Your views on drugs to ease depression

[deleted account] ( 36 moms have responded )

Recently I posted a topic in Young Moms 20-30 asking other moms how they dealt with depression during the last months of their pregnancy. When I posted the other topic, I was aware that my depression was more likely based off the hormones, but I was also aware that chronic depression runs in my family so that might be a factor. I think I put that in the original post. But the only two replies I got (that I saw, I haven't looked at it since) were from women telling me I should go to my doctor and ask for antidepressants.

I was shocked that THAT was their advice, that they seemed to think that was the way to go. I know not everyone believes this so I don't want anyone to be offended. As I said, my entire family suffers from chronic depression so the majority of them take antidepressants. I'm not knocking the use entirely. It's just that personally I would try to find other means to ease my own depression.

So I decided to post this in Debating Mums to see what other people thought, people who usually tend to read the entire OP before posting.

What are your views on using drugs at all to ease depression in general?


Kate CP - posted on 12/04/2010




I'm currently pregnant AND taking antidepressants. If I didn't I would probably kill some one or myself. I have bi-polar disorder and I need the medication to function normally.

If you need the medication take it. People don't piss and moan about not wanting to take heart medication or insulin if they need it. Same thing.

Tara - posted on 12/06/2010




If you have high blood pressure your doctor may decide that lifestyle and diet changes will be enough to lower it to acceptable levels, if you have high cholesterol your doctor may decide that diet changes and exercise will lower it to acceptable levels. In other cases your doctor may decide that you require medication in conjunction with the above mentioned treatments.
Depression isn't different just because it is a mental illness.
I fought my depression using all other techniques, I exercised daily, I did yoga, I meditated, I ate better, I got more sleep, I saw a psychiatrist every week, I saw my own family doctor once a month (who is also a trained psychologist) . I did this long past the point I knew it wasn't working. You want to know why?
Because of people who made comments to me like "if you just keep meditating and connecting with yourself it will pass"
"You control what you feel, you can choose to be happy or sad"
"How can you be so depressed when you have such wonderful children and such a great life?"
"But Tara you're so strong, everyone looks up to you, you can do this on your own."
"Don't take any medications, you'll just feel numb, not like yourself"
Oh and these from my husband who I would soon after divorce...
"Suck it up, life sucks that's the truth, we're not supposed to be happy all the time"
"Maybe if you tried to act happy you would just be happy. And if not at least no one else would be affected by your shitty moods"
and my all time favourite..
"If you were clinically depressed you wouldn't be wondering if you were clinically depressed, someone else has to notice it for it to be real." WTF?!?!?!?!

Anyhow at the risk of sounding like a bitch, I will say that for anyone who thinks anything even remotely close to what he thought, SCREW YOU!
Unless you have been so depressed that you think your kids would be better without a mom at all,
or you think that you will never be happy, ever.
Unless you have lain awake at night wondering the best way to kill yourself so that no one knows it was suicide. (wouldn't want to shame ayone)
Unless you have cried to your mom that you feel like a little girl who is scared and alone, lost somewhere without anyone she knows in a foreign place with no way to get out.
Unless you have felt pain in your chest for days on end due to anxiety that you have been told can be controlled with a bunch of "deep breathing and visualization" techniques.
Unless you have been really depressed you can not say that drugs are not the option.
I have been on Zoloft for 3 years now. I will likely stay on them my whole life. Why???
Because I will NEVER go back to feeling the way I did before, not ever.
My own clinical depression and many others stem from very early experiences that determined in a large part how our limbic (or old brains) are formed. How we deal with emotions is controlled by chemistry and in some cases the brains' ability to control those chemical reactions necessary for normal responses to emotional upset can be compromised at a young age by a variety of factors. Essentially our limbic brains did not for whatever reason develop properly resulting in a chemical imbalance, this is a biological illness in that sense.
off my mental health soapbox now.
sorry to anyone who may think this was some kind of direct personal attack on your opinion. Honestly I didn't even read the other replies. I just can't stand it when someone even suggests that medications can not be helpful in treating this illness.

Tara - posted on 12/06/2010




Oh and by the way it is not well known and obvious that mind altering drugs should not be used during pregnancy. In fact there are many safe anti depressants and anti anxiety medications that are proven safe for use during pregnancy and breast feeding. Just so you know the facts.

Jackie - posted on 12/06/2010




I haven't read all of the responses yet...

