Banishing the Darkness of Depression
Due to advances in medication, depression is now more treatable than many physical illnesses. However, only one out of three seriously depressed people ever seeks help! Although counseling can teach thinking and people skills that improve mood, the need for medication should be addressed first. The more of the following conditions that are present, the greater the need for antidepressants:
CHANGING THE CHEMISTRY OF DEPRESSION
Since the 1950s, nonaddictive antidepressants have helped 60–75% of people with depression find relief. Any side effects usually disappear or become tolerable after a couple of weeks. These medications act directly on various neurotransmitters:
The variety of options is steadily growing: tricyclics (TCAs), MAO inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other “designer” antidepressants that target very specific neurotransmitters with fewer and fewer side effects:
MAOIs—Nardil, Parnate: Increases level of adrenaline and serotonin by stopping their breakdown by MAO.
Atypical depression with low energy, anxiety, overeating, and poor sleep without low mood. First used for TB.
Nausea, high blood pressure, and headaches when taken with incompatible medication or food.
SSRIs—Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexia, Luvox: Act directly on serotonin flow.
Mild–severe depression. Also used for OCD, panic disorder, PMS, bingeing.
Difficulty with orgasm or arousal, nausea, agitation, or confusion.
Designer meds— Desyrel, Asendin, Serzone, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Remeron.
Best for mild–severe depression. Wellbutrin is also used to help stop smoking.
Penile erection, headaches, high blood pressure, restlessness, or insomnia.
Other options besides medication may be needed or preferred:
TAME YOUR TEMPERAMENT
People who are introspective and underreactive can be prone to brooding and feeling empty. If stagnation is allowed to continue, it can lead to serious problems. Understanding your temperament and modifying your habits can help manage low periods without antidepressants or boost the power of any medication you are taking:
See “Focusers” in Mastering Your Moods by Melvyn Kinder (Simon & Schuster, 1995).
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