Today while working at the medical clinic, two different women asked me for prescriptions for antidepressants. I don’t believe in handing antidepressants out without learning more about the person’s situation, so in each case I asked them: “Have you tried any kind of counseling, or tried to figure out where your sad mood might be coming from?”
In both cases, their initial response was the same…
“Oh yeah, I tried that talking to someone about my depression a few years ago, it didn’t do much for me. I’m pretty sure that depression is totally genetic, there’s just something wrong with my brain chemistry. I’ve been fine for a while, and now my brain chemistry has just gone ‘off’ again”.
Now, there’s no doubt that yes, when people get depressed, our brain chemistry changes significantly enough to be measured scientifically. And yes, antidepressants that shift this chemistry back to “normal” can make us feel better. And, there are people that are so depressed that perhaps the only thing that can pull them out of the hole, at that moment, is an antidepressant.
But these women were functioning pretty well, and weren’t profoundly depressed, they just felt themselves slipping down towards a familiar depressed state, and were rightfully concerned about it.
As is almost always the case, I had to push a little:
“What’s going on in your life right now? Is there any reason you might be starting to feel depressed again?”
“No, not really,” was the response in both cases.
I wasn’t ready to give up that easily, so I asked again.
Now, the truth came out. Both women admitted that their lives were way out of balance. They were too busy, with no time for themselves, not enough time to spend with loved ones, not enough time to sleep, on and on it went.
They were too busy to take proper care of themselves. No time for exercise. No time to eat properly. Very little time for fun.
As I pointed out to them: “Who wouldn’t feel depressed, living like that?”
If your life is too busy, if you have no time at all for rest or leisure, or for the health fundamentals (sleep, good nutrition, and exercise) that keep us well – I’d be surprised if you weren’t at least a little depressed!
If you’re feeling low, before you reach for or request a quick fix, ask yourself: What in my life might be contributing to this? Is there some aspect of my life that I need to change? In what way might my low mood be a symptom of what’s happening in my life, or within myself?
(of course, this article is not meant to be taken as medical advice, as each individual situation is unique; if you believe you may be depressed, please see your doctor or a qualified health professional ASAP)