I am a fellow Zoloft-er. I have to tell you, it's great! I have depression that also runs in my fam along with some serious anxiety.

I go to bed and sleep good and instead of waking up in the morning feeling like, "shit, I don't wanna get out of bed." I wake feeling like I'm ready to tackle another day. I don't feel like I'm not me. I don't feel like I'm on drugs.
If you have a chemical imbalance, meds could be a good resource.

Mrs. - posted on 12/05/2010




I will echo what Lucy said. They are just one tool in the toolbox. As well, the stigma attached to them is kind of sad.

I had terrible PPD and sought help. However, because of my history of sensitivity to drugs and my anxiety about gaining weight/past problems with eating disorders (since so many of them often put on the pounds), my therapist advised me against it. However, had she thought it was the right move for me, I would have seriously given it thought.

I find for me though, cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise and routine got me through. Of course, I still have my dark days but they are better. Plus, I'm still seeing my doc.

The only thing that worries me sometimes is when a GP writes a script for them and doesn't consult with a therapist/insist on referral a therapist. GPs are great at what they are great at-counselling is very specialized. I really think it is important for a depressed person to see a specialist in the field to consult on treatment and drug scripts (if needed).

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[deleted account]

Kate, I saw it as a rant too. That's why I said at the beginning of my reply that I hoped she didn't think I was totally against anyone taking antidepressants.

I really don't want to offend anyone, seriously. I think I've said that in just about every post I've made in this thread. So if anyone actually reads this, I apologize if anyone's gotten offended.

Kate CP - posted on 12/06/2010




Jaime: I don't really think that Tara's post was directed at any one in particular. It was just a sort of rant/vent (at least that's how I read it).

[deleted account]

Tara, I'm sorry, but I was not aware that this thread would seriously piss anyone off, and I apologize if it did. All it was, in the beginning, was a topic I put up for discussion. I know that I never said anything about how medicine doesn't work for what it's made for, and I hope you haven't made the assumption from my OP that I did. I'm also sorry you had an asshole for a husband but I can relate because my family is the same way. I HAVE seriously contemplated my own death. I HAVE wondered if I just disappeared, maybe things would be better for everyone. I haven't been ABLE to cry to my mom because she doesn't give a damn and has said many of the same things to me that your ex-husband said to you. I HAVE had physical reactions to my emotional state, aches and pains I couldn't explain and wouldn't go away with Tylenol or anything I tried. And I have had this happening for the last twenty years.

But for me, AND ONLY ME, I refuse to take drugs. Other methods DO work for me. I never got on a soap box and tried to preach the gospel of deep breathing exercises. (Which don't work for me either, haha. Just the exercising and having something to occupy myself all the time.)

Now, I don't know everything and would never claim to, but to my knowledge everyone is supposed to be allowed their own opinion.

Also, thank you for that insight on antidepressants and pregnancy. But it still doesn't change the fact that this thread really wasn't supposed to have anything to do with pregnancy.

Jenn - posted on 12/06/2010




I think it depends on how severe your depression is. For someone like my Mum who suffers from bi-polar disorder, it is mandatory for her to be able to function properly. She does however also go to counselling regularly as THAT is the most important part of treatment - talking about things and learning to deal with them.

[deleted account]

Yay! People actually responded to this! I'm so happy :D

I would like to say, though, that this thread is about general depression, not specifically associated with me or with pregnancy.

My thoughts otherwise...

I believe that if a person realizes that he or she has been significantly moody for an extended period of time and that it is affecting his or her lifestyle, they should go to a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, NOT a general practitioner. A GP is not trained in the same field as a psychiatrist and IMO is not nearly as reliable concerning mental conditions.

I also believe that anyone who feels the need to see a psychiatrist should see one on a long-term scheduled basis, such as once a week or once every two weeks for at least a few months. That way, the psychiatrist can make an accurate diagnosis of a person's condition and only then can they decide what might fix it.

As for my own experiences, I went through counseling a few years ago in college, saw a psychologist once a week for the majority of my freshman year. I was told I had depression, but I was never told to and never considered taking medicine for it. A lot of people in my family do, but it doesn't help them. Some of them, it makes them worse. But this is just my family, and one of the reasons I don't bother with using medicines much.

From personal experience with the people in my immediate family (ie, the people I lived with for the first eighteen years of my life) it seems like "there's a pill to fix everything" people are just trying to run away from their problems. BUT that's my experience with MY family, the people I know. I am NOT saying that's everyone.

