Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Myths about Antidepressant Medications



1. Antidepressants are “addictive”.

False. Antidepressants are not addictive in the way that most people would use the word. You don’t “crave” your antidepressant. However, the medicine that gets introduced to your central nervous system becomes something your body recognizes each day. So stopping medication without the guidance from a professional can cause your body to react to the loss of these neurotransmitters. This experience, called discontinuation syndrome, can be avoided completely when proper dosage-stopping is observed.

2. Antidepressants are “happy pills”.

False. Antidepressants are not "uppers." Unlike drugs like speed or ecstasy which improve the mood of anyone who takes them, antidepressants only improve the mood of people with a mood disorder. So if someone who isn't depressed takes antidepressants, the only change they'll notice will be possible side effects...which, really, are not very happy inducing.

3. Antidepressants are a "quick fix" and don't really cure depression.

False. One thing antidepressants surely aren’t is quick. Most take a minimum of four to six weeks to work. And they are not meant to "fix" your depression, per se. Most people with depression need to address social and environmental issues that contribute to their depression. Treatment for depression is a two-step process: 1) Antidepressants change brain chemistry 2) As mood improves, healthier lifestyle choices and problem solving occurs.

4. Antidepressants will change your personality.

False. Antidepressants normalize the mood ranges of children and adults who have a mood disorder. Who you are doesn’t change, so your personality stays intact. Antidepressant medication lifts my sadness, which then allows me to be who I fully am. I’m not a different person because I take antidepressant medication. I’m me, only better.

5. Once you start taking antidepressants, you're on them for the rest of your life.

False. For the majority of people, this is not true. Many who take antidepressant medication will stop their prescription when recovery from depression occurs. This clinical state of recovery takes about a year or so to achieve. Antidepressants have been shown to re-adjust brain activity, so those who follow their treatment regime to the letter, often don’t need to remain on medication. But there are some, like me, who must remain on medication, indefinitely. I’ve discontinued medication twice only to find depressive symptoms returning. So, I’m a lifer. And that’s fine with me, because I feel great.



28 comments:

Faycin A Croud said...

I can't take antidepressants, they flip me into mania. Hypomania is bad enough but at least since starting Lithium I can maintain a reasonable modicum of control. Mania? No can do! I jumped up on the counter and was preaching--scared the hell out of my then 13 year old son. Of course this isn't true for people with unipolar depression rather than bipolar disorder, but that was my experience.

Wanda's Wings said...

I do take an antidepressant along with my mood stabilizers for my bipolar. I don't think I could make it without them.

Sigrun said...

I asked a doctor for therapy for traumas I had suffered from since my childhood, but she gave me an antidepressant. I tried it for some weeks. It was terrible. I lost myself.

Dr. Deb said...

Faycin,
Everyone experiences things differently. At least you were able to sense the changes and come off in time.

Wanda,
I can't live without my medication either. I would sink into the depths of depression.

Sigrun,
Oh, that's terrible. Have you been in talk therapy?

Xmichra said...

I think I am too angry right now to have a good thought on anti-depressants ; in context with my brother and mother. I'm sure I will come around eventually. Right now though, I *feel* like all of these items are true. I *know* they aren't.... but sometimes it's a process.

Sigrun said...

Yes, I have been in talk therapies, but the therapists didn't want to talk much about my traumatic past. Here in Norway many therapists don't have much knowledge about trauma. Abuse is regarded much more a legal than a psychological issue.

davidrpharmboy said...

Dr Deb-

very good information, sometimes the simple explanations are the ones that are overlooked. Because the way we practice medicine in the U.S., we do not take the time in understanding how and why a patient is depressed. I call it "fast food mentality", get them in and out.

madyson007 said...

When I started taking an antidepressant, the doctor asked me how I was doing on it. I told him I thought they should put Wellbutrin in the water so everyone can experience feeling normal. I felt like I hit the jackpot. My only fear is that one day it will stop working for me. I really don't feel the need to experiment by going off of it to see if symptoms return. I just don't want to go to that place again. EVER.

Tery Lynne said...

For the most part, I agree. But as individuals we react to things differently. I was on fourteen different medications (anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and psychotic meds)because my *Psychiatrist* diagnosed me with bipolar.

The meds completely put me on such a rollercoaster and it DID change my personality as I am a nice, calm, person. I was a mess for nearly ten years.. Come to find out I was never bipolar.. I battle with depression, yes, I battle with Chronic/Clinical Depression, yes, but not bipolar.

