Should I Take Antidepressants?

Nobody thinks depression is a good idea - but it exists regardless. Theories for its development range from an effective way to keep close family members near the home during a time of grief and thus away from the danger that killed the respective dead person in the first place to a simple chemical imbalance. God's hilarious mistake. It's easy (and fun!) to conjure up whatever evolutionary-biology fantasy three-way you want to to explain it, the simple fact is it's here and here to stay, the why isn't so important.

In the history of the human race never has there been more prosperity than there is today. We in the Western World (whatever that's supposed to mean) are graced with record low infant mortality rates, longer lives, better medical care, higher literacy rates, better social mobility (etc etc etc) than ever before. By almost every metric, life is better now than any period in human history. So why are so many people so fucking sad?

I'd like to refer you to Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs, so I will. Here it is.

Here is the thing I said!

Here is the thing I said!

The the general thrust is that only once your basic needs are met can you worry about higher functioning, complex emotional thoughts like existentialism and purpose. You don't really have the luxury of worrying about WHY you exist when you're running, naked through the jungle from the thing that's trying to stop you from existing. It's lower down on the list of priorities. I'd be rather inclined to agree with this assessment if it didn't make it seem like people who don't have a job can't be worried about self esteem too. Or anything else that's on the list. Things just aren't as dramatic as all that nowadays - there's no sabre tooth tiger coming to get you anymore. I hope. The two ideas aren't mutually exclusive and to conflate them is actually a disservice. 

Perhaps it is because of this Hierarchy of Needs, perhaps not. Let's say it is. That would correlate to what people seem to understand - the modern human is more depressed and yet more fortuitous than ever before. It's because we've had things so easy (relatively speaking) that we're so depressed. Like Tyler Durden once said "We are the middle children of history."

I'm an artist (sort of) and so I like to look at everything through that kind of lens. I hear people say a lot that they definitely are depressed (almost bragging about it) but they then go on to say that they wouldn't want to take medication because it would brainwash them, or perhaps if they were happy they wouldn't be able to function as the kind of artist they are. This is a fallacy. Medication, in the physiological 'medicine-goes-on-the-sore-part' thinking is a way of treating something that's broken. If you're brain is broken (and I'm not saying it is) it may be worth trying medication. The simple fact is that if you don't like it, or feel the long, wet hand of Big Pharma creeping up your pants you can always stop. You can always go back to being the same old miserable bastard you always were. You are in charge of the thing, and thus, can put what you want into your own body.

I'm not a doctor, and I would never presume to give medical advice, but my general position on medication is this: If a doctor you trust and who knows you (and your medical history) prescribes antidepressants, it's probably worth a try. I've been on Lexapro (An SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) for just over a year now and it has helped me dramatically - it should be noted alongside cognitive-behavioural therapy, constant exercise and diet and a raft of other measures all geared to my betterment as a human. I'm wonderful, is what I'm saying. 

People (my past self amongst them) say stupid things like they don't want to take antidepressants because it'll change who they are. Yeah, that's the whole point. Maybe if you're miserable the whole time it's probably best to be someone else. Someone who isn't a reclusive wanker. Someone who can be happy and productive and actually has the motivation to make art, rather than just theorise about it. 

So the answer to the original question 'Should I take antidepressants?' is this: Maybe you should try anti-depressants. If your doctor thinks. If you like. For a bit. There should be no stigma in admitting you need a little hand every now and then and getting it. You might just find, like I did, that there's a whole bunch of people that you already know that are already on the same thing. It's all well and good to try and white-knuckle your way through it but I imagine you'll stress yourself (and your loved ones) out just a little bit less, if you try and get some help - be that counselling, meds or maybe just keeping a journal. It's all about what works for you. Cherry-pick the best bits and keep battling.


Jorge Tsipos also is part of a weekly comedy podcast called Unnatural Selection, which is nothing like this article! Follow Jorge on twitter!