Do anti-depressants work?

A study has concluded that most patients don’t benefit from some of the most common anti-depressants like Prozac and Seroxat. In severe cases, the researchers found there may be some benefits to taking anti-depressants.

It’s based on the findings of 47 trials submitted to the Food and Drug Administration in the US, details of which were made public in some cases and not in others.

Do you, a friend or a relative take anti-depressants? Have they affected how you or they feel?

It’s worth adding that GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Seroxat, has said the study only looked at a “small subset of the total data available”. Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, has responded that “extensive scientific and medical experience has demonstrated it is an effective anti-depressant”.

Is your country too reliant on medication to treat psychological problems?

Without this medication, how else can people combat depression? Does, for instance, therapy (or counselling as it’s also called) work?

And are you convinced this is a condition that requires specific treatment?

175 Responses to “Do anti-depressants work?”

  1. February 26, 2008 at 13:00

    Medications may work but it is the person who has to initiate the changes from within.

  2. 2 gugglemenot
    February 26, 2008 at 13:06

    Well, its hard to tell BUT I have a friend who has suffered tremendously from anti-depressants. She would take them but instead she increased in BODY weight and then got some mental problems, which led her to drop out of school(she lost two years). However, the day she decided not to continue with them, she has been well(though with some effects of lack of sleep in the Early stages of leaving the anti-depressants).She is now back to school and doing well.

  3. 3 kihumuro Phillip(Kampala)
    February 26, 2008 at 13:19

    Well, its hard to tell BUT I have a friend who has suffered tremendously from anti-depressants. She would take them but instead she increased in BODY weight and then got some mental problems, which led her to drop out of school(she lost two years). However, the day she decided not to continue with them, she has been well(though with some effects of lack of sleep in the Early stages of leaving the anti-depressants).She is now back to school and doing well.

  4. 4 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 13:21

    I think they likely work for truly chemically imbalanced people. Ie, someone who has everything going for them, but is still depressed. Some people have difficult lives, and no drug can drug them into feeling good about it. What they can do is try to change their thought patterns, don’t do drugs or drink, and excercise. Thinking salvation can come in a pill is a recipe for a life of misery. You have to work at being happy. I know some people that they have worked wonders for, and some people they haven’t helped at all.

  5. 5 Brett
    February 26, 2008 at 13:27

    Is your country too reliant on medication to treat psychological problems?
    YES! This is evidenced largely in depression and ESPECIALLY in childhood issues like ADD or ADDHD or any other quick diagnostic to pin down a childs unwanted behavior. Load em up with pills and sedate them so they’re nice little doped up and complacent drones.

    Does, for instance, therapy (or counselling as it’s also called) work?
    Most Americans feel they don’t have time for counseling, its also a bit more taboo than popping a pill. If you could spend 2-5 hours a week in a therapist office (which many Americans feel is something that needs to be hidden due to the stigma of being in therapy), or spend 2-5 seconds popping a pill, which do you think lazy Americans are going to do?

    I have had plenty of friends on anti-depressants and even been in relationships with girls who were on them. I found that relationships and friendships improved once anti-depressants were tossed to the curb and therapy was substituted.

    As a child I was diagnosed with ADDHD, and I am thrilled that my parents rejected drugging me up and in turn used parenting and spent the time needed (even though they were divorced) to raise me right instead of stuffing pills down my throat because they didn’t like the way I acted.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  6. 6 Brett
    February 26, 2008 at 13:28

    ADHD, not ADDHD, sorry for the typo!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  7. 7 Amer
    February 26, 2008 at 13:34

    there are two things for which an anti depressant is needed, to kill depression, and to keill he changes that come in body due to deepression, like neart beat increase and repepated thinking of a single isssue in mind. the second issue i.e. of of effects may be treated succesfully, rest is all with the patient to be able to contorl the depression. its just like cold infection, treat all the effects symptomatically and the body will take care of influenza virus, so in case of depression tablet will take care of all the effects and the patient need to recover from depression. this is my personal opinion out of my observation of a few cases of this type.

  8. 8 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 13:46

    Brett, don’t forget that to get those pills, you have to sit in that doctor’s office. I don’t know from personal experience, but a friend of mine has to go every month for an hour to get a refill. The doctor just wont write a prescription for more, os he can get the $180 or whatever an hour every month paid for by the insurance company..

    I really do think that the conspiracy nuts to somewhat have a point when it comes to psychiatric meds. The drug companies really want the money, the psychiatrists want the insurance money and want you to come in as often as possible, and drug companies use illegal tactics to sell drugs to HMOs to put them on formularies, or to get private individual doctors to prescribe one drug over another rival, lining the doctor’s pockets with money IF they prescribe more of something vs. another thing. For my work I read about this stuff for years, and all the unsavory things sales reps would do, and the things doctors knew were illegal but still did them anyways.

  9. 9 Andrew Stamford
    February 26, 2008 at 14:02

    Being a psychologist (amongst other things) I have a vested interest in using therapy to treat depression as prescribing drugs is also not part of the job description. Having said that I do realise that the nature of the condition is such that those with serious, and I mean severe, debilitating and ongoing depression does merit the use of chemical intervention. But I would say that in my opinion, for the most part it is the quick and easy fix it now, pill popping culture that turns many people towards that quick fix. We have so many pills for many conditions why not then a pill to fix mental problems. Sadly I have found that quite a god proportion of people feel that it was not a good solution in the end which is what I found by the number of people who came to me for therapy after having failed on drugs or with psychiatrists.

    The point about depression is that we are finding it is a natural part of the human condition. It is said that such and such percentage of people will experience depression in their lives. The truth is that at one time or another I think that we all experience some form of depression be it mild or more intense. But it is important to distinguish between severe (clinical) depression as defined by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association) and other associated affective disorders with the day to day blues or feeling low. There is a continuum of depression from being unable to function utterly to feeling miserable and it this we have to factor in when considering treatment options. That is not to say psychologists can only handle the low grade blues and defer to psychiatry and drugs for severe forms of the disease. But the fact remains that while in some percent of the population depression is purely dependant upon a chemical imbalance and comes and goes according to this swing in brain function, for many of us certain events will trigger depressive thought and feeling or this low cycle brings about a susceptibility to adverse events and situations in our lives.

    I often quote Martin Seligman (noted US psychologist) who stated some time back that something like 40% of all depressions lift themselves on their own accord without any therapeutic interventions. This put simply is that for most of you, you will cycle through to better times mentally without doing anything. Whether you feel like waiting or actively helping to lift your mood is another thing. Talking to a friend, getting things of your chest, meditation, prayer, whingeing (my favourite) or counselling and the list goes on are all forms of therapy that can help to improve mood. Whether this comes from simply acknowledging your feelings about a certain issue, whether it is method to methodically examine your feelings and thoughts or whether it is a way to quantify what it is that brought about this feeling and remotely scrutinise it, come to terms with it and ultimately accept it and move on, they all help and differing amounts of each approach are used to deal with depression. I have to add I am always reluctant to face a client in therapy and gladly tap their foreheads with the revelation, “You have depression” as if this will somehow provide an epiphany of some sort. Sometimes that just exacerbates the situation and lets a person feel that if they have depression they can mope about and be miserable and this will somehow be something they can dwell within for whatever reason rather than a relief that this is what they are suffering.

    Unfortunately a lot more is made of depression than it should, it is used as an omnibus excuse for people’s poor behaviour particularly in criminal proceedings, for garnering sympathy or to cover any and all situations. Depression is not unique though, what reaction you give to it is and all too much can be made of it. Tabloid approaches to depression glamorise it, you must do this or do that, feel this way and then act that way, of course you must also milk it for what it is worth. Part of the trouble with dealing with depression is undoing all the harm that mass media has made of depression, unlearning if you will. Celebrity depression is another issue that is well over hyped as if since that person has it and they are a celebrity after all, then I can also behave the way they do. Talk to anyone in this business and they will agree that performers are a special group unto themselves and personality amongst that group almost guarantees bad times for them, but no one will admit that publicly. The point is that we see celebrities self-destruct publicly and the Dr. Phils of the world crawl out of the woodwork with their nurturing form of all embracing positive regard designed to take away responsibility from the individual, but will opt for treating the condition with drugs. We see that and we must also do that. Why? because celebrities set the trends and if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us. All to often though medical practitioners are complicit in prescribing drugs to those people who certainly should not be taking them or who could benefit from more benign forms of intervention. A doctor who sees you for a few minutes and may or may not have any training in psychology is not the person to make a reasonable assessment of your mental state. Seeking help from a trained and qualified professional is a good choice and generally does not do harm.

    When Prozac first made its headlines, a doctor friend of mine was curious about this new wonder drug and said to me, since I was feeling a bit glum at the time, why not give it a try and see what happens – he was smart enough not to try it himself. I thought it would be a good experiment and the upshot was me feeling rather ill not long after taking it. It didn’t work. Remember that all drugs have side effects, add to that you are not just bombarding your body with antibiotics or other chemicals targeting the mechanics of the body, but altering brain chemistry. Considering the complexity of the human brain this can be trouble in the making. Why go this route if you do not have to, but in this fast food, pop a pill world not dealing with the root causes is a hard habit to break. Needless to say, the drug did not make me feel better nor make the problem go away. But I got over it, we can all get over it and learning to stand on your own feet and deal with problems as they arise will not only strengthen your resolve on the future to deal with life’s struggles, but can also serve to boost your immunity to these mood fluctuations as they come. Just as with many other psychoactive drugs, their exact mechanisms within the brain are not all that well known either.

    The main point I would like to make is that unless you are the type of person who is unable to function, cannot get out of bed, having serious emotional problems as a result or are cursed with bad genetics, then drugs are not the way to go. And remember, if you are not dealing with the underlying cause of the depression, then drugs may, and I stress may, make you feel better in the short term, but they will not solve the issue in the long term. What it was that depressed you in the beginning will still be there after the last pill is taken. If you are depressed because you lost your job, a pet died or have been injured, drugs without therapy will not solve the sadness you are experiencing. Understanding is a powerful tool. Think of it another way, if your perception of a problem can place you into a depressive phase, than logically perception can remove you from it and with someone who can help you in that endeavour depression need not be the horror it can be made out to be.

    A summary then of the answer to this question, yes they can be an aid to recovery in severe cases, but they should not be the first and only step in treatment and in many cases they often are not all that good.

  10. 10 Brett
    February 26, 2008 at 14:08

    I agree with steve; In certain cases, medication in tandem with therapy can work wonders and I applaud the therapists that use this method when medication is needed. But having a patient visit once a month to write them a slip of paper to drug them until they pop in again, I do not agree with that. As mentioned above, stress management, time management, excercise and other lifestyle methods and changes help tremendously and should be implemented FIRST before resorting to substances.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  11. 11 smithcopper
    February 26, 2008 at 14:24

    it’s all about changing thought patterns. you have to say to yourself you will be happy. people deal with loads of stressors. we are overworked and spend less time engaged with each other, especially our families. that’s probably one of the reasons why there is sex on the job and the root origin of having work wives and husbands. this was about depression…let me hop out of my bunnytrail…someone i spent 4 years with said lexipro was the best antidepressant he ever took. it’s been in the news that now that the patents are expiring on a lot of antidepressants now it’s being said they don’t work. i believe work is good for the soul and being honest with yourself about your feelings and a cheerful heart is good medicine. all these experiences we have are like tests in the fire to see how strong a metal we are made of. instead of being pussyfoots and talking about our feelings all the time and being cowards who die a thousand deaths why not face up to who we are and our situation and say this will pass and get over it. a good book i once read about depression was darkness visible by william styron. i like it more so than the movie prozac nation. you can love people and they may not love you back. things are bound to be disappointing…sometimes to a brink of despair. but no one cares about your pain and people have to learn to be less egoic.

  12. 12 Ros Atkins
    February 26, 2008 at 14:28

    In my part of the world, mentally unbalanced people are just left to rove about as they please. Or they are taken to witch doctors who purport to have some magical means to cure mental illnesses. Anyway, I guess this discussion about the effectiveness of these drugs are basically for the rich, sophisticated world as for us we leave ours to fate.
    Lamii in Liberia

  13. 13 Joan
    February 26, 2008 at 14:44

    First of all, the BBC radio coverage of this issue has been deficient in saying “Antidepressant medications” instead of “a certain class of antidepressant medications”…. the study refers only to SSRIs, not ALL antidepressants. Antidepressants do work, albeit differently on different people, and are a literal life saver for those with serious depression. One thing that needs to be remembered is that antidepressants are not “happy pills”! In other words, they work to balance your brain chemistry, so if chemistry is not unbalanced to begin with they will usually have no positive result (and will often have negative effects.) Sometimes people presume that they work on a relative scale, i,.e. that they will simply boost anyone’s mood to one notch “happier” than they were to begin with. One big problem in my mind is that Prozac and other antidepressants on the SSRI spectrum are over-prescribed to people who may not necessarily have true clinical depression. Depression is not “feeling sad,” it is a debilitating, all-encompassing illness.

    That said, this study’s findings on Prozac didn’t surprise me much. I have been treated for major depression (to be differentiated from simply “being depressed”) for over 20 years and been treated extremely successfully with medications — initially with tricyclics, which are highly effective but rife with side effects, and later moving into the newer generation of antidepressants. When Prozac first came out, my doctor proposed I try switching to get away from the side effects of tricyclics, but in short, it was a disaster. I actually thought I had been given a placebo, there was no therapeutic effect whatsoever and I plummeted back into a deeply shrouded state. This, according to my doctor, was not unusual, and he said that often Prozac was effective on moderate cases of depression but sometimes had little to no effect on the two extremes — either very mild or very severe. I am now on Wellbutrin, which is not related to SSRIs, and my depression is almost completely under control .

