#2. Finding the Right Medication Is a Guessing Game
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Cracked writer Mark Hill touched on this point in another article when he explained that we don't know a whole lot about depression. Yeah, we're learning more about it every day, but as of right now, we don't have it down so well that we can hear a list of symptoms, prescribe the appropriate medication, and then let the drugs do CPR on our broken rainbow generators.
Certain types of depression require specific types of medication. Couple that with the fact that each person reacts to those chemicals differently, and you basically have to set up a dartboard, prescribe whatever you hit, and see what happens.
The real trouble starts when the patient gets frustrated, not understanding exactly how long it takes for these things to show any sign of working. As Mark explained, it can take up to six weeks to have even the faintest clue. Meanwhile, the patient thinks, "I've been taking these things forever, and they're not helping. This is a fucking sham. I'm going to contact that witch like I should have done in the first place."
Witch it right on up; I can feel it working!
Those who stick with it often find that they have to try three or four different meds before they land on the right one, each of them taking just as long to find out if it does anything. So it can take several months just to be prescribed the correct treatment. After that, it's a matter of continuing the treatment even after you feel better. It's an enormous process that takes massive amounts of time and dedication, and often the patient will feel much worse before they feel better. I think giving up on that process in mid trial is why we still have so many depressed people vocally against the idea of treating it with drugs.
It's like putting a vacuum on the wrong setting and then saying, "I tried to clean my living room floor, but that vacuum barely worked, if at all. So I put it away, and a week later my floors were even dirtier than before. This whole thing is bullshit."
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My floors are clean, but I still thirst for the screams of the lamented.
#1. Meds Alone Often Don't Fix the Problem
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When you've gone to the doctor long enough, you get used to a pattern: Your balls started itching after having sex with 12 prostitutes. It appears to be crabs. The doctor prescribes you some cream to get rid of them. You have your pool boy apply it a few times a day, and booyah: no more crabs. Here are the symptoms, here's the cure, get the fuck out of my office, slut.
On top of the problems mentioned in my last point, many people don't understand that medication alone is often not enough. Relying solely on pills is usually a disappointment; although they do help relieve some of the anxiety and stress caused by depression, they don't address the underlying mental issues. So when a patient shows up to the doctor, lists off his symptoms for brain crabs, and doesn't walk out with a cure-all pill, he gives up on the process and resigns himself to the depression until it (hopefully) passes on its own.
"Have you tried not being a pussy?"
Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, many people need counseling in conjunction with the medication. Because let's face it: Unless you have an incurable, chronic problem, you can't keep taking pills for the rest of your life as your go-to coping device. There are often things outside the realm of a physical chemical imbalance that need to be addressed. Work is too stressful. You're intimidated by large crowds. You're afraid to sleep because your husband thinks it's funny to Dutch oven you several times a night. Those things need to be talked out and confronted. Pills can't do that for you.
But that idea of pills = cures gets us every time, and we end up confused about why we still feel like shit months later. Medication will help fight infections after leg surgery, but physical therapy is what gets you walking again. Counseling is physical therapy for your brain. Go get it some exercise and then kick the world's ass with it.
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