Side-effects lead student to ask: Are antidepressants overprescribed?
Many people see medication as a panacea for overcoming depression, while others aren't so sure that antidepressants are the way to go. There have been both negative and positive effects from antidepressants, but are they a real cure or just a quick fix for symptoms?
Utah State University student Sherie Johnson says, "Prescription medication to treat depression is not always the remedy that people think it is." Johnson recently experienced a small case of depression after dealing with a traumatic medical problem last year.
Rather than finding relief from taking antidepressants, Johnson experienced an extraordinary reaction that left her traumatized. This left her questioning the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs and wondering whether the medication is overly prescribed to patients by doctors as a quick remedy.
"I felt like I was going crazy inside," Johnson said. "It felt like someone was in my brain telling me complete opposite things from what I truly thought." After Johnson read about the side-effects of the drug she was taking, she realized the medicine was wrong for her.
Are antidepressants overprescribed in Utah?
Janina Chilton from Utah Division of Mental Health says, "There is no way to gather specific statistics for the usage of anti-depressant drugs in Utah. Because so many are treated privately, they can't say for sure how many are treated for depression by medication.
"There are two different types of depression, clinical and situational," Chilton said. "Clinical is the result of a chronic imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and situational is a result of catastrophic, yet temporary events in one's life. Depending on what type of depression it is determines the way it is treated."
While some patients like Johnson have experienced bad side-effects, others have found antidepressants to be an answer to their concerns.
Rebecca Smith, a University of Utah student, says "I noticed a total difference when I took the drug. My doctor suggested that I try it, I trusted his decision and it really helped."
Even though there have been positive outcomes from using antidepressants, there have been other incidents around the country to validate Johnson's concern about side effects.
Remember the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado? Eric Harris was one of the two boys involved in the shootings and he was taking an antidepressant drug called Luvox.
One in five people suffer from depression in their lifetime. Are antidepressants helping the depressed get better or is it a quick and easy way of trying to take care of the problem?
In Smith's case, she feels that the medication did help and can have a positive effect. "I've realized now that I can make myself happy in other ways too by taking a walk when feeling down and eating right."
As for Johnson, she feels that anti-depressants did nothing but cause more agony. "I will never put another antidepressant drug in my body again. I don't ever want to feel like I have no control, realizing it, but not being able to control it was the scariest thing I've ever experienced."