    The prescribing of anti-depressants involves a huge amount of work and fine-tuning by doctor and patient, because doctors simply cannot predict which drug will work for which patient. It is a highly complex issue, My fear is that with the way media generalizes and dumbs-down such stories, people who need help will be dissuaded from antidepressant treatment altogether; worse yet, insurance companies, always hungry to disqualify medications from their “approved” lists, will strike them and keep them out of reach of many people who could benefit from them.

  14. 14 Rory
    February 26, 2008 at 14:55

    Steve- your experience shows. Everything you say is actually what this report implies. And as the research illustrates- serious depressives need it. Others could benefit- but it is the doctors decision whether they are the 40 – 6- % who might reco er anyway. The difficulty as a psychiatrist said to me is – there is NO blood test which will tell you whether you are recovered form a mental illness, or what actually is the imbalance. Strides have been made- lithium in some cases- equamote for others. As shocked as many may feel by the news worthiness of this research- it does show the responsibility of the doctor in administering drugs to the ill. Short term gain, or simply exercise.
    And I am fully aware of the stigma of those who have mental illness in Africa, Lamii in Liberia- these people do need medical attention. The stigma is appalling- and I cannot bear to think of the feelings of isolation that those ill people feel as they wander around as pariahs. It happens in my country in the rural area(Zimbabwe) and I also see the looks in the eyes of those who can still hear, and see, and who are still going through the pain of illness.
    Perhaps we are being over medicated. But recall those who really need it.

  15. February 26, 2008 at 15:11

    I don’t take anti-depressants, but I have friends who do. Believe me, they work. These people would be not be able to function without them. I’ve seen the before and after. It’s amazing.

    It’s possible there are a lot of people out there who are taking improperly prescribed meds. I don’t know anyone like that, but it’s possible!

  16. 16 Barbara
    February 26, 2008 at 15:22

    I was alarmed when I heard this story last evening on National Public Radio and doubly concerned with your reporting. What I fear is that MORE people will simply stop taking their medications, which is a dangerous tactic. (I was not surprised when I heard that the Northern Illinois University shooter had been on meds, and had stopped taking them–)

    I think you should do a follow up story on why one should ONLY stop taking medication under a doctor’s supervision!

    I have been on some form of antidepressant for 17 years and it has saved my life. Literally. I am a productive member of society, teach in higher education, am a professional musician, and passionate gardener. I try to get regular exercise. (more an ambition than reality during the academic year)

    I had my first suicidal thoughts at 11 years old. At 19, I was hospitalized, and then spent the next 13 years toughing it out, completing graduate school, and wanting to cease to exist. None of my “accomplishments” helped my sense of worthlessness. Finally a therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist, as she felt my depression was a barrier to therapy–we were spending all the time dealing with depression and little time with core issues of the chaos of my childhood.

    I was prescibed Prozac for some time, and then it didn’t seem to work any more. A very perceptive physician friend noticed this, and at this time I was weaned off Prozac and put on Effexor. I have had dosage changes on Effexor, but when I mentioned to my psychiatrist last week about a med change, he wanted to keep me where I was.

    All psychotropic medications work best in combination with therapy. I was in therapy many years, and have no problem with seeking it for situational issues now. Therapy provided a clear look at defining issues in my life, and offered strategies to deal with the disfunctional patterns I had developed to cope with these issues.

    I am told by my doctor that I will likely always been on medication. That is fine with me. I never intend to return to the living hell of major and chronic depression.

  17. 17 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 15:22

    Do you think drug companies would actually want to invent a “cure” for depression rather than just a treatment, like what we currently have? If you cure it, you aren’t spending $50/month for life on drugs like prozac. Right now, the prozac approach is just a bandaid. It deals with symptoms if it works at all. Drug companies have no incentive to create a cure becaues they couldn’t make as much money. That’s why you should be wary of medications.

  18. 18 Rosalie - Oregon, USA
    February 26, 2008 at 15:26

    Rosalie- Oregon, USA

    I have had life long depression. The most common response I have had from Doctors is recommending therapy and medication in conjunction with each other. The anti-depressants market is over whelmed with so many choices – you end up a guinea pig for your Psychiatrist. Most of the medications take a while for your body to get used to and when you’re not getting a response from one, your doctor switches you to another. It is often dangerous to stop taking Anti-depressants abruptly and can cause major side effects. Anti-depressants can be helpful to relax your moods so that you can calm your self to actually feel some slight relief from the sorrow. Exercise I have found to be the leading boost I need to feel better. Here in lies the problem: when you are depressed it is extremely difficult to motivate your self to exercise let alone get out of bed.

    Therapy is more complex. In my opinion the person going to therapy must be hopeful and want to be there. When your depressed often times it is hard to see anything positive, and hard to imagine out living this moment of depression. Meeting with someone who tells you that everything will be ok is far from effective. In all fairness though therapy is a nice way to communicate with someone who understands what you’re going through. All too often people I’ve known just aren’t able to comprehend what it is that is going on inside. Therapy helps you to feel understood and to communicate your feelings. In this way therapy is effective. However I find it hard to say that therapy will help me advance past a depressive land slide.

    I feel very passionate about this topic; it has destroyed so much of my life. It is a life resembling a roller coaster. One year your fine – the next year complete devastation. When I’m depressed I find it hard to do the simplest of things from grooming, to going to work, to simply getting out of bed.

    Often times my depression effects my job and when I’m not employed I don’t have health care and when I don’t have access to health care I have no access to medication. In the United States depression is publicly recognized as a major debilitating condition. However my country does not recognize depression as a disability. There is no State aid available unless you are already homeless and you have completely lost your mind. In order to effectively help those loosing their lives to depression, government needs to make policy changes to more effectively prevent the over whelming amount of people homeless due to depression. Why wait until you’ve completely lost everything including your mind, to help someone. By this time I would have lost all hope.

    At one point in my life my depression was so severe; I could no longer bear the pain that depression brought me. I used all of the anti-depressants I had been storing up to end my life. I really wanted a painless way to end my life, because I felt my life with depression was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Each week my doctor had switched me to another medication to attempt to find something that worked. So I had a supply of various Anti-depressants that had not worked for me, and I had saved them in case I lost my medical insurance again. I swallowed every pill I could find, my room mate later found me and saved my life. At the time it was hard to live in a life that could only promise me a life of pain. That’s not living, that’s torture.

  19. 19 Ros Atkins
    February 26, 2008 at 15:35

    I hardly hear about depression in my part of the world. Interestingly a friend called me from the US this weekend and she is convinced that the self centred style of life over there may be one of the causes of depression. In Ghana the community is extended and we may share our problems even with strangers and know we r most likely to get help.
    The developed world has the “i care about my self alone” attitude which results in the piling of personal problem which may eventually contribute to depression.
    Kwabena in Ghana

  20. 20 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 15:37

    Celexa and Zoloft. These are what were givin to me for my so called depression and anxiety. I took them for about 2 months. These are NOT a cure! It is a way to run away and hide from your problems. I’m glad I stopped taking them, and faced my REAL problems. But hey, these are good for the U.S. economy, and thats exactly why they’re so popular.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  21. 21 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 15:39

    And another thing, I HATE those commercials for anti-depressants! “Are you tired, sad, do you get angry easily, do you have trouble sleeping?”. EVERYONE FEELS LIKE THIS SOMETIMES!!! It’s all B.S. so that a bunch of rich people can get richer.

  22. 22 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 15:44

    Kwabena in Ghana in absolutely correct. People here are miserable due to the rampant materialism which always leads people to want more, to have what they don’t have. They think “if I had this, then I’d be happy” then they get it, but then just want something else. Another article I read on the BBC said that people basically want to go live life without any of the bad aspects, so they get hysterical if things aren’t perfect all of the time. Life isn’t all great. It’s a society of instant gratification, of wanting everything, thinking you are entitled to it, and then thinking that’s not enough once you get it.

  23. 23 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 16:01

    Anthony, they do work for some people though, and sometimes, 2 months isn’t long enough to see if it is working for you. However, you don’t need to watch the commercials. They are controversial anyways, as it’s a way of getting you to go to the doctor to insist upon a certain drug. Then you get to hear the funny side effects of SSRIs, such as the inability to have an orgasm, massive weight gain. Those are reasons enough to become depressed!

  24. 24 Linsay
    February 26, 2008 at 16:23

    I am so excited to see studies finally coming into the mainstream that challenge the benefits of these drugs which are so overly proscribed, both in the UK and in the U.S. where I am from. Doctors, under the pressure of pharmaceutical companies and perhaps out of a disinterest in becoming more involved with the patient by establishing therapy sessions, many are quick to just push drugs. Study after study have shown that for mild to moderate depression, therapy is often the most beneficial treatment. Drugs often just mask symptoms, they don’t treat them. There is a difference between being depressed, an emotional condition, and having depression and other conditions, which are often chemical imbalances.

    Many years ago I was misdiagnosed with depression and proscribed a high level of Zoloft after a single one hour session with a psychiatrist. Less than a month later I was in the hospital for an attempted suicided. While an inpatient at a psychiatric clinic, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This condition often displays behaviors of other mental conditions, such as depression, and is often misdiagnosed. The problem is that individuals with bipolar disorder (and other disorders) often have severe negative reactions to antidepressants, become more depressed and are more prone to suicidal tendencies. The medication I am currently on is working very well (none of which are antidepressants) and I have been stable for almost four years. However, like with many psychiatric drugs there are potential short term and longer term side effects. These effects are often downplayed by doctors who proscribe them to patients they diagnose with depression and also ADD and ADHD.

    There needs to be a concerted effort to fight back against the stranglehold of the pharmaceutical companies on psychiatrists. More focus needs to be placed on therapy and for those who do need medication, psycho-therapy. This has especially become a problem with returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The military is often too quick to proscribe drugs instead of using therapy, which is usually the only effective way to treat PTSD. Conditions of the mind should not be taken lightly nor used as an excuse to turn a profit at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the patients. I hope this serves as a wake up call to individuals, those in the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry. I await further research supporting these current findings.

    -Linsay, TN, USA

  25. 25 Jeff Beason
    February 26, 2008 at 16:26

    Smoking Marijuana is probably the most effective and the safest rout to go here

  26. 26 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 16:30

    I’m just curious, has anyone in the history of psychiatry walked into a psychiatrist office (say you could do it without an appointment, becuase only people who think they might have a problem would make one) and Not been told they are depressed and need medication? I bet the happiest person on earth could walk in and get prescribed prozac given the standards psychiatrists use.

  27. 27 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 16:31

    I dunno Jeff, failing a drug test or getting arrested for marijuana possession might lead to depression.

  28. 28 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 16:33

    Steve, just because you turn off a light, doesn’t make a dirty room clean. You need to define your definition of “work”. And you’re right. I don’t need to watch them, just like I don’t need to look at people wearing shirts with a Pepsi emblem, and like I don’t have to look at a Ford billboard while I’m waiting at the train tracks, etc., oh wait, they’re EVERYWHERE. Even at the doctors office you see ads everywhere. And by the way, what makes you think you know so much about these drugs?

    I went to drive a racecar a few years back, but it was sponsored by Effexor. They literally said “were not quite sure how it works…”. I had a friend who wanted to kill himself and others while on those stupid things. Luckily he found marijuana and he’s totally fine now.

  29. 29 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 16:40

    Anthony, I’ve worked in pharmaceutical litigation for many years, so I know a lot about this topic. The reason why you see the ads in the doctor’s office is because sales reps come by to try to get the dr. to prescribe their drug over a rival. They leave ads, they leave drug samples, and sometimes arrange payments for the doctors as a way to entice them to prescribe their drug over another company’s drug.

    I don’t think it’s wise to advocate illegal activities (marijuana) on here. Some of the most depressed people I know smoke marijuana to help them avoid reality, just like how many depressed people work. Not saying that’s worse than taking effexor, but it’s avoiding reality and doesn’t help, so please don’t advocate that.

  30. 30 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 16:53

    Steve. Thank you for explaining that for me. I would have never thought of that. What a concept that drug reps try to get Drs to prescribe their drugs over rivals. Wow.

    Although I don’t smoke, I advocate smoking marijuana. It’s safer than alcohol and needs to be rescheduled.

  31. 31 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 17:01

    Anthony, it’s still illegal, so don’t advocate illegal activities on here. Say if someone gets arrested and goes to jail if they follow your advice? Will you offer $ for their legal fees? If you’re not prepared to do that, then please don’t advocate it.

  32. 32 Leslie - Seattle, WA
    February 26, 2008 at 17:11

    Thanks to all the insights everyone has posted. Yes, many of us in the developed west are self-centered egotistical over-privileged whiners. That being said, the evidence that depression effects a global population as evidenced by the comments from Liberia and Ghana. From reading all the comments, therapy, getting active in your community and helping others, sharing your troubles, and if needed, medication, are what seem to work.

    And yes, it is hard work to face troubles that hurt you inside and learn new ways of acting and thinking. However, it is so important to understand our behavior and how we can learn to change for the better. Ultimately I believe it is the only way to move forward from depression.

  33. 33 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 17:12

    Well, I never once said to smoke illegally. You’re assuming. But yes I do advocate it either way. Remember the first amendment, I’m sure you do so please respect that. Also, just because the law says one thing, doesn’t make it right. I remember there was a law in Germany that sent millions of people to their deaths. Oh, but it was the law, so its ok :).

  34. 34 ki
    February 26, 2008 at 17:14

    Hi Ros,

    Some people feel they have been helped by them, but I believe that for themost part, anti-depressants generally do not work. The fact that people often have to try many different treatments, and for months, sometimes even years, suggests that they are not effective as we would like to believe. Fact is, that depression is often a result of long denied trauma, a feeling of worthlessness, isolation and lack of fulfilment, amongst other things. For a company to suggest that they have the ‘cure’ for such a huge range of issues, is surely folly?

