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To take meds or not to take meds?

answered 10:17 AM EST, Mon September 12, 2011
I have been feeling down for a while and my doctor diagnosed me with depression and he suggested that I start off on a course of antidepressants and he prescribed me Zoloft. He did not suggest any kind of therapy and I kind of forgot to ask about it at the time.

I have not yet taken the medication and I am not sure if I want to. I have heard some bad things about antidepressants and I am wondering if therapy might be a better way to go but I am also having trouble thinking too clearly right now and every decision I make these days feels wrong to me. My wife says that I should listen to my doctor and take the medication. She is quite worried about how down and discouraged I am most of the time now.

Would I be foolish to not take the medication and get some therapy instead? I can always start taking the medication later but once I start, I will have opened up that can of worms for good.

Art Matthews Says...

Not being a doctor, I'm afraid I cannot comment on whether or not you should take medication. I understand your concern and I empathize. My greatest concern for someone would depend on their suicide risk and how much the symptoms of depression are affecting their daily lives. I can tell you that you don't have to assume you will be on meds forever, and studies show that the best results for depression have occurred in people who engage in therapy and medication. Talk to your doctor or get a second opinion from a psychiatrist and share your concerns about taking meds. Ask to know more about side effects and long term risks. Ask to try older, more understood meds than the "latest and greatest" if you are still concerned. That will also ensure that there is a generic alternative at the pharmacy.

Doctors and psychiatrists don't often use talk therapy and therefore don't refer to a counselor or therapist. Medical school training amounts to 5 weeks of psych. Look for therapy directories online like www.psychologytoday.com and explore the list of therapists in your area. Therapies that have gotten good results with depression include: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical-Behavior Therapy, EMDR (for trauma related depression), and Mindfulness-Based Therapy.

Which choices you should make are up to you. Listen to the ones you trust that love you. In times of deep depression, we often don't make the best choices. You mentioned you are experiencing this already. Good health to you. Keep in touch.

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Page last updated Sep 12, 2011

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