The Spiritual Girl’s Guide to Antidepressants
By: Lisa M. Hayes
In the deliberate creation and metaphysical communities, there are very few topics that bring up as much ire as the subject of depression and the use of anti-depressants. When you are trained to believe thoughts are things and your focus creates reality, depression can feel more like something you’re doing wrong than a medical condition that might need treating. And here’s the thing, depression is very personal. No two depressions are the same. We don’t get to judge anyone else’s depression. It’s hard enough not to judge yourself when you’re experiencing it.
Not all depressed people will need medication, but for those who do, there can be a lot of shame involved in that reality. That shame is especially sharp for those who think they should just get their thoughts on track and everything will be fine. The spiritual community isn’t set up with a language to talk about depression. The medical community has a difficult time with the subject sometimes. Society doesn’t like sad people. For a deliberate creator the reality can be even more confusing and disorienting.
Most people think depression characterized by sadness. However, there are many symptoms of depression.
- A depressive episode may include:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed.
Typically, there are two types of depression. There is situational depression, the type that’s caused by an event or a loss. Then there is chemical or chronic depression which is caused by a complicated dis-regulation of brain chemistry.
For most people, a situational depression will ease on its own in time. However, a severe episode of situational depression can become fixed as the neuroplasticity of the brain sets around a depressive mood state. So, if situational depression doesn’t lift in a few weeks, you might need help.
Chemical or chronic depression is a whole other animal. Some people’s brains just don’t produce the right chemicals in the right proportions to support a healthy and happy mood consistently. It’s a medical issue similar in nature to Type 1 diabetes. It’s not the patient’s fault. If you had Type 1 diabetes you might not like it, but you wouldn’t feel shame in taking your insulin. In the same way for some people taking an antidepressant is medically important.
It’s often said that depression results from simple chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is. Research suggests that depression doesn’t occur from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Often it’s described just that way as a simple serotonin imbalance.
The truth is there are countless possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. In most cases, it’s several of these forces interact to bring on depression.
To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions and combinations that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.
With this level of complexity, you can see how two people might have similar symptoms of depression, but the problem is on the inside, and therefore what treatments will work best, may be entirely different. Not everyone who experiences depressive mood disorder or depressive cycles would benefit from antidepressants, even if their depression is chronic or chemical. However, many do.
Some types of depression just can’t be managed by strong-arming your thoughts. You can’t always just think your way out of a chemical imbalance in your body. You wouldn’t suggest that to someone who needs insulin and it’s irrational to think you’re failing if you cant’ when it comes to depression.
The stigma of shame surrounding depression in society is very strong and it’s worse in the metaphysical, deliberation creation, and personal development communities. That shame in and of itself makes things much worse. Shame is an unhealthy emotion for anyone. However, for a person who’s experiencing depression, it’s like an anchor that makes you feel like your drowning.
It makes me sad to think about the many spiritual people who feel isolated and shamed by their feelings. It also makes me feel sad that deliberate creators feel like they can’t play with the Universe and create when they’re feeling depressed. While that’s not true, the spiritual community doesn’t nurture enough conversations about the sacred nature of sadness and often doesn’t embrace people who can’t find their feel-good thoughts or just get happy.
Depression isn’t a failure. It’s a medical condition. There is no way around that. And in some cases, it’s a medical condition that requires more than one approach to treatment.
Now, to be clear, I understand medications don’t work for everyone. I believe anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications are over-prescribed in our society. I know a lot of issues that are masked by medications could be addressed in other therapeutic ways, most holistically and permanently.
However, as true as that is, it is also true that some people will need pharmaceutical help. Some people can be on anti-depressants for a short period of time and their brain chemistry can recover. Others will need those meds forever. Either way, if you need them not taking them is a risky choice.
So, the bottom line is if you’re doing everything you can do to feel better and it’s not moving the dial, call a trusted prescribing doctor and have a conversation.
If you do decide to go the pharmaceutical route here are four deliberate creator friendly tips for success:
1. Medication without self-care will fail you.
Depression makes managing even the most basic self-care almost impossible for most people. The meds should give you enough of a leg up to have the energy and focus you need to take care of yourself. However, if you don’t take care of yourself the medication will fail.
There is no antidepressant or psych med on the market that can take you all the way. You’ve still got to do your part. Solid self-care is the foundation for brain chemistry. Sleep, exercise, and healthy food are the most important. But good self-care should also include spiritual and emotional elements.
2. You will still need to manage your thoughts.
Medications won’t do that work for you. However, medication might make it possible to do it at all. When your brain chemistry is out of balance it can be completely impossible to manage your thoughts and focus. The medication can create a neurochemical environment that makes what was once impossible doable.
However, if you think you’re just going to be happy because you’re popping a daily anti-depressant and everything will magically be different, you’ll be disappointed. You will still need to be the daily driver of your thoughts and by doing that you can be the curator of your emotions. The difference is, it will be doable where might not have been before.
3. Therapy is a thing and even if your depression was chemical therapy might make the medication more effective.
The underlying issues that contribute to causing depression might be chemical or they might have been something else that turned into a chemical imbalance over time. Either way, if you’ve been feeling bad for a long time working through those feelings in a supported environment with a professional significantly increases the chances the meds will work.
A good therapist or the right coach can make all the difference for long-term success with anti-depressants. Having someone in your life who hasn’t been impacted by your depression to talk to is invaluable as you work your way through the feels of sadness and even shame. Look for someone who speaks the language you do from an outlook or spiritual framework. Tell your therapist or coach you believe in the power of your thoughts and take that seriously.
4. Finding the right medication is more guesswork than science and it might take some experimenting to get it done.
A lot of people have stories about how they took a med before that didn’t work. However, medications and prescribing protocols have improved significantly over the last few years. A past bad experience doesn’t mean it won’t work now.
The first doctor you talk to might not be the right doctor for you. If you’re not comfortable or seeing results, look for someone else. The first medication you try might not be the right medication. So, you want to work with a prescribing doctor who knows what they’re doing and will take the time to listen and get it right over time.
Follow your intuition. Listen to your gut. No one is a better expert on you than you.
Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.
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