I couldn’t help but post a comment on a headline I read in this morning’s Telegraph which reads: Lives ‘left in ruin’ by rising tide of depression drugs. A very interesting article for anyone affected by depression, which cites some frightening anecdotal evidence as well as some solid medical research that criticises the over prescription of anti-depressant medication and the potential side effects for users. As a psychotherapist, I have long-considered the routine use of anti-depressants controversial.
In this morning’s article, I was particularly interested by a comment by Dr James Davies, co-founder of CEP (the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry) who makes the important point that many people are medicated entirely unnecessarily for understandable reactions to difficult human experiences. Such experiences can include relationship breakdowns, loss of a job, bereavement or illness for examples; everyday occurrences to which a negative or difficult reaction is entirely normal, albeit painful and distressing. In many cases, these experiences improve with the passing of time, yet more and more people are being offered antidepressants as a solution (last year, 53 million prescriptions were issued for antidepressants in England alone, up 6%in the past year).
Attempting to medicate these experiences from our lives seems a reactive, heavy-handed, and highly dangerous proposition, particularly when considered within the transpersonal perspective which holds that our life’s crises offer opportunities for personal growth, development, and transformation. This is the point I believe Dr Davies is making in this article; that difficult experiences may even be necessary in our lives.
The crucial difference with a counselling-based approach to depression or depressive episodes, is that the therapy seeks to open up and work through the client’s problems in order that change and growth can occur. Medication however, seeks to stop the bad feelings from being felt, effectively attempting to shut down the experience within the body. This leaves little opportunity for gaining insight on our reactions to life’s challenges and growing through them.
I see many clients seeking counselling for depression in my Wimbledon counselling practise, and continue to witness the positive transformation which can occur when they talk about and work with me on their problems.
My tips if you are affected by depression:
- Seek a second opinion on your diagnosis of depression and recommended treatment
- Insist on hearing all the options available to treat your condition, and their possible side effects
- Insist on a treatment plan with your health care provider which clearly states the aims and duration of any treatments offered, including how and when medication will be reviewed and/or withdrawn if this is recommended
- Get on counselling waiting lists or look into private therapy
If depression is a problem for you, therapy may help. Call for an appointment at my Wimbledon counselling practise 0796 9501 888.