As a previous sufferer of severe depression, anxiety and at risk of suicide I have been very open about my experiences of mental health and recovery. Recently, the BBC published an article that anti-depressants ‘work’ of which, it has prompted me, John Wilson, the founder of this site and seekatherapy.com to discuss why this article is not necessarily correct and is in fact, misleading. In this post I will share my personal experience and that of others and discuss do anti-depressants ‘really’ work!?
My life experience and prescribed highest level of citalopram
After completing a degree in architecture at the foot of the recession, then a teaching degree where I experienced work place bullying and a relationship that wasn’t healthy I finally had a breakdown. I had severe depression, anxiety and feelings of suicide. At this point I told my family my feelings and it was suggested to me to write down exactly how I felt and thought. Going to the doctors they tested me and was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and clinically at risk of suicide. The doctor gave me 40mg of citalopram and put me on a 3 month waiting list to see a mental health specialist…
yes thats right…diagnosed at risk of suicide and told to ‘wait’ and take a tablet.
Anyway, I know I was fortunate as I had a supportive family and a mother who was a holistic therapist so knew many different things that can help heal and so I began by sleeping a lot and taking these tablets. Then, over 4 years I looked at different therapies to try and help myself. This is what gave me the drive to set up seekatherapy.com, I wanted everyone to have access to the knowledge I did when I was in the point of despair.
My experience of anti-depressants
When I was at my lowest of low, tablets definitely helped me go from a mood of heaviness, hopelessness and constant sadness to a ‘monotone’ existence. Nothing was amazing and nothing was bad. I remember for a long period of time feeling quite numb of emotion , nothing feeling too bad and nothing felt particularly amazing. Antidepressants for me basically flat lined my experience of life through the time I took the tablet.
I still had the old thoughts and memories of my past even though I was taking these tablets, the core reason and cause of my depression hadn’t been dealt with. My social anxiety that I had acquired at the same time as my breakdown also was still high, just my mood wasn’t one of ultimate despair anymore.
Anti-depressants do work but…
…they are not the cure to a person who has suffered depression/anxiety or stress. It could be said that Science is correct when it states that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain when we are depressed and the tablets can aid in helping correct levels of serretonin but, to a point. There is many other ways to get seretonin, naturally, such as excercise ( you can use digital technology now to excercise such as xbox kinect and wii fit incase of not wanting to go out, or even walking ) or laughter.
Tablets don’t get to the root cause
A major problem I have with saying ‘tablets work’ with depression is that you are not actually getting to the cause of the depression in the first place. It is in my belief that everyone will experience depression, anxiety or stress related illnesses in different ways, with different symptoms because usually, the majority of people experience depression because of ‘their environment’ not just a chemical inbalance. If you take a tablet which activates seretonin release in your brain but still exist in the environment that caused you great stress then it is unlikely to benefit you. Likewise, if there is a traumatic time in your life that you are unable to deal with and you keep thinking about when making future decisions then you also will not heal and the tablets just won’t work.
Therapy really does matter!
There are so many different types of therapy, some that have been scientifically proven such as counselling, mindfulness and psychotherapy and other complementary therapies such as reiki, hypnotherapy, reflexology, massage, life coaching and so many more that also benefit people who have depression, anxiety or stress! I , John Wilson, tried 6 different types of therapy which include counselling, homeopathy, EFT, reiki, Flotation tanks and hypnotherapy. My favourite therapy for my personal circumstance was hypnotherapy and this was due to the way I personally had experienced depression and why.
The same could be said for you when seeking therapy. Counselling may not be good for you, you may prefer art therapy or laughter classes, something less evasive or maybe you just need to help your body relax and so reiki, massage or a floatation tank may also work well for. Maybe see what therapies are local to your home by visiting seekatherapy.com.
Combine tablets with therapy
I think the BBC were quite thoughtless and careless in the promotion of tablets as the cure for depression and I am not apologetic in saying so. I admit, tablets are useful in the initial stages of recovery but after a prelonged period, there needs to be more done. YOU MUST have therapy alongside taking tablets. YOU MUST LOOK AT YOUR CAUSE AND EFFECT but also find the RIGHT TYPE OF THERAPY for your personal beliefs and personality. If you don’t do both then you will not completely heal, that is something that is almost guaranteed. Tablets re-balance chemicals only, they don’t ‘work’ as the BBC article suggests.
What are your thoughts on tablets as the cure to depression? Did you find it heal you? Please comment below.