Monday, February 16, 2009

To Pill, or Not to Pill ...

Hello Friends:

So my second-ever poll had five responses! This is a big deal to me, since as far as I know I have three regular readers. So whoever took the survey, thanks!

The poll came out like this - with answers preceded by the number of votes:

My opinion about mind meds (like prozac) is ...
(1) They make things much worse
(0) They don't help at all
(1) No experience with mind meds
(1) They help a little, or intermittently
(2) Couldn't cope without them

So with almost nothing for data, I'll manage to create a blog post around it anyway :)

This little poll seems to generally reflect the country at large in the sense that there is a wide spread of opinion about the use of medications in treating illnesses like anxiety and depression. There are those that believe the proliferation of SRI-type meds is a national tragedy, and those that believe they are a gift direct from the Divine. As with a lot of things like this, I think the truth is partly both, party neither, and then partly something completely different.

One of the negative aspects is that in some cases people who really don't need mind meds end up with a prescription anyway. This might result from pressure from a doctor, erroneously thinking that any hint of anxiety or depression warrants pills. Or pressure from a patient who believes that if you go to a doctor you have the right to leave with a prescription for something, or else it was a waste of time. Doctors can also find themselves under pressure from other avenues; for example, these pills are big business. There are very strong lobbies and advertising backing the meds. Another negative aspect is that some people need treatment much more aggressive than a prescription for an SRI med. There are those who have complex issues who are not getting proper care in lieu of the simple expedient of a magic pill. They may need immediate intervention, even hospitalization, but their needs are not identified because of an idea that there is an 'easy solution' that should work for them.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, of course, but for me the meds have been a blessing - but they are not a cure.

The real healing and cure for my issues is a result of the interaction of a lot of factors playing off of one another, gaining momentum, and moving forward together. One of these key factors is therapy with a good psychologist. The meds give me a break from the overwhelming emotions so I can get myself to therapy, and then get the most out of it when I'm there. The therapy is really the place where all of it starts to work, and the meds allow me to handle talking about some of the really tough issues with without turning into jello.

Other major factors are: eating better, making good sleep a priority (not merely an option), making some exercise time for both active things like the treadmill and more contemplative things like yoga. Then there are factors like building a stronger support network with family and friends, educating myself about my illnesses, and for me - doing all sorts of writing (like this blog, say).

And it is slowly working. Over time, I am actually getting better. It isn't always up, sometimes there is a lot of down. But the ten year trend is most definitely up. The meds are only one part, but for me they are an important part. What works is doing lots of different, positive things, letting them build on one another, each making the other more powerful, more effective. It is hard, and it is taking decades, but it is beginning to look like a day without fear or self-hatred isn't a dream. Instead, if I keep up with therapy, meds, taking care of myself and the rest, it is starting to look like a matter of time.

Your Hostess with Neuroses

Image from flikr via Creative Commons by MargauxV


The Tenacious Writer said...

I think you have the right approach to dealing with chronic anxiety and depression. The best way is to customize a variety of approaches for oneself--diet, exercise, fun hobbies, time with friends, sleep, medical care--it's like a financial portfolio. It is always safer and more effective to diversify.

The Blue Morpho said...

I love that - diversification. I completely agree.

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