I was going to reply to a comment on that entry, but I’m not a fan of writing novels in comments, so here’s the part of the comment that I’m responding to, and my reply:
As one of the people who needs to take a variety of medications every day for the rest of my life, I’m annoyed with the way you’ve written this entry. Have you ever needed to take medication such as anti-depressants? Or are you just talking out of your ass on this?
And here’s what I have to say:
As a matter of fact, yes, I have been prescribed anti-depressants. I was fortunate enough that my GP refused to refill my prescriptions without confirmation from my psychologist that I was also receiving cognitive therapy. If I hadn’t had that therapy, I’d probably still be on the drugs today. They definitely helped me get out of the general darkness and be open to finding a healthier way to live my life both physically and mentally. It’s quite true that some types of depression (not to mention other mental illnesses) require life-long medication in order to regulate them. It’s also very true that many types of depression, anxiety, stress etc. are just as – if not more – successfully treated by therapy.
There are still times when I get unbalanced and begin to spiral downward again. At those times, I visit my GP and get a short-term (usually a week) dose of the drug that works best for my situation, and it’s enough to get me over the hump so that I can put my cognitive skills to use to right myself again.
I’m not saying the drugs are bad – they’re great and have helped me and a number of people I know. I just think they’re prescribed too easily and not given out with the proper care and precaution.
It’s not like having a headache and taking tylenol to make the pain go away. Mental Illness is a much more complex issue, and I am a VERY FIRM believer that it can not and should not be treated with drugs alone.
Addiction too is a disease, and yet addics have to commit to a complete treatment program. They can’t just pick and choose which parts are easiest. I think someone who wants to battle mental illness (and honestly, nobody likes living with it – it’s just a matter of being stabilized enough to care about fighting, which is where the drugs come in) should be required to subscribe to a complete program of treatment.
And it’s not just depression. It’s an entire society bent on taking the “magic pill.” Try coming home every day to your near cathartic brother because he’s pumped full of ritalin. Eventually he started seeing a new doctor who cared enough to double check the diagnosis, and realized that the poor kid didn’t even have ADD – just some anxiety issues that he got over pretty quick with some therapy. Or my mom, who was prescribed Prozak because she was feeling down, with no suggestion of just “talking to someone” – and finding out that it conflicted with almost every other medication she was taking (all prescribed by the same GP), and made her dangerously ill.
Yes it’s a social issue where pills are cheaper than counselors. Yes it’s a problem that GPs are overworked and don’t always have the time to follow up with patients. I’m saying it’s a problem that needs to be fixed – but part of that is having the support and desire of those who are affected by the issues (those suffering depression and mental illness and their friends and families) to fight for that change.