    B’ham, Eng.

  35. 35 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 17:19

    Anthony, um. You said “Although I don’t smoke, I advocate smoking marijuana. It’s safer than alcohol and needs to be rescheduled.” You said you advocate smoking marijuana, you admit it’s illegal, then you say you “advocate it either way”. I was yelled at by Ros for calling someone a parrot, so the 1st amendment doesn’t apply on here. The law may be unjust, but it’s still the law. Please don’t compare the holocaust to marijuana laws, it’s insulting. So long as it’s illegal, please don’t advocate it’s use like you have been doing. I can give you an analogy. Bibles are illegal in Saudi Arabia. If you bring one there, you will be breaking their law. I don’t like the law, but it’s their law, so respect it. I wouldn’t come onto WHYS and advocate people bringing bibles to Saudi Arabia. Understand?

  36. 36 Ros Atkins
    February 26, 2008 at 17:21

    OK, Steve and Anthony, let’s get back to the anti-depressants and leave the smoking to one side. Do you accept that for some people these drugs are definitely having a positive influence on their lives?

  37. 37 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 17:34

    Steve. I was simply showing that you assume things. You always find some way (usually through assuming) to argue with everyone else’s points if it doesn’t share, or add to your points. Also, if our founding father always respected the law, we wouldn’t have our great country now would we? Your attempts to show yourself as being better than everyone does amuse me though 🙂

    -Anthony, your average 27 year old from Los Angeles

  38. 38 Virginia Davis
    February 26, 2008 at 17:43

    In 1968 I was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic; for a brief time – but not long enough to get shock treatment – I was clinically catatonic. In that hospital I was initially administered 800 mg of Thorazine a day. Most people fall asleep at 10 mg.
    When I began “talk therapy” with the ward psychologist, he molested me each closed door session. Depressing? Right. I always called the first time I was molested “the precipitating incident.” My high school principal was I was 17. It is a week and a day since I went to a memorial service for a great Portland musician, Earl Benson. I am 65 now. Was friendly to a couple there in the tavern and “Mr. Piper” took advantage of my listening to a couple on the stage and groped me, right across the table from his wife,” Mary.” Depressing? Right. I’m still experiencing bouts of rage and the need to sleep. I take 1 mg of Haldol a day. And that’s it.
    I’ve done 40 years of counseling. I had a good civil service job for 15 years. My boss died in an accident and the new boss got rid of me. Discrimination? Right. Depression? I sued and it took two years. Used to hang out at the local mental hospital before $ got tight in this State. Most of the women I got personal with had experienced sexual trauma. Depressing? Right. Then here in Portland, OR there was a great scandal about a former governor molesting/raping his 14 year old neighbor girl. And a lady professor said “1 out of every 3 or 4” girls and I thought: I’m not crazy. I’m not depressed. The world is crazy. I wrote some really great poems and some really good poems over the years. That’s not depressing. I was on the downers and the anti-depressants for a long time. Did they help? I don’t know. I survived. I might not have. I’m pretty much against drugs. Take for example, all of us crazies who have diabetes now, because one of the psychotropic drugs induced it. Depressing? Right. (NB – that is NOT me.)
    And when you really get down to the science of it all, most honest shrinks will tell you they don’t know, really know, how all these “mind altering” drugs really work.
    To close, I had a great shrink in San Francisco for a while and I told him I don’t care what you prescribe, as long as I like to color combinations of what I’m popping. To get a radical view of it all, check out on a search engine. Virginia in Portland, OR

  39. 39 Stefan
    February 26, 2008 at 17:43

    The US is clearly over dependent on prescribed drugs. Our current care system is based on treating symptoms versus focusing on wellness and preventative medicine. Many, possibly most, people should not be on anti depressants, they are blindly following doctors who are pressured to offer them relief. That being said you cannot make a blanket statement about anti-depressents like many un-informed people do. For people like myself there haven’t been any viable or apparent alternate treatments for severe chemical depression. I currently take a drug that works and has no negative side effects to speak of (atleast to this point and I’ve been on it for 11 years.) I’ve taken many medications that were not effective and had severe side effects and thus I am certain that some drugs are better than others and none of them are good for you ……but what’s the alternative? If you’ve ever been on the down side of severe depression your choice becomes crystal clear. In your mind you don’t have months to feel better, the feeling is so bad you will look to any thing that will bring relief as soon as possible. Electro convulsive (shock) therapy is still the #1 treatment for depression in terms of effectiveness…by far! Think about how bad you must feel to agree to that and you will get a clue as to what depression is about. I would whole heartily embrace any new treatment that will allow me to get off medication but until they are proven I have no choice.

  40. 40 Anthony
    February 26, 2008 at 17:45

    Yes. I’d say for a small percent, (and I do mean small, like in the single digits) it does benefit them, but for the majority, its just fake hope that gets people addicted, so that the makers can continue to make dollar after dollar. They just had a study where they gave a group of people real anti-depressant drugs, and the other group placebos. The same amount of people in both groups felt better. What does that tell you.

    Check out these sites

    Those were the first couple sites that came up, there are plenty more. If you take the time to look, you’ll find a lot of studies that show placebos work just as good as the real drugs.

    -Anthony, your average 27 year old from Los Angeles

  41. 41 Virginia Davis
    February 26, 2008 at 17:46

    I noticed that the WHYS program automatically took out my website reference to MindFreedom. Check to see if that happens again. It’s a good place to get some interesting information. Virginia in Portland, OR

  42. 42 viola anderson
    February 26, 2008 at 17:47

    I believe the real issue is why, when those who are expert in the field recommend medication in conjunction with talking therapy as being the most successful, only the pills are easily accessible to all. At least, where I live, that is the case, when a person must travel huge distances for appointments, stay in distant places for extended periods of time at great personal expense for treatment, or have access to one single therapist every three months or so when he or she comes “north” for regularly scheduled visits. Probably in these kinds of scenarios, kin and friends could serve as a talking therapists, if we were all educated enough and good-natured enough and non-judgmental enough to recognize that truly depressed persons cannot simply say to themselves, “O.K., I’m going to stop being depressed now.” Viola, Fort Nelson, BC, Canada

  43. February 26, 2008 at 18:03

    Anti-depressants to me are all temporarily measures in tackling emotional issues. And since emotional problems are not physical there is no way that these drugs can work in the long run. Yes, when we are happy our body releases certain hormones and the drugs can also cause these hormones to be released but there is a whole world of difference between the release of the hormones naturally and if they’re induced by chemical means and the side effects are nothing good to write home about. When we help those who are depressed to come out of the cause of their becoming depressed they’ll naturally become happy and there will not be the need to be using these artificial and chemical means to make them happy. God bless us all.

  44. 44 Marcus H
    February 26, 2008 at 18:11

    I am on Celexa (Citalopram, actually), and it has truly been a lifesaver for me. I have been diagnosed with two forms of clinical depression for almost 20 years now. It can be a VERY real condition, not to be easily dismissed. However, I do believe that ‘Depression’ is vastly over-diagnosed in the US, and that there isn’t much of a reason for most therapists to differentiate between ‘feeling blue’ for a couple of days and having serious, significant problems with emotional outlook. These people that are just feeling down about what situation are most likely having the placebo effect most dramatically.

  45. 45 Bill via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:13

    I take prozac, my daughter takes prozac. does it work. Yes. Are there consequences? yes. Side effects? yes. Is depression genetic? yes. Is depression environmental??????? Is modern medicine more apt to prescribe for the symptoms or treat the disease.
    bill p oregon usa

  46. 46 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:14

    Depression, as a clinical term, is defined as an inability to work through the emotional distress known as physical depression. Some anti depressants work for some causes…others workl for other causes…but depending upon the cause, some would probably do nothing to help. It is a slippery topic, as there are few constants. A better question is…what is the cause of the majority of clinical depression…..and answer it from that “angle”.

  47. 47 Justin via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:14

    Speaking as someone who used them for a short time, they do work, but its important that you don’t over-use them. They are an important stimulus to break out of your depression and get to a new environment and situation, and then you can get off of them. Don’t let them become a crutch.


  48. 48 Tom
    February 26, 2008 at 18:15

    The best treatment for moderate depression is a strong network of friends and family, and daily exercise. But social ties and daily walks don’t have billion-dollar marketing campaigns. If you can’t charge people for a panacea, it doesn’t get researched or publicized.

  49. 49 Sean
    February 26, 2008 at 18:15

    I’ve dealt with depression in connection with an anxiety disorder I’ve had since the time I was a small child. I had major surgery to save my life as a small child, and at about the age of 6 I had a moment of realization that I could have died. Coming to terms with my own morality at such a young age triggered some pretty intense anxiety and depression. A few years ago I sought therapy and was actually taking anti-depressants for a short time. In my case, the medication had only a slight impact. Ultimately it was up to me to deal with the depression in a healthy manner. I believe that talking to friends and family, along with a couple of talks with a professional therapist, helped me to deal with the erratic feelings I was having. I’ve learned to rely on my friends and family to talk frequently about what’s bothering me rather than to bury it. I think that in America we put such a personal distance between ourselves and those around us. As a community we really can help one another. I do think that medication is beneficial for many people, but I don’t believe that they alone can adequately deal with this problem.

  50. 50 Barb via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:15

    Taking an older antidepressant has helped me feel more energetic despite hunger-caused interrupted sleep.

  51. 51 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:16

    Drug companies will also market their drugs for depression to make more money….it has come out in the US that these companies can and do cause harm by crossing the fine line between marketing their product and lying about it to sell more.

  52. 52 Jessica
    February 26, 2008 at 18:16

    Severe depression runs in my family. Seeing my father turn to alcohol to “mask” his made me want to seek help. I have a great life and have been very fortunate, yet I would get uncontrollable waves of anxiety and depressing that would be debilitating (knowing full good and well it was unreasonable). Yes, everyone gets sad, but if you don’t have real depression you can’t even comprehend what it is like. With what I am taking now, it helps me out enough so that I can handle the rest thru meditation and practice. And I’ve been fortunate not to have any of the severe side effects many have, such as weight gain.

  53. 53 Mr Boyd
    February 26, 2008 at 18:17

    As someone who worked in psychology I can tell you most of the anti-depressants on the market are created in order to manipulate processes in the brain in such a way as to closely mimic the same effects of scheduled drugs such as MDMA and cocaine. I find that to be quite interesting myself.

  54. February 26, 2008 at 18:19

    I have the best solution for people who believe they are depressed. Take a trip to Africa and you will realize how lucky you are to lead the life that you are living!!!! Think of it as a medical vacation.

  55. 55 sara
    February 26, 2008 at 18:20

    too many americans depend on popping pills to solve all their problems. who isn’t depressed or sad? it doesn’t mean that you need an antidepressant to lift your spirits. doctors should be more responsible and prescribe these drugs to true clinical depression cases.

  56. February 26, 2008 at 18:20

    Anti-depressants does not cure depression, but the effects that contribute to the depression – such as anxiety. SAM-e helped me tremendously in this regard. The depression is still there but I can now deal with it and live with it.

  57. 57 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:21

    if the depression is caused by chemical imbalances, how do outside social factors prevent that from occurring. that is what makes the topic so slippery. There is no test for depression, like there is for TB……does having close friends and a good social networtk prevent one from succuming to tuberculosis????

  58. 58 Michael Harkin
    February 26, 2008 at 18:22

    I think some consideration should be given to the impact of treating depression has on a person’s physical well-being.

    Depression runs in our family. My mother and brother passed away from illnesses that, while not curable, could have been treated in such a way that would have prolonged their lives. Their depression compounded their sense of hopelessness of their illnesses and prevented them from getting treatment or living healthy lifestyles.

  59. 59 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 18:22

    As the guest has stated, “feeling down is not depression”. People that are clinically depressed often cannot “pull themselve up by their bootstraps”.

    I have had two major depressions in my life: one was caused by chronic pain, the other was caused by behavioral factors. In the latter instance, I burned myself out by working ridiculous numbers of hours.

    Anti-depressants work. People have to learn to effectively deal with the behavorial issues that can make one susceptible to it.

  60. 60 Anna
    February 26, 2008 at 18:24

    Wellbutrin XL changed my life. It also had an unexpected side effect: I lost 75lbs. For the first time in my life I’m a normal weight. Along with counseling I graduated college
    and have a great job and a boyfriend.

    I was told that most people who begin to take antidepressants will
    most likely stay on them for the rest of my life.

    I’m not sure if it has long-term effects, however, the benefit for me vastly outweighs negatives right now,

  61. 61 Rachel
    February 26, 2008 at 18:26


    I’m wondering why people dont talk more about the holistic approach. For example exercise yoga, meditation, eating healthy, herbal medicine and having some one to talk to.

    taking drugs you will just get another problem: addiction.

  62. 62 Ryan via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:26

    I work for a large pharmaceutical marketing company. Do I think antidepressants work? Sure, they work, trust me; these companies develop these drugs to work. However, patients do need to have extra support through out their treatment, especially since these antidepressants tend to level off and patients don’t feel the same effects.

  63. February 26, 2008 at 18:28

    I am depressed -it is a part of B.P.D(borderline personality disorder), and I take citalopram. I believe it works, but I also know that it is a temporary fix to a deeper, underlying problem. With that said, it gives me the clarity to continue to come to terms with the issues that I have. I also think that doctors do indeed prescribe drugs almost sort of absent-mindedly, as I know there are stock market interests and what not. It is sad, but true. I also believe that more and more people are becoming depressed because as the person in Africa was saying, America and the world is and is becoming more and more self-centered and everyone the world over is losing sight of the real reason of our existence, the true purpose of being human as is evident in the state of the world, i.e. global warming, the war in iraq, greed, apathy………….

