My views on antidepressants have changed over the years. Where I was once not in favour of their use, I now see their benefits with clients. The problem is that most antidepressants are too freely given out without thought or proper assessment and there is rarely follow up with clients to reassess their progress.
It is important to say that feeling low at times is part of the human experience and allows us the opportunity to know ourselves better and helps us to manage these feelings as they come and go.
Anti-depressants need to be prescribed by a Psychiatrist who is knowledgeable with psychopharmacology drugs. Because there are so many anti-depressants available, without a comprehensive assessment it’s difficult to pinpoint which drug will be best for which individual. An assessment will also help to differentiate whether the person is going through normal loss and grief or going through depression. This is a crucial distinction.
Antidepressants allow people to work through their issues with a therapist because it lifts the depression enough for the person to feel more hopeful and therefore allow them to begin to have another perspective on an issue. I often use the analogy of a person standing in water up to their eyes; they can’t breath or do anything except try and survive. If the water level is lowered (with antidepressants) it allows the person to see things differently.
Our brain’s neuropathways can change the way we think and experience things. If we have long periods of depression and our thought process is negative it impacts the way we see others and ourselves. With antidepressants, we are able to bypass the depression and different parts of our self begin to emerge. With consistent and regular positive thoughts, our brain chemistry alters and our perspective can change.
My experience tells me that clients who are very depressed do not utilise the process therapy offers at that time. The ideal combination is therapy with antidepressants. This can offer an opportunity for clients to understand the origin of their depression and work through and learn to manage their depression.
A new protocol is needed to look after clients from beginning to end to ensure they are on the correct dosage of medication and progressing. Psychiatrists/GP’s would do better to work together with psychotherapists/ counsellors in order to best serve their clients.