Some might think because I’m a naturopathic Doctor that I’m against the use of medications to treat mental health. In fact the opposite is true. I believe they absolutely have a place when supporting mental health and can be safely and effectively incorporated with a holistic treatment plan.
I myself have required an SSRI and it changed my life trajectory.
Let’s unpack these common myths.
I don’t believe they have to be a permanent fix. It takes on average 12-18 months on a medication to allow your brain and nervous system time to sufficiently heal from the negative effects of depression or anxiety. By allowing your brain time to heal through elevated levels of serotonin, you may effectively come off the medication at some point down the road.
They are not a crutch. They empower and enable you to begin to make mindset and lifestyle changes that can be permanent fixtures and so that you might feel ready to come off the medication at some point.
I believe that they can address the root cause of a chemical imbalance in the brain, whether it be serotonin or dopamine or norepinephrine. Certain natural supplements can do this too. And correcting this imbalance can support healing of the brain and body which requires these important chemicals to feel happy, relaxed and content.
Antidepressants don’t mask your personality. Depression and anxiety can feel so heavy and some people lose themselves in the overwhelming feelings. Antidepressants help to lift this fog and can actually help you to feel more like yourself again.
Although there are side effects, not all of them are intolerable for everybody and you may not experience all of them. In some people’s cases, the pros outweigh the cons and you have to make this judgement for yourself when trying any new medication. Sometimes a dose adjustment can help side effects.
All this to day, don’t be ashamed of your antidepressant. Be proud for being brave. Let me know your thoughts and experiences on SSRI and other antidepressant medications.
Dr. Melissa Bingeman, ND is passionate about mental health, hormones and gut health. She has a virtual and in-person practice in Kitchener, Ontario.