Can Antidepressants Work for Me?
A look at the complex mix of factors -- and key questions -- to consider.
"It's normal to feel sad or discouraged about these things, but that doesn't
necessarily mean that you have a psychiatric disorder," he says. "Likewise, if
there's the death of a loved one, again, grieving is normal. It's a human
process, and grieving can sometimes be similar or overlap a little bit with
symptoms of depression. So we shouldn't necessarily assume that people who come
in with these situational problems are the ones that need to be treated with
Psychotherapy or even professional coaching might be the best route for
them, Mischoulon says. "A lot of these people with bereavement may get well on
But many are put on antidepressants too quickly, he says.
"Those people might be taking a medication that they don't really need.
Thus, they would be risking getting side effects, which many antidepressants
have." These effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and stomach upset, Leuchter
"Also, by giving everyone medications, we're sending a message that it's not
normal to feel badly," Mischoulon says. "To grieve when you lose a loved one --
‘that's something that we can treat with a medication,' and that's not the
case. There is a certain amount of normal suffering that is part of the human
condition, and unfortunately, we live in a society that increasingly wants to
be happy all the time and feels that if you're not happy all the time, then
something's wrong," Mischoulon says. "That's just not the way it is."
But in some cases, it's tough to distinguish normal sadness from clinical
"Sometimes it can be difficult," Mischoulon says. "Sometimes grief can
actually complicate into a major depression. A lot of people who lose their
jobs, as a result of the stress of it, may actually develop a major depressive
episode. One of the ways in which we make the distinction is that we look at
the degree of impairment."
For example, a grieving person might cut back on work and other
responsibilities for a while and then gradually return to a normal routine.
But if the person misses a lot of time from work, stops leaving the house,
stops engaging in activities, or feels suicidal, those are more serious signs
of depression, Leuchter says.