health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Antidepressants: Can they all be considered medicine?

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What is medicine?

Definition of medicine

1 a : a substance or preparation used in treating disease

  • cough medicine

    b : something that affects well-being

  • he’s bad medicine
  • —Zane Grey

    2 a : the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease

  • She’s interested in a career in medicine.

    b : the branch of medicine concerned with the nonsurgical treatment of disease

    3 : a substance (such as a drug or potion) used to treat something other than disease

    4 : an object held in traditional American Indian belief to give control over natural or magical forces; also : magical power or a magical rite

    “Medicine.”, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

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    I respect the practice of medicine, as a matter of fact, I have considered a career in medicine since I was a child. It is my desire to make helping people a number one priority. Having said this. There are some areas and treatments used in medicine that I find to be confusing and downright harmful. Antidepressants affect me personally as I use them for treatment of depression. I trust my doctor and I believe the doctor is acting on training that she has received. There have been a few antidepressants prescribed to me that had ill effects that were so uncomfortable that I had to stop taking them. Seemingly a no-brainer to me is that if a drug is to be considered a medicine it shouldn’t cause harm.

    There have been many news articles and controversies surrounding the use of antidepressants. We see that many people who have committed violent crimes were taking antidepressants and many people are concerned about their detrimental effects. Was it the mental illness that caused these horrendous incidents or was it the drugs or a combination of both? I certainly don’t want to be taking a drug that has the potential to make me violent; this has never happened to me, but I have experienced the negative effects of certain drugs that were detrimental to my well being. My thought is that if a medicine causes harm, can it really be considered a medicine? E.g. Antidepressants that increase suicidal tendencies. Isn’t this a no-brainer that these kinds of drugs cannot be considered medicine? Depression causes suicidal thinking; a medicine should not affect a person trying to relieve the symptoms of depression, and certainly not intensify them. To me this is too risky and not worth any benefit(s) that the drug may produce.

    I am not a doctor and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from taking their prescribed drugs, but the last thing I expect from an antidepressant is to make me feel worse. I met a girl recently who had to stop taking the medicine because her anxiety and depression became worse for a few weeks when she started to take them. During my treatments over the past few years, I haven’t found the right combination or one antidepressant that has enabled me to function as I’d like to for more than a few months. Some people experience bouts of depression for a seemingly short time while others like myself suffer intense symptoms that are debilitating for years. Am I suffering for years because of not taking the right antidepressant for me? Why do some people suffer for a short time and others for longer? There isn’t a cure all type of antidepressant that works for everyone; why is this?

    Why don’t antidepressants work for everyone?

    People diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder each have differing intensities of symptoms, some more than others and scientists conclude it is because of a person’s genetics. The danger, says Dr. Marianne Müller is that people suffering intense depressive symptoms including suicidal tendencies don’t have enough time to try to find the right medicine that rids the person of suicidal thinking. Some people may commit suicide even though they are taking medicine for their depression. The presence or lack of transcription factor levels predicted with 76% accuracy how someone will respond to SSRIs (serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitor). This high level of response data is not enough to develop new medicines. It is noted by another doctor not involved in this study, Dr. Victor Reus, that the HPA axis most likely contributes to depression, that is the body’s response to stress. Researchers are looking for genetic differences to explain why different types of antidepressants don’t work well for everybody diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

    It has been estimated that more than half of people prescribed antidepressants don’t feel better after taking them. It has been found that the makers of antidepressant have not made the medicine to get at the more complex causes, instead they have oversimplified the cause and as such the drugs only target these simplified areas. The two main beliefs factored into the making of antidepressants includes difficult life circumstances and an imbalance in neurotransmitters as the causes of major depressive disorder. Depression researcher Eva Redei has found inconclusive evidence that stress contributes to depression, while she notes that the drugs purpose is to relieve stress symptoms. As for the theory that depression is caused by decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine she says that treatments aim at the effects, not the cause. Further research is necessary to determine what the cause is exactly.

    Another finding suggests that reducing the amount of autoreceptors may increase the positive effects of antidepressants. Autoreceptors are responsible for sending messages to the axon terminal deciphering how much of a neurotransmitter has been released. The higher the level of autoreceptors detected, the less effective antidepressants were shown to be.

    An obvious reason that antidepressants won’t work is because of a misdiagnosis. There are questions you should ask before commencing treatment to see if they are right for you:

  1. Is it depression causing pain?
  2. Are you willing to try different treatments for an extended period?
  3. Would antidepressants work best with another therapy such as counselling?
  4. Do you trust your doctor?

Basically, it’s best to realize that treatment may need to be ongoing and a matter of trial and error. Build a trusting relationship with your doctor and communicate about your concerns before taking an antidepressant. Know what to expect and be prepared for trying new medicines to alleviate your pain.

