are some people who actually need that stuff.




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