The rate of anti-depressants being prescribed is on the rise, so why is something that’s supposed to help us actually hurting us?
Note to Reader: This article is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. Its intended purpose is to raise important questions related to the risks of anti-depressants, not diagnose or generalize the topic of depression.
A Culture of “Insta-Fixes”
There’s no doubt that we live in a fast-paced culture with instant-satisfaction as our mode of rewarding ourselves. We want Uber rides and food delivered to our doorstep in five minutes and Amazon packages in our hands by tomorrow at the latest. If it requires much waiting, we’ve lost our interest and are on to the next instant fix. But could all this impatience be causing harm in other areas of our lives — our mental health, to be exact?
If we're finding it hard to face responsibilities and life seems to have lost its spark, it’s easy to resort to popping a pill to make it all go away. But recent research has shown that medication is not always the answer to your issue. It may require a little digging and yes, the “P” word—patience, but it's possible to triumph over depression.
No Woman Is an Island
We were never meant to do life alone, and an increase in isolation has struck a nerve in how we cope with stress. We were created for connection with others as Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas explains: “Human beings are an ultra-social species—and our nervous system expects to have others around us.” We all have a desire to be loved and to be in communion with one another, despite being told we should maintain our independence at all costs.
The individualistic proclamation of our society will tell us otherwise, but perhaps the increase in technology use and decrease in face-to-face interaction is why our culture is in the current mental state that it is. Just take a look at the increased rates of depression and anxiety in the population from a recent survey.
We all have a desire to be loved and to be in communion with one another, despite being told we should maintain our independence at all costs.
When there is no connection to others, we can fall into self-destructive habits that not only harm ourselves but can bring toxicity into the lives of those around us. A healthy support system gives our life meaning because we are not only living to survive Monday through Friday alone, we can share our struggles with others and build lasting relationships.
Not All Pills Are “Happy”
Have you ever taken a glance at the long list of potential side-effects for most Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)? It’s daunting. The most commonly listed side-effects include fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and surprisingly, depression. That’s right - the #1 listed side effect of many anti-depressants is depression. Secondary risk factors include hypertension or diabetes due to the potential for weight gain.
The #1 listed side effect of many anti-depressants is depression.
Our emotions may even become dull, and we're unable to feel excitement or empathy for others. More concerning are the serious side-effects which may involve an increase in depressive symptoms (including suicidal ideations). This should be carefully monitored during the first month of taking the psychotropic drugs, especially in teenagers and children.
In 2007, the FDA directed manufacturers to update the warning to include increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality, in young adults aged 18 to 24 during initial treatment (generally the first one to two months).
Not only can taking medication create additional health concerns, anti-depressants never address the root of the issue — why are we depressed? What circumstances or thought processes are being replayed in our minds that cause depression? Perhaps there are other issues that must be addressed such as painful experiences from childhood, or the loss of a relationship which results in a feeling of hopelessness.
Not only can taking medication create additional health concerns, anti-depressants never address the root of the issue — why are we depressed?
Talking these issues out with a trained professional can be of great benefit to your mental health and cognitive therapy can prove to be extremely helpful in exploring toxic thoughts to unlock the key to overcoming depression. Fortunately, the risk of relapse is significantly reduced with cognitive therapy, even after its discontinuation — unlike anti-depressant medication.
As we continue to deal with unhealthy thought patterns at the source and heal from past traumas, we are physically changing our brain as proven by neuroscientific research from Dr. Caroline Leaf. This includes a willingness on our part to start rebuilding new thought-processes and training our mind to think healthy, positive thoughts.
The Mind, Body and Soul Connection
Not surprising, depression can suddenly pop up due to stress and poor self-care. Late nights, take-out, and over-caffeinating ourselves can take its toll on our bodies. Properly resting and spending a few minutes a day meditating has many benefits.
Something even as simple as a brisk walk or other physical exertion releases endorphins into our bodies, creating that “feel good” sensation that mirrors the effects of morphine. Vitamin deficiencies can also be a considerable factor in battling depression, and a blood test can reveal any nutritional deficits we may have.
Depression is a serious concern for millions of Americans, and the scope of the topic greatly exceeds this article. We are complex creatures with a mind, body, and soul that need care and attention. While medication may be a temporary fix, it can be a bandage that masks the real problem and can leave you feeling numb and unable to truly enjoy your time on this planet.
Take the time to dig deeper into what is causing depression so you can thrive and lead a fulfilling life. It may be due to a chemical imbalance, emotional wounds, bad habits, or even nutritional deficiencies. Whatever the case may be, educate yourself on the risks of anti-depressants, especially being that one of the most common risks is depression.