  64. 64 Stuart via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:28

    Gentlemen –

    This study shows nothing new. Studies showed years ago that anti-depressants work with only about one-third of those who are depressed. There are different kinds of depression, and they respond to different kinds of treatments.

    Those who claim depression is something one can just “get over” are ignorant.
    Depression is a physical illness, and those who suffer from it can’t simply overcome it by willpower.

    San Francisco, California

  65. 65 Anonymous via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:28

    Does your contributer know every American? Or does the contributer just enjoy sterotyping and generalizing?

    I’ve struggled with anxiety not depression. Much like many of my friends around the world. I too struggle with survival and try to be a contributer to my community. Good friends are a great solution to the isolation of modern life. I actually obtained a prescription for anti-depressants, but have found talking through my anxiety a much better option.

  66. 66 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:29

    I am a diabetic….I have been since I was twelve…over twenty five years now. Some diabetics (type two) can survive using diet and excersise to control their disease….I would have died fifteen years ago had I been a type 1 diabetic as I am, but treated fo type two diabetes. Depression is the samy type of animal.

  67. 67 Tom H.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:29

    Whenever I hear about a drug working about the same as a placebo, I never here anyone draw the obvious conclusion: placebos work about as well as drugs, and have less side effects I’m sure. The thing is, by talking about placebos, one pretty much eliminates their usefulness as treatments. So, perhaps what we need is a battery of placebos with the typically nonsensical drug names.

    I went through a clinical depression for several years and was given an antidepressant which had rather strange side effects, so I quit it after about 2 weeks. I myself found counseling to be more helpful, and wandered out of depression after a while by simply addressing some of the issues in my life that were feeding my depression.

    I suspect depression is a problem that is a mix of life problems as a stimulus and brain chemistry as a perpetuator, and then eventually it becomes something of a metaphorical perpetual motion machine. But I believe it’s somewhat different for each sufferer.

    Let me stress, then, that I believe drugs do help many, even if it is just the placebo effect. Don’t overlook the power of the placebo effect.

    People who adopt a one-solution stance, either for drugs or for counseling or for diet or for whatever, are probably wrong, for the causes are many, so the solutions may be so as well.

  68. 68 Scott via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:30

    Even if you are unconvinced that anti-depressants work, or if they simply don’t work, what is the harm of taking them? Even if they have a placebo effect, that effect could be better than no effect.

    Maybe people are over-medicated with anti-depressants, but I am not sure what motivates people who point this out? I think perhaps it is wanting to place blame to make everyone accountable for their actions. They don’t want to believe that some peoples depression is beyond their control. I feel particularly religious people hold this belief.
    This criticism is not one of caring but one of blame.


  69. 69 Rachel
    February 26, 2008 at 18:30

    also if you are a depressed person you should not drink alcohol, I wonder how many people take drugs for it and drink regularly?

  70. 70 Danea via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:30

    In response to the letter from Ghana-

    I agree with their statement, but not wholeheartedly. In issues like depression, we cannot attribute the causes to anyone source. Self centered culture may be a contributor, but society, the individual, chemical imbalances, and environmental experiences all can lead to depression and it is wrong to think that we can attribute it to any one cause for every person. Some people, may solely have a chemical imbalance but that leads to continuous depressive thinking and a vicious cycle begins. Some people get severe depression after trauma, and this leads to depressive thinking and a vicious cycle begins. For some, their depression is exacerbated by the culture they live in. The combinations of these contributing factors are endless, which is why when people are treated for depression all of these factors need to be considered. Regarding the question, “do antidepressants work?” their cannot be a simple yes or no. Anti depressants may work for many in combination with therapy and life changes. For many they are not the only answer.

    People who are experiencing severe depression, they can not logically and rationally think “oh well how lucky am I, i have no right to be depressed.” People experiencing depression cannot be rational or logical about this. That is why they are depressed. Psychologist know this, they are not idiots. If it were that simple to treat depression I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have that problem. It is absolutely ignorant to think that all you need is a slap in the face or to think of the hardships of others to cure depression.

    This being said, I do believe that we need to be extremely careful, more careful then we already are, in perscribing anti depressants for treating depression.

    Portland, OR

  71. 71 sheela
    February 26, 2008 at 18:30

    As a psychiatric nurse practioner and professor, I am persuaded by the volumes of research that indicates a biophysiological basis for depression, including a genetic component. I believe the difficulty arises in the INACCURATE diagnosis of depression. “Depression” is not a diagnosis in the US, the accurate diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and there is a constellation of symptoms/criteria that is required to be met for the diagnosis to be made. MDD is what antidepressants are indicated to treat…so when someone is prescribed antidepressants for a sad mood I would say it is inappropriate prescribed. I am also a therapist so I believe that there are a host of issues that are best addressed in therapy, and even some that are best addressed by supportive environments and healthy life choices (vs therapy). So let’s direct our conversation to clarify what we are really talking about when we speak of “depression”. If we accurately refer to the clinical form, we will see that medication has its place.

  72. 72 Tommy C.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:31

    I find depression is higher during periods of low to no sunlight. I find the lack of sunlight makes depression worse.

  73. 73 Layla
    February 26, 2008 at 18:31

    People tend to look at depression as “black and white”: either you’re depressed and need medication or you can “get over it” with a slap in the face (as one person said), but that’s not always the case. Depression is a very real disease, and severity levels are NOT black and white; there’s a large grey area and thus the necessary treatments vary greatly. I have relatives who are prone to serious depression and for whom the medications do help keep them on track, but none of it works without family and community support. I also know people who are “depressed” over failing an examination, and while they may also need support, there is no reason at all for them to get a prescription.

    I think medications can help for people who have that chemical imbalance and genuinely need the drug to keep them in check, but I also believe that we are entirely over-reliant on drugs in general. Why in the world should there be advertisements for these drugs? Why have people go to doctors complaining of depression when in fact they are perfectly normal?

    Someone on the show who commented about there being higher rates of depression in the developed world hit the nail on the head. We in the “west” are prone to self-absorption and competition, and with that mindset, it is easier for people who do have this chemical imbalance to fall into depression. In a community-oriented society, those factors are eliminated, and so even someone with the genetic disposition for depression may be less likely to need treatment.

    Are drugs a good thing? Yes and no; we become dependent too easily, but they are leaps and bounds better than the shock therapy used only 50 years ago.

  74. 74 Nigel via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:31

    If this study is in error, then lives may be lost.
    I’m dubious of the methodology. I hear many anecdotes in Manhattan of people who took themselves off the drugs and then committed suicide. And, wasn’t part of the story of the Korean shooter on a campus that he had stopped taking his psychotropic drugs?
    The correct procedure for a study would be to compare suicide rates of those who stop taking the drugs with those who maintain the regimen.

  75. 75 Cristen
    February 26, 2008 at 18:32

    My father was bi polar and took prozac in the early 90’s which lead to his suicide. This broke my heart. I have been suffering from depression for most of my life. Although I don’t think prozac was the write drug for my father. Medicine has it’s place. I beleive in it. Depression is real, and it hurts not only you but your freinds and family. I work hard not to be depressed for my children and myself and my life. I do work hard not to be depressed, but function much better with meds. I excersize and talk to couselors when I need to. But I think it is sad for the people that do suffer to have to put up with their own mind and struggles, and then on top of that the ignorant people around them that don’t believe depression is real. I would like to say bless the hearts of those who suffer and especially of those that work to be happy and functioning!

  76. 76 Eliel via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:33

    I was diagnosed clinically depressed when I was about 15 years old because of a few attempts of suicide. I was given Prozack and then Zoloft. They made me feel drowsy and high.
    I stopped taking them in less than five months. I battled with myself for years and won the battle for life. I didn’t need drugs. I needed reality. Life is going to be hard, pain is relative, and going around depressed about everything had no use. It was either life or death.
    When I feel down, I focus on my arts, my friends, myself, and I make myself snap out of it. Exercising helps a lot.

    Depression of the Western / Developed world is a thing of luxury. When people really don’t have things. when their lives are always on the brink of death by violence or starvation or torture, they rally to live. They don’t have the chance to feel depressed. I agree with the caller from Ghana. Our societies have a lot to do with the depression and methods to fight it. Pills are not the solution.

    Eliel From Brooklyn

  77. 77 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 18:34

    As a GP and somebody with mental health issues I would like to comment on this issue. It may be fair to say that antidepressants are used too quickly in many patients. But then with time constraints is this so strange? I have 10 minutes to see each patient. Depression can be quite a serious illness with rates of suicide far higher than in the normal population. Talking therapies are very effective but are hugely expensive and often waiting lists run into months if not years. So when it comes to determining the course of treatment, medicines are a very attractive option. And just an extra thought. Should a patient come to me with depression and I failed to diagnose and treat him/her properly and they go on to do something terrible like suicide, who would be the first to be criticized and sued?

  78. 78 Violetta via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:35

    I am in San Francisco. In 1991 I started to experience tingling in my hands, insomnia, unexplainable excruciating nerve pains, tingling sensations all over my body and panic attacks. I was not depressed particularly, but my symptoms were physical and frightening and depressed me. I was terrified I had ALS or MS.

    I tested negative thank goodness for all those things, but after living like this for 2 years a psychologist I was seeing to learn how to live with asked me to try antidepressants. I had been trying to use homeopathy (which had worked very well for irritable bowel symptoms ten years before). After trying various things, the antidepressants in conjunction with behavioral therapy clearly helped me to live my life, as I obviously had terrible neurotransmitter problems.

    Anti-depressants are the only thing that clearly addresses your neurotransmitters. I subsequently was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and then Lyme disease, which can damage your nerves. I believe the antidepressants along with behavioral psychotherapy saved my life, otherwise I could never have turned a corner.

    My life has been a struggle. Because of the antidepressants, I was able to have a baby and keep up with syndicating a national cartoon strip!

    In recent years I’ve been experiencing a lot of fatigue and migraines. Recently I started taking a new antidepressant called Cymbalta that advertises in the US: “Depression Hurts.” Due to the Cymbalta I am now able to work out, my migraines are milder and less frequent, and I am 80% functional rather than 40% functional.

    In the US pills are covered by a California medical plan but not therapy. This is wrong. Clearly both are necessary. I totally agree that the therapy should be covered and it’s not.. Also we have no “partial” disability insurance, but fortunately I work at home as a designer and a writer writer but it is exhausting. I should be able to get a subsidy due to my illness but I don’t so I need pills to function in the society. It’s a shame but at least I can function.

  79. 79 Justin via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:36

    Does depression exist? Are you kidding me? That’s like asking if happiness exists! Depression is a documented physiological condition which can be directly observed not just in behavior affect ect.., but also in FMRI images of brain activity can be used to show differences in brain activity from those with normal and “depressed” brains! Many antidepressants have shown to correct some of these symptoms. I would like to see a study showing the same to be true for so called “talk therapy.”

    Austin, TX USA

  80. February 26, 2008 at 18:36

    Until I studied in England and America I never heard of people taking medication for depression. It definitely seems to be something that is more prominent in the developed world.

  81. 81 Prince Pieray C. P. Odor
    February 26, 2008 at 18:38

    What I do not understand is if “it has no effect” means that it has no efect on depression, or if it is absolutely free from any effect on the health of the person who takes it, outside a depression patient, in the short time or in the long term. In other words, I am asking: Does the assertion “it has no effect” mean that it has no visible effect, that it has no, for now, known effect; that it has no effect on a patient that suffers depression, or that it is ABSOLUTELY free from any effect at any time, for any age and sex, under any health situation?

    My other concern is what the drug was made from. I know that transparency and complete disclosure of the constituents of foods and drugs are not made by many producers or manufacturers. Therefore, a drug that is labelled “anti-depressant” may just be a fertility devastating drug. Is Eli Lilly not into pills production?

    I have also thought about the report in terms of aetiology and in this regard, our medical doctors cannot be said to give enough attention to EXTENDED aetiological investigation. What are called causes, and written on death certificates, are, APPARENTLY, proximate causes, and not ultimate or first causes.


    Medical doctors claim that anti-depressant drugs are necessary for placebo (psychological) effect . I call that caveat emptor and criminal. It is not different from the so-called “mercy killing”.

  82. 82 Mr Boyd
    February 26, 2008 at 18:38

    This subject is making me depressed : (

  83. 83 Shirley via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:38

    I do agree that Americans too readily look for a “magic bullet” (i.e., medications) to solve their problems. However, there are also those of us who really need the medication, especially if we are genetically prone to depression and other mental illnesses.

    I’m a recovering bulimic who has been diagnosed with chronic depression, OCD and anxiety. All these conditions run in both sides of my family. No matter what I tried over the years in terms of therapy, I couldn’t block out the “noise”/obsessions that cause my condition.

    When I finally went on medication, it was as if I finally came out of a dark cave. I no longer obsess as much, am not actively bulimic, don’t obsess to be perfect in everything I do, and have reduced anxiety. Yes, I continue to undergo cognitive therapy, which is critical in helping me to recondition my destructive thought patterns – and medication helps to clear my mind enough so I can focus on my cognitive and emotional health.

    SIDE EFFECTS: I hate not feeling sharp mentally – i.e., my memory isn’t as good, and I have gained weight. As a bulimic, I’m not happy with the weight gain, but I am happy with the ways I can now cope to a healthy extent.

  84. February 26, 2008 at 18:40

    I come from a family with lots of depression. On one side, it’s v. associated with migraine, so between counseling and diet and other trigger management I managed depression without meds once I became an adult. I was a depressed child and teenager, but never diagnosed–probably partly because both my parents were depressed. As a menopausal adult, I became very lethargic with low mood, and eventually I was diagnosed as low-thyroid [hypothyroid]. I’m sure I would have continued to suffer harshly without treatment. I believe careful diet and supplements, especially Omega-3’s [cod liver oil and such] can also help a lot.

