Recent headlines of celebrities committing suicide serves as a tragic reminder that depression is fatal and affects people across all demographics. For those who struggle with mental illness such as depression, no reminder is needed. The struggle can mean battling daily or hourly symptoms that overwhelm and detracted from the individual’s overall quality of life.
Depression can cause symptoms can include extreme fatigue, chronically low mood, mood swings, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, suicidal ideation, lack of concentration, irritability and increasing social isolation.
Some symptoms, such as irritability and social isolation can cause the depression to increasingly worsen. The more irritable and moody a person is the more others may pull away. Actively isolating oneself from friends and family can further increase feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and other depressive symptoms.
While in a depressive episode, the ability to see a way out of the low mood and other symptoms is greatly diminished. It can convincingly seem as though nothing will ever get better. Even if one believes that certain thing will help, exercise for example, the energy and motivation to engage in these activities can seem to escape a depressed person like air from the lungs.
The majority of Americans who have experienced at least one two weeks period of significantly low mood, which counts as a depressive episode, do not receive any treatment for the condition. The cause of this lack of adequate health coverage may be due to the rising costs of health insurance, the price of Antidepressants without insurance, access to care, or avoidance of getting help due to stigma surrounding mental health.
Fluoxetine, the generic version of Prozac, can cost over $250 for a one-month supply. Cymbalta can cost nearly $500 for a one-month supply at 90 milligrams a day. Then there is the doctor visit to get the prescription. Again, without insurance it could cost $100-300 per visit, on average.
Doctors should do their due diligence to ensure the health of the patient. When the costs add up, it can sometimes mean more than that individual can spare.
Financial matters explain why some people do not get the adequate care for depression, but not all. Antidepressants are not now, nor ever meant to be the sole treatment for any mental health issue. Antidepressants are thought to only help people truly overcome depression if combined with therapy.
The majority of Americans who take Antidepressants only use the drug-therapy to combat symptoms.
Studies have shown that Therapy combined with Antidepressants is far more effective in battling the symptoms of depression than drug therapy alone. Much of depression can be maintained through negative thought processes and self-defeating core beliefs. The thought and behavioral aspects of depression are not addressed with Antidepressants but can be cured with therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a gold standard in depression and addiction treatment. CBT helps individuals understand how their thoughts influence their reality. A negative core belief such as “I’m not good enough,” can cause enormous issues and perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophesy that strengths the individual’s belief in the statement. Much of these negative thought processes and core beliefs are so well-worn that the individual may not even recognize them as negative, abnormal or harmful.
It is these patterns of thought that Antidepressants do nothing to help. A person may start Antidepressants, feel better, stop the drugs but find that he or she is right back to the beginning. This is because no work has been done to remove some of the most harmful aspects of depression and other mental illnesses.
Only through concurrent treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Antidepressant medication can the individual hope to see long-term results. The goal behind all medical treatments is to provide relief and health to the person suffering. Antidepressants provide relief but the Behavioral therapy is what changes the person’s thinking for the better. Antidepressants should be used as a sole treatment.
Antidepressants are not free from side effects and complications. If a person has depressive symptoms that are not life-threatening, an attempt should be made to treat the depression with therapy alone. CBT or other forms of therapy have long been known to permanently cure the symptoms of depression, in some cases. This is not true of everyone and everyone should work with a therapist and doctor to determine what works best for them.
When it comes to depression, or any mental illness, there is no one size fits all. Despite all the chatter and recommendations from experts and quacks alike, everyone should investigate and find what works best for him or her. Whatever the answer, there is no guilt or shame in getting better.