Every once in a while, I get one right.
A study conducted by University of Connecticut psychology professor found the anti-depressant drugs (Prozac, Paxil, etc.) work only marginally better than a placebo in treating depression. The drugs, designed to correct chemical imbalances in the brain, did have a high number of successes in treating those who took it, but the number was almost equal to those who took the placebo.
While the difference was statistically significant, the narrow margin has caused many to wonder of these miracle drugs, now used to treat everything from PMS to general anxiety, are really that effective at all, something that should have been asked years ago.
You see, as a society we've begun doping ourselves to cure our blues without pondering if it was the right approach. After all, the pill is the scientific method of curing everything and that blind faith in physical medicine caused us to overlook one critical fact, that these drugs were designed to treat people with a chemical imbalance in the brain while most people with depression have an imbalance in their lives.
While some people are indeed depressed due to biological factors, I'd venture that the number is much lower than most would have you believe. Simply put, most people who are depressed are depressed for a damn good reason and giving them a pill to fix a chemical imbalance that isn't there will do nothing but bring on nasty side effects.
But this hasn't stopped psychiatrists across the world from having a blind faith in the abilities of these drugs. If you go into a psychiatrist office today with a case of depression, most likely, one of the first things he/she will do is give you a prescription, regardless of your reasons for being there. It doesn't matter if you lost your job, your mother died or if you're getting beat up everyday at school, Prozac is the miracle solution and if that doesn't work try Zoloft or Paxil, one of them has to work.
But the fact is, they don't. All they do in most cases is turn smart, intelligent people into zombies. These drugs strip away peoples natural defenses at a time in which they need all of their faculties to survive all the while doing nothing to address the real problem.
Now I don't think psychiatrists are bad people for doing this. The allure of a miracle cure for a disease as complicated and as devastating as depression is very great. But the fact is that there is no miracle cure and even the most gung-ho about the power of these pills has come to realize that they aren't completely effective.
I'm also not about to say that there isn't a place for these pills in modern medicine. They clearly do their job well and in some cases are quite useful. But while I'm no medical expert, they should be used as a last resort, something to try when traditional therapy has failed. They should never be used to treat depression when the cause hasn't been established, even if it's a part of the double-barrel approach (medicine and therapy) that many psychiatrists tout.
Prescribing medicine without good cause, especially medicine that alters the mind, is not just a waste of money, but potentially dangerous. I wouldn't tell anyone to have open-heart surgery just because they have chest pains (it could be gas after all) I'd at least want to check their pulse before tinkering with their insides and such is the case with these drugs.
So I hope that psychiatrists take this study to heart. The effectiveness of these pills have for a long time been in serious doubt and this study only furthers it. There are so many variables at play when it comes to depression and without addressing the right one or the right combination thereof, you're never going to solve anything. If doctors continue blindly prescribing these pills, they'll find themselves doing more harm than good for a majority of patients and many of those lost souls, already suffering from a terrible disease, can't afford to take another hit.
It's time for us as a society to take another look at the way we use the pills and think long and hard about what we hope to accomplish with them. We need to remember that one man's salvation is another's damnation and that without carefully considering what we're doing, we could be condemning those who need help to a fate far worse than the one they started with.
It's a brutal truth, but one we need to accept.