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Antidepressants Are Not the Only Option

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“It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy.” -Chinese Proverb. Over 33 million Americans are currently suffering from depression, and every single case is different from the last. There isn’t a cure for depression, but there are things that can help. However, many people are being written prescriptions without being given a chance to find out what the best option is for their own bodies and their own depression. Patients suffering from depression should be given healthy, natural options by their doctors instead of being prescribed antidepressants.

Normal, healthy exercise is shown to help depressed patients just as well as pills if not more due to the other health benefits. One of the main symptoms of depression is the lack of desire to do things. Things one used to love now seem trivial and unimportant. Exercise has been shown to help get patients up and out, which slowly, over time, helps treat that feeling of nothingness. Even if a person were to take antidepressants, it is encouraged that they make regular exercise a part of their routine. Using exercise to treat depression has also been shown to lessen the chance of a patient getting addicted to drugs and alcohol. Reed Steele, a 25 year old college graduate, fell into a depression after getting injured during his college’s cross country and track practices. He was unable to perform and therefore became depressed, and turned to alcohol and drugs, looking for the same escape running had given him. After becoming suicidal and later hospitalized, he was told by a doctor to try exercising again. Steele says "Exercise is extremely important for mental health. When I was really depressed I wasn't exercising ... I didn't have any desire to do anything." Five years after his injury, he says he feels himself again through the use of exercise. Although exercise as medicine doesn’t work for some people, it is just one of the many healthy options besides drugs. It is an option that should be offered to every patient suffering from the debilitating disease of depression.
Another problem with antidepressants is that they can be overly prescribed and patients have the risk of getting addicted. In a study conducted by Carmel Hill Center for Early Diagnosis and Treatment, it was found that 31% of parents with teenagers on antidepressants felt that the pills were doing more harm than good, while another 31% felt there was no harm in taking them. The other 38% of the parents were undecided. This study was conducted after it was found that antidepressants dramatically increased the risk of suicide, especially in young people. When 597 doctors were asked if they considered themselves adequately trained to treat depressed kids, only 8% said yes. Yet 72% of them have prescribed children antidepressants. Whether antidepressants are the right answer or not, the amount prescribed is an issue. Kids who are suffering from depression may not understand exactly what their disease means, and therefore should not be simply drugged and forgotten. They are too young to be given drugs by doctors, most of whom are not comfortable with prescribing the drugs in the first place. Kids, even more importantly than adults, who can make their own decisions about their bodies, should be given healthy, natural options in order to treat their disease.
In some patients, antidepressants can have the opposite effect on the brain, or it can dramatically change their personality. Tony Z. Tang, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, says that "Medication can definitely change people's personalities, and change them quite substantially. In the past, we tended to dismiss the personality changes as a side effect or something not very important. But our study suggests it's actually very important to treatment outcomes.” Studies show that antidepressant drugs can alter two key personality traits, neuroticism and extraversion. Neuroticism is a tendency toward emotional instability and a negative mood, while extraversion is a tendency toward outgoingness. Also, Archives of General Psychiatry conducted a study which found that the more drastic the personality shift, the less likely depressed patients were to relapse. Antidepressants are meant to help people enjoy life again. However, the prescribed drugs meant to help sometimes are the trigger that leads to personality changes, and even suicide. Imagine how the parents would feel for their suicidal, depressed child: scared, unsure, and helpless. Now that the risks of the drugs are known, doctors should make sure than all the options have been discussed between the patient and the parent because it’s not something a person wants to regret when it’s too late, and a loved one is gone.
Some may say that depression is simply a chemical imbalance in the brain, and can be easily cured by medicine. However, antidepressants usually don’t work alone in order to “cure” someone’s depression. Everyone’s depression is different. Sometimes, it’s brought on by an unfortunate event. In that case, drugs will only mask the pain at best, not cure it. And once you are taken off the drugs, you can relapse back into depression due to un-dealt with issues. In fact, two-thirds of patients relapse within a year of halting medications, while about 45% to 50% relapse even if they're still on the medication. This can lead to a dependency on the drug, which leads to addiction. All drugs have their side effects and risks, but depression, which can completely run someone’s life, is too risky a subject to mess with. A patient suffering from depression must look into all the possible options for treatment before deciding anything.
People suffering from depression shouldn’t be written a prescription without exploring other, natural, healthy options with their doctors. Exercise proves to have a big part in recovery for a patient, as well as discretion from their doctor. One must find a doctor he or she trusts because the over prescription of antidepressant drugs has been a growing issue. Also, if a person does decide that antidepressants are right for him, he must be aware of all the risks involved. That includes personality changes, addiction, and the risk of suicide.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and want help, go to your local doctor and discuss all the options out there, so you can make an educated decision on how to treat yourself and your disease. Because we only get one life, and depression can be life threatening. Get as many opinions as you can from as many doctors as you can, then decide what’s right for you.





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smalley said...
May 13, 2010 at 11:16 am

While your article was very well-written, I disagree with most of the points that you made. Exercise is not a prophylactic against depression - even the most acive people can suffer with the disease. Another point you amde was that antidepressants can change someone's personality - and this is blatantly untrue. Antidepressants do not do anything except increase or decrease the amount of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and it does nothing to change a person's personality. You are right... (more »)

 
kamabr44 replied...
May 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

thats your opinion, and i agree with some of the things you said, but there are some things i disagree with.

i never said that exercising cures depression, but it helps. and the point of the article is to let people know that antidepressants aren't the only option, not that they're bad.

 
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