(disclaimer- I am not opposed to people who take SSRIs. I am glad you found something that works for you, and as a person with severe depression, I understand what you have gone through)
Why do you all have to be so evangelical? The fact that the thought that these drugs might not be perfect for everyone inspires such ferverent opposition clues me in to the idea that there is more going on than mere medication. Let us look at some facts.
First off, we know jack about depression, and we only know slighly less than jack about SSRIs. We don’t know what causes depression. We do know that all depression is probably not caused by the same thing. “Depression” is as acurate a description for what goes on in one’s head as “Dizzy” is for something that goes on in your body. Yes, you are depressed and that is a medical condition. But like being dizzy, it could be caused by any number of things, which we don’t know and we certainly don’t understand. We know what SSRIs do chemically, but we don’t really know why that has any affect on depression. It is not a simple medical equation, as in “I don’t have enough of this so I’ll add this” or “this is not working right so I’ll do this to change how it works”. Depression is a medical condition, but it is not a medical condition that we can expect to cure at this point in the same way that we cure gangrene or pnemonia.
And let’s face it, SSRIs do not cure depression. They do something. They often help. But even for people that are affected positivly by SSRIs, they often stop working after a certain period of time, prompting them to switch drugs or tweak dosages. If you want to stop taking them you risk “rebound depression”. In other words, you get depressed again if you keep taking them. You get depressed again if you stop.
A lot of this seems to mirrior the natural cycles of depression anyway. I’ve lