In today’s post, I am offering one of my readers equal time to respond to my rant, “What’s so Bad About Feeling Good.” The reader, Troy Dayton, was the subject of a CNN article about people who use antidepressants even though they are not depressed.
I am publishing his response to my post, followed by my thoughts.
We all do artificial things to enhance our moods.
Most people spend many thousands of dollars extra for a newer, nicer, bigger, or more powerful car than they really need. Why do they do this? Because they think it will make them feel better.
The federal government doesn’t threaten the car dealer for selling the nicer car to someone who wasn’t depressed when he bought it even if the consequences of this purchase could be devestating to the person.
In fact, society has the opposite way of looking at extravagant purchases then it does at medication. People generally look down or pathologize the person who self-medicates their maladjusted moods through purchasing.
The irony in all this is that while most people think having nicer stuff will make them happier, the data consistently shows otherwise.
Conversely, the data clearly shows that anti-depressants really do make people happier. And very few people will ever go broke paying for anti-depressants. Cars, clothes, and houses on the other hand…
The pursuit of happiness is so intrinsic to the human experience that it is the last three words in one the most important documents of this country.
Happiness is a process more than it is a place to get to. It is a fleeting feeling and almost everything all of us do in life are efforts at attaining it.
It’s just that humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy. New cars, big houses, another drink, more money wagered, a decadent dessert, hating gay people, stopping the dog next door from barking, etc. But those things don’t make people happy despite the ever present belief that they will. But as long as those people aren’t hurting anyone else I would never dream of supporting a law to coerce them to stop those behaviors.
I use data, reason, my faith and a deep inner knowledge of myself to create happiness.
Most people only take antidepressants if something is wrong. Most people only go to a therapist or get a coach if something is wrong. Why can’t drugs and therapy be evaluated on the basis everything else we do in the pursuit of happiness is evaluated?
Do the benefits outwiegh the risks? Does the value outwiegh the costs?
Nurse Ratched and others make it sound as if the risks associated with taking antidepressants changes based on why it’s taken. That is false and an absurd notion. The risks are constant. It is the benifits and the value palced on them that changes with purpose.
It is not surprising that medical professionals who are trained to alleviate diagnosable problems put a high value on that and not a very high value on maximizing human potential.
I’ve studied the risks and benefits of using Wellbutrin. For me and my values, the benifits outwiegh the risks.
I’m all for people having the right to disagree, but when they force their opinions through policy, I rightfully stand in defiance.
You have government coercion on your side. You even threaten doctors for prescribing off label.
How dare you support denying me and my doctor the right to choose the course of therapy we see fit?
Let me start off by saying I understand you feel that Wellbutrin helps you live a happier and more fulfilling life. However, it’s my opinion that antidepressants should only be used by patients who suffer from clinical depression. The article did not indicate that you are suffering from a mental illness. There are many risks to taking psychotropic medications. If I had a patient who was suffering from major depression and had constant thoughts of putting a gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger, I would advise that patient to take antidepressants because the benefits outweigh the risks. If on the other hand the patient did not suffer from major depression, I would not advise the use of antidepressants. I would encourage my patient to try other options that might make them feel better. You are right when you say that people use many different coping styles to deal with their issues, and as you point out, some of these styles are superficial, but I believe that taking serious pharmaceuticals to get “a lift” is not an appropriate use of antidepressants. There are other options you can use to feel better that don’t have potential side effects.
Does the government have the right to dictate to doctors how to practice medicine? That’s where it gets dicey. I’ve worked with a few doctors during my career who have done some really boneheaded things with their patients, and I believe the government must step in to protect patients from unscrupulous physicians. On the other hand, does the government have the right to bar physicians from prescribing medical marijuana? And what about euthanasia? I know I’m rambling a little, but I hope you get my point. Everyone has a different opinion, and there are many issues that need further examination.
Once again Troy, thank you for responding to my post. Please drop by again soon. I value your thoughts and comments.