In Defense of Antidepressants

Many doctors will over prescribe antidepressants. They might, for example, prescribe them for a normal grieving period after a loved one has died, or perhaps the person is having a rough patch where they are over stressed even though their rough patch appears to be temporary. The above mentioned scenarios are not truly clinical depression. These scenarios are part of the normal human condition.

However, in our society things are more complicated than they appear. For example, if someone in the immediate family dies, a person in retail setting may be allowed 3 days off without pay. (I will refrain from mentioning the particular store that’s on my mind.) Three days off really isn’t much right after the death of a spouse or a child, and of course there is that whole bit about not getting paid. Meanwhile, there are funeral costs and regular expenses. Antidepressants won’t take away all of the pain, but they will help a person be able to get out of bed and go to work.

Then there is our 2nd scenario: someone going through temporary turmoil. Let’s say, for example, their son has become addicted to drugs, and his life deteriorating. The parent is worried and wants to get him into rehab, and rehab is expensive. The depression and anxiety is not a state of being, but rather, it has a cause. It also has an expiration date for when the son quits using drugs and straightens up. (Assuming this does happen.) The parents have to be able to work and work effectively, and they need to be able to calmly deal with the situation. Antidepressants won’t make their son better, but it will give them some temporary relief during their struggle.

Now,perhaps my readers are wondering about therapy. It may even be that for many people therapy is more effective than drug. I really do heartily advocate going to therapy over drugs alone, and depending on the situation,perhaps try therapy before using medications. However, there is one big ugly problem. Drugs are cheap, and therapy is expensive. On my insurance for example, my copay for  a drug is negligible, but a copay on a therapist’s session cost as much seeing a specialist. Plus, therapy sessions are usually weekly. Now, I know some of this depends on the insurance company, but therapy is expensive on enough insurance plans that my argument holds.

On top of all this is another problem, I call that problem work. Sure, some of this depends on the job, but if a person is an hourly worker there is a very limited number of personal days a person can take off. That person doesn’t just have to be worried about getting fired. They also have to consider that they won’t be paid. FMLA (family medical leave act) does exist for illnesses, and it is a very good thing that does. However, people do not get paid when taking those allotted days off, and FMLA does not cover things like personal tragedies and death.

Personally, I’m all for not over medicating the population, but it’s not a problem created purely by people who want a quick cure. (Some of them do.) In order for our over medication to change, society has to change. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but I just don’t see this happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, people need to be able to get up everyday and take care of business. So until things change, I’m not going to take away the antidepressant from the retail worker who just lost her son or the family that has lost their son to drugs. In these type of situations if therapy is an option, take it, but I’m not going to frown on people who can’t.