I'm the type of person who tries to face my problems head on. I also love keeping active and when I can't do either of those I start to lose it. It has been bad enough that I have contemplated suicide, but then I step back and realize that that's not going to help a damn thing so I snap myself out of it.

I agree with Rebecca, though, in that some people just don't know or can't snap themselves out of it.

I just think that in a lot of cases medicine should be the last resort, not the first remedy used.

Sharon - posted on 12/05/2010




You need to see a doctor.

If you aren't a "there's a pill to fix everything" person, then find a doctor who is like minded.

There are plenty of other options out there. More sunlight, more vit D, st. johns wort, etc.

IF you have true clinical depression then follow your doctors advice.

Mrs. - posted on 12/05/2010




That's what works for me too, for the most part. It kills me when I get physically ill and can't exercise. That's when I've learned to turn to yoga or meditation.

I know what you mean by the spiral...and I know I've learned to recognize my triggers, when it's happening. I also know that some people just haven't gathered those skills yet, haven't had the same life experiences as me.

If pills give them the leg up to stay out of the spiral-there is no shame in it. They are no better or less for it IMO.

[deleted account]

I was diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. I know that how I deal with it doesn't work for everyone but it is great for me.
Exercise, feeling good physically is great for the mind, I have a great support system from friends and when I feel myself going on a crazy down spiral I stay active. Mostly I just distract myself with things that I know will make me better, maybe not right away but I just keep going and things smooth over.

Mrs. - posted on 12/05/2010




It doesn't piss me off. I used to think the same thing. Mostly because the depression or anxiety I experienced before I was blind sided with PPD was not comparable in the least. I thought, you know, I've dealt with depression, illness, eating disorders, etc....but I got through it and picked myself up. I thought, why can't everyone do that?

Then the PPD happened and I understood. It is beyond anything I've had to deal with. It is a dark place that has no light. No one loves you and you are not worthwhile to anyone. This is something that is not just a passing thought, it is a relentless monster on your shoulder.

I didn't understand until it happened to me. Now, I'm kind of glad (and I never thought I'd say that) it did. Because now, I understand and if anyone I ever loved was there..I'd know how to speak to them.

[deleted account]

I think antidepressants are far over used.
I agree with Rebecca on the fact that you should see a specialist for that and not your family doc.

But I may piss a few people off here.
In some cases they are necessary but in others people need to pick themselves up. I know quite a few people who have taken them for a short time and it helped a lot. In reality though I think people are perfectly capable of coping with life they just haven't found the right way for them.

Lucy - posted on 12/05/2010




I think that it is a shame there is such a stigma attached to taking medication for depression.

It isn't the be and end all, but as part of a program of treatment including exercise, counselling and adjustments to diet, medication can be very useful in combating depression.

When I suffered with PPD, it was only the medication that gave me to impetus to go to the gym, make it to the support group, eat right etc, All of which combined to help in the long term.

The stigma attached to mental illness in general is very sad, in my opinion, as it often exacerbates the problem. I was told by a "friend" that I shouldn't take medication for my (very severe) depression because then it would be on my medical records and employers would find out and refuse to employ me. I find it sad that this kind of attitude still prevails.

Whatever gets you through the day, I say.

Katherine - posted on 12/05/2010




There are other ways to deal with it such as diet. HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind that you have extra hormones in your body still. I had PPD with both of my daughters and I also suffer from major Anxiety Disorder. So for me not to be on meds is REALLY bad. I also get bad mood swings (bipolar) and major depression. Ugh didn't want to tell you guys this. For arguments sake though I think it needs to be said that if you have a chemical imbalance, you need to be in counseling and take something.
Now I've heard of gluten free diets being very helpful, exercising, making sure you do your ADL's everyday, and things like that. I do all and still nedd meds.

I guess it depends on how bad you really feel.

Joanna - posted on 12/05/2010




I've suffered from depression since I was about 13/14. I even attempts suicide and was in the psychiatric ward when I was 15. At that time they tried a slee of antidepressants when we finally found one that worked (Paxil), and I saw a therapist once a week. After I graduated high school and moved out I stopped the meds/therapy and self medicated with pot.... It was easy for me to forget about my feelings when I was stoned 24/7 (I liked to lose myself in music/movies which also helped). I quit smoking when I met my husband, and he made me happy enough to not need medication. Too bad after I had my daughter I was hit hard with post partum depression. I cried all day for a few mOnths, wouldn't eat, shower, leave the house... Finally I went back on Paxil and it was a world of difference. I was able to enjoy my family. I quit before I got pregnant again and so far 6 weeks PP I am doing fine, but I know that it's something I will always struggle with, and may need to take medication until the day I die. I'm okay with that, it keeps me sane and alive.

