Anti-Depressants v Counselling
Which is most effective?
Anti-depressants do work – Guardian Article 22/2/18 so a 6 year study has found. Although this article states it has ‘put to bed the controversy over the effectiveness of pills for managing/reducing depression’ I tend to disagree! Still!
Why do I disagree?
As a counsellor for many years, having suffered depression myself and understanding the process of how depression develops from personal experience and professional work, Psychology theory and NLP I believe that depression is a ‘healing process’ for the body, put into effect by an over-stretched body because of stress.
Counselling is not the same as Psychologist nor a Psychiatrist as many people refer to, but all are Psychotherapy (along with laughter therapy, dance and art therapy too to manage and understand the underlying issue – stress).
I am a counsellor and have worked with stress and depression in clients – similar issues, process and outcomes. I accept no reference that having a Psychologist or Psychiatrists will better help your depression, which some people think is the case; whilst it will help more consistent mental ill health issues like bi-polar and schizophrenia as more familiar problems and deeper Psychosomatic issues.
But depression and stress I know; the underlying stressors I am familiar with and the impact of them on the mind and the body, and the emotional instability the reactions cause for people.
For me, the answer is simple – education, understanding, awareness and then taking steps to change what isn’t working and damaging a person’s body and life! This is where coaching and counselling work together for my clients who benefit from both where it is appropriate.
Coaches often do – or should* – refer clients on to counselling or more should that need arise during the coaching process, as it often will. Barriers in business and life can be from historical issues, certain events and developed beliefs arising from these. Once out in the open – the purpose of counselling is to explore, discover, understand and accept those circumstances causing you problems (not to resolve them) – then coaching can help to move forward step by manageable step with clear goals and desires, and actionable, realistic steps day by day, month on month and applied ongoing for years of personal development and growth!
*Coaches should refer on because it can impact on them and counsellor training includes the resilience building and insights to know their emotional issues and boundaries for client work which may not be part of the coaches knowledge base and capacity to manage.
Not that everyone needs both, but sometimes they do. And everyone needs to take action towards changing and growing – it’s a natural drive that cannot be denied forever!
How Anti-depressants work
Pills, as it says
- are something some people want – for ease and handing over the burden – a quick fix they hope
- or avoid as much/as long as they can as a life value and health belief
- they avoid the painful underlying issues to be faced and resolved or grieved by masking the effects – adding chemicals that are missing or replacing those present, reducing chemical releases to masquerade as another reaction.
- taking responsibility from the person who is stressed and giving them a simple solution where there really isn’t one – certainly for long term relief.
Hence the addiction/fear of addiction which can also be fear of trying life head on, facing up to problems and yes, pain!
They can help short term to give peace of mind to resolve the deeper issues troubling someone – a month or two perhaps, until they can manage their mind-set and find the help and support they need to resolve and identify the issues they have.
Sometimes, they can be used as a crutch – a metaphor I use often with ‘hopping around regardless of a broken leg’ refusing crutch or plaster, as something no-one with any choice would be doing! And that’s OK if it has got to such a point they can no longer function.
But awareness is essential, understanding imperative to manage your life and your Self in all aspects of life and living! It shouldn’t be left so long to resolve issues arising as so many people do.
Why would they hide the problem?
Because of these 6 things often enough in my experience:
- Stigma of being unable to cope mentally and emotionally when others do (really? do they?)
- “I’ve always coped and managed everything, all the problems I’ve had in my life” (the list often goes into 4-8 or more real difficulties!)
- Not letting people down – work, family – at their own expense – losing themselves to the demands or expectations/needs of other people.
- Lack of support until they identify it (sometimes, sadly it really isn’t there for now)
- Loneliness, isolation, unable to ask for help
- Learned behaviours of hiding from the truth
The impact of pills
I think pills disempower people from identifying and resolving the underlying issues – that I believe is the only way to resolve the stress that leads undeniably to depression! It’s a physiological fact.
They simply mask the underlying problem, replacing chemicals and hormones in the body yes, and some people probably really do need them. But certainly not as many people as are given them by their GP! Often, too, within one visit highlighting ‘depression and stress’ something I don’t think can happen as it’s a contradiction!
Your body and mind are finely tuned by naturally produced chemicals like hormones and more, producing the appropriate reaction to circumstances you find yourself in. If you add in chemicals like pills longer term it disrupts this and can, without proper attention and management, disrupt other functions you personally need which may be regular and routine or responding to other circumstances happening you don’t relate to your stress.