Finding ways to get on
There's a lengthy article in the NY Times about one man's use of antidepressants. It's a story of depression, therapy, medication, and then the long arduous journey to get off the drugs. I found the article interesting at several levels and want to make clear that this man's story isn't intended to be a model on how best to use or stop using antidepressants. The story is just that; one man's story.
Towards the end of the lengthy article though, there was a quote that I found quite insightful:
Ron Duman told me about one way that scientists try to test the effectiveness of a given antidepressant in the lab. Put a laboratory rat into a beaker of water and see how long it struggles to get out. When it stops, remove it from the beaker and treat it with the drug. Repeat the test. If it struggles for a significantly longer time than before, the drug is considered to have antidepressant potential. Is this ability to keep us going altogether good?...when does reliance on a drug keep us from seeking ways to resolve the causes of stress?
It seems that we're a culture without adequate margins, so that when people are under great stress our first line of defense is to offer a chemical adjustment enabling people to push on and perform. Certainly there's a place for medication. Certainly adjusting physiological chemical imbalances has been a great blessing to many. And yet...
1 - I wonder if we've tried the ancient paths adequately before turning to medication. What ancient paths? Exercise, time spent in creation, lectio-divina (the prayerful reading of scripture), a safe relationship where we can share our deepest self, time to linger in conversation, are a few.
2 - I wonder how much our 'performance' oriented world pushes us to medicate (and let's not kid ourselves - caffeine taken for hit it provides is medication too). What it we could all take a nap instead?
If you're battling or have battled depression, I'd be grateful for your own thoughts on the roles these various elements, including medication, play in healing.