So I’m basically going to make a Postnatal Depression Toolkit, and this is the first post to go along with it. The Toolkit will have its own page, but as this is a new thing there isn’t exactly anything to add other than this page, so I’ll make it at a later date. Anyway, here’s the first thing: Medication
I can sit here and give out all the advice that I can possibly think of, but if you’re in that bad of a place you simply aren’t going to care. This is why medication is the first thing on my list.
If you feel the symptoms of postnatal depression, or depression in general, come on, then the very first thing that you should do is go and see your doctor. It took me six years, but my wife eventually made me go. They’ll take it from there, but one thing that you can do is to ask to be put on medication. They may resist, but at least you can have the discussion.
Arguably, it’s the easiest, fastest and least straining solution to beating depression. All you have to do is take the medication and let the science do the work. That’s exactly why it’s such a wonderful solution, but one that can quickly turn into a crutch. I understand some people don’t like the term “emotional crutch” but since when was it a bad thing to use a crutch? No one looks down on someone who’s sprained their ankle and requires a crutch, so this is really no different. Either way, it can help alleviate the symptoms of depression, even if it often does so by masking them.
Don’t be afraid, or feel like you’re being weak by opting to take meds. You wouldn’t judge yourself if you had to take insulin as a diabetic, so don’t feel bad for needing a little bit of medical help for depression.
Meds and Me
I’ve been there. I’ve been on medication before. I had one horrendous night in March of 2016 (after years upon years of an up and down battle with depression) where I knew it was either time to sort myself out, or I wouldn’t be around much longer. That was my rock bottom. And that was when I finally turned to meds.
The first time I took them, I lasted about seven months until I just stopped. Did I have side effects? No. Was it a good idea to just stop? Probably not. But the day I stopped taking them was the day I knew I was ready to do it myself.
The second time came shortly after Isabelle was born, and again, I just stopped taking them. I needed that quick lift, placebo or real, to get me out of the pit I was digging myself into. I’m not totally sure they helped the second time, I think a lot of my recovery came through myself, but it certainly didn’t make things worse.
The Pros of Meds
Medication has its place. For me, it’s there to give you enough of a lift to be able to sort yourself out. It’ll help you be able to install good habits into your life, correct your thought patterns and generally realise what it’s like to actually feel good. Don’t get me wrong, I dare say that some people have genuine neurochemical deficiencies, and as such, will probably have to remain on anti-depressants long term. I honestly don’t know whether that’s true, and personally believe that anyone can be depression free without meds, but I’m not a doctor, and I’m naive, stupid and young, so what do I know.
There’s also the argument that if it works for someone then why change it? If you’re depression free with meds then maybe it’s for the best to stay on them. This is all down to personal choice.
The Negative Side
My main issue with meds is that people get dependant on them. They see them as the reason why they’re feeling better, and rather than take it upon themselves to fight the battle, they leave it up to the meds. It’s the equivalent to having a big brother to keep the bullies at bay. Yes, he’ll help protect you and keep you safe, but ultimately you have to learn to fight this battle yourself.
Not only that, there are in fact side effects to these drugs that can sometimes make the symptoms worse. You just never know what’s going to come up. Things like anxiety or suicidal thoughts can grow stronger, the usual things like headaches and nausea, and for some, you’re even more likely to be affected by anger. To put it mildly, there are a lot of possible side effects. Personally, I had the occasional side effect that would sometimes worsen my metal state, and it was a big reason why I stopped taking them. It’s important to state that if you feel any negative symptoms then you should just return to the doctor and ask for something else.
Well, that’s about all I have to say at this time in regards to medication. To put it simply, I see them as a brilliant short term solution. But nothing more than that. That’s just where I stand on it, and others will surely say otherwise. At the end of the day, if they work you then there’s no problem keeping it up. And if you haven’t tried them yet then maybe they’re worth a go if you’re feeling that bad.
If you do feel like you’re depressed, then I do recommend at least seeing the doctor about it and exploring the idea of taking medication.
If you want other suggestions to try to go alongside meds, there will be less obvious ones than this, then the Toolkit will eventually be live on the site with more suggestions.