Remeron. Cymbalta. Paxil. Zoloft. Klonopin. Valium. Ativan. Nuvigil. Adderall. Vyvanse. Gabapentin. Effexor. Lexapro. Celexa. Buspar. Trazodone. Lamictal. Risperidone. Lithium. Hydroxyzine.
The preceding 20 medications are all psych meds that I am either currently taking or have taken at one time or another. They are the ones that I remember; there are more. I call psychiatry the medication roulette wheel. It is like a piece of spaghetti that is thrown at the wall: let’s see if it sticks. The efficacy of so many of these medications leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t think I have ever come across a more inexact arm of medicine than psychiatry.
Given the problems with psychiatry, you might wonder: why even go on these drugs? The answer is simple: so I don’t die. I have severe major depressive disorder along with anxiety, PTSD and a few other diagnoses. Suicidal ideation is something that I live with on a regular basis. Although both talk therapy and psychiatry are extremely disappointing, they are the main things we are offered as solutions and the main things that are covered by insurance. And so I try them and hope that they keep me alive.
What has amazed me is how many I have tried and how many have not worked. Or they slightly work and bump your mood up just a little bit. Although I think the regimen I am on now is one of the best in my own history, it certainly hasn’t wiped out my depression. If they have developed a drug to do that I haven’t heard of it. And I definitely would have heard of it because it would be raking in billions upon billions of dollars. Like talk therapy and psychiatry, I wish that psychotropic drugs worked better. I wish that they worked quicker and more consistently. Some of them have a habit of “pooping out” over time and then are no longer effective.
There are definitely times I wish I could take every last bottle and go and throw them in the dumpster and quit seeing a psychiatrist. I grow tired of the lack of effectiveness and the annoying side effects that go with these drugs. I don’t want to go into the specifics, but some of the side effects can be highly unpleasant, uncomfortable and frustrating. I do wonder about the risk-benefit ratio a lot. But what I generally come back to is that I do better on them than off of them. There could come a time when that is not true, but now is not that time.
When you take a good, honest look at the world, you have to ask: how can we NOT be depressed? Things in the world are absolutely horrible right now! We are hurtling towards global destruction and major catastrophe. I believe depression is chemical AND situational. I do not agree that mental illness is a “myth.” But I do see the limitations of our current system, which tend to individualize problems that are actually, at least in part, sociocultural. Like so many problems in society, we are all looking for the quick fix, the magic bullet. It is easier for a GP or PCP to just write a script for an SSRI than really deconstruct the patient’s problem in a much more complex and nuanced manner.
I understand those who rail against psychiatry and against big pharma. To some degree I agree with them. But obviously my actions don’t follow those beliefs because I see a psychiatrist and I take psych meds. It’s because I don’t have other alternatives and need to do SOMETHING to try to improve my mood. I hope that science improves rapidly and helps to proffer more creative and less medical solutions to those of us suffering terribly from mental illness. If you suffer from depression, I wish you good luck in your journey towards wellness.