Antidepressants are the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States. Yet a new review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that some of the most popular antidepressant drugs actually don’t work better than a sugar pill.
Depression itself can be horrific, including the effects that it can have on your family, your workplace performance and other relationships, as well as the way that it can negatively affect your physical health.
And of course, the risk of suicide is associated with severe depression, and it appears that the decision about whether to take an antidepressant medication is not an easy one. For most people, the consequences of untreated depression far outweigh the risks of taking an antidepressant.
Facts About Depression
Life is full of ups and downs, and before you go out and try to get a prescription for any sort of antidepressant medication, you need to evaluate whether your depression is a healthy response to normal life activities or if it is something you cannot identify the problem.
What’s shocking is the number of people, especially women who are put on these drugs for mild mood problems that don’t fall into the category of true depression. That’s probably the fault of primary care physicians, who often don’t screen properly for depression before making a prescription.
Correct screening involves evaluating and asking patients a series of questions about their symptoms. This is to help categorize the condition as mild, moderate, severe, or very severe.
Some people make the mistake of using medication to cope with difficult situations such as the loss of a loved one or a relationship, but these are all events when feelings of sadness and depression are a healthy response to the environment and happenings around you.
During such times, it is essential to continue through your every day and not try to mask your emotions.
Should you conclude that your depression has become a hindrance to your life you should consider the proper treatment, then there are several options to consider that does not necessarily include heavy medications.
However, signs such as an inability to get yourself out of bed, difficulty eating, or a family history of depression may mean it is time to seek professional help.
Alternatives to Antidepressants
Antidepressants are not for everyone, and there are several alternatives to it.
For example, counseling and psychotherapy are effective treatments for many depressed people, and studies that directly compared these treatments showed that the chances that depressed people will respond to cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy were comparable to the chances they’ll respond to antidepressants medications.
Thus, before you run to your doctor and start taking medication, it is wise to seek other types of help, one of which is to see a therapist. There are multiple types of therapy that you attend which will help with specific types of depression.
If you see your primary care physician and decide not to take an antidepressant, you can ask him or her to recommend an experienced counselor or therapist who has a good record with other people with depression.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for people who are struggling with self-deprecating thoughts and actions. Another form of therapy called interpersonal psychotherapy is useful for addressing the way you handle relationships and how this could lead to your depression.
A therapist is especially helpful for younger people who need help getting a handle on their depression before it becomes a serious life issue.
Other alternatives to antidepressants include natural remedies that can be done in your home. Many people have been able to alleviate depression through the use of certain herbs. E.g St. John’s wort, omega 3 fatty acids, or SAMe.
These natural herbal remedies are much less addictive and less life-altering than full-on antidepressants.
A general rule of thumb is that antidepressants should be taken for approximately six to twelve months. Unfortunately, when it is time to stop taking the drugs, some people experience what is called discontinuation syndrome.
This effects should not be confused with withdrawals, and your body never becomes physically dependent on the medication in the way it does with narcotics.
The discontinuation syndrome can be avoided by lowering down doses and listening to your doctor’s instructions.
There are many reasons to take antidepressant medications, and there are also alternatives for people who are not suffering from severe depression.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the medications and have a conversation with a medical expert or a doctor. But in the end, it is important to make your own decision, lead your life, and do only what is best for you.