    My mother was hospitalized twice for major depression and given insulin shock therapy, which I believe messed up her endocrine system for life. The anti-depressant she was put on for decades created obesity, which the doctors blamed her for. It also caused dryness, including mouth dryness, which resulted in huge dental bills over time. The same drying effect may have caused Sjogren’s disease in her later years–a horrible, horrible disease. She was very unwell for years, but usually patronized rather than diagnosed and treated.

    My Dad also came from a difficult family history, where the depression tended to be self-managed by alcohol use. He and many others became alcoholics, and, at that time, were seldom offered anything else.

    My little sister became an insulin-dependednt diabetic in her early twenties. She became a counselor and got some, probably not enough, counseling herself. She was depressed, more or less, for practically her whole adulthood up to an early death from diabetic heart failure, which she seemed to do little to prevent. Over the decades of her adulthood, she was put through many courses of many anti-depressants, often two at a time. In her later years, she showed classic signs of hypothyroidism, but when she would check with her doctor about it, he would go by old ‘normal ranges’ of TSH [thyroid stimulating hormone] measurement and refused to try treatment for hypothyroidism [which some doctors will try when the individual, usually a woman, shows such notable symptoms]. When her TSH finally got high enough to convince him to prescribe– for those last few months of her life–she seemed almost like a different person, much more positive and alive.

    Conclusion: Yes, doctors are too quick to treat for depression with anti-depressants. Hypothyroidism is known to be very under-diagnosed and undertreated at this time. My mother was also treated for hypothyroidism–as well as my sister and myself [eventually]– but as soon as her test results seemed normal, her doctors would take her off it and her depression would soon be worse again. Her migraine syndrome was also undertreated–another source of ‘depression’.

  85. 85 NICK
    February 26, 2008 at 18:40

    Just a pro prescription perspective-

    I have been severely depressed since I was a child. I was abused and witnessed many many violent events in my upbringing. I had to fight very hard to make it through my daily life without killing myself. Its not always feeling sorry for yourself and its not always just feeling down, sometimes there are grand factors that effect people like me. I have sought professional help but these talks and counseling sessions were very belittling and only added more pressures on my limited self confidence. I have gone through a lot in my life but I am very grateful for what I have. There are many chemical imbalances that hinder depressed people but I feel that these missing and low chemicals need to be compensated for. Thus medications and plenty of interaction with people who care are the only ways out of a deep depression.

    on a contrary note, most anti depressants are unfortunately used as a means to compensate for not wanting to spend or having the time or money to spend on a personal one on one care.

  86. 86 Jessica
    February 26, 2008 at 18:42

    I agree with Layla.

    And people have to realize there is a difference between self pity and clinical depression. I have known people that have gone thru a pity party and because of that were “depressed”. I can have everything going right for me yet everything seems so hopeless and I would have no energy to see friends or family. Exercise, meditation, and eating right are things I have always been very faithful about yet it never cured my depression.

  87. 87 Mary
    February 26, 2008 at 18:44

    Having taken anti-depressants for post-partum depression, and also Concerta for Attention Deficit Disorder, I can say personally that these medications are a band-aid rather than a cure. They can ease symptoms of the underlying issue: neurotransmitter deficiencies. So while it is better to use a band-aid than to do without (for one’s own benefit as well as one’s family) it is even more important to determine which neurotransmitters you are lacking (and why). A great book that is exceedingly helpful is “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross, M.A. (copyright 2002). Using this I pinpointed which neurotransmitters I needed to boost (and the likely reasons why they were lacking) and happily switched to L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP and GABA, leaving pharmaceuticals behind. Also left behind: high prescription costs, possibilities of side effects, and a reliance on band-aids. The culprits that lead to neurotransmitter deficiencies? Dietary deficiencies in Omega 3’s, digestive enzymes (I had gallbladder surgery at age 30, after which my symptoms really became noticeable), vitamin D, and so on. We are products of our society and environment: all too often our food and world are devoid of natural benefits and overloaded with toxins. When these two storms meet, our brain is left without the ingredients it needs to do its job. I don’t find it surprising that our need for neurological meds has jumped at the same time that ADD/ADHD has jumped, and Autism, and Alzheimers, and MS, and ALS, and Parkinsons. Creepy, isn’t it? Take back your health with knowledge and intervention. Your brain will thank you.

  88. 88 Cliff
    February 26, 2008 at 18:44

    I’m an American male in my mid 50’s and was first diagnosed with depression as a teenager. I first began taking antidepressants about 16 years ago. I take them intermittently and have found them invaluable, though their efficacy has diminished over time. They are not a cure for me, but in conjunction with periodic therapy, they have been lifesavers. To distinquish chronic depression from normal,occasional, but not debilitating depression I suggest this analog: Everyone sometimes gets a cold or flu, but if you have either for 200 or more days in a year every year, it becomes something else. As to the comment about depression being a condition of modern industrial “selfish” cultures exclusively, I concede their may be some existential connnection, though I find that observation alone to be glib. TX

  89. 89 Joey
    February 26, 2008 at 18:45

    The contrast between African society and Western in regards to biology.

    I don’t think anyone knows what the differences are biologically between societies, or cultures.
    Could there be some Amazonian society that doesn’t have a particular medical condition due to their biological traits, who knows?

    Why do Swedes talk less than a lot of people?
    Brilliant discussion. This may be pessimistic, but this research of anti depressants has been going on for decades, and will go on for more. Like the blind leading the blind.
    Thank you.
    Colorado, USA

  90. 90 Scott M
    February 26, 2008 at 18:46

    We are not getting to the crux of this argument. Perhaps antidepressants don’t work, but what is making so many people interested in this is NOT care for peoples’ mental health it is the desire for people to place blame to hold people accountable. To say there is nothing really wrong with you – you just need to be happy. You can get out of this on your own.

    As I said above, even if they don’t work. Then we need to worry about finding something that does work. Not blaming everyone for taking them.

  91. 91 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 18:48

    Tommy C: Some people go tanning to avoid that. I think you can buy full spectrum light bulbs. I cannot assure you it’s not a scam though, but I would tend to agree short days in winter are no fun.

  92. 92 Ruben, Colorado Springs USA
    February 26, 2008 at 18:49

    I moved to the US at the age of 20. Before I moved to the US, I can safely say that I had never heard of depression as a disease.

    Since then I have experienced the pressures of life. I have experienced some of the symptoms of clinical depression, but never for once thought about treating it as a disease.

    Every time I experience those symptoms, I get up, dust myself off, and carry on. As far as I’m concerned, depression is just another bitter side of life! You deal with it and move on..

  93. 93 Anonymous via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:49

    so much to say!
    i’ve struggled with depression since my husband abandoned me in america 4 years ago after moving here 8 years ago.
    living here my mates think i should be on top of the world-its california for gods sake! (i’m british) but it nothing i can control. i wake up some days (rarely) feeling like my old self, normal, my brain is quiet, i have energy, i have an interest in doing things, i am talkative, i sing in my head. this is how i was my whole life. i’m not bi-polar, this is the normal “me” that i remember. these days are very rare indeed.
    most days i wake up and test to see how i feel before i’ve even left bed. most days are kind of blah. thats the best way to describe it. its just blah. all the good htings dont matter. the sun shining doesnt matter. i may get up and go about my daily life, and be friendly and talkative at work, but i still feel blah, empty, hollow, nothing. i cry most days or am close to tears when no-one is around.
    so, last year, against my beliefs (my therapist-who i can not afford since i have no health insurance and am broke-said she didnt want to see me UNTIL i had been on anti depressents!!!) i went on antidepressents-prozac for a couple months that made me feel like a zombie that couldnt even chosse whether to tie my shoelaces, brush my teeth, sit down or stand up. yes it quietened my brain but it took too much else away-my WILL to live, my DRIVE. i took a different one, more of an upper type, but it made me snappy and short tempered (which is already an issue since i’ve been depressed). so i came off them. i’m now trying the tested alternatives of St JOhns Wort, DPLA, SAM-e, 5HTP ,B vitamins, excercise……
    i wait and hope..

    the US is a different culture. i feel more alone here. its more selfish and i feel a little like i’m leanning on my freinds and they dont want to hear it nay more. i dont have the same sense of community i had in the UK, i still feel displaced after 8 years even though i dont wan to return to the UK (i certainly miss my people). so is it cultural? probably. i certainly dont feel the support network i had at home but i also think being alone, feeling lonely, and being in dire financial straits and mid-life/career crisis adds to the issues. but what i’m really scared of is having a loving husband, family, great job-and STILL feeling the same. in that case i would not know WHAT to do.

  94. 94 Chris via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:49

    A psychiatrist, counselor, GP is a third party and therefore has an ability to listen without other bias affecting their perspective. Family, friends and neighbors cannot provide that because of their inherent implications in our own life. In the west especially, privacy involving personal matters is important especially when depression can be perceived as a social and professional weakness.


  95. 95 Aria via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:50

    In response to the comment from a listener in Africa: I agree, this is a societal question. The fact that we in America don’t talk so readily about our problems, even to our family members, creates larger problems – in how we relate to our families, friends, and function in the society at large (school shootings, etc.). But we can’t just say to ourselves, OK, start talking to strangers more! It’s a change we have to make, but it can only happen gradually — and in the meantime, we need any support we can get in making that change, including talk therapy.

    OPB listener

  96. 96 David
    February 26, 2008 at 18:51

    I suffer from Bi polar mood syndrome and I have to take a small dose of anti depressants everyday to help keep me more stable. I have had major bouts of depression where I have had to stay in Hospital a number of times and I know that if I was not able to take anti depressants I would not be able to cope with the black periods.

    I have found that therapy really does help but here in Germany my medical insurance will only pay for 2 years treatment and then you have to wait 2 years. I am now in the middle of this break and I find this is the worse thing that can happen to a person because there have been a couple of times when I have nearly committed myself to hospital in this time.

    For me personally I have found that they work the best together.


  97. 97 Scott M
    February 26, 2008 at 18:51

    Why are people so concerned in “poor countries” that depression is for rich people? Yet are again it is trying to place blame. The are really trying to say the depressed person is responsible for being depressed. As if they choose to be that way, in the same way people say gay people chose to be gay. It is ridiculous.

  98. 98 Steve via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:51

    Good evening:

    What the gentleman (Dave) was describing after he stopped taking the medication was a classic case of withdrawal syndrome. The American FDA was not keen to disclose this other aspect; however, after many cases of Paxil withdrawal, they changed the drug product insert.

    Due to drug company marketing strategies when this class of drugs hit the market, many doctors did not initially acknowledge that SSRIs had significant side effects. Such as muscular and joint problems, increased anxiety, agitation, tardive dyskinsia, and withdrawal problems. “Prozac Backlash” by Dr. Joseph Glenmullen was a seminal work on this topic.

    Please ask the American doctor to discuss the chemical imbalance theory. That was another issue that assisted drug marketing efforts to sell a theory to the consumer that has never been proven. Now they state “A chemical imbalance may cause depression. Our product may correct it.”

    Thank you for this informative program, along with the kind contributions of your guests.


    Washington, DC

  99. 99 Justin
    February 26, 2008 at 18:51

    I have used seratonin reuütake inhibitors for several years and found them very helpfull.
    that said they are a only part of a effective treatment for depression, I see them as my walking stick which help but dont solve the problem.

    regarding the study so did they make shore that non of the test subjects had therapy sessions?

  100. 100 David via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:52

    Many cases of depression are related to biochemical imbalances. Drugs are sometimes helpful, but there are natural supplements that can also be helpful and usually without the side effects of drugs.

    For example the amino acids L-tyrosine and L-tryptophane or 5-hydroxytryptophane.

    I have had good success treating my own depression with SAM-e (S-adenyl-methionine). A derivative of the amino acid Methionine.


    Salem OR USA

  101. 101 Pastor Ugo via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:55

    Depression is hardly mentioned in Africa, here in Africa, there a whole lot of support base, either from the family,age grade,church..etc.
    Therefore the window of dialogue, conversation, empathy. I always open in the situation of grief, pain and sorrow. It helps so much in venting the feelings we have inside.
    But the sophisticated and abstract way of living means that people enjoy alone and die alone.
    This type of closed living leads to deppression and its attendant problems
    Pastor Ugo
    Eastern Nigeria

  102. 102 Amy via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:56

    We make negative judgments about depression and medication, Consider the use of thyroid medication to treat thyroid deficiency. It’s a chemical imbalance usually well treated with medication, often taken for life, and no negative judgment is made. Much depression is chemical, as well as situational, and should be treated with medication as well as talk therapy. Well intentioned friends and family seldom have the skills and insight of a trained therapist.

    Portland, Oregon

  103. 103 Kate via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:56

    There may be a lack of communication of feelings in other cultures. In America, if someone asks you how you are doing, even someone you know well, they don’t really want to hear how you are REALLY doing, they expect you to say “fine”. However, as well meaning as one’s family and friends are in wanting to help, they aren’t equipped to help a person who is truly depressed or sometimes even with a person troubled in dealing with complex issues. A therapist not only has the training to help a client objectively (a stance that no one who knows the troubled individual can claim) but is an advocate just for the client. And it’s not just talking to a therapist. A good therapist talks back to their client and gives them coping mechanisms and strategies to improve their condition.

    I have been in therapy for the past 6 years and after the stillbirth of my pregnancy last year, I went on antidepressants. Even with a great therapist, I could not push off the “fog and weight” of depression.
    Although I had little belief the antidepressant would help me, it did, almost immediately, and I am now able to think, interact, plan and produce.

