Antidepressants; a doctor offers a wise point of view in the NY Times
There are many people who know rely on antidepressant medications. Many students who are having difficulties coping with the day to day stresses of growing up and taking responsibilities for their lives use them to take the edge off of life. Should antidepressant therapy be used without talk therapy? Is it enough to just numb the edge off of life’s curveballs and stresses without learning how to cope.
A doctor in the NY Times has made some very good points regarding antidepressant usage in todays society. Society has changed, and so have parenting, however, learning coping skills can never be replaced by a medication, since it becomes a crutch, and as we age, we become more dependent vs. independent. Perhaps, this feeling of helplessness some people experience that turns to depression is in fact a failure of the ability to cope because that person never learned how.
Read the article here
The Antidepressant Generation
“I think our experiment failed,” the young graduate student told me, referring to our attempt to take her off the antidepressant she’d been on for seven years. She was back in my campus office after a difficult summer break, and as she talked about feeling unsettled and upset, I wondered about the broader experiment playing out on college campuses across the country.
Antidepressants are an excellent treatment for depression and anxiety. I’ve seen them improve — and sometimes save — many young lives. But a growing number of young adults are taking psychiatric medicines for longer and longer periods, at the very age when they are also consolidating their identities, making plans for the future and navigating adult relationships.
Are we using good scientific evidence to make decisions about keeping these young people on antidepressants? Or are we inadvertently teaching future generations to view themselves as too fragile to cope with the adversity that life invariably brings?
My patient had started medication as a college freshman, after she’d become depressed and spent much of her time in bed. She was forced to take a medical leave but improved quickly, returned to school and graduated. She married soon after and worked for a few years, feeling well all the while.
Professional guidelines recommend six to nine months of medicine for first episodes of depression. But my patient had never been advised to stop taking it. She reluctantly agreed to my recommendation to taper off her antidepressant.
For a couple of months she didn’t feel any different, except, she said, things “moved” her more than before. It wasn’t that she was sad more frequently. Rather, she was having emotional reactions, including tearfulness, more readily. This didn’t seem problematic to either of us.
When I recommend to my patients that they come off antidepressants, I encourage them to choose a relatively transition-free time in their lives, so that we don’t mistake what might be a normal reaction to a stressful situation for symptoms of recurrent depression. But because I work with university students, it’s close to impossible to find such a time.