What to do when antidepressants don’t work effectively

If the antidepressants you have been prescribed aren’t helping you may have what is called treatment-resistant depression. It may be mild or severe. If you aren’t already seeing a mental health professional seek one out. They can determine what is contributing to your depressive episode(s) and what can be done about it while excluding other possible causes for your symptoms. Together you may find that you require more time to adjust to the medicine, you may need to increase the dose, or you may need to start taking a different type of antidepressant. This can be a frustrating time waiting for relief from this painful disorder. Reach out and talk about it with your doctor, a counselling phone line or someone you trust to get the support you need to help you through this time.

Other treatments are physical and include electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation. In addition, there are other measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Live a healthier lifestyle that includes the reduction of alcohol and drugs, eating a more nutritious diet, including exercise into your daily routine, and using stress reduction techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness.

I know from first hand experience about the difficulties faced when antidepressants don’t work. Reaching out to someone to talk about my experience has been helpful, but still caused me great concern when my mood was extremely low with no remedy. Taking pictures of nature was very calming and interesting during daily walks in the spring and summer. It is a frightening experience to suffer from despair and think about suicide daily; many people are speaking up about not having enough resources dedicated to helping people with mental health issues like major depressive disorder. Hopefully, soon enough we will have more options for remedy and relief for our painful symptoms of depression.

Leave a comment. Have you had an experience with antidepressants you want to mention?

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Children and depression

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Diagnosing depression in children

It is difficult to imagine a child suffering from the depths of depression but there are many who are diagnosed with different types of depression.  One may mistake the symptoms of depression as the child misbehaving or being lazy. When you see children acting out of sorts check for the symptoms of depression before you make a wrong judgement that could cause more harm by going without the medical care required to manage the illness. Types of depression includes:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar disorder

If you are concerned talk to your family doctor of pediatrician for a diagnosis and treatment. Even though they are young the thought of suicide can occur, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from the health care professionals including counselors.  

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Symptoms of depression in children

The symptoms of depression are mostly the same as for adults, but children need extra tlc so be kind even when children are in the rottenest mood because it is the disorder talking. You may think the child is being rebellious and disrespectful when they show irritability but it is a symptom of all forms of depression. When the child is not doing their homework or is slow in the morning to get ready for school on a regular basis it could be fatigue from depression causing them to be so slow. Children may lose interest in playing with their friends, hobbies and sports. Other symptoms include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling rejected
  • Sleep troubles — over and under sleeping
  • Aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating

Looking back, I see that doctors started to catch on to my symptoms including stomach aches when I was in grade 8 and just had my appendix taken out. I didn’t have the ability to tell them how I felt suicidal, I didn’t realize it is a medical concern, I thought it was because of a negative attitude. I told one of my friends once that I thought about suicide, but children don’t know what to do to help so I suffered alone. I missed a lot of school in grade 7 and was quite irritable; it is amazing that I had any friends. When you see symptoms please don’t ignore them because it is very painful and confusing to a child, you may save the child a lot of needless pain and suffering alone.  

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Depression and seniors

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Why do elderly people get depressed?

 Depression is no respecter of age; it is diagnosed in teens, younger children, adults who are in mid-life and in the elderly. It is well noted that sickness and depression go together, not that all elderly people are sick, but many have chronic illnesses. When older adults experience depression and a painful illness, they can be apt to isolate themselves. If you know someone like this, you might want to consider checking in on them and spending quality time together.

Older people become widows and widowers that causes grief which has similar symptoms to clinical depression . Doctors are urged not to diagnose people with depression when they are grieving. Retirement can also cause major depressive disorder to occur in older adults. It is important to know the signs to help yourself or a loved one who is in despair from depression.

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Signs and symptoms of depression to look for

If you suspect that your elderly friend or loved one is suffering from depression, educate yourself about the signs and symptoms so you can help them before it gets worse. Signs and symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • change in appetite
  • feelings of despair
  • isolation
  • troubles with sleep (too much or too little)
  • forgetfulness
  • slow body movements
  • lack of hygiene
  • low self esteem
  • suicidal thoughts

You don’t have to care for the depressed person on your own. Find help in the community in places such as: your family doctor, church, family and friends and community groups dedicated to help people with depression.

Retirement and depression

For some, retirement is a phase in life that is rewarding and fulfilling. For others, it is a time of loss and emptiness. The good news is that there are ways to prevent and cope with this time which can be embarrassing for some people, but it is important to talk about it. It is just as important as planning your financial future. A few ways that retirees find helpful to alleviate boredom and depression includes:

  • ​volunteer work
  • engaging more actively in hobbies
  • stay active by walking, playing sports, swimming
  • get social play cards, bingo, bus trips
  • spend more time with your grandchildren
  • self-employment
  • part-time work

    ​It is important to note that these activities may not be suitable for everyone. Do what you like and explore new activities to keep engaged and fulfilled. Many retirees are happy immediately after retiring but years later become depressed. Plan so your needs are met later on.