  104. 104 Maggie
    February 26, 2008 at 18:57

    Please – a little common sense. Depression is not a choice that people make becsuse they are over ambitious. The only difference is that in developing countries people need to worry about life’s basic necessities – food, water and shelter. Health concerns are focused on avoiding starvation and illnesses that thrive due to the lack of available medical care. Recognizing and treating depression is a luxury that cannot be afforded.

    It is a pity that we have time to discuss the need to “lift our spirits” when there are continents filled with people who would simply like to lift a utensil and fill their stomachs adequately. Not to dismiss depession, as I believe that it is a serious ailment, but it pales when compared to the sruggles endured by people who cannot get adequate vaccinations and nutrition for their children – hence the perception by those contacting you saying that it is a “rich person’s” illness.

  105. 105 Michael via email
    February 26, 2008 at 18:57

    Much of what motivates treatment of mental illness is to move people to “normalcy.” What is normal? If people felt more comfortable being different, or being with different people, then the pressure to treat may be lessened.

    There needs to be something of a Mad Pride movement, like the gay pride movement, where “different” or “mentally ill” people are encouraged to “come out” so that they and everyone can learn to live together.

    Of course this would only benefit some folks, but it would benefit them greatly.

    Portland, Oregon, USA

  106. 106 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 18:57

    If you want to know about depression in a society….ask about their suicide rate.

  107. 107 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 18:59

    I cannot overemphasize how much I agree with the callers from outside of the west who are astounded by the depression in the west. Every time i feel down, besides going to exercise, I think about what I have, Not what I don’t have. I really think it’s the constant material wants that make people so miserable here in the west. I’m thankful every day I have housing, running water, and electricity. We take so much for granted here, and are more concerned about if our neighbor has a nicer house, what kind of car they drive, and whether you can brag enough about your job.. Be happy with what you have!

  108. 108 Ellen Boston
    February 26, 2008 at 18:59

    While I have not lived longer than a year outside of the U.S., so I cannot really comment on other cultures, I will say I do not agree with all the comments on U.S. culture. First, in many other countries, as Kim stated, it is unacceptable to even mention that one is depressed. One must pick oneself up and move on. While this attitude does affect Americans to a certain extent, we are much more open about emotional problems, as evidenced by the fact that people do approach doctors for help and shows like Oprah.
    On a personal level, I have always felt very free to talk to my friends and family about my problems. Perhaps it is more difficult for immigrants to find others that they really feel comfortable opening up to…

  109. 109 Amanda
    February 26, 2008 at 19:00

    My sister is on anti-depressants, but I am not. In recent time, we have lost our step-mother to cancer, and our cherished and brilliant aunt has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While I have experienced very strong moments of grief and natural sadness from these losses, when I speak with my sister, her emotions seem very stunted and cold, in comparison to my own. I can’t help but feel sorry for her that she cannot experience grief as it should be, and I am sure it must be the anti-depressants that restrict her from these natural emotions.

  110. 110 Eliott by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:06

    anti depressants certainly work – after working 30 years in a correctional institution I can tell you I saw many young men turn their lives around in response to these drugs and I saw just as many drop into all kinds of problem behaviors when they stopped taking them – I’ve also seen the same response from friends who have depression or who are bi-polar – finally, whoever says that western culture is the seat of depression and that their society is free of it because people there talk about problems openly is not honestly looking at horrific world-rate of suicide, starvation, incurable disease infection and orphaned children not to mention racial purges
    – we can not fix every problem for every person unfortunately but if we can reduce some of these greatest depressors we might help to reduce the lesser ones.

  111. 111 Linda by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:07

    Dear world have your say,
    I believe that depression is a misery addiction. The other way to cure this or at least stop it is to talk in groups. AA has been extremely successful doing this.
    Linda living in France

  112. 112 Ajay by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:08

    The derogation of any psychiatric medications is a basic tenet of the so-called “Church” of Scientology. I would be interested to discover whether Scientology money went into this efficacy study. As a chronic pain sufferer, the right antidepressant — once my doctor found it — turned my life around away from the depression often attendant to such pain.

    in Chester, Connecticut USA

  113. 113 Ryan T
    February 26, 2008 at 19:08

    Other than those who have a biochemical imbalance, I agree that many people resort to drugs because they don’t have the social interaction or support they need. Many of them are so mired in depression that they may not be inclined to initiate change all by themselves, or without help from medication. Dismissive comments are plentiful and free, but constructive counseling can take more time and money than a drug. Despite America’s reputation for being a wealthy country, there are many millions of ordinary people without basic health insurance, let alone coverage for professional help. So unless they have access to a reduced cost program, they’re stuck, often in isolation.

  114. 114 Jessica
    February 26, 2008 at 19:08


    It is obvious you don’t have clinical depression, you’ve just experienced regular depression is like everyone else on this planet.

    I agree with Scott M, we need to stop placing the blame. Everyone has different experiences and ailments in life, and unless you have experienced the same exact things, you cannot understand. I think everyone who does see some benefits with anti-depressants can agree they aren’t a problem solver, but like someone stated, a “Band-Aid”. You must be willing to help yourself first and foremost. Some people just need a little crutch.

  115. 115 Barbara Reynolds
    February 26, 2008 at 19:11

    The show was wonderful! One side effect that is common and was not mentioned was lack of libido and physical inability to reach climax. This is a terrible side effect! It is inhumane for the pharmaceutical companies to knowingly give patients medications that remove such a beautiful part of being a human being.
    On another note, I have been off of anti-depressants for about four years now. Life isn’t easy; but, I prefer life on life’s terms. I still have depression episodes, mostly brought on by eating too much sugary sweets. Homeopathtic remedies prescribed by a Naturopathic physician have given me side-effect-free relief from depression. Thank you for this forum to garner different views on anti-depressants.

  116. 116 Jessica
    February 26, 2008 at 19:11

    Again, you people aren’t understanding it is not about material things. Some people might get “upset” over it, but not once have I had a severe attack over anything material. Are you guys not understanding? Obviously.

  117. 117 Barbara
    February 26, 2008 at 19:13

    I agree with Sheela- we must acknowledge that MDD exists and differentiate it from “situational” depression and anxiety.

    I do believe that antidepressants are most likely overprescribed, especially as a stop gap when talk therapy would be more appropriate. But talk therapy is very expensive and often not covered by insurance.

    As someone who has suffered from MDD most of my life, I am very vigilant about changes in my mental health. After my mother died I went to my therapist because I was concerned about some of what I was experiencing. She told me that I was going through “normal grieving”. I don’t need medication for life changes such as death, divorce, etc, but I DO need to be on meds in order that I prevent a spiral into a pit of worthlessness and suicidal tendencies.

    Let’s be clear about whether we are discussing depression that comes from life circumstances or depression which comes as a thief in the night, robbing us of all light and perspective.

  118. 118 kah by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:13

    1. Am I the only person who finds it illogical that the study allegedly says that anti depressants don’t work for most but maybe for those who are severely depressed? If one is not depressed I shouldn’t expect anything but for someone w/ moderate clinical depression….? I think they should keep in mind that everyone reacts to medication differently.

    2. I think the comments from the various cultures who have closer extended relationships are right…and I hope they value and hold on to that richness. Things aren’t everything.

    3. I would describe myself as someone who has suffered from low to moderate depression for most of my life. After completing a BA & MA, working consistantly and successfully, I finally, at the urging of a friend, went to a psychiatrist. I now take an anti depressant and am very happy w/ the improvement in my life. The nicest thing is waking up & rolling out of bed willingly without being groggy.
    I’m more alert and have not experienced negative side effects. I wonder how my work life would have been different if I had gotten help earlier – I was in my 50’s.

    4. Cognitive therapy is helpful for me. It teaches one to be aware of the triggers that send one
    downward. I think talk therapy can also be helpful –
    just make sure you choose someone who suits you; you’re in charge of your health.

    5. Generally I think it’s better to consult a paychiatrist re medication because they have a wider knowledge of the available drugs.

    Good luck to everyone struggling w/ depression.

  119. 119 Wayne, Texas by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:15

    It seems to me that depression is very definitely a global issue regardless of class. I think we are missing an underlying cause. Why does depression seem to have ballooned over the last two decades? Should we be questioning pace and pressure of day to day life? I think pressure begins at a very early age today. My daughter (13) and son (8) are given an incredible amount of homework with pressure to finish on time leaving little time to play and actually behave like a ‘normal’ child.

  120. 120 Toni, Oregon by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:16

    I am frustrated that you have not had a professional on to talk about clinical depression’s being a brain disorder. It is not “having a bad day,” which doesn’t usually include suicidal behavior.
    By the way, Winston Churchill is a rather famous depressive, who called his disease a “black dog.” Imagine what he could have done with antidepressants!

  121. 121 Lupe, Fiji by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:16

    Some people say depression is unknown in the Pacific islands too – like Africa – but we suffer from it; it is just that people rationalise it as witchcraft-induced states. Members of my family show the same symtoms as those in western societies it is just that we give them a different meaning and treat them socially rather than by western drugs.

  122. 122 Ajay, Connecticut by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:17

    Anyone who self medicates, including jumping off any medication without a physician’s close guidance is foolish, and taking a possibly fatal gamble with his or her health.

  123. 123 Ross, Portland by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:18

    I have a degree in psychology and work in the field. At 26 I began having almost debilitating panic attacks. I had coworkers and family that I was able to turn to for any and all counseling that I could have wanted or needed. It just wasn’t enough. I went to the doctor and was prescribed Paxil, a drug very symilar to Prozac. I was told that it would fix the chemical imbalance in my brain that caused the panic attacks. I have insurance and paid $15 for a month’s supply. I took Paxil and felt better within a month. The truth is that I believe that it was the drug that allowed me to feel normal. Did it? Or was it the placebo effect? I don’t know. I can say that I have seen many schiztophrenic clients feel more normal and feel happier on meds than they would have without them. One more thing. I’m now 29 and I still take the Paxil at $15 a month

  124. 124 John, Oregon by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:18

    I agree with the listeners from Africa who indicate that depression is a Western problem. Remember Psych 101 from college? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? We can only worry about things like self-fulfillment after we have met more basic needs, like the need for biological, safety, and relational needs. Depression, then, can only really take hold once we have reached a certain level of comfort which, most unfortunately people in developing nations often have not achieved.

  125. 125 Steve, USA by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:19

    I think depression in the modern times is different than say long ago.
    Say back in caveman times, people worried just about survival. Keeping warm, getting food, and just staying alive. Now we take all of that for granted, and in addition, have all of the materialism. I really doubt cavemen sat there and obsessed over ex girlfriends, got jealous about what car their neighbor had, or wished they could afford the new iPhone.
    People were occupied with staying alive. They didn’t get sick leave.
    They couldn’t afford to stay home and sleep all day because their survival would become in jeopardy if they say around and moped all day instead of going out hunting. So yes, I do agree that depression isn’t new, but it is much more profound now than in the past because we basically have allowed it to get worse because we no longer have to fight to survive on a daily basis.

  126. 126 Elizabeth by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:20

    Back in 1998 I went through a good six months worth of constant tension headaches. Every day, more or less, I was in pain. I took several medicines but they didn’t help much, and a painkiller strong enough to really take the headache away left me too sleepy to drive or work.

    I read about doctors prescribing antidepressants “off book” for headache relief, and my dr was willing to try. I started on a very small dose of Paxil, and very soon my headaches were gone…it was wonderful. After several pain free months I wanted to have my second daughter, so I gradually got off it, and my headaches have not returned. I did not notice any difference positive or negative in my personality or mood.

  127. 127 Warren by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:21

    In my case, Effexor had the following results:

    a mild, barely observable lift
    anorgasmy (inability to have an orgasn
    severe withdrawal symptoms.

    Do antidepressants work? They sure didn’t for me!!!

  128. 128 Jill, Ohio by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:21

    I know first hand about depression having been on medicine all my adult life (I’m 34) and having been hospitalized twice.

    Those who have never experienced depression have no idea how difficult it can be for some to talk to friends and family.

    In America, talk-therapy and medication is expensive. If I didn’t have insurance, my medication alone is more than $600.00 per month.

    Medicine has saved my life. I would not be alive today without it.

  129. 129 Robert in the U.S.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:21

    The danger of depression and the reason it is treated is not so much a matter of degrees of happiness, but moreover an attempt to prevent suicides within the population. It matters not how bad or good you perceive your life to be if you kill yourself. Large incidences of suicides in a society can then cause a plethora of other social problems. Those who want the rest of the world to fall into your anecdotal models….good luck with the rest of the world accomidating you; it is wrong to extrapolate your situation onto the rest of the world and assume that is all there is to know on the subject.

  130. 130 Justin ,Iowa by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:22

    Dear Worldhaveyoursay:

    I wish that there was more information about GOOD talk therapy out there. I tried 3-4 different psychiatrists before giving up on the psychiatric profession and going it alone. Without Anti-depressants to give me the boost on that solo job pulling myself out of my misery, I’d have been sunk. But soon as I felt I was on the right track I got off of them.

  131. 131 David, Germany by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:22

    I suffer from Bipolar mood sydrome and with out ani depressants I would not be able to cope with this illness. I have to take Olanzapin everyday to keep me stable. I know that if they were not available I would have probably commited sucide along time ago.

    In Germany you are allowed therapy for 2 years and then you have to have a break for 2 years. I found that therapy helped me a graet deal but I have to wait one more year before I can restart again.

    Best regards

  132. 132 Mark, Ohio by email
    February 26, 2008 at 19:23


    My wife has been on anti-depressants for many years. She fell into depression in the early 90’s and we did not know what to do. Our doctor recommended trying an anti-depressant. It changed her life. She is not giddy or falsely happy but now says she “feels like herself.” I can always tell if she misses several days in a row.

