Being hooked on anti-depressants is no cure!

Simply taking drugs is not enough -- those suffering from depression or anxiety need more.

Saddaf Sohail June 03, 2013
I was completing an internship program at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), where I came across numerous people suffering from various behavioural and mental illnesses. Their visits to the doctor revolved around getting a prescription of anti-depressants or relaxants to calm themselves until their next visit.

I always wondered how a mere pill could treat a state of mind or a repressed emotion so easily. If you ask me, it seems quite odd.

However, once I started practicing myself, it made sense -- but only in the short term.

Many clients came up to me with low levels of energy, poor self-esteem, obesity, hair loss, short-term short sightedness, nervousness and an undying lethargy. More than 70% of such clients were on anti-depressants or similar relaxants, and had been taking them over a long period of time.

I will not point out exactly how these medications function once absorbed in the blood stream, but the following are some common factors I noticed in my clients who were hooked on these pills.

With the passage of time their dependability on the drug increased and their will power, aptitude, competence, strength, and resilience suffered. My patients refuse to accept these symptoms as possible side effects of the medication.

It takes a lot time and effort to make them comprehend that once our mind gets dependent on externally ingested chemicals to do what it is supposed to do by itself, it becomes dependent on the medicine to perform the task, and later is unable to deal with stress entirely.

To draw a parallel, those people who have been using a keyboard for a long amount of time may find it difficult to write a 1,000 word essay with a pen or pencil. They may get tired of writing as the relevant muscles are not attuned to doing their job anymore.

Many doctors state that only consuming antidepressants won’t help treat depression and that people on these medications need to get psychological therapy to cope with their problems.

Antidepressants reconnect pathways that have been disrupted in the brains of people suffering from depression and these drugs can do only so much. People who are on these drugs need additional help.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, (USA) over 25 million people in the US will suffer from an episode of major depression this year. Although, occasional blues and temporary sadness is a common occurrence in people of all ages, those diagnosed with clinical depression have symptoms like anger and frustration that interfere with their daily life.

Professor Eero Castrén (Neuroscience Centre) says,
“Simply taking drugs is not enough. We must also show the brain what the desired connections should be.”

More than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression currently, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). Lack of access to mental care, cost of treatment and more importantly social stigma attached with mental treatment keeps many people away from getting adequate treatment in developing countries.

According to WHO, women are 70% more likely suffer from depression than men. Eero Castrén has also received a five-year grant of EUR 2.5 million from the European Research Council (ERC) to find out the mechanisms related to brain plasticity, especially after consuming antidepressants.

Depression may sound like a crippling disease, but a few simple steps can help improve the conditions.

Never ignore even the smallest symptoms, adopt a healthy living style, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, wake-up early and avoid staying up late at night. Avoid junk food, eat well and in time and most importantly, stay close to your loved ones.

Depression usually stems from loneliness, when thoughts and feelings cannot be shared. Develop traits of empathy, consideration, care, love and politeness in your personality. Remember, negative behaviour generates negative feelings.

I hope these facts help you.

In our country, medicine is easily available over the counter - with or without a prescription. We must be aware of what medicines we are using or our loved ones are using and the adverse effects affiliated with them. In some cases, these side effects can be detrimental and harmful in the long run.

Please look out for yourself and your loved ones!

Follow Saddaf on Twitter @myplace79

If you have experienced depression and want to share your story, email us. We will keep your email and all details confidential; blogging anonymously is possible. Additionally, if you are a psychiatrist or counselor please contact us and share your expert opinion.
Saddaf Sohail A behavioural scientist, focused on providing capacity building education and awareness to organizations/institutes and individuals. She is running a consultancy firm called MyPlace and is working as a behavioural consultant with Deplix Smile Again Foundation (DSF). She tweets @myplace79
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Idrees | 9 years ago | Reply Some useful things for brain 1- Vitamin D Most of us lack . All body cells are VD receptors. Its necessary for brain as well. So do have a Vitamin D test & take medications according to doctors advice. Doctor will tell you to take Vitamin D injections 1st. Vitamin D is deficient in food. When you expose your skin directly to sunlight your fat contained under skin is converted into Vitamin D. But because of pollution that won't happen. 2- Omega 3 fatty acids According to most of us are deficient in Omega 3 Fatty acids which is necessary for development & functioning of brain. Omega 3 is present in Walnuts & Pumpkin Seeds & Salmon fish. So its good that you take pumpkin seed's oil. See health benefits of pumpkin seeds Omega-3 is easily damaged by oxygen, light and heat, which means that eating the foods that contain them raw is best -- though baking or broiling will cause less nutrient loss than frying or boiling. according to 3- Computer games for brain's cognitive abilities & Cycling There are computer games that increase brain's cognitive abilities e.g. Dual-N Back games on etc. According to riding a bi-cycle is good for brain as it straightens brain . Its a good idea if you go to your office daily on Cycle. This way aerobic exercise will happen automatically.
Psy patient | 9 years ago | Reply @Waqar: unbelievable mishaps i do often... I think you are not properly diagnosed. Many patients have Depression but the main cause might be known. You know people who have ADD or ADHD also do mishaps. If you've been seen a psychiatrist & he is unable to help just like me. Do change you psychiatrist.
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