5th June 2009 by Carol Posted in Uncategorized
We’ve come a long way in understanding the human brain; however, it is an extremely complex entity. It would have to be: how could something simple be the seat of consciousness and self-awareness?
What we know at this point is that the brain is composed of cells, called neurons, which are connected to each other in a huge network. We also know that people who are depressed have less of the chemicals available that support the connections between the neurons (called synapses). We don’t know how it is that an external event such as the death of a loved one, which could be a psychological cause of depression, relates to the chemicals in the brain, and we don’t know how much of depression is genetic and how much involves an environmental influence.
We have more or less a solution, in that antidepressants increase the availability of serotonin and other such chemicals, and many people feel better as a result of taking antidepressants. But we really are not sure of how depression is caused in the brain or in the brains of a wide range of people in different circumstances, so our solutions right now are a little bit hit and miss.
This means that if you are choosing to ask a doctor for antidepressants, in the long run you may feel much better and be much more functional. In the short run, however, it will take awhile to find the combination of brain chemical support that works for you.
All antidepressants have been helpful to some people; manufacturers of drugs have to prove that the drugs work in order for them to be approved. But across individuals there are apparently differences in brain chemistry that are not fully understood. You may experience some drugs that don’t work at all, some drugs that work but have side effects you can’t live with, and then, hopefully, a drug or combination of drugs that helps you to feel better. It is important to understand that finding what works can take several months. This is a good time to use the best coping skills you have in your repertoire.
Antidepressants can make the difference between someone who stays in bed all day doing nothing and someone who can hold a job and manage relationships. When you make the decision to try them out, be patient before giving up and understand that it could take awhile to find what will work best for you.