Nikki - posted on 12/05/2010




There are some antidepressants that are safe during pregnancy, I had pre natal depression my entire pregnancy, I was offered medication but I decided to go with a psychologist instead. It was enough for me at the time, mine was just hormonal, I was fine after I gave birth, but it was still a struggle and if it had of continued after I gave birth I would have taken the meds.

If meds help someone with depression I am all for them, I think that for too long people have had the mindset that depression will just go away by itself and that a depressed person just needs to stop feeling sorry for themselves. This is not the case, for some people counselling is just not sufficient.

Lady Heather - posted on 12/05/2010




I don't think I would if I just became depressed towards the end of my pregnancy because a) I'd be pretty sure it was just hormonal and b) I don't think I'd qualify for a diagnosis of depression in that short time frame. Definitely at that point I'd make use of other forms of therapy instead, unless the situation was really bad (suicidal, for example).

But in general, it's really hard to say. After I had my daughter I had baby blues BAD for two weeks. I know I could have had drugs. I decided to do some talk therapy instead and see if things got better as time went by. They did. It's just hard to say what I'd do in a situation I've never been in. An acute, hormonally based short-term depression is pretty different from a chronic long-term depression. I will say that after studying the main forms of therapy pretty extensively at uni, I would never JUST take drugs. I would always make sure it was a combo therapy. Everything I've ever read says that's more effective than drugs alone.

C. - posted on 12/04/2010




Honestly.. My brother suffers from severe depression and Bipolar disorder and if he doesn't take either one of his medicines, he gets really bad.. Really down, doesn't want to do anything, go anywhere or see anyone (if he doesn't take the medicine for the Bipolar disorder, he gets angry really fast and then his moods go up and down and nobody knows what will set him off).

I also suffer from depression from time to time. Sometimes severe, sometimes not. When I was going through PPD, though, it got really bad and I WISH I had told my doctor about it b/c at that time, it had gotten to the point that I wanted to commit suicide (and my PPD lasted almost 2 years).

Some people don't think antidepressants are Ok.. But if your family has a history of severe depression and things, it's probably a good idea to take them.

And from what I understand, there are certain antidepressants that are safe to take during pregnancy. If that's what you have to do to get out of a funk, then I mean there's really no choice. Sometimes it takes a lot more than just going outside and hanging out with people to get you out of that depressed state.

Sarah - posted on 12/04/2010




Like Kate & Amanda, I am also on Zoloft - 100mg. I stopped taking my medication as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but now looking back, I believe it was a big mistake. I did okay during my 1st & 2nd trimester, but by the time I made it to my 3rd trimester I was falling apart. My OCD was TERRIBLE & depression kicked in for the first time in my life. It was a horrible feeling. Once I had my son, I went right back on my Zoloft & my OCD is once again under pretty good control. I no longer am experiencing any depression, either. I also have an awesome counselor who I see every now and then. So, between counseling & the right dose of medication, I am able to function very well. :) My opinion is, mental illness is something that can be potentially very serious. If medication can help you lead a happy, productive life, then why not go for it? A diabetic needs insulin, someone with heart problems needs heart meds & I need my Zoloft. :D

Amanda - posted on 12/04/2010




I have depression and anxiety as well as OCD. I heard from my dr that 1 in 10 adults in the United States have depression, admitted or not. It does run in my family, and my father and his mother just ignore the symptoms. My father drinks a lot, and I think that's his coping method. But for me it's my zoloft. I have tried numerous different medications and counseling as well. I really like the medicine I'm on now, and the counseling is wonderful! :) I think that it depends on the person for what is better regarding medicine or not. If you're asking what YOU should do your best bet is to just ask a dr his professional opinion. I can't tell you over the computer what you should or shouldn't do, I'm just telling you my opinion! :)

Catherine - posted on 12/04/2010




Personally, I've struggled with depression my entire life. For the first several years, I treated it with only therapy, and my success was very limited. I eventually tried meds, and what a difference it has made for me. I've gone on and off of them for the past several years, and I do much better on them. Whether or not the meds will be effective totally depends on what's going on and what's causing it, but I think it's important to always keep and open mind when seeking treatment. Had I not been so opposed to the meds when I first sought treatment, I would have found relief much sooner in my life.

