Tuesday, October 2, 2012
There is so much information about this, and even more opinions. After meeting a lot of professionals as well as patients I've learned a lot. Going through several depressions myself I've learned even more. Ever since I first realized my sadness was actually depression I've heard people either tell me to take pills against it or to avoid the pills like the plague. Overall from what I can tell, most people I've met are against anti-depressants. I've been there, but I've changed my mind.
I went for a long period of time on anti-depressants and didn't really feel any different. Time went by and I didn't even notice it once I was better. When I felt healthy and good I thought that the pills were unnecessary and I didn't want to take them, so I stopped. For a very long time I didn't feel any different and then I slowly started to sink into a depression again without even noticing before it was too late.
It's a sneaky disease , because that is what it is. It's invisible but it's real. It creeps up on you and you try to shrug it off as "I'm just having a bad day" or "I'm just tired". When you've had a bad day for a few months and you start to realize that "tired" is your normal state of being, that's when you realize you're sick. Usually it's too late by then, and the negativity just keeps spiraling out of control. You can't cure yourself, you need help. I needed help, and luckily I got it.
I'm back on anti-depressants and I'm hopeful this time. The most important thing though is the knowledge of how they work and the determination to never stop taking them again, not even when I feel good. I'll explain why.
The sort of anti-depressants I take control the serotonin levels in the brain. The substance that make you feel satisfied and safe. It doesn't add this substance, rather it shuts specific neurotransmitters down a bit so that this substance can build up on its own, because it's created by the body itself. That's why most anti-depressants make you feel hell of a lot worse the first week/month you take them. They actually make you more depressed at first. This is natural however, and means that they work exactly as intended. After a while, the body learns to create more serotonin on its own and you gradually, slowly start to feel better. This takes a very long time and it's a long process. Once you feel better again you have to keep taking the pills in order to stay that way. After you stop taking them it takes a long time for the effect to disappear, which is why it's so hard to tell wether the pills had any effect at all.
After learning this I started to realize that the pills I took the first time had actually worked. It was just so subtle I didn't even realize. Some of the anti-pill people might still think this is bad, because it makes people addicted to pills. Well, aren't diabetics addicted to their medication to regulate their amount of insulin? If you have a heart problem you might have to take pills all your life to regulate that. Why is it different because the disease is in your brain and affects your feelings instead of your physical body? Depression is deadly and I don't have a problem with the fact that I might have to take a pill every morning in order to stay away from that deep, hopeless hell. It's a very small sacrifice. Along with support, therapy and life changes I'd say the right medication makes all the difference in the world.
Pills are not the only thing though, it's not a miracle cure, but it gives you the base you might need in order to build the rest of your life on. If your life is shit, a pill won't help against that, but if your brain makes you think your life is shit when it's not, that's where the pill comes in to make you see the light, the colours and the happiness again. It just takes time.