I could go on and on, but I just had such a bad, horrible experience with meds that even though I battle with Depression, I no longer take meds and took more of a Holistic Approach and do feel better and I know the Holistic Approach can be debatable but It works for me :-)

dawn said...

My family dr. wanted to prescribe me an antidepressant a couple of months ago.I refused as I'd prefer to 1st do talk therapy and then if need be go the medication route. I don't know if that's the "right" way to go about it, but that's what I felt was right for me. I just don't like how easily they're prescribed without proper diagnosis (up here in Canada they are anyway). Just my thoughts :)
oh, #5..I totally thought was true. Good to know it's false :).

jumping in puddles said...

we cant take anti depressants it really seems to screw us over. some alters sleep some get suicidal some manic some even more depressed, after countless attempts finaly it was decided by our gp and psych so leave us an anti depressants alone.

We sometimes wish it could be different for us.

Kim Serafini said...

I know what it's like to be depressed... not wanting to face reality - because for a thousand reasons if I 'really look at what IS' I'd be freaked out... anxious, angry, fearful, immobilized... That's been the case several times in my life... About 2 years ago I faced just what I described... I thought to myself - OK - if we attract what we focus on - then I MUST see different 'things' and I must 'look for different things' - and that way I can escape and I don't have to LOOK at my dreadful reality... I created a tool for myself... 2 years later, and with the help of some very clever software developers the 'tool' has been revolutionized, analyze, and made 'quick & simple & easy' for others to USE... the beta-testing has produced astounding results... If you would like to know much more about it: check out - http://iamgr8ful.com/visionandheart.html OR http://www.iamgr8ful.com/enriching_visions_promo.php

Raine said...

Very informative

Deb said...

I know we share different views regarding medications and the distribution of them. Perhaps in EXTREME cases, such as schizophrenia & other disorders alike, it needs to be taken. But I disagree with people who have generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, depression or even manic/bipolar in *some* cases. I believe in trying different types of therapy - cognitive behavioral therapy, dream work, learning coping skills - those types of therapy can really tweak the mind in better handling one's issue. I recently was speaking about this on my blog..........

What really disgusts me are the pill pushing psychiatrists who see you for 15 minutes and then shove you out the door trying all sorts of medications that aren't even suitable for that person all in the name of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. One doctor had misdiagnosed me to the point where I was taking a drug that left me with seizures. I told him I had anxiety disorder and he decided to give me Lamictal and Serzone together. I was hospitalized (regular hospital) because of the side effects.

Holistic approaches are the best way along with professional counseling and coping skills. These drugs are no good... I have a very strong opinion on this, I know, but I have seen many others literally lose their mind on these antidepressants that are supposed to be good for them.

*sigh*

Adam Glenn said...

Interesting blog post. I had just written on my blog tonight about thinking about stopping my medications. Now I have more to think about thanks to this blog post and the comments. Thanks.

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Barbara said...

Great post, Deb. I was a bit surprised by all the negative comments toward anti-depressants. I agree that doctors over prescribe psych meds and that can be a huge problem.

For me personally, starting anti-depressants about 15 years ago was life changing. It lifted a dark cloud that had been hanging over my head since childhood! I had suicidal thoughts all through my teens and early twenties and they stopped when I got on meds.

I still get depressed when I have a good reason, but its not the debilitation depression I suffered with on and off for years.

When I try to get off them, as soon as the chemicals are out of my system (usually a month) I go right back to the dark place so I know I will take them for life. They have no noticeable side effects.

sapphiresoliloquy said...

Great overview! Helpful to remind myself of these myths every so often to ensure I'm providing my clients with the most accurate information possible. Thanks.

sapphiresoliloquy said...

Great overview! Helpful to remind myself of these myths every so often to ensure I'm providing my clients with the most accurate information possible. Thanks.

Depression help said...

Thanks for sharing this post! I will be sharing this post in our group session!

mrwriteon said...

We do what we must to save our lives. You do and I know that I do.

A useful offering, Deb because misconceptions abound, as you know, about antidepressants.

east village idiot said...

I can't thank you enough for this post. I'm emailing it to everyone.

Deb Sistrunk said...

I am so glad you posted this. As you know, so many people believe the myths, and that's so unfortunate. I've even heard pastors say to a depressed person, "Get rid of your happy pills." I did a slow burn.

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STAG said...

Thank you for this list. It helps.

London Counselling said...

Lots of people approach suspicious to antidepressants. However, when they are taken under the doctor's control and with right form of utilizing, antidepressants can be used to prepare the patients for the therapy sessions. With a right medication treatment the results may be long term and more effective.

Anonymous said...

My deppresion is bad and I am only 13