    I thank the medical community for anti-depressants.

    The idea that you have to work to be happy is an idea coming from someone who truly does not understand depression. You cannot work your way out of clinical depression. It is a chemical problem.

  133. 133 Dr Hunter Shirley
    February 26, 2008 at 19:30

    @As a clinical psychologist heading a think tank researching the mind,we have developed a new technique for treating depression.We teach people to use a MIND MONITOR we have developed.Information is avalable on http://www.mindmonitoring.com.
    H Shirley,American Institute

  134. 134 Annonymous by text.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:30

    Oppresion is the root to depression.

  135. 135 Umaru, Kaduna-Nigeria.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:31

    My son was dying on antidepressants until I changed his treatment to psychotherapy for the better.

  136. 136 Annonymous by text.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:31

    Depression is pure social-cultural problem ! And takings antidepresants is the same !

  137. 137 Geoff in Ghana.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:33

    People in rich countries can afford to be depressed, in poor countries, people are too busy with daily problems like water, food, electricity, medicine and security.

  138. 138 Evelyn in Portugal -
    February 26, 2008 at 19:33

    Some depressions are caused by anti- malaria pills. As was my case.

  139. 139 Sarafila.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:34

    Does depression mean stress? Sarafila. Freetown, sierra leone.

  140. 140 Babagana,Maiduguri,Nigeria.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:35

    Dear,BBC.In addition to medication listening to music and reading would reduce depression.

  141. 141 Domi, Accra
    February 26, 2008 at 19:37

    2b dpressed is an old story 2 we africns cuz, we have isues that shuld cause us depression but cuz of our weaved family relationshp and trust in Christ,we’re happy!

  142. 142 Domi, Accra
    February 26, 2008 at 19:38

    Hi. I m a health peace corps volunteer (american) in togo. Based on my experience here there is absolutely no mental health care. The mentally ill are ostrarized and cast out. As the gentleman from ghana said the culture here is much more social but that does not suffice for mental health treatment.

  143. 143 Maryam by text
    February 26, 2008 at 19:40

    We are so busy with many problems at the same time – we lack food electricity, have armed robbers.etc – we hardly have time to be depressed.

  144. 144 James,Monrovia,Liberia.
    February 26, 2008 at 19:41

    I think ante-depression is needed most in third-world countries where there is a lot of unemploment and a host of other problems to make people depressed.

  145. 145 A.ALIKOTE Nigeria
    February 26, 2008 at 19:42

    The best anti depressant are avoiding things that causes it like stress,drug abuse. Relaxation and counselling could help.

  146. 146 Mamie
    February 26, 2008 at 19:46

    Do anti-depressants work? I believe that for me they do. I have struggled with depression most of my life. On several occasions medication has helped me in the short term and long term. When I was a teenager I was severely depressed and hurting myself. I was sent to group therapy and given Halodol to help with the anxiety. I was only on it for a short time, but it had almost instant results. It allowed me to begin thinking clearly and relieved the symptoms of depression. In my 20’s I took Wellbutrin to help over come some radical life changes. And now in my 30’s I am taking Prozac. I came to this decision on my own. After three years of therapy I felt that just talking wasn’t enough. It is very important to note that the therapy probably helped me more than anything. The prozac simply helped with the chemical imbalance that I was suffering from.

    The most crucial point is to have a Psychiatrist prescribe any antidepressant. GP’s do not have the time or the experience to correctly prescribe these kinds of medications. It is very important to have the correct dosage as well. In addition to follow up appointments to monitor side effects.

    One last point. It is my responsibility to take care of myself. Prozac helps but I know that using alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate interferes with the effectiveness of my medication. I also have to continue to work on the issues uncovered in therapy. It is a daily practice, some days are better than others. But I believe that the combination of therapy and medication have helped me significantly.

  147. February 26, 2008 at 20:09

    For some people, like me anti depressants are poison and killers. Five years ago I was mis diagnosed by my GP. He thought my stomach complaint was due to the death and grief for my husband when actually I had caught Clostridium Difficile!

    The GP without telling me gave me some pills ‘so I could eat’. ‘These I found later were anti depressants. I became immediately addicted. Some people do and after a few pills I experienced all the withdrawal symptoms and side effects that are common with this medication.

    Obviously his was the wrong treatment for CD, which needs an anti biotic but the AD’s mixed with the toxicin of CD crippled my nervous system.

    I had to stop the AD’s to save my life so I experienced a full ‘cold turkey’. These pills should never be stopped but tapered but for me who was so allergic this was not possible.

    The next three years of withdrawal, it can take that long, were indescribable. Fits, convulsions, dry mouth vomiting at 6 am every morning, insomnia , acrophobia, anger and the longing for death just to get out of the nightmare. I did not want to die I just could not live like this!

    Anti depressants for many mean a life of misery. They should not be handed out by GP’s like sweeties. Personally I think they should be banned.

    The drug companies and doctors know that for 2.5% of the population these drugs are dangerous and deadly and yet they are allowed to be sold for the greater good. This is so different from Thalidomide which had similar statistics but the drug was removed immediately. No babies should be born with birth defects but for depression if a few people die or suffer it is OK.

    These drugs have never been properly trailed by an independent autority and drug companies could be selective or economical with the ir data to get the best possible results for them. Seroxate has already featured on Panorama as a suspected killer.

    Being in NZ this will possibly be read by only a few WHYS but it still has to be written. Say ‘no’ to any type of AD as they are addictive and withdrawal for many is a grim experience. It is not worth it.

  148. 148 cattledog5
    February 26, 2008 at 20:36

    This is an easy question to answer. Yes they work. No we don’t take too many as a country. Too many adults go without a simple medication that could make their life more meaningful and less painful, simply because of the stigma attached to depression (the plague of the twenty-first century).

  149. 149 steve
    February 26, 2008 at 20:55

    Uh oh, all this talk about depression has given me “I think I might have depression” syndrome, which hopefully will be recognized in the the next DSM and thus a drug can be made to treat it! One day they will have a drug for “Robust Appetite Syndrome” too since if you overeat, you must be a victim somehow, it’s not your fault! Take a pill! EVERYONE!

  150. February 26, 2008 at 21:37

    Medications worked fabulously for me, therapy didn’t do anything. However, medications don’t eradicate the underlying, deep inner problems.

  151. 151 Emile Barre
    February 26, 2008 at 22:21

    Drugs in the strict medical definition are supposed to cure if they are to be of optimum use. Anti-Depressants clearly do lift the fog of mental oppression for a time but they are not a cure. They should not also be the first choice of treatment for depression. The fact that they are in the vast majority of cases, is proof that the ultimate source of their use is the drug culture of society at large. “Popping a pill” to increase “performance” has become popularly established as a means to “getting more or the best out of every sphere of life”. Anti-depressants are aimed at increasing performance because depression represses performance. The fact is that many people do not understand drugs and their culture. Many people do not understand for example that alcohol is the worst killer drug of all time. There’s nothing wrong with people being prescribed anti-depressants by doctors many of whom have never experienced, personally, the acute pain their patients confront them with on a daily basis. What is wrong, is to see anti-depressants as an end in themselves. The way to deal with depression is through intellect and spirit but far too many people do not have the inner resources to deal with that fact. That is a societal problem.To read, to write and to speak of what there is to know from those personal processes, is all a thinking human truly needs. There’s nothing wrong with popping pills.But unfortunately the kind that contain all the vitamins present in a three-course meal are not available unless you are an astronaut on a flight, I wonder why?

  152. 152 Andrew Stamford
    February 27, 2008 at 01:59

    Anthony I have seen first hand the problems associated with marijuana use. Close friends have also used this drug and the attitude that it is in some way therapeutic appals me. I know of healthy people who had no other problems what so ever who got into a dope habit and their lives unravelled, as well as the problems for those about them. I have neighbours who use arijuana regularly and I see the effects as they take their children out in their cars once they have had some dope and it is only a matter of time before they maime or kill themselves or worse still other innocent people on their roads from their habit. I cannot see in any way that marijuana use can be beneficial especially in dealing with mental illness and as far as I can see, it causes more problems than it might.. might possibly help with.

  153. 153 Dr.Greg Kushnick -Psychologist from BBC prgram "World Have Your Say"
    February 27, 2008 at 05:43

    I am struck by the openness with which people spoke about their personal battles with depression and intensity and passion in peoples’ reactions to this topic in the blogs.

    It is clear that the drug companies have an amazing amount of influence over the American government and society, whether it be in the form of lobbying in Congress or through advertising. No matter what we may conclude about the effectiveness of antidepressants versus psychotherapy, one thing is true–it is difficult to deny the effectiveness of either approach, and for people with moderate to severe depression, a combination of both treatments will probably produce the best results.

    For every friend, colleague, or family member who may tell you about the curative effects of antidepressants, there is someone else who will attest to the the medication’s lack of effectiveness. Everyone’s body reacts differently when the neurotransmitter serotonin is manipulated by an SSRI.

    Depression is also likely to occur comorbidly with other types of psychological distress, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and other anxiety disorders; alcohol abuse and dependence, and other problems with addiction. Antidepressants such as Prozac may only target one layer of overlapping psychiatric disorders, which may partially explain its lack of effectiveness in some people. Often times, comorbid disorders may go undiagnosed or untreated, especially addictive behavior.

    As a psychologist, I witness the effectiveness of psychotherapy in significantly reducing or eliminating depression in many people. My work with depressed clients from a variety of nationalities, socio-economic classes, family arrangements, and psychiatric histories has compelled me to share several thoughts relevant to this discussion.

    Studies demonstrating positive changes in subjects taking a placebo pill, are a testament to the power of hope in fighting depression. Although I try to convey to my clients the notion that “true hope is not knowing”, people clearly benefit when they gain a sense of being committed to the process of getting better, whether this comes in the form of a pill or psychotherapy. A pill may reduce some of the symptoms of depression, such as insomnia or difficulty with concentration, but it does not get to the root of the problem. Getting help of one kind or another can give a person a renewed sense of meaning. Psychotherapy takes this sense of meaning to new heights.

    My experience working in a rehabilitation center for adults recovering from major illnesses has led me to see the power of psychotherapy in giving clients a sense of meaning in their lives. Very often, when an individual suffers an illness that decreases his or her independence, life-expectancy, mobility, or creates a permanent need for a higher level of care, there is almost always a loss of meaning in that person’s life. This loss of meaning may have actually contributed in the first place to a stroke, heart attack, or other event. The loss of meaning in one’s life appears to set the stage for illness, and impacts an individual’s will to recover from an illness. Some people report feeling useless to their families for example. Meaning can be restored through psychotherapy in a way that medication cannot get to. In cases of severe depression, the combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants seems to be the best option.

    I do not seek to downplay the success of antidepressants in decreasing depression. I have seen dramatic changes in people under my care who are taking antidepressants. I have had the luxury of working with many individuals before they take antidepressants and during the course of medication treatment. I can see that meds for some people allow them to explore certain topics that may have not been addressed if they were not taking the pills. Let’s say, for example, there is someone who cries intensely when they think about a traumatic experience, as he or she becomes flooded with emotion and cannot get past this experience. I have seen the power of antidepressants to enable a person to have the calmness and openness to explore the meaning that this event has for him or her, and to feel open to examining distortions in his or her expectations of how he or she should have handled the situation.

    A very wise psychologist named Albert Ellis focuses on the “shoulds” that we carry around with us (e.g., “I should be 50 pounds lighter”, or “I should protect my sister more when her husband drinks and says awful things to her”). These “shoulds” create a great deal of distress for many of us. They can promote guilt, shame, self-doubt, depression, and anxiety when we inevitably fail to live up to what we think we should do. It is questionable whether a pill can have a significant impact on the “shoulds” in our lives.

    I find it hard to accept that depression is purely a brain disorder. While there are undoubtedly many people who have a genetic proclivity toward depression (i.e., depleted levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin), or for whom biological factors contribute to depressive states (e.g., hypothyroidism or diabetes), Prozac alone is not going to alter long-standing beliefs people have about your own self-worth, lovability, or other core aspect of the self.
    It will probably not alter patterns of maladaptive behavior that have been modeled by parents and gradually internalized by their adult children (e.g., the use of physical force to attempt to solve conflict).

    For many people, depression results from a loss of a sense of control, the experience of a catastrophe occurring (whether real or imagined), distortions in thinking, and inner conflict that is created by a discrepancy between family, peer, and cultural/media-promoted expectations and values pulling from one side, and individual preferences or the demands of a job, spouse, or current event pulling from another.

    For example, a first-generation American man from Chinese parents is taught to value achievement, hard work, and the avoidance of outward expressions of emotion. Due to the company’s restructuring, he loses his job and is convinced by his family to avoid seeking counseling. The prospect of seeking a therapist fills him with shame and guilt, as he knows his parents will disapprove. He experiences poor mood, insomnia, and isolates himself from others. If he were to show up at a psychiatrist’s office after 6 months of displaying symptoms of depression, he is likely to walk out with a prescription for an antidepressant. However, based on his problem, if was able to allow himself to try psychotherapy. he would probably experience a significant decrease in symptons of depression and he may not need meds. Psychotherapy has worked wonders for people who are negatively impacted by environmental changes, such as a life-transition, the loss of a job, or a divorce. In these situations, medication really may not be necessary.

