Monday, April 30, 2007

Antidepressants and Drug Therapy

Does it bother many people besides me that the drug companies are starting to rule the commercial airwaves roost? "Do you feel sad or depressed a certain number of days per month? Maybe you have that new illness nobody ever heard about before. If so, you should take our drug company's product. You know, the one we're required to tell you will cause dry mouth, poor sexual function or some embarrassing digestive complaint after dinner."

Not that many years ago people didn't tend to get drug therapy for very many situations. Now they do. When I first looked into becoming a therapist myself, a number of years ago, the norm was not to prescribe drug therapy unless the patient also embarked on a reasonable course of talk therapy, too. Now the drug companies seem to be in control and the insurance companies have followed suit.

Several years ago (before I became a medical intuitive) I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to get a prescription filled for a condition it turned out I didn't actually have. He didn't ask a lot of questions or put me through any tests and, most significantly, he didn't suggest therapy at all. He listened to my immediate family history, heard my fears that I might be manifesting similar symptoms (I see those as coping patterns now) and then trusted me—the patient who was afraid and not thinking clearly—to suggest what he should do. I knew the prescription was inappropriate as soon as I started to take it. I felt like I was in a straight jacket, couldn't even tear up for a Hallmark commercial that touched me to the core. I felt touched but I couldn't emote and release it. It was shocking to me. I threw that prescription in the garbage, healed my own issues without his help, and never looked back.

Years ago my friend Jaffy who has a somatic therapy and rolfing-like practice in Massachusetts told me that she always suspects Prozac when she finds that she can't get the energy in a person's body to move. Now she just asks up front.

What's disturbing to me is that a lot of the clients we see are depressed. If they were happy about everything they wouldn't need to come to us! We've seen that drug-induced "dead energy" phenomena, too. We've had significant success and breakthroughs anyway but it requires Paul to use what I think of as his energetic pile driver technique to do it and, sometimes, even that isn't enough.

It's a stunning phenomena.

Energy is supposed to move. But sometimes we really don't want to.

The last time I felt depressed and couldn't pull myself out of it, I had a job I couldn't stand. I was divorced and depressed about dating again after 20 years, my best friends had moved away, and I couldn't face the prospect of figuring out how to start my life over again. I didn't want to. Everything felt so out of control I just wanted to keep the job I had even though I didn't like it so I could stay in one place. I needed to feel in control again, safe, stable and in one piece.

A perfect candidate for drug therapy, you might say. But I didn't want to go down that route. So, eventually, I got sick instead. Chronic insomnia and perimenopausal hormone changes threw my adrenal system into overdrive and I wound up with hot flashes that were misdiagnosed as panic attacks. I was given drug therapy for that. It forced my body to override the signals it was putting out and let me get some sleep. That actually was a good thing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against using drugs when you need them but I am concerned about chemical dependency.

In order to get off those drugs I had to do something I said I really didn't want to do. I had to change my life and that's not a small thing.

I made the decision to leave my job as soon as I had enough money saved. And, while I was waiting and building up my bank account, I committed to doing something I cared about (art) every day and made it priority. I used herbs to heal my hormone imbalance, got regular exercise to keep the energy moving, and made sure I ate healthy food. I also insisted that changes were made at my job—I knew I was leaving anyway so what did I have to lose?— and those changes not only helped my life but the lives of everyone else, too. Unfortunately for my boss (;->) those changes came too late. Almost a year to implement so, while I waited, I had to stick to my plan so I wouldn't go down the slippery slope of hopelessness and depression ever again. Eventually, I left anyway.

Movement! The lifeblood of change. That's often what it takes for people to get well. When I went to school to get a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology I was told that the latest research had shown that the most effective form of psychotherapy for people with depression was not drug therapy or talk therapy. It was helping a person change the way they think and then helping them change the way they lived their lives.

It makes sense, doesn't it? If you're not happy with the conditions of your life today, talk only goes so far. You have to make new decisions (which requires thinking more positive thoughts) and then you have to take action. But if you use prescription drugs to push your feelings down so you don't have to do anything different, well, I hate to say it but is that any different from other forms of drug addiction?

I was scared when I threw my prescription away. I wanted my life to be better but I didn't want to "feel the fear and do it anyway." And yet I wasn't willing to accept illness or drug addiction either. So I took a chance and did a few small doable steps and new energy and possibilities came trickling in.

And then they came rushing in and I'm glad I did it.

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