Kate CP - posted on 12/04/2010




Yea, I'm not THAT nuts. I'm on Zoloft and it manages my moods just fine at 50mg a day. It's actually a pretty low dose.

ME - posted on 12/04/2010




I used to work with pregnant and mentally ill teens...I'm not talking mild or even moderate depression...I'm talking Bipolar Disorder with rapid cycling and personality disorders. They were NOT allowed to take their meds while pregnant. It was NOT safe for the baby...They were given high doses of fish oil (DHA), which was supposed be mostly safe, and to help a little with their illnesses. Most HAD to go back on anti-psychotics after giving birth as it was unsafe to remain off them long enough to breastfeed for more than two weeks or so...

Kimberly - posted on 12/04/2010




I have struggled with depression off anf on for years now, I did the counselling when I was younger but it did get to a point that I was put on meds to help bring normallity back into my life. I went off them to only be put back on them a few months later. When I decided that I wanted a baby I had to go off them as this med wasnt safe to use while pregnant. I did struggle at points in my pregnancy but I had told my family about it and they were my support network. After have my baby I was told I have DNP and was given meds but since I was breastfeeding I didnt want to take them so I went back into counselling. So from having both treated my depression with and without meds I do prefer to do it without them only becasue I dont like really taking any meds but I do realize that I had to be on meds years ago to get better and get myself to a point where counselling could work in place of meds but it really does come down to the person and what is happening at that time. I really hope that for myself counselling will keep working but if there did come a time that I needed meds again I would take them because I know my depression not only impacts my life but my families life too and if it made me better for them then I'd do it

[deleted account]

My cousin-in-law is on them.... has been for quite sometime, also through 2 (almost a full 3 now) pregnancies. For myself.... I'm 'against' them, but they've REALLY helped her.

On a side note... my ex used to try and get me to go on them. Who knew the biggest 'cure' was to get rid of him? ;) lol

Kate CP - posted on 12/04/2010




Yes and no. You can do the counseling if you want to but it's not mandatory. I do counseling every so often but it's not a constant thing.

Stifler's - posted on 12/04/2010




Aren't you supposed to have counselling as well as take anti-depressants?

[deleted account]

It really depends on your definition of depression, everyone seems to have different ideas. One of my best friends was prescribed anti depressants when we were 15, as she told her doctor she couldn't stop crying, she didn't take them and was fine after a few months it was just (her words) her being a teenager and nothing else. On the other hand, I know someone who is a true depressive and needs meds but refuses to take them because that would show weakness, I feel that it shows more weakness by not using them.

Depression is truely a horrible illness, one that unfortunately most people are very uneducated about, there is a lot of stigma attached to it, I have heard people tell depressed friends to 'pull themselves together and get over it' it's not that easy. If you need meds use them, it doesn't have to be for life. Use them while you find new coping mechanisms, such as seeing a councilor or therapist, taking up a new hobby, keeping a journal - this helped me when I was having difficulties, I re-read it a few months back and it was like I was reading someone elses writing it was not me at all. But amazingly the writing made the numbness fade so I did feel what I was blocking out and then I was able to move past it.

Charlie - posted on 12/04/2010




For some people it is the only way to get peace of mind including during pregnancy , would I take them ? yes , if all other options were exhausted .

[deleted account]

Kati ~ So essentially in response to the question this topic is about, which was not pertaining to pregnancy, your views are that you WOULD take antidepressants.

Why did you take antidepressants? Did you try anything else? I'm just wondering and trying to spark a conversation.

(Which I probably won't be here for, haha, as I'm leaving in a few minutes...)

Rosie - posted on 12/04/2010




i wouldn't take one during pregnancy, but after pregnancy i would, and have actually. depression isn't something to be taken lightly and if drugs can help i'm all for it. i have friend who took antidepressant drugs during her pregnancy and while her kid is autistic (her older one is too and there were no drugs during pregnancy with that one, so i believe it's genetic not caused by the drugs) he is otherwise healthy. but i have heard of antidepressants causing some birth defects. i just won't do it.

[deleted account]

Like I said in the OP, I mean no offense to anyone taking antidepressants. I know that many people suffer from chemical imbalances and that for some, the only way to feel normal is to take antidepressants. So please, don't be offended if my personal opinion about ME using them differs from your own.

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