Oh yes, this is definitely a controversial topic, with a WIDE array of opinions on both sides.
MY take on medications is that they can be a very useful PART of a treatment plan for depression (or anxiety, whichever is the case). I think one of the problems lies in the fact that people think they can take a medication and it will "cure" their depression. It's a treatment that helps to manage the symptoms. Other parts of treatment are equally, if not more important in management of depression. That could include therapy, lifestyle changes, etc.
I personally have had positive experiences with antidepressants, in treating both my panic disorder and the secondary depression I often suffer from as a result of the anxiety disorder. I recognize that many people have NOT had a good experience, which is unfortunate.
I will always recommend that folks give the choice to take a medication a LOT of thought...weigh the pros and cons. Do their homework. Trust in a physician is important, but never blind trust. I hate when I see people post with a horrible medication story, only to say that they just thought their doctor knew best, they asked NO questions, did no research. We see that ALL the time with people abruptly stopping medications. The common reason is "I didn't know, no one told me". Sigh. That's so frustrating.
So, I'm definitely a proponent of medications, used in the right context, and not as a substitute for other forms of treatment. I think, unless a person has truly debilitating symptoms, other avenues should be explored first.
Great topic....these kinds of discussions are always good, for us to learn from one another. We need to be our own biggest advocates no matter what.
I am in the middle, in a sense. I do take medicine from time to time. I do not want to fully be off my meds nor on them. The good thing is I do not have to choose a side in this. I can take my meds if I want and no one is making me take them if I don't want.
I fi had to choose either way I would be un-medicated but that is just an illusion for me right now. My mind doesn't shut off when the night time comes. Sometimes I am able to get natural sleep and sometimes (when the obsession of the day has not ended) I take my night time meds.
If you are just starting medication do not make a decision as to whether you are for or against medication. Try a few times to see if one works for you because we all are different. If you have tried several medications and you do not like the feeling you get then by all means try to live a life without medicine.
Living medicated and living without medication both have their own rewards and risks.
When I started having anxiety problems I went with therapy alone for several years while my phobias got worse to the point where I went on medication. The two drugs that helped just stopped me from getting new phobias but didn't help get rid of the old ones much. Still, that was better than nothing. But I also got the usual side effects. The tricyclic gave me dry mouth and constipation, and took a while to get over the sedation. I believe the dry mouth aggravated to the extreme dental problems and led to several root canals and now I'm losing those teeth. Docs also put me on clonazepam, which I don't think ever helped me much but each successive psychiatrist has kept me on it. I was never told how addictive it was and how horribly difficult it could be to stop taking, so I'm kinda stuck with it. Several drugs didn't help, one made me worse, then I ended up on Paxil, which did the same thing the tricyclic did before it stopped working. This also sedated me and I gained 50 pounds over the years I was on it and changed my personality to make more angry and aggressive. Again, I was never told how hard it would be to stop taking, and when I did taper off it because of the side effects I went into a permanent withdrawal which my psychiatrist not only did nothing about but refused to acknowledge. I will never recover and it ruined my life. This of course led me to do my own research, and I learned that psychiatrists and doctors know very little about these drugs. I learned how many researchers believe the drugs if taken for a prolonged period of time, something which most of us do but which was never tested in clinical trials, produce permanent changes in many people's brain chemistry in ways that haven't been specifically discovered and which explains why most people can never live normally again without going back on them. This and other discoveries have led me to a few guidelines: first, doctors know very little about anything, but don't admit it except to one another so they don't stop the money coming in and don't discourage their patients -- optimism about outcomes is very important to successful healing -- so patients need to be aware as much as they can of changes that occur when taking meds so they can tell the doctor and insist they know it's the drug since everything else is unchanged; second, pharmaceutical companies control medical education, so again, the patient has to be aware of this not to avoid care but to know whether what's happening is what was expected; third, following the medical maxim of first, do no harm, nobody should ever take medication of any kind unless absolutely necessary. If time permits because the condition isn't fatal, as with mental illness, all other avenues including natural medicine should be exhausted before taking drugs because all drugs while treating symptoms produce other problems so why hurry to get on them? Sometimes you get the impression that people think the drugs are going to disappear if they don't immediately go on them; next, don't go on drugs for things the drugs can't fix or even help with -- if you have a hormonal problem, don't go on an antidepressant because your doctor is too busy or too stupid or too lazy to deal with the real problem, for one example. If there's a death or a break-up and you're sad, that's not a mental problem, that's life; see a therapist or spiritual adviser, not a doctor. So these are just a few guidelines my extreme case has led me to advise. And then, if nothing helps and your life is too miserable to enjoy, take the flippin' drug. Keep everything in the tool chest, including the drugs, just make them the last resort, and stay in therapy or whatever you can find the motivation and money to do to try and fix the problem so you can get off them, which for us mental disorder sufferers is the real fly in the ointment -- out disorder takes away our motivation or freedom of movement or ability to earn the money to see the best practitioners, who seldom take insurance. This is where friends and family come in, but yeah, I know, we usually lose that, too. But again, if you get to the point where drugs are the best choice, then yeah, take the drugs.