    Chronic illness and depression

    There is a correlation between chronic illness and depression that needs to be known for assessing whether to get help for an elderly person who displays signs and symptoms. A high percentage of people with a chronic illness experience this double trouble that hinders important areas of one’s lifestyle. It is difficult to cope with not being fully abled and living the life they desire due to the disabling conditions that lead to depression.

    ​Research shows that chronic medical conditions with depression have a high prevalence rate. These conditions include multiple sclerosis, heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Stay educated about depression to nip it in the bud early. Some mistake the pain and sadness to the chronic condition, but it can be depression that needs to be treated differently than the major condition. Talk to a doctor about the symptoms and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends

Depression is the #1 cause of disability worldwide

Depression is more common than you may think

Clinical depression is diagnosed more often in women, but the impact it has on a person’s life is similar.  The World Health Organization gives an estimate of 800,000 deaths per year due to suicide and this illness is the second leading cause of death amongst young people aged 15-29. Suicide is an extreme effect of depression and not all people diagnosed with clinical depression succumb to their despairing thoughts of committing suicide.

Why it is important to break the stigma and end discrimination

Too many people regard depression as something that you can will your way out of and just snap out of it. This is not true. Positive thinking helps but it needs the help of medicine and therapy. It is a real illness just like diabetes; most people are not faking being depressed for want of attention. The attention one receives can be mean spirited and alienating. Yes, the symptoms of depression make people physically and mentally tired making them weaker, but it takes a lot of strength to live day to day with debilitating and painful symptoms.  Many more people can be helped by promoting education about depression and paying attention to serious warning signs of suicidal ideation. When someone says they want to kill themselves it is important to take them seriously and get help for them.

Depression in the media

Great strides have been made in ending the stigma with the help of major businesses contributing to the funding for public education. One such campaign is the Bell Lets Talk About It yearly campaign. With the help of celebrities, people are encouraged to end the stigma of clinical depression and help people find the help that they need.  There should be no shame in asking for the help that people need when in duress because of depression; due to lack of understanding, too many people dismiss those who are asking for help, but with these public campaigns kind of normalizing depression, many more people may be willing to help someone out without harsh judgement and treatment.

Depression debilitates people from all walks of life

Clinical depression affects people from every socio-economic class, age group and colour. Money and status cannot prevent depression from ever happening as we can see with some celebrities that have committed suicide. It is a confusing illness that leaves many people bewildered including sufferers and family and friends alike. Depression is not a matter of being ungrateful, it is a serious mood disorder that requires the help and understanding of others. 

21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress Purchase here

health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Seniors Find That Doing Good Is Good For You

Senior citizens can fight depression by volunteering in the community.

(NewsUSA) – There are two things that older adults have in spades these days: time and knowledge. And both make them the perfect match for

#volunteering. By giving back as little as two hours a week, or about 96 hours a year, older adults are discovering how to keep their lives active and healthy.

Research shows that #seniors who volunteer can combat #depression, stave off chronic pain, and boost brain power. In short, volunteering can promote longevity. Still need another reason to get out and volunteer? With the number of volunteers age 65 and older expected to double in a few years, chances are you’ll reconnect with old friends and make new ones. “Volunteering gave me a reason to get up in the morning and stimulated my brain as I learned about topics and issues that were completely unfamiliar to me,” says one volunteer.
To help educate older adults about the benefits of volunteering, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) launched a public education campaign to raise awareness of the issue and to prompt older adults to take action. The centerpiece of the campaign is a publication, “Doing Good Is Good for You: Volunteer!”
This brochure provides you with a Self-Assessment Checklist that can help you evaluate the range of issues and activities that you may find most interesting in a volunteer setting. For example, are you interested in animals, politics, or art? Do you enjoy activities such as gardening, tutoring, or counseling? The Checklist gives you dozens of options.
One prospective volunteer who completed a checklist of his interests was a lifelong musician. He checked “arts and culture” as a favorite and said he loved teaching others. When the local volunteer coordinator signed him up, she had no idea that his instrument of choice was a ukulele. Two years later, his lessons have become so popular, he’s teaching in two senior centers to packed classes.
The point is, there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone, and it can be found with the simple click of a mouse.
For more information on volunteering, and to download your free copy of the brochure and other resources, visit and find the “Volunteer Resource Center” under n4a Initiatives.

Beating the Senior Blues: How to Feel Great and Enjoy Life