I have always been skeptical of the quick diagnosis that are often given of depression, and the even quicker prescriptions for medication.

I have to admit that generally my tolerance levels are not high for people who wake up every day with a gloomy outlook. I lived with a man for 20 years who was never happy and it used to really upset me that he was always so negative. Finally one day he went to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depression. The psychiatrist explained to me that he had a condition that meant when his serotonin levels were low his brain lacked the ability to regulate them back up to a normal level where he would feel good again. So this meant that he just kept sinking lower and lower and often ended up in very dark places. For some people this happens once every few weeks, or months, but for my partner it was a daily occurrence. The psychiatrist suggested that he take some medication and I was very against it at first. I said that he just needed to get himself together and look at all the wonderful things in life, but truthfully I was amazed at the change in him when he started taking the medication.

I was talking to my mother the other day about my brother who has been having trouble with alcohol and feeling depressed. So I asked my mother if he had been taking the pills that I had sent for him and she said that when they done the research on the pill that it said it might cause depression and being that this was something that he had suffered from in the past, they were leery about anything that could possibly bring on a recurrence. I then got on my high horse about t and started to criticize my brother. Thinking about it later I felt bad about my reaction, but then I realized that I was actually right. My husband had suffered since he was very young but my brother on the other hand had spent most of his adolescence through early adulthood living a happy and successful, and even somewhat selfish life. Later he had his failure in marriages, failed business, and had developed alcohol problems which had now reached a point where his drinking and smoking was getting out of hand, as it had with my father as well. My father had died of emphysema at a young age. One would have thought my brother would have stayed away from smoking and drinking because of this, but he didn’t. Over time my brother had also given up on his exercise and this was a man that at 54 years of age had run a 3:30 marathon with me in London so I know that he knows endorphins, serotonin and the high he got from exercise. Yet, here he is taking pills, drinking more, not eating properly, smoking, not exercising and feeling down and now has been diagnosed as depression. I have to ask myself is this really depression?

I think sometimes we need to look at our lives and ask what it is that’s putting us in this miserable state? Is it something that is within our control? Sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it is and we can control certain factors that make it worse like eating, drinking and not exercising. We can use these tools to push through and give ourselves endorphin highs, or we can  succumb to the pills and alcohol but in time they are just going to make us feel worse and not better.