I Shouldn't Need Meds For Depression

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.
03/16/2015 11:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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.

Visit Dr. Rodman at Dr. Psych Mom, on Facebook, and on Twitter@DrPsychMom.