Saturday, August 1, 2015

Depression meds - why they are scary and why they are necessary

I know someone who is going through a particularly rough time with anxiety and depression right now.  She has, with the help of a friend, taken the huge step of seeking medical help.  That is a really, really big step for anyone.  No one wants to admit they are having these problems or that they need help, so when they go to a doctor, that's HUGE!!

But she doesn't want to take any medication.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  NO ONE wants to take depression medication.  It feels like failure - like you just don't have the strength to deal with it yourself.  And it's scary - because this is a medication that affects your mood and potentially your personality.

Well, let me make this clear - with the new medications out there, they don't change your personality. Except for the good (make you less depressed, less mean, less anxious, less clingy).  But they don't change who you are.  There can be side effects, but they tend to be minor - each one is different and affects each person differently - so if you do go on medication you need to be monitored and make sure that it is working for you.  You might have to try a couple to find the one that works best for you.

The side effects from the medications are generally well worth the benefits.  Odds are if you are going through a life event that is triggering the depression, that you won't be on the medication for long - maybe 6 months or a year (which, from the perspective of someone who has been off and on medication for 20 years seems like a short time).  It just helps you get over the hump - to get to a point where you can deal with it on your own.  If you have a chemical imbalance, then you may have to be on them long term like I am.  But from personal experience, I can tell you that taking the right medication is life-altering in a very good way.

Depression is a life-threatening disease - like heart disease or diabetes.  Although you can add exercise and a good diet to your routine to help mitigate the problems, if the disease is too far advanced you need meds - and no one would question someone taking medication after a heart attack or taking insulin if they have severe diabetes.  Same with depression.  If not treated, it can be a fatal disease.  

So, please, if you need medication, take it - even for a short time.  Until you do, you won't realize how bad it has been for you and everyone around you dealing with this illness.

And if you need to reach out to family and friends, do that, too.  It can also save your life.

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