It is so interesting to me at how many commercials there are for depression medications. Have you noticed them lately? And it’s the side effects that really are depressing. Just think about it: “This medication may cause drowsiness, dizziness, sleep problems (insomnia), nausea, upset stomach, gas, heartburn, constipation, weight changes, dry mouth, yawning, ringing in the ears, decreased sex drive, difficulty having an organism (changed the word; this is a family blog!), thoughts of suicide, very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out, vomiting, and explosive diarrhea!”
Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear these sorts side effects it makes me wonder why anyone with depression might even take medications like this. Now don’t get me wrong, I take an antidepressant because I have dealt with depression all of my life it seems–at least for a very large part of my life. I don’t by necessity see anything wrong with taking medication if it’s going to help you to level out and help you to think more clearly. They have helped me and keep me more emotionally stable and they help me keep my thoughts in order. I just happen to be one of the melancholy types. But, I really don’t think I want to know the side effects of these medications if they’re going to scare me to death!
Then there are the characters that they show on the commercials. I like the picture that I chose for this post simply because I like Strong Sad and the Zoloft character. I think they’re funny looking. But the real people that they show with masks or with paper plates that people have in front of their faces really don’t show what it’s like. I mean, who walks around with a paper plate in front of their face? Granted–and I understand why they do this–it is a picture of a depressed person who is hiding how they really feel. And depression is a serious mental disorder. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my own life because others really don’t see it. They don’t know what it feels like unless they’ve dealt with long bouts of the depression. It’s more than just “the blues.” The actors who portray the depressed people just don’t seem real to me.
First, they show them as being really depressed and sad, with no desire for anything in life. To a point I think that may be true for some, but it’s not true for all depressed people. They just see life differently than others. Then, after taking the medication that they are advertising, all of a sudden they’re happy and all is well in their new world of wellness. Well, life isn’t really like that either. Granted, you have between thirty seconds to one minute (or even two) that show the person go from the muck and mire to the “sky is the limit.” But that’s not always the case.
Second, I think that most depressed people, after taking the medications for a while (most meds don’t start working for a person right away; it takes up to two weeks to a month for meds to get in the system), will be able to better cope with their life situations. These meds generally give people a better sense of where they are so they can better deal with whatever the issues are with which they are dealing, but they don’t solve the issues. Many times the medications simply help the person to think more clearly so they can then have talk therapy. This helps them to work out their problems and makes life easier for them. Sometimes medications only need to be taken for a little while and with other people it may be the rest of their lives that they need to take the medications, depending on their doctor’s recommendation and their own personality.
Finally, the commercials are not always telling everything either. There are so many different side effects that perhaps they can’t mention in the commercials in the amount of time that they have. I would suggest that before anyone begins taking these sorts of medications that they really do their research on them and know exactly what the side effects might be in order to know in the case that they experience them. And of course, doctors will tell you that if you read all the side effects, you’ll end up experiencing a lot of them because you’re already dealing with depression and anxiety and all sorts of other things. But I’ve always done the research so I can know. I want to know. If I don’t like the way they make me feel, then I stop taking them and speak with my doctor about it. And there have been times when I needed them and when I no longer needed to take them.
So, let me close with this: If you deal with depression, know that the commercials are not all that accurate when it comes to the portrayal of those who are depressed for fifteen seconds then excited and happy the last fifteen seconds of the commercial. It takes time to work through life’s issues–and that’s alright. Some of us move slowly through those issues because we are thinking about so many things all at once. That’s where the medication helps to get the thoughts in order.
And remember, it’s alright if you’re depressed; just do what you need to do so you can continue to live life. Depression is not the end. Sometimes it’s just the beginning of living and learning.