You go to your doctor and tell him you’ve been feeling depressed. He asks you a few questions, and five minutes later, he prescribes you an antidepressant medication. He does not fully assess what’s causing the depression; he just gathers the symptoms you’re experiencing and concludes: it’s depression. Being a medical doctor, he’s been trained that depression, and many other psychological problems, is biologically based and caused by chemicals in your brain. Of course a pill will take care of it, he believes, because a pill will change the chemicals in your brain so you’re less depressed. That’s what he thinks anyway.
The truth is, depression and most other psychological problems are not caused by chemicals in your brain, but by your thinking. The thinking itself causes a chemical change and that’s what makes you feel depressed. But the chemical change is not the primary cause.
If you want to overcome depression, medication, simply put, won’t do it. Think about it. If medication could eliminate depression, then why are there still so many depressed people? If medication really worked, all you would have to do as soon as you started feeling depressed is pop a pill and Whamo, depression gone!
Medication may lessen the intensity of depression, which can be helpful while you address its source—your thoughts. But, it will not get rid of it, and any benefits you get from it will require taking the drug indefinitely. As soon as you stop taking it, the effects wear off, and you’ll feel depressed again (unless something else has changed in your life or in your thinking to relieve the depression.
The best long-term solution to depression is psychotherapy (or acquiring the thinking skills that are taught in therapy). Specifically, cognitive therapy has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for depression (and many other psychological problems). Cognitive therapy targets your thinking and teaches you to change irrational or inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that are driving the depression, to more accurate and realistic ones. Cognitive therapy teaches you thinking skills that you can use the rest of your life whenever you’re feeling down, so you don’t have to rely on a pill. Once you have these tools, you don’t need medication, because you’re able to address the source of the sad feelings—your thinking.
I am not against medication. It can be helpful in serious cases of depression to stabilize someone and get them on their feet long enough to get some therapy or support. But, I think it’s over-prescribed and prescribed too fast without looking at other more effective alternatives. Moreover, when it’s prescribed, it’s difficult to find the right medication at the right dose, and it can have serious side effects.
Some people find medication helpful, and if you do, more power to you. It’s a personal choice. But, I can guarantee that the medication alone will not resolve the depression, and you will actually need to take active steps to learn the thinking skills necessary to overcome it.