If you know me, you will know that I have somewhat of a bias against medical treatments for depression for the general population in times of difficulty. Having been raised by a single parent struggling with the disorder herself, I have seen the greatness drugs can do for those suffering with depression. It’s short-lived, however. After a while, the brain gets used to these drugs and often meds have to be constantly shifted around as it habituates.
It makes sense, though, that people would think a pill could get rid of their depression. When you have a headache, what do you do? Take a pill and wait for it to go away. When you have high blood pressure, what do you do? Go to the doctor, have some tests done, get the medicine and wait for it to get better. Medicine allows one to continue their lifestyle while it [the medicine] targets the specific problem. The problem with drugs is that it often has horrible side-effects, especially drugs for mental health. And that is what the drug companies don’t necessarily want you to think about.
Studies have proven, however, that there are just as.. if not MORE effective treatments for depression than medical ones. Exercise alone has been shown both at the behavioral level and the molecular level to have profound positive effects. At the neuronal level, excercise can generate new neurons, or brain cells, and has positive health effects on other body systems. Exercising three times per week for 30 minutes is just like taking that “happy pill” just without all the nasty side effects.
One of the most effective treatments currently for depression is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. This treatment program works to first identify the negative thoughts that come fast and automatic in our minds. Once these can be identified, the therapist will work to challenge these thoughts using probability measures and reality testing by role play and exposures. Medicine seems to have a better effect in immediate results, but it seems as though CBT is the most effective treatment when it comes to thinking long term. Here’s just one study giving support.
And this is my goal for research. I believe people have a certain expectation from medicine, and unfortunately that expectation isn’t always met. I am advocating education of mental disorders, how they work, and how they do not work so that people are well informed of all of their options. The only option isn’t medicine even though many would like you to believe it. Depression is something that can be worked through, and medicine can be used as a second option. I have tons to say about the topic. If you’re interested, send me an email and we can chat about it sometime. In the meanwhile, here are more readings on the subject.
This article talks about the increased risk of suicide in depressed adolescents suffering from depression while using a popular antidepression vs. going through CBT.
If you are an IU student or a person around the Bloomington area suffering from anxiety or depression, check out the IU CBT Clinic. They offer CBT totally free of charge!!! I’m sure universities in your area offer similar services.. check out your resources!