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Most people suffering with depression or anxiety never think about trying psychiatric drugs. Medications like Zoloft, Prozac, Effexor, etc are something some of the most depressed people I know would never consider trying. Can you fix depression without meds? Of course. Keyword here is can as in it’s a possibility, but there’s nothing more futile than trying to fix depression on your own; Here’s why:

Depression makes you indifferent, unmotivated and mentally blocked. It disables you. When you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing anything. In this state it’s nearly impossible to fix your sleep schedule, exercise regularly, get out and socialize, and do anything else you might try as a ‘natural alternative’ to hard pharmaceutical chemicals. How many people that refuse to take meds because they can fix depression “on their own” actually get anything done? Nearly all the ones I know have been doing… literally nothing for the past 5 years.

Most people shouldn’t take meds, but there’s a certain number of people who are disabled because of depression. They’ve been depressed for years, probably decades, and have no idea how bad their situation is, or how much potential (and time) they’re wasting. It’s only after you’ve experienced depression, gotten over it, and fell back into it, that you realize how evil and paralyzed depression can be. It pushes your attention inwards, forcing you to just sit and think, not about fixing a problem, but about how many problems you have. About all the should ofs and and how you could of been had you did this instead of that. All the things you missed out. The last thing on your mind in this state is to get up and do.. anything.

Some people can drive themselves out of the hole, but some people can’t. These people need a kick. Sometimes a life changing experience (a death, a major accident, an acid trip etc)  can be a strong enough kick to completely turn things around. But when that’s not possible, consider fixing your brain chemistry the modern way.

One reason people are against psychiatric medication is because they don’t believe the chemical imbalance theory. And that’s OK; It’s shaky and there are numerous other (some more plausible) theories centering around brain chemistry and external/psychological issues. But so what? That doesn’t mean medication doesn’t work. Food, exercise, alcohol, Cannabis, ‘shrooms, a hit to the head, and plenty of other things can alter your state of mind chemically. There’s nothing wrong with that. Psychiatric drugs work pretty damn well even if you’re not depressed. The goal is to get you out of the loop you’re in and back on track. Drugs don’t need to be taken permanently, but in most cases, doing so isn’t even harmful. It’s normal to feel like eating natural foods is safe, while taking synthetic drugs isn’t, but there’s no logic behind this. It’s just something people believe instinctively and never bothered questioning.

Another reason people might be against meds is the cost. Pills are expensive. The cost of 1 year’s supply of some medications might be more expensive than taking an organic chemistry course and buying the equipment and precursors to synthesize the drugs yourself. Even some generic meds go for hundreds a month. Doctor visits are also pricey. Truth it: whether you’re unemployed, freelancing, 15 or 25 or 55 years old, you need insurance if you’re living in the United States. And nearly every plan (Medicaid too) covers antidepressants and anxiolytics.

Hell, Walmart has $4 generics. Point is, the cost isn’t an excuse. Most of us don’t mind paying $200-300 a month for gas, we do it because it’s a necessity, or it’s just convenient. When you’re depressed, you’ll end up failing all your $700 courses anyway, you won’t be able to work, and you’ll be spending money constantly on other health related problems stemming from the depression. Pay on credit. If you can’t make a few hundred dollars a month (those that have to), don’t you think you certainly need help in one form or another? See it as a necessity. There’s help if you seek it but unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll seek anything if you’re depressed. You need to make the first move. Take intiative. Do instead of think.

Another common excuse for not trying drugs is the negative stigma attached with having a mental illness diagnosis on your permanent health records. It’s a valid excuse (if you’re a paranoid schizophrenic), but ultimately it doesn’t make any sense. Nobody is going to see your records, and if they do, who cares? Who cares if you don’t get hired at some shitty firm just because the employer thinks you’re weak because you’re depressed? You’d be surprised how many people you find healthy, active and happy have a slew of mental disorders on their papers. It’s fine. It’s probably stylish. Either that or spend 10 years brooding around in your room living your entire life in your head and hoping things will get better on their own eventually – basically what depression is like.

I remember reading mental illness is usually diagnosed after 4-8 years. Way too much time to waste; To spend sitting around doing nothing. Get medicated. It rocks. And for those that still refuse to, make a note of how you’re situation is now, and then go over that note 5 years from now, and then take meds. I have a friend who’s depressed. He’s talented, but nearly all his potential is going to waste. He has been literally taking the same courses every semester for the past few years (fails them), and is always on a pattern of being social, then blocking everybody out, closing off communication for a few weeks/months, and going back into a major depression. It’s only getting worse, as all his friend’s graduate, and he beats himself up over wasting half a decade – he has no memories of the past 5 years because he’s been doing nothing.

There’s nothing worse than sitting around reading all the negative side effects of antidepressants. There’s a lot. Nobody doubts this, but you’re naturally looking for reasons you could use to justify not trying them. There’s nothing scarier than reading the negative effects of any drug you’re thinking about taking, even if you’ve been taking it for years with no problem. Sad thing is, depression itself is worse than 99% of the side effects you might (but probably won’t) experience. Just because you read a forum post with 200 comments saying “didn’t work for me!,” “made me a zombie” etc, doesn’t mean you will have the same experience. The people the drugs worked for are unlikely to be sitting around reading about the drugs anyway. And the people with bad experiences most likely didn’t give the drugs a chance. Took them for a week, had a headache and quit.

Many people who are depressed might have fantasies of running away, starting over, going to live in places like Tibet, “nature,” etc. This is common and many people suffering from mental illness have this. It’s considered a symptom. Give it a try – it won’t work. You’ll feel depressed where ever you go because your brain chemistry is broken. The brain is a physical thing. It’s very complicated, and there’s no guarantee it’s perfect. Your arms aren’t the same size, your face isn’t perfectly symmetrical, and your brain isn’t 100% perfect – and certainly not performing at its peak. This isn’t that big of a deal, and it’s best if you fix it and move on instead of dwelling on what you can’t change.

Not everybody who’s depressed needs medication. In fact, most don’t. This argument is for those who are unable to get out of the hole they’re getting themselves into. Finding justifications for their problems by blaming society and the government. Your life is in your hands and it’s up to you get up and fix it. If you feel medication isn’t right for you, then don’t bother trying it, but try something. Don’t just sit there thinking problems get fixed on their own. I’m all for the “I’ll just ignore it and eventually it’ll fix itself” solution, and that works for many things, but not for mental illness. It’s easy to hope your brain can magically fix itself, but half a decade of depression should be a big clear signal that it can’t. No matter how much the man with no arms believes he can become a pro boxer, it won’t happen.

The evil thing about depression is that it poisons your logic. We can justify anything to ourselves. Getting over depression first requires getting over the idea that you’re mentally capable of fixing yourself. Admit to yourself that your brain is temporarily out of order, and currently unable to form logic that fits the framework of a (mentally) healthy person. Outsource all your thinking and opinion forming to somebody who’s trained enough for the job. Don’t become a helpless zombie. Just accept the fact that you need help.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Drugs, mental illness, Rants at March 16th, 2009. 1 Comment.