Reader Mind Over Matter writes:
I'm tired, unhappy, and snap at my family. ￂﾠDepression runs in my family. ￂﾠMy mom was always down. ￂﾠI am considering seeing a therapist, but, honestly, I have in the past and nothing much changed. ￂﾠI don't want to see a psychiatrist and start meds though. ￂﾠThey aren't natural and honestly, it's not that bad. ￂﾠI should be able to deal with this myself if I try hard enough.
Dear MOM (apt right?),
I feel you. ￂﾠMany peopleￂﾠfeel that they "should" be able to overcome all manner of mental and emotional issues without "resorting" to meds like some "crazy," "weak," or otherwise crappy person. ￂﾠHowever, let me tell you that there is another side to this issue. ￂﾠPicture yourself sitting with your children in 20 years. ￂﾠOne of them says, "Mom, you were always so sad and stressed out. ￂﾠDid you just not like being a mom?" ￂﾠAnd you say, "No, of course not. ￂﾠI just suffered from untreated depression because I didn't want to take a pill." ￂﾠAnd then your children say, "Oh, that makes sense. ￂﾠNot wanting to take a pill is way more logical than not wanting your kids to grow up with the best mom they could have." ￂﾠAnd you hug it out.
Or not. ￂﾠBecause here's how that really goes (and trust me, I'm a therapist): You areￂﾠ45. ￂﾠYour kid is 20 and in college. ￂﾠYou know your kid is depressed, and she also has some eatingￂﾠissues and pretty low self esteem. ￂﾠYou say, "Hey, maybe you should talk to someone about how you're feeling." ￂﾠYour kid says, "Hey, I'm not crazy. Leave me alone." ￂﾠYou say, "Oh shoot, I have absolutely no leg to stand on here because I realize this kid inherited both my depression and my desire to deny it and save face." ￂﾠOops.
Here is my point: if you didn't have a family, then you could do what you want. ￂﾠYou want to sit around with untreated depression, cool. ￂﾠBut your kids and your husband don't deserve you not trying to be the best person you can be. ￂﾠDepression is chemical, it's not just something you can wish out of existence. ￂﾠI'm a therapist and even I'm saying, you likely can't cure depression without meds. It's just not generally possible. ￂﾠEspecially if it's long standing and inherited. ￂﾠTalk therapy is great, too, but it works best in conjunction with meds, because depression is a brain imbalance. ￂﾠYou just didn't inherit enough serotonin and dopamine, most likely.
Again, I am a therapist. I cannot prescribe, but if I had to tell you only one way to deal with your depression, either therapy or meds, I would say meds all the way. ￂﾠBecause I may be smart and awesome, but I can't reach into your brain as quickly or fully as meds. ￂﾠTherapy is best when your neurotransmitters are functioning at maximum capacity, and then you can learn new skills and get insight into the origin of your problems. ￂﾠTherapy can help you understand yourself and it can help you change who you are. ￂﾠIt can even rewire your brain.ￂﾠBut medication, when correct, can make you into the best version of yourself so that you can get the most you can out of therapy.
And this doesn't just go for depression. ￂﾠIt's any disorder. ￂﾠMy husband's ADHD is about 100-percent improved on meds, and I tried about every behavioral intervention for inattention known to man prior to that. ￂﾠThere are people who undergo extensive exposure therapy for anxiety and would have had the same response on two weeks of an SSRI, and an even better response if they used both.
My viewpoint is this: it makes you stronger, not weaker, to open your mind fully to the idea of meds (and therapy, for that matter). ￂﾠIt makes you a better parent if you have the insight and self-awareness to say, "I am not the parent I want to be. ￂﾠMaybe nothing will change this, but I am going to try. ￂﾠIn fact, I am going to be able to tell my kids that I tried basically everything in the world to help make myself a better parent for them, including meds, therapy, exercise, nutrition, meditation, and whatever else." Note that meds and therapy aren'tￂﾠthe only answers. ￂﾠSometimes, to deal with psychological issues of whatever stripe, you can also try modifying your schedule, reducing extra stress, vitamins and supplements, limiting visiting/entertaining/activities, changing your diet, getting massage therapy, whatever. ￂﾠBut if you've tried all these and no dice, move on to meds.
So, short answer: go see a psychiatrist like you wish your own parents would have done. ￂﾠNo kid has ever said, "Boy, my mom was irritable and sad throughout my childhood, but hey, at least she didn't relent and try Zoloft." ￂﾠTill we meet again, I remain, the Blogapist Who SeesￂﾠClients All the Time That Wish Their Parents Had the Insight To Try Therapy and Meds.