I started taking anti-depressants at 19 and am still on them 16 years later. If I could go back, I would not have gone on them. I have tried in the past to stop taking them, but I can only go so long before I have to get back on them. I’ve done the “clean living” route to get off of them, but even in the best of times, I still have to be on them.
There is no fast and quick answer that fits everyone, however, here are a few points I have learned over the years. The prevailing theory on depression is that the brain is not producing enough chemicals (be it serotonin, nor-epinephren, etc). The problem is that there is no way to measure what these chemical levels are in your brain. Yes, depression could be caused by a chemical imbalance, or it could be an outside factor that needs to be dealt with.
Even after taking meds for a while, there is still no way to measure whether the chemicals have increased. Scientists know the chemicals are increased because they crush up the brains of animals and analyze the levels, but they don’t know HOW the levels are increased.
This leads to an important point about the human body, it wants to be in balance. Take, for example SSRIs. The idea is that the receptors in the brain that are responsible for re-uptake of serotonin are suppressed resulting in higher serotonin levels. However, the body wants to retain its balance of serotonin so one theory is that the brain increases the amount of receptors. This increases the re-uptake of serotonin which will lower the level back down to where it was. It is not known whether or not the body can “turn-off” these additional receptors once you stop taking the medication which means that without the aid of drugs, your body will not be able to produce enough serotonin naturally. Basically, if you weren’t chemically imbalance before, you are now.
And, of course, that is only one theory about how anti-depressants work. The truth is that there is no clear cut answer out there, but I tend to agree with this one based on other things we know about the body.
I am not saying that anti-depressants are horrible for everyone. They can be very helpful, but I believe they should be used as a last resort and not prescribed after 30 minutes of talking to a person. And some are certainly more “damaging” than others. Do a little search for Effexor withdrawal. That shit is horrible and one of the main reasons, I believe, I still need to take meds today.
I would never presume to know what is going on with another person so you need to do what is best for you. If you honestly believe that they will help you and you are OK with the idea of potentially being on them for your entire life, do what you need to do. However, don’t buy the line that a lot of therapists like to throw out that they will put you on them temporarily to help you until therapy starts to work. I have yet to see that work for anyone.