Medication for all and for all a good-night

In my writing about parents being real, I made mention of the fact that medication for depression isn’t the solution for all people. I thought afterwards that some might think I’m critical of those who take antidepressants.

I do think that ours is a society that overmedicates, and that too often doctors prescribe antidepressants with a belief that if they help, great; if they don’t, just stop taking the pills and no harm done. These are not aspirin and starting and stopping these medications should only be done under carefully controlled circumstances, and full understanding of the impact.

I also believe that not everyone who is depressed or down needs medication. I chatted with a person on the phone a couple of weeks ago and started to say I was feeling a bit low, and the first thing they asked is whether I had gone to the doctor and been prescribed an antidepressant. It’s becoming a standard practice that rather than listen to another talk things through, suggest they get medicated and come back when they’re more cheerful.

Sometimes when a series of not good things happen, people become depressed as a result. This isn’t a permanent condition. This isn’t an event calling for medication. Sometimes all that’s needed is a nice chat with a good friend, a long hike, or just time to work things through.

But for other people, depression is a very deep and dark place that they can’t pull out of on their own. The roots of the many such depressions are often found in the chemical and it needs the chemical to find a balance. Or sometimes the depression has been around so long, the person needs something to break the cycle of despair they find themselves in. For these people, thankfully there are antidepressants, and good doctors who know when, and when not, to prescribe them.

I didn’t want to give the impression in my earlier writings that I disapprove of antidepression medication; a good friend or loving mate is not a substitute for badly needed medication. At the same time, though, medication isn’t always a substitute for a good friend, a talk, and a walk.

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