Prescriptions of anti-depressant medication have doubled in a decade, it was reported last week. A total of 70.9 million items used to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety were given out in England in 2018, according to NHS data.
But how do we feel about taking anti-depressants? It’s a controversial area in therapy. Counsellors believe in talking cures, but we also know that levels of stress and distress can sometimes be so high that clients can’t access or engage with a therapist. Medication can be really useful in helping us get into our ‘window of tolerance’ – a place where our mood is neither so low that we can’t function nor our symptoms so heightened that we can’t concentrate. In this space between extremes we can tolerate looking at our pain and working through it. However, medication can also have the effect of numbing or flattening us, making it hard to access feelings. And the NHS has also found that half of those who take anti-depressants experience withdrawal symptoms when coming off the medication.
We value our clients’ own experience on this issue. You are the person who knows your own body the best and it is your decision whether or not to use medical support alongside talking therapy. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends only using antidepressants for moderate to severe depression or when depression lasts for a long time. If this is you then it’s definitely worth considering a talking therapy to help you understand, manage and improve your symptoms.