Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit Long-term use of the medications is surging in the United States, according to an analysis by The Times. One reason: withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to stop. NYTIMES.COM (photo courtesy NYTImes.com article)

Anti depressants are a powerful and amazing medicine in some cases. They can save lives. For those of you who have this experience, please know that I am fully supportive and grateful for the power of these medicines and the positive impact that anti depressant/ anxiety can have. But this is only one side of the coin. A lot of times they are prescribed too hastily and without the awareness of all the consequences, addiction being the most dangerous, by hurried and overworked physicians.

I am personally familiar with depression : when I was nineteen I went through a deep and long depression. I walked ( maybe a better word would be ” stumbled through “) that painful path with the help of an excellent counselor, journaling, expressing myself through art and spending time in nature. Not having the responsibility of work or a family allowed me to take time out to tend to my hurting soul. (I realize that in other moments in our lives that is not available) More importantly though I was given a context by my therapist that depression may be a deep inner calling that needs to be listened to. I did and went through a long and winding road of inquiry, self discovery and transformation. I emerged from those years deeply changed: more aware, with a more authentic voice, more compassionate. I would not trade that experience for anything.

In regards to highly sensitive persons : their emotional life is more intense and their baseline of emotional intensity may be different than the non-highly sensitive population; these intense feelings then may be erroneously diagnosed by a physician as ” out of normal range” and therefore medicated.There is also, in my opinion, the over- prescribed and unhealthy pressure of always ” thinking positive”. We have created in our fast and aggressive consumer culture a stigma of not being bouncy, smiling, strong, resilient, motivated etc, all the time. We all know that there is suffering in ourselves and in the world. Accepting our vulnerability and our sadness is one of our essential expressions of humanity. Not only that, it is a healthy response to feel that suffering. I believe that the exploitation of nature and animals is happening in part because we are becoming more and more desensitized , distracted and numb.

The problem is that the dominant culture often makes feelings of suffering ” wrong”. We ” should” be happy……….We need tools to meet suffering! I have found that some contemplative practices are effective tools. There is not one practice, but there are many different practices that an experienced contemplative educator can recommend to a client in crisis who is looking for alternative or additional help to medication. Hopefully over time contemplative practices will gain more traction and create a healthier and more creative context and framework for feelings of anxiety and depression. Tools that do not only aide our own healing, but aide the healing of the immediate environment around us. When we heal ourselves we contribute to healing the world around us.