In a society that is suspicious of depression as a medical condition, psychoactive substances, and antidepressants in particular, it is not surprising that the legitimacy of antidepressants is widely questioned. Being on antidepressants is frequently considered some kind of moral failing, and a barely legitimate practice in many quarters.
Figures indicate nearly a third of antidepressants are prescribed for non-depressive or off-label uses, such as anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Even so, studies suggest that antidepressants are ineffective in nearly 30-50% of depressed patients, suggesting a lack of specificity in targeting the underlying biological mechanisms of depression.
We think that anyone who's ever taken antidepressants will raise a rueful smile at this rather brilliant 3D pie chart, created by the rather brilliant...
Here is the part that makes me want to climb inside the internet and destroy all those pages of ill-advised advice about the dangers of taking antidepressants if you are breastfeeding: You can take antidepressants when you are breastfeeding. I know, because I recently did it. And guess what? It turns out me and my baby are fine...
I gave it some thought for a week, reading up on the anti-depressants that the doctor suggested and finally made the decision to give them a go. And I'm glad I did. It's probably the best decision I've made in years. Within a few weeks I was feeling much much better. Again it's hard to explain but that feeling of anxiousness has eased significantly.
The past 17 years has taught me that it's not beyond our own powers to help ourselves. For anyone who is suffering mild anxiety, feels sad and wonders if they are depressed (you are not: if you have clinical depression, you know) please try other sanity-saving approaches before you resort to antidepressants.
I think it's important to explain that major depression is not even peripherally related to "sadness." Depression is the absence of emotion. I never cried during my darkest periods of depression. Crying would have been A HOLIDAY. It would have been F***ING CHRISTMAS. A fight or a feeling of anger would have been AN EASTER EGG HUNT AT DISNEYLAND.
Sad news this week of two City bankers who committed suicide, both in the prime of their lives. We have all visited that dark place where we have contemplated whether life continues to be worth living. Just this week, a friend send me a plaintive message that read something like this: 'life, job, love, all suck'.
When I told people I was going to go around the country and talk to dozens of people about their depression, the common response was "Oh, that sounds really depressing." But it was actually the opposite. The remarkable courage and creativity that people - dealing with depression and striving to get better - demonstrated, showed me the human spirit at its best.