I get it. I'm a psychotherapist, and I'm also a yoga instructor. I eat organic and local food as much as possible. I love to research, try out, and recommend the many natural ways to boost mood and improve overall health through nutrition, movement, breath, socializing, and mindfulness.
But I'm also ready to acknowledge that, for some people, medication can be a powerful and effective force for good.
I am not a doctor and I don't prescribe. But I do work with people suffering from depression every day, and have even struggled with it myself at times. I have seen firsthand how medication can help people lead happier and more productive lives — but only when it's prescribed properly and used judiciously.
If you are struggling with depression and have thought about taking antidepressants, here are five important things to consider before making any decisions:
1. Medication won't solve all your problems.
In the treatment of depression, I like to think of medication as a tool, not a cure. In some cases, medication can help you to get out of bed, dress yourself, stop crying, and perform other normal daily activities that can feel like too much to bear when you're in a depressive state. Though it won't make your problems magically disappear, it can help you clear your head enough to talk things through with a skilled therapist or trusted friend.
2. Medication won't make you feel "high."
In the best-case scenario, it will make you feel normal. I've heard some people express concern that medication will alter their personality, but it's actually the depression itself that changes people more often than they realize.
While different antidepressants address different neurotransmitters in the brain, the most commonly prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These specifically target a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Among other functions, serotonin is responsible in part for regulating mood and emotions. In short, a person who is experiencing major depression may benefit from a higher level of serotonin, and the SSRI acts as an agent to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.