Archive for January 5, 2014

Antidepressants: Yes or No?

You’ve been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and your therapist or doctor recommends you start taking an anti-depressant. You wonder whether you should follow this advice. Maybe you fear becoming addicted to a chemical substance. Maybe you think it’s a sign of weakness to rely on a drug to make your life easier.

It’s my opinion that most prescriptions for anti-depressants are actually treating the after-effects of childhood trauma. In other words, I think that the prevalence of anti-depressant use speaks to our society’s widespread child abuse.

Depression is just one of the many symptoms resulting from early abuse and neglect. If your brain was shaped by early trauma, you probably have an over-active startle response. And you probably experience rushes of fear in your belly. Anti-depressants keep your over-active startle response from repeatedly firing in the presence of benign triggers in your current environment. The medication helps you feel calmer and more “normal.” These medications are prescribed for anxiety. (Actually, I think it’s fear, not anxiety. The fear the child felt is still stored in the myofascial tissues of the adult body.*)

If you do choose to take the anti-depressant you’ll experience a more even playing field with which to meet life’s inevitable challenges. Speaking personally, I would not have been able to live as full and interesting a life without medication. I really wanted to meet life’s challenges. I knew I had the ability to make valuable contributions to society. If I was sabotaged by an over active startle response and torrents of fear rushing through my belly, I could not have lived up to my potential.

Will I suffer some terrible disease as a result of choosing to medicate? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that without the medication, I would have led a truncated, fearful life, never daring to meet life’s challenges. My personal choice was to get the certain benefits and risk the possibility of eventual complications.

What will you decide? It’s a decision each of needs to make, having   weighed the possible risks against hoped for gains.

*See my blog post on this website dated March 29, 2013: “The Body Holds Our Trauma.

Dr. Robert Scaer: The Body Bears The Burden, Haworth Medical Press, Binghampton, N.Y., 2001.   Also his website with the same title.