We live in a heavily medicated country. It’s a fact of life at this point that a great deal of us are on innumerable pills for seemingly every problem under the sun, and it’s got to stop. The constant medication is removing that which makes us human.
One thing I’m sorry I lived through was the ADD/Ritalin craze in the mid ‘90s. Perfectly healthy children were given drugs shockingly similar to methamphetamine because they didn’t act in a way that teachers wanted. By in large, these were highly intelligent children, they just didn’t do well doing useless, repetitive, soul-sucking menial tasks like homework or sitting at a desk quietly for something like six hours a day.
Often times, the only thing that made these children different than their classmates was a different way of learning, and for this all sorts of punitive punishments were made against them, they were shamed in front of their peers, worst of all, they were told that their brains were broken and that pills were the only answer.
Antidepressants are the worst in my opinion. These are given willy-nilly to anybody and everybody that has a complaint about feeling depressed or anxious.
I have a very simple method to decide if someone needs antidepressants or not, and I find that it serves me well. If everything in one’s life is going just fine, they have no major sources of stress or anxiety yet still have severe depression, then maybe something’s wrong and maybe antidepressants might help. Maybe. As a disclaimer, I don’t apply this to postpartum depression. In my nonprofessional opinion, the biological changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy are massive, and I believe that if their symptoms are severe enough, medicating new mothers sooner rather than later is of great benefit.
If one’s life isn’t going well, if they’re not happy with where they are and who they are, if they have major sources of stress and anxiety, then feeling depressed is normal. Pain is a normal reaction in life. Pain is that which makes us not content in the way things are, pain tells us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. If I go to a doctor with a broken arm, the doctor sets my arm and ensures that the break will heal and that which was once broken will become whole.
If someone goes to a doctor and says that their life is going terribly and they wake up feeling a sense of dread and doom every morning and have trouble feeling happy about things that once made them happy, they get pills pushed on them.
The completely backwards nature of this staggers me. To have medical professionals help someone fix their broken lives is what will make lasting positive impacts to a patient’s life.
What really bugs me though is that the entire concept of depression and anxiety being a result of chemical imbalances in the brain is an unproven theory with not much data to support it in the first place. Current technology has no way to measure levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Lower serotonin levels in blood have been shown to be associated with a higher incidence of depression, but with 90 percent of serotonin being produced in the intestines, the link between blood serotonin and levels of serotonin in specific parts of the brain is tenuous at best. We don’t even know if antidepressants really work, yet we prescribe them by the ton.
Pain is part of life, as is sadness, guilt and anxiety. It is what tells us to demand better in our lives and what pushes us to improve our circumstances. Clinical depression absolutely exists and antidepressants have been linked with making things better for some patients, but it can’t be the first in line treatment for all negative emotion.