Vail Daily column: Quick fix for depression?
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Our society is constantly moving so quickly. We rush from here to there trying to accomplish all the things on our to-do lists. There never seems to be enough time to get everything accomplished, and as the evening draws to an end, we sit down and write our list of all of the tasks for tomorrow. Given this rush, when something goes wrong, we look for the quickest fix so we can get back to what we need to do, hopefully fast enough that we aren’t too far behind.
It seems like the pressures and stressors of modern life just keep increasing. There is always something more that we had wanted to accomplish, that somehow just didn’t fit into the schedule. This hectic schedule and the stress that we feel frequently leave us feeling run down and discouraged. Sometimes other things happen that make life more difficult. Before long, we may find that life isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be, that we don’t seem to have the energy we had in the past, that we either are having difficulty sleeping or want to sleep all the time, or that we are feeling down. If we stop to think about it, we know this is not our normal way of thinking and feeling. We may come to the conclusion that we need to do something.
For a lot of people, that answer is to run to their local doctor and discuss how badly they are feeling. The doctor offers help in the form of an antidepressant medication. The new generations of antidepressants are incredible medications that can help reset the brain’s balance of neurotransmitters, those chemicals that affect mood, energy and the like. Currently in this country antidepressants are the category of medications most prescribed by doctors. Once we have our little pill, we expect it to be a “quick fix” that will get us back to our old selves again. However, antidepressants can take anywhere from four to six weeks to get to a therapeutic level in the blood stream. Further, there are many to choose from and finding the one that you will respond to may take some trial and error. Despite this, they are very effective in helping combat depression.
Please note, I said “helping to combat,” not curing. This was very intentional. There is another step in this process that many people try to skip. In order for the medication to be most successful, one also needs to go see a counselor. The best way to explain this is to compare depression to a traumatic injury. If you mess up your ankle or knee, the doctor not only gives you a prescription to help with swelling and pain, but he will also order physical therapy to help rehab the joint. The medication alone won’t do it. This is also true with depression. Studies have shown that people who work with a counselor in addition to medication have much better treatment outcomes than those who use medication alone. This makes sense when we consider that the medication works on medical causes while the counselor helps address psychological and socio-cultural components.
Depression is highly treatable. Treatment is most effective when it is combated on a variety of different levels. Depression is not something you imagine or something to be ashamed of. It is real, with real causes and solutions. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, find a counselor you have a good rapport with and begin to get better. There is no need to be miserable.
April Wilson, LSW, is a counselor at the Samaritan Counseling Center, a nonprofit counseling center in Edwards. April can be contacted at 970-926-8558. For more information about the Samaritan Center go to http://www.samaritan-vail.org