Long-term benefits of anti-depressants

News from a recent study suggests that treating depression with anti-depressants may have a long term benefit by making it less-likely to re-occur. While this would be a definite benefit, if confirmed, I have to say that I am highly skeptical of the benefits – short or long-term – of using drugs to treat depression.

My experience with my own depression (and many others who suffer) is that it is always triggered by some form of physical source. It’s the situation that you are in, the bad relationship/job/environment etc. that causes the depression. How do you cure that with a drug?

It’s become fashionable now to say that everything is a ‘disease’ – depression, obesity, anxiety, growing up. This seems to be an especially popular viewpoint with people working with, or for, the big drug companies. This shouldn’t be a surprise; if everything is a disease of some form, then the drug companies can create (and market!) a ‘cure’.

Dr. Colman is quoted as saying that “Evidence suggests that cognitive behavioural therapies are as effective as anti-depressants”. In other words talking to someone who is depressed and helping them see that things aren’t as bad as they think, or that there is a way out from whatever is trapping them, works just as well as anti-depressant treatment. So why are we loading people (and often children) up with questionable drugs?

The answer seems obvious to me. Putting people on these drugs is a very easy solution for doctors. It takes two minutes, doesn’t involve a lot of time-consuming interaction and is a very effective way of deflecting ‘problem patients’. When you combine this with the fact that the drug companies provide generous benefits to Doctors who prescribe these products, the temptation is obviously overwhelming.

Anti-depressants don’t cure anything. They just mask the problem until – hopefully – it goes away. I’ve seen this with my own eyes on multiple occasions. They allow people to continue without addressing the actual root cause. Masking the real issues doesn’t seem to me to be a good strategy – but it is a nice easy one for everyone else but the person with depression.

It will be interesting to see if this research is confirmed. I suspect that we’ll see that it has no more benefit than a placebo.

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