    While depression can be found in any society, I believe that the type of depression most often talked about in the literature may be more prevalent in Western society, which celebrates certain qualities that lay the foundation for rampant mental disorders, including depression. The celebration of individualism and competition leads people to avoid relying on group support, promotes a feeling of isolation, and puts way too much emphasis on financial success as the key to happiness. Our society’s celebration of big screen TVs and fast cars takes people away from their true selves and makes happiness contingent upon acquring material possessions, as opposed to working on bettering oneself as a person in non-material ways. Advanced technology clearly has many benefits, but it also makes our lives much more complex. Computers, blackberries, and cell phones make people less likely to engage in meaningful social interaction, promote isolative behavior, and limit the amount of exercise people get on a daily basis. They also decrease the amount of uninterrupted relaxation a person can have if he or she is always accessible by phone or email or blackberry. Family, friends, and employers develop expectations of people that they should always be on-call and readily available. People feel obligated to respond immediately.

    Other countries may not experience these stressors to the same extent. I am curious to hear from people in other countries how they think their societies are promoting depression.

    It is important to note that the traditional symptoms associated with depression such as withdrawal/isolation, loss of interest in activities, reduced care for hygiene that our society focuses on only represent one of many presentations of depression. There are also many people who are just as “depressed”, but manifest their depression very differently. Some people display clingy, dependent behavior. They avoid separation from loved ones and are constantly seeking reassurance and affirmation. People with this type of presentation may be less likely to get treated with antidepressants because they do not display traditional symptoms as described in the DSM (diagnostic manual used by mental health providers.)For more on dependent depression, see the research by Sidney Blatt at Yale University.

    The current widespread emphasis on the interaction between genetics and the environment in influencing our lives supports the use of antidepressants in treating most people with depression. As a society, we do have to take a very hard look at the way we use antidepressants to treat people with depression who may be helped just as, if not more effectively by psychotherapy. The use of the online or videophone therapy to reach people in rural areas or other countries with fewer mental health resources may represent part of a future solution to much of the world’s overreliance on medication to solve our problems. However, there are serious ethical issues with this form of treatment that also must be considered.

  154. 154 Stefan
    February 27, 2008 at 08:00

    You know I’ve read a bunch of the submissions and realize how far people have yet to go to understand this illness. The distinction is rarely made between acute emotional episodes and severe chronic illness. People still dismiss depression as something “in your head” that is in some way different than a physical illness.The reality is that even mild depression effects the immune system, can disrupt normal sleep patterns, can cause anxiety, pain, loss of memory and concentration etc. etc. Severe depression can cause these same symptoms 10 fold. Those people who offer flippant suggestions that have only peripheral experience with this illness need to learn more before they speak. Depression is not that far removed Bi-polar disorder or totally dis-similar from Schizophrenia in terms of the chemical foundations. All have proven genetic links. All are physical afflictions that can be life threatening. Once you get that……….you can start offering constructive feedback. As I stated in an earlier opinion, many people who suffer from acute episodes of depression should never require meds and thus drugs are clearly overprescribed. Alot of these meds are just plain nasty……… but for those of us with severe chronic illness, there is no viable alternative. Going off the meds to experiment with treatments would be like jumping off a building and hoping some one finds away to reverse gravity before you hit the ground.

  155. 155 dave
    February 27, 2008 at 09:27


    I was the contributor on the show last night (from Manchester).

    What I wanted to say as well, but didnt get around to it…..is if after seeing this report anybody thinks they can just come off there medication, please please please please dont and go and see your GP or Doctor to discuss

    this could cost lives

    Thanks for your comments


  156. 156 JM in Tasmania by email
    February 27, 2008 at 09:47

    Trials of anti-depressants can only be conducted anyway on people who are not suffering from signs of clinical depression – acute anxiety, unrelieved depression, suicidal feelings, etc.
    Thus such trials are largely irrelevant and telling people who are suffering from clinical depression that their medications are just a con is pretty dangerous.
    Cognitive therapy and counselling may be better than medication for some depressed people whose depression results directly from traumatic life events.
    J M Tasmania

  157. February 27, 2008 at 09:54

    Hello, I am from Canada and I am an non-profit administer who have numerous discussion over the years on medications and treatments as patient myself and as a person who works with mental health recovery peers. I find that medications are not overprescribed, rather they are improperly prescribed by some of the professionals due to lack of knowledge or demands by their patients. As for children, in which I had a discussion with a local newspaper website, The Globe and Mail about overprescribing children’s anti-depressants for bipolar disorder, these children are misunderstood, left being medicated because we as adults unable to cope with children’s needs or rather not taking the time or patience to understand the child’s needs over time. As a result, we as adults, would medicate children.

  158. 158 dave
    February 27, 2008 at 10:34

    JM (tasmania)

    I couldnt agree more. This is my issue. I know that whilst I am on Citalopram and will be for a whilte, I will not be able to address my problems without talking therapy. In my mind there is no doubt that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I need therapy and no amount of pills will cure me

  159. 159 Barbara in Las Vegas by email
    February 27, 2008 at 11:40

    I suffered from depression my entire life. I did started on anti-depressents when I was 45 years old and I still take them. The difference in my life has been dramatic. I have experienced happiness as well as productivity in activities for which I feel passion for the first time in my life. In countries in the third world, depression is probably rampant, but one needs food and shelter before thinking am I happy?

  160. 160 pistolpete
    February 27, 2008 at 12:22

    I have Bipolar Disorder and, while anti-depressants haven’t been effective for me when taken alone, they have been beneficial in combination with mood stabilizers. I think part of the problem is that people are often mis-diagnosed with clinical depression when in fact they are suffering from situational depression that could be addressed well with therapy. Still, I think there is a place for some anti-depressants for some people.

  161. 161 Victoria by email
    February 27, 2008 at 12:29

    Hi Ros,

    I have been on Prozac for close to 2 years and feel it has helped me live a better life. Prior to Prozac I was not able to handle hard situations very well. Since I have been on Prozac I feel as if I am able to make decisions during hard situations with a clear head. I have recently gone through a break up and although I am feeling depressed the medication is helping me get through it. I have not been in any type of psychotherapy in a little over 1 year but have been considering starting back up again. Anti-depressants are not for everyone but they have definitely worked well for me.

    Corvallis, Oregon USA

  162. 162 Ros Atkins
    February 27, 2008 at 12:46

    Dear Mr. Atkins:

    I enjoyed your show this afternoon very much.

    Thank you for publishing my comment on your blog. This topic is important, and the variety of responses, along with your on-air guests, were very informative.

    I would like to send you something that may be of interest. A few readers used the term “chemical imbalance” to describe what caused their illness. It is a theory that has never been scientifically proven; however, years ago, drug companies and the FDA were able to use this term with great influence to promote the efficacy of SSRIs.

    I have written briefly on the topic at Healing Headquarters:


    Thank you, and all the best.


    Steve Amoia
    Washington, DC

  163. 163 Ros Atkins
    February 27, 2008 at 12:47

    Hi Ros,

    I was on two types of anti-depressants for four years, and I realized that when I took them, I was like a quiet, dull automaton. I decided I’d rather feel miserable than not feel anything at all, so I quit taking them. I confess it’s a daily struggle just to get out of bed, but I won’t take those medications again. It’s no life when you’re not really alive and feeling anything.



  164. 164 Ros Atkins
    February 27, 2008 at 12:48

    Hi Ros,
    The last time there was a discussion about pain on WHYS, i texted to say that, pain was first and foremost spiritual- well, depression also is. I do not discount the efficacy of medication, but if the spiritual/ psychological basis is not right, no amount of medication will work. If you believe you are depressed, you will definitely feel depressed even after taking a cocktail of all the so-called antidepressants.
    Accra, Ghana.

  165. February 27, 2008 at 13:15

    I’m sorry that i cudn’t respond in time.
    Only after regularly taking the antideps on the advice of my psychiatrist that i felt good abt myself n everything.

  166. February 27, 2008 at 14:12

    for some people yes, anti-depressives can be good. As a psychotherapist I have seen that you can compare the depression to a state of zero will, when you are really depressed (and not sad, which is another thing) you can´t work, you just have your soul as if it was broken. So the anti-depressive (for some people, not all of them) can be the cane that help to move, to walk… but like the first comment I read: the depression is trying to tell us something about our lives, the person who is interested in a real change will have to seek inside (soul-making) look for answers, ask questions, and learn things about her self. All the people I have worked with, tell me that depression state was important, a good thing that happened in their lives because they made changes in their way of living for better.

    Now another thing I have noticed that is anti depressives have side effects and people have to weight the pro and against sides of the use of it. The doses vary from a person to another, that´s why the psychiatrist must be a very good and dedicated professional.
    I hope my comment was clear because English is not my first language.
    bye for now

  167. 167 James
    February 27, 2008 at 14:46

    They must work for me ,I am not trying to kill myself these days!

  168. February 27, 2008 at 20:37

    In North America, we definitely rely on anti-deps way too much. I believe anti-deps shouldn’t be used as THE solution but rather as PART of the overall treatment of depression. Furthermore, I believe the overall treatment should be designed and monitored by an expert in the area — a psychiatrist — and may include things like therapy, exercise, journaling, etc.

    Regarding their effectiveness — Speaking from personal experience, anti-depressants can be very effective for people with severe depression and even for some people with mild depression — though they should be prescribed by a psychiatrist, not a family physician. Often, family physicians (not knowing much about anti-deps) will not prescribe a high enough dose to achieve any effect at all. This was the case with me when I first received anti-deps for my severe depression. They were prescribed by my family doctor, but I saw no improvement in my depression. A couple of months later, I went to a psychiatrist. We gradually increased the amount I was taking. When we finally reached the effective amount, it was nearly 3 times what my doctor had prescribed. No wonder I wasn’t feeling any improvement!

  169. 169 Linda from Oregon
    February 28, 2008 at 21:22

    I took Prozac from 1993 to 2005. It seemed that over time it took more and more mg’s to get the same effect. I was initially very pleased because I didn’t realize that a person could feel this good, because I was depressed for over 40 years before I got any medication help. I had 11 years of therapy that weren’t as useful without taking medications. Its much more effective to be doing both.
    I am now taking a different antidepressant, Effexor, and it seems a little more stable in long term effect but again, I haven’t taken that for more than 1 1/2 years.
    What I do say is that until we get the perfect drug to help with depression and anxiety, these are the choices we have and it can make a tremendous impact on folks with severe anxiety and major depression. In fact, as a clinical social worker, a person can make much greater strides in learning skills to cope if they have a theraputic dose of an antidpressant working. I have a relative who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is so symptomatic off meds that she can’t calm herself enough to manage school or any problems without having the medication.

    Its like antibiotics. People died before we had them. Now we have problems with effectiveness. It will always be a challenge to find better meds and that willhappen as we understand more and more about the brain and how to make it work more flexibly and effectively. Linda

  170. March 6, 2008 at 04:04

    As the director of Novus Medical Detox we see many people addicted to alcohol and/or opioids, CNS, who are put on antidepressants because they are depressed. Generally, when they come off the alcohol/opioids, then they can stop taking the antidepressants because they don’t need them. Frankly, because of the studies that show they work no better than placebos and the side effects and the fact that there is no scientific test to determine if someone meeds seratonin. There is also the study of female suicides in Sweden in 2006 which showed that 52% were on antidepressants. Coupled with the fact that almost all of the school shooters were on antidepressants, we have a terribly dangerous set of drugs.

    Steve Hayes

  171. 171 Neal H
    March 7, 2008 at 11:56

    both of the recent University shootings in the US were people who had been on antidepressants and went off their meds, I believe. And who happened to own many guns.

  172. 172 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 03:18

    i have never the chance to take anti-depressants….but i have relatives
    that have taken them….

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  173. 173 Alyssa
    May 11, 2008 at 22:23

    I think it depends on the situation and person. I have recently been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and have started taking lamictal…it is literally saving my life. This is the first time I haven’t felt suicidal in months and am stable enough to start working a job and be social. If you need help for a chemical balance you should get it, it can work wonders. I do however think that everyone these days claims to be depressed and that they would benefit more from alternative treatments. It just depends on the person. It good way to tell is if you try the alternative treatments and create a good life for yourself and still feel too depressed to function.

  174. 174 Dennis
    May 11, 2008 at 23:27

    @ Alyssa:

    I hope that you get the mental health treatment
    that you need for your medical condition……

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  175. 175 Rovert
    July 9, 2009 at 15:28

    People need to realize that depression affects people in different ways, social economic, family upbringing, life style, etc have something to do with depression. Ways of thinking, handling life stressors, issues, relationship etc can all contribute to depression. Yes, anti depressants can help, yes, counselling could help but not for everybody! Also, how come depression symptoms are almost all the same for individuals that are depressed for example, suicide, lack of energy desire, withdrawal, loss of interest in life and activities, poor sleep, poor eating habits, loss hope etc? So to say that depression is not an “illness” is wrong because if it wasn’t people suffering from it would not have all these classic symptoms. I myself suffer from it, personally I’m still fighting it or better said trying to. But I’m a combat vetaran, was brought up in a bad family upbringing, my parents were drug abusers, alcoholics etc did that enviroment contribute to my depression and ways if thinking? Of course it did! However, I still manage to graduate college, get a career, and have a decent life. Am I happy? No because i’ve done lots of mistakes, lack spirituality, faith, hurt ppl, hurt myself, being a perfectionist has affected me,but I know atleast what my issues are however we or should I say “I” become addicted to misery because that is all I know or some of us feel comfortable at becuz we are afraid of true happiness! I can attest that I’ve been diagnosed w cilinical depression, but in my mind I see no way out of this crap that I have given up. I’ve done plenty of talk but not enough action. Why!? I don’t know but I don’t wish this upon anybody, nobody deserves to be unhappy, miserable, We were all put on this earth to be happy, be fruitfully and multiply,have family foundations, friends and social network, have our basic necessaties met etc. I at times wonder if our lack of”void” inside of us because we lack spirituality or a relationship w God himself. Depression is a void in our lives, wether chemical, or whatever the case may be, depression is something far more complex than what we can imagine. I need help myself!

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