Saturday, April 2, 2011

Feeling down? It might be your medication (and not you) that's ready for a change

According to the Scientific American, 10 percent of Americans were taking prescription medication for depression and/or anxiety in 2008. Due in part to the amount of press and advertising anti-depression and anxiety medications get, we can assume that number has increased.

Despite the industry's constant advertising, it has become more commonly understood that prescription medication is not just a one-stop-shop type of deal. Anyone who has sought medical help in tackling these disorders knows the process can be complicated, abiding, sometimes discouraging and often hugely draining.

It usually takes about two weeks-four weeks for most medications to take effect. This also means working through whichever side effects captioned on the label (and the other 400 in the pamphlet) decide to ail you. These range from drowsiness, dizziness and nausea to seizures, hallucinations or irregular heartbeats. Most of us have heard--or maybe been a part of--the small percentage of people who become more depressed after taking these medications.

But for all the bad rap prescription anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications get, the fact remains that many times, especially when aided by healthy lifestyle changes and talk therapy, they work. At least for a while.

People adjust their habits and lifestyles to accommodate their bodily changes every day. High cholesterol? Cut out some of the grease. Noticing a sleight weight gain? Make a little more time for the gym. This concept remains when talking about anti-depressant medication. As changes in our brain chemistry occur, even if these changes are physically or otherwise harmless, it can have an effect on the chemicals that correspond directly with our mood, such as like dopamine. These changes range from minimal to debilitating.

The point is, have hope. If you're feeling down in a way that you haven't recently, you don't have to view it as a relapse into depression. Even if the same medication has been working for you for three years, that doesn't mean it will last forever. It's not expected to.

-Kate Midden

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