Use of Antidepressants to Treat Depression
Use of Antidepressants to Treat Depression
The death of Robin Williams earlier this year rekindled the global debate on depression and other mental conditions. Depression is one of the most significant health concerns that authorities are dealing with in the twenty-first century. The disease affects millions of people around the world, making it difficult for them to lead normal lives. Despite various therapeutic and pharmacological solutions to depression, life with the condition is still difficult for many people suffering from it. The movie Silver Linings Playbook delves into depression by following the life of Pat Solatano, a man struggling to cope with bipolar depression, and Tiffany, a widow suffering from an unmentioned mental condition. By delving into the lives of Pat and Tiffany, the movie shows how difficult life can be for depressives and attempts to question the reliance on pharmacological solutions to the condition. While antidepressants appear to be the easiest and most straightforward way of dealing with depression, mental health professionals should consider ending their reliance on these pharmacological solutions in favor of those anchored in therapeutic measures.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depressive illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and persistent depressive disorder are conditions that affect the human brain. Scientists have successfully confirmed this using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines to show that the brains of people with the conditions appear different from those without it. Depressive conditions normally affect parts of the brain that handle crucial functions such as eating, sleeping, moods, and behavior. The disease manifests itself in a number of symptoms that include feelings of worthlessness, decreased sex drive, the ideation of suicide, interest in hobbies and persistent sadness (NIMH). In Silver Linings Playbook, the two main characters have several of these symptoms. In one scene, Tiffany’s depression is evident as she says, “I do this! Time after time after time! I do all this shit for other people! And then I wake up and I’m empty! I have nothing!” (Russell). Physicians have developed different ways of dealing with depression. One of the most popular solutions to depressive disorders is the use of antidepressants. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies three different groups of antidepressants. The first two groups are MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) and tricyclics. MAOIs and tricyclics work in different ways and have varying effects on people with depression. Doctors have found MAOIs to be particularly effective when dealing with people who suffer from atypical depression. Conversely, tricyclics have a high level of efficiency when dealing with all types of depressive disorders. However, both types of drugs have significant side effects that may even endanger the life of the patient (NIMH). The most modern group of antidepressants are the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Unlike the previous two groups, SSRIs are capable of dealing with depressive disorders effectively, without causing serious side effects.
The use of antidepressants to treat depression is a contentious issue. Firstly, antidepressants are known to have significant side effects that affect the lives of patients using them to deal with their conditions. The side effects vary depending on the specific type of drug and within different users. Between eighteen and fifty percent of people using SSRI antidepressants report weight gain. Other users of SSRI antidepressants complain about a decrease in their sex drive and insomnia. While side effects such as headaches and nausea are easy to deal with, problems such as weight gain and a decreased sex drive are more concerning because of the impact that they have on the depressive’s quality of life (NIMH). Another contentious issue concerning the use of antidepressants to treat depressive disorders is the fact that many people with the condition are reluctant to use pharmacological solutions. This reluctance is the result of various factors such as the fear of the side effects that the medication causes as well as the perception that the medication actually controls a person. Lastly, critics are concerned with the way that physicians are eager to prescribe this medication rather than consider other options such as therapy-based treatments.
Therapeutic treatments are a plausible alternative to antidepressants. Therapeutic responses to depressive disorders include talk therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and brain stimulation treatments such as electroconvulsive therapies. Unlike pharmacological treatments, therapeutic solutions, with the exception of electroconvulsive therapy, deal with depression by changing a person’s thought patterns to make them more positive (NIMH). These treatment measures also work by altering the way that a depressive views his or her relationships with others. The fact that these treatments lack major side effects and do not alter the brain’s chemistry in any way makes them preferable options to antidepressants for many people with depressive disorders. Indeed, in Silver Linings Playbook, Pat Solatano’s seemingly successful treatment for his bipolar disorder combines therapy with medication. Like in many other cases, Solatano hates taking the medication and normally hides it instead of swallowing. However, the therapy that he undergoes with the doctor in the film changes his outlook on life. This renewed outlooks is evident when Pat explains, “This is what I learned in the hospital. You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining” (Russell).
Depressive disorders are a serious concern for health officials around the world because of the potential they have of reducing a person’s quality of life. Doctors have used different treatment measures for the past few decades with varying levels of success. The use of antidepressants is perhaps the most popular way of handling depression. However, critics of the medication complain about the side effects and the impact on patients. In Silver Linings Playbook, the story of Solatano and Tiffany shows how tumultuous life can be with depressive disorders. The movie follows the lives of two people suffering with different depressive conditions. Interestingly, the ending of the movie appears to allude to talk therapy having a greater effect on Solatano than pharmacological treatment did. Accordingly, physicians should consider focusing on the use of talk therapies to deal with depressive disorders.
National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH]. What is Depression? NIMH. National Institute Health, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Russell, David O, Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, George Parra, Michelle Raimo, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Niro R. De, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok, Shea Whigham, Masanobu Takayanagi, Judy Becker, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Mark Bridges, Danny Elfman, and Matthew Quick. Silver Linings Playbook. The Weinstein Company, 2013. Film.
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