When Antidepressants aren’t the best option (2)
By: Beth McHugh 2006
Antidepressants can be, quite literally, lifesavers. Yet as we saw in When Antidepressants aren’t the best option (1), these drugs aren’t always the best treatment for depression. Let’s look at some scenarios where antidepressants are being prescribed inappropriately.
John’s wife died three months ago, and he has lost interest in his hobbies, moves aimlessly around the house starting tasks but seldom completing them. He is not sleeping well, wakes early in the morning, and has all but lost his appetite. John is showing many of the early signs of depression and his doctor has supplied him with a prescription for antidepressants.
Fortunately, John has a caring extended family and a good neighbor.
They correctly recognize that John is not suffering from clinical depression,
he is experiencing reactive depression. In short, he is behaving
in a completely normal way to a sad and life-changing situation. John
has not spoken much about his wife’s death, but slowly and gently
his sister encourages him to talk about his beloved wife, and eventually,
This process is repeated over several weeks and months, and John has a chance to express the intense grief he has been bottling up, and over time, even begin to remember the happy memories he has shared with his wife and be able to think of her and smile. His brother takes him fishing each Saturday to get him back into the swing of things, and his wonderful neighbor regularly sends in food so that John eats well. John is very fortunate to have such a caring support team.
People often forget that it takes at least one year to go through the grieving process after the death of a significant other, and to take antidepressants during this period denies the person the ability to work through the process in their own way and in their own time.
There are no cut and dried rules for grieving; only that it takes longer than you might think. In the fast-paced world that we live in, everything is supposed to happen quickly, including getting over death, and we are increasingly tempted to take medication to deal with the natural processes of life. In the end, taking antidepressants prematurely only slows down the grieving process. As Jennifer Unlimited said:
Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the window.
Next article, we
will look at another case where antidepressants are useful for short-term
therapy, in conjunction with lifestyle changes.