Antidepressant Medication

 

Antidepressant Medication

Antidepressant Medication not the only Solution

By Ned Wicker

In America we medicate everything. If you have aches and pains, take a pill. If you have a cold, take a pill. If you’re too heavy, take a pill. It’s the answer to everything, and why not? It’s easy. Drug companies want to move product and we want to take pills, because it requires no effort. Never mind the underlying issues contributing to a disease or chronic condition, take a pill.

Edith had certainly bought into the idea that she would feel better if she had medication. She had benefited from the use of an anti-depressant, prescribed by her physician. She said it took the “edge off” and she could function at work. She said the medication was effective because it did just enough to help her get by. However, no other therapy was prescribed. The medication was the first and last treatment.

The upside of the medication was that it enabled her to function. Prior to receiving the antidepressants, Edith felt like she was “standing in a hole” and could not seem to get that first step forward going in the morning, and as a result, her joyful activities in life began to fall away, as she was unable to enjoy the company of others and receive the natural lift that personal relationships bring.

She knew something was wrong and sought help. Her physician prescribed a couple of medications, which had negative side effects, before finding one that worked well for her. She was now able to get along with her routine daily activities, and at a certain level, experience the benefit of interaction with others.

While the drug helped her to function, it also dulled her ability to experience life. She looked for the drug to eliminate the downside of her life, but it also robbed her of the upside. The stresses and strains of life were still there, unresolved, but they didn’t hurt as badly. She would go back to her physician, complain that she struggled with life and got another med.

There was no therapeutic side to her treatment, no opportunity to lay the issues on the table and process her experience. She tried counseling from her pastor, but he believed that all depression was a result of a spiritual failure and if she was depressed it was because of a lack of faith. He did not understand how to help her, nor did he consider a referral to a professional therapist. Many clergy do recognize the signs and do make referrals. She felt guilty and stopped going.

She wanted more. Edith was fortunate to have insurance coverage and found a psychotherapist recommended by a friend at work. It was an interesting, if not eye-opening experience for her because through the therapy, she was able to work through many of the issues that were negatively affecting her life.

As she put it, the medication helped her with that process, enabling her to access things she hadn’t thought of or felt for years. But it was part of an over all therapy plan. Her meds were adjusted, and soon see was functioning on a much lower dose. She did not go off the meds, because they served to help her maintain balance, but the main thrust of her therapy was social interaction.

“Depression” is a clinical term, and any diagnosis of “depression” is the domain of a trained professional. Call it unhappiness, sadness or the overwhelming sense of hopelessness or powerlessness, but the highs and lows of the human experience can be extreme.

Even great people in the Bible suffered from what we would call “depression” and needed someone to come along side to help. To say that people who are depressed suffer because of a lack of faith completely dismisses the experience of many Biblical leaders. To eliminate the value of medications, used in conjunction with other therapies, is to dismiss any medical component of human behavior.

For Edith, the right med, in the right amount, gave her the ability to function and work through her issues. Meds alone did not help her overcome her problems. But her meds, her therapy, social interaction and a recommended change of diet helped to restore her life.

Her physician, her pastor and others tried to help, but it was the right combination and collaboration of people that made the difference. Just taking a pill didn’t cut it.

Ned Wicker is the Addictions Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center

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