You and Your Antidepressant

“The public will have to develop its own resistance to taking antidepressant drugs.”  Peter Breggin, M.D.

This morning’s reading of Dr. Peter Breggin’s article on the Huffington Post, “New Research:  Antidepressants Can Cause Long-Term Depression” causes me to wonder:  If I’d read the article anytime in the twenty-six that I took antidepressants, would it have stopped me?

The answer, of course, is that I wouldn’t have read the article.  I was too dumbed-out by antidepressants to read an article about antidepressants.  This brings us to the critical role that families play in the health of people with depression.  Only those who are near and dear to you will notice that since you started taking antidepressants—or had your antidepressant changed—you’ve become a zombie of your former self.  By and large, the drug-taker cannot see the negative effects of the drug, so it falls to others—usually the family—to see and act.

My family, who lived 270 miles away, acted by urging me (oh no, this was way beyond urge; it was major pressure) to keep taking drugs.  [Sigh.]  This is the problem with families:  they usually are the cause of depression.  It is in childhood that people learn to be depressed, that is, they are taught not to get angry (unexpressed anger being the cause of depression) and they don’t learn to take action, which is the cure for depression.  Most of us don’t invent these things in later life; we are taught them as children.

So it serves the family to keep the depressed person on antidepressants.  That way the family doesn’t have to examine itself and its behavior.  In my case, as in so many others, one person in the family is made the scapegoat for family dysfunction.  All the focus goes on the one person who, by virtue of mental illness, is taking all the time, attention and money from all the other members of the family.  “If only Joey didn’t need treatment then we would have enough money.”  “If only Joey weren’t acting out then we’d all be happy.”  “If only Joey didn’t need so much attention then there would be time for the rest of us.”

The “If Only Joey” response is characteristic of a dysfunctional family—and such families really like to have their depressed member on antidepressants.  Antidepressants are pills that alter the brain.  Taking them absolves the family of any responsibility for the person’s depression.  Going to a doctor and getting a drug prescription clearly stamps depression as a medical illness, not a mental illness, and when the patient is on drugs then the family can heave a sigh of relief because they are safe from examining what they did to facilitate depression.  The sick family never has to examine its sick construction if it is given the option of seeing depression as an illness in the body of one of its members.

Conversely, let us suppose that a healthy family has one member who becomes depressed.  (I’ve only heard of this happening with children.)  The parents, not knowing what to do about depression, take the kid to the doctor, the doctor prescribes an antidepressant, the parents give the kid the pills—and then watch him go to hell in a hand-basket.  The parents look at each other in shocked horror, stop the kid’s antidepressants, and start to learn more about depression and how to resolve it.

Dr. Breggin’s post (read it yourself at makes several points:

  • Statistically, if you take antidepressants then you are more apt to become re-depressed than if you take sugar pills.  In other words, taking antidepressants is worse than doing nothing.
  • One study showed that after 20,000 people took antidepressants for a year, only 4.5 percent stopped being depressed.  Imagine if 20,000 people took birth control pills for a year and 19,100 got pregnant!  Are you kidding me?  Why hasn’t the FDA taken antidepressants off the market?
  • “Prolonged SSRI antidepressant use can produce abnormal cell growth in the rat brain (neurogenesis) and decreased thalamic volumes in children (tissue shrinkage from cell death).”  Dr. Breggin is a doctor; I am what is called (in Great Britain) an Expert by Experience.  I have opinions; Dr. Breggin has scientific facts and we have come to the same conclusion:  antidepressants are really, really bad for you.

Nevertheless, you keep taking them:  “Antidepressants are the second most prescribed group of drugs in America.”

There are some other issues you might want to consider before you take your next dose of antidepressants:

  • The damage antidepressants do to relationships.
  • The association between taking antidepressants and getting fat.
  • The impact of antidepressants on your “dating” hormones.

Check back and we’ll look at these issues.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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1 Response to You and Your Antidepressant

  1. I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

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