Is the current method of treating depression appropriate?

Posted: June 21, 2006 in My Opinion

It’s strange how things happen that cause you to think of things in a different way.  It’s been almost a year since I left the psychology field, working in a residential treatment facility.  I was involved in that line of work for more than seven years.  During that time, it never occurred to me how risky some of the standard procedures can be.  It actually didn’t occur to me until yesterday, when I received some disturbing news about a friend who decided to take her own life, using the medication that was prescribed to treat her depression.


We take for granted the sometimes miraculous affects medications can have, but we also put too much faith in their results.  Who ever decided that it was appropriate to give a depressed individual, the power and responsibility, to treat themselves?  When I think of depression, I think of someone who is at an elevated risk for suicidal or self-injurious behavior.  Granted, not all depressed individuals contemplate suicide or want to hurt themselves, but it is proven that people suffering from depression have a higher rate of suicidal behavior.  If this is in fact the case, why would anyone give that person a bottle of pills that could easily be used to end their life?  Why isn’t this medication available in the form of an injection that can be given once a week, month, etc. (similar to Depo-Provera)?  Giving a bottle of pills to a person suffering from depression is like giving them a loaded gun.


My intention here is not to offend anyone who is suffering from depression.  If anything, it is to protect them.  I’m sure many depressed individuals do very well with the responsibility of appropriately taking their medication.  I’m sure many would not want the responsibility given to someone else. But….if someone is at risk for hurting themselves, why would we give them a means with which to do it?  Certain illnesses should be treated in a well regulated, supervised manner and I am of the opinion that if an illness is one which predisposes an individual to self-injurious behavior and the mode of treatment is one, that if abused, can cause harm, that illness would fall in the above mentioned category.  I hope that this sparks a little conversation here on the science of behavior as well as in your own lives.  If anyone has any thoughts regarding this topic, please feel free to post them here. 


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