Charting the Depths

Reflections on the science of depression.

10 Troubling Facts About Antidepressants

10 troubling facts about antidepressants. These suggest that antidepressants can't be our primary response to the depression epidemic. Read More

Why do people take anti-depressants?

I know why people take anti-depressants, but nobody is going to like my politically-incorrect answer. People take anti-depressants because the pills give them the happy compliant personality they think they are supposed to have.

People want to fit in. People don't want to feel like they are a community outlier. Unfortunately, the way people feel and think is very different from the socially acceptable American adult. The pills make people less anxious, less angry and less depressed. The pills make them more like they way they think everyone else is behaving.

What is really wrong isn't that people aren't happy. It's that we've been convinced to appear happy and satisfied with a family, set of values and material possessions that may not be bringing the majority of our society comfort and satisfaction. Rather than confront the obvious, people would much rather take a pill.

I have been diagnosed with

I have been diagnosed with depression for the last few years. I can assure you the roots go back much further. Twice I have been prescribed Cipralex. I am ambivalent about it's effectiveness. Currently, I am not taking any antidepressants.

There is no miracle associated with taking antidepressants. I was told to expect gradual improvement. This may have occurred, but it may also have been the cyclical nature of my mood. I was told discontinuing the medication may incur severe side effects. I pretty much quit cold turkey both times with no noticeable side effects. I do think the Cipralex played havoc with my libido.

I think environment plays a huge part in depression. I thrive in abundant sunlight. Others may differ. Activity can keep the black dogs at bay. For me, that means just staying engaged. Physical activity, i.e. exercise is touted as a cure all, but I have not found that to be true. CBT therapy is all the rage, but again, I would not expect miracles.

I do not think there is any surefire cure for depression. It feeds itself as you shut yourself away. All measures have some chance of helping, one measure alone will likely not be successful. It may be helpful to view it as a disease, however I think it is more of a chronic condition. The most important info I received was that it may take years to alleviate the effects of depression. That's where I find myself today.

I believe you are on the right track

I agree with your perspective that moods have many sources and that there is unlikely to be a magical cure for depression (of any kind). That said, it is possible to gain a better understanding of moods and to contain low moods so they don't turn into severe and long-lasting depression.

I write about some of these themes in The Depths.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jon Rottenberg

My experience with antidepressants.

Ive been on an antidepressant (bupropion) for about four months. I didn't want to go on them - and fought to stay off of them for a long time (I have been in therapy for four years).

The problem was I cried constantly. CONSTANTLY. It has not been an easy route being on them...but I finally feel stronger and more stable to deal with some really bad stuff in my life.

Hopefully I can make get up the courage to make some drastic (and very scary) changes in my life and then go off of them.

Like everything in life there are a lot of shades of gray in this area...and sometimes you just don't get it until you've truly been there.

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Jonathan Rottenberg is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, where he directs the Mood and Emotion Laboratory.

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