You are being killed by a false dichotomy
I will explain this idea. Don't quit. I agree with you at the end.
1) All depression
, but none of it is merely
neurochemical. If someone's life seems hopeless
and unrewarding for long stretches of time, they will become depressed. If I starve someone and don't permit them to sleep for days on end, they will become depressed. If I give them a chemical that depletes their brain's serotonin
, they will become depressed. Obviously their symptoms and outlooks and self-concepts will be different, but all of them will feel and behave in certain similar ways, and all of them will have low levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
2) All recovery is neurochemical, but recovery that's merely
neurochemical is empty. Imagine three depressed people. One takes Prozac
. One goes into cognitive behavioral therapy
and learns to recognize depressive automatic thoughts
and challenge them with statements that will allow her to feel more hopeful. One gets more sleep, regular exercise, and schedules more pleasurable activities. All of them will probably experience a period of hopelessness
, but if they persevere and do it appropriately, there's a good chance they'll all recover. When they do, all of them will have increased neurological activity and higher levels of serotonin!
I'm not saying that drugs are always the answer, or never the answer. They have lots of side effects
; they don't lead to increased insight or coping skills; people who improve on them tend to backslide when they stop. But being able to lead a normal life can be a kind of psychotherapy, and there are some people who are so blackly hopeless that without a chemical boost, they'd never be able to focus on learning to help themselves!
are not a self-sustaining, intelligent enemy. They're things, stupid little things that can't really do anything right. You can use them well, or use them poorly. The difference is night and day, like the difference between someone who drinks a cup of coffee
when he's sleepy but need to drive, and someone who constantly pops Penguin Mints
, and cigarettes
to avoid passing out
. They're one thing, that has one kind of effect, and wise helpers (including those who help themselves) will use them as a single instrument in the concert of techniques which they must employ to bring a depressed person back to their humanity
What's my point? Simply that no... drugging yourself into a stupor isn't the answer. And any doctor who does that to you
, or who gives any
depressed and self-destructive person drugs without therapy, makes me furious. They're abusers, in some cases murderers. They're certainly incompetent and they're soiling the honor and the compassion of my discipline.
But even if all pill-pushers were well-trained saints, the onus would still be on the person who needs help. Find a trustworthy therapist, work with
them, let yourself change. Don't be afraid of the drugs; they don't take away anything you can't take back. And don't be afraid to lose your depression; I guarantee there will be something left.
(Credibility note: I have a BA in clinical psychology
and have been in therapy myself for depression and other problems. I have talked to many SSRI
users, some of whom have improved and some of whom haven't.)