Many people who discover they are depressed wonder “Should I take anti-depressants or go to a therapist?” It’s good to talk to your GP. But unless depression is severe, talking like likely to be very effective; and sometimes, at least for a short period, medication is definitely the right choice.
(See below for a link to a checklist for when when you should for sure go to the doctor.)
Most depression is not a disease, but is caused by life-events, how we think about things, whether we are getting our needs met, and by unconscious feelings and emotions. In this case, the right type of talking therapy is an excellent way to help you get back your aliveness and motivation.
Sometimes medication is a life-saver
At the same time, in some situations, medication is the life-saver. I’m not suggesting “Prozac in the drinking water.” But doctors now have some subtle and helpful medicines available. In correctly targeted cases of depression, well-chosen antidepressants can relieve the acute pain sufficiently for therapy to help the sufferer change their life. In some cases the anti-depressants are all that is needed. See here for one set of symptoms which can indicate that medication is the right way to treat your depression.
But depression generally isn’t a disease
Here’s one proof that depression is generally not a disease: it is ten times more likely in those born after 1945 than those born earlier. That’s even after factors such as more access to doctors and higher recognition by doctors are rigorously excluded. This has been attributed by researchers to the breakdown of communities and of religious, social and economic certainties, unbridled consumerism, and massive exposure to news media filled with bad news.
Despite that, it is a fact that depression does go hand in hand with altered brain chemicals, in particular, low serotonin levels. And from that fact, the drug companies are keen to argue that being depressed is caused by altered brain chemicals. So, they imply, profitable anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac are the treatment of choice.
However, the facts behind the hype are that Prozac-like antidepressants targeting serotonin levels work in around one third of patients, do some good for another third, and fail completely for the final third. Side effects can be severe and relapse rates are high. Antidepressants are by no means the happy-pill which the pharmaceutical companies claim. [Other, non-serotonin medications exist and have real value for severe, clinical, depression.]
In any case, many people know in their bones that the way to happiness is not a pill. They know that they need to change their lives. And they are right. Brain chemicals change how we think, but happily, how we think changes our brain chemicals. Serotonin levels are only a symptom. Drugs target effects, not causes.
There is excellent evidence that if you are depressed, what really works is the right type of talking therapy. Such therapy:-
- is more effective than anti-depressants,
- has no noxious side effects,
- is much more effective long-term,
- and above all puts control of your life into your hands.
The more feeling depressed comes from your life situation or life history, the more it is talking therapy which can help you get back your vitality, drive, motivation and joy. To take the first step today, give me a ring. I’m happy to answer questions or arrange, in Bristol, a free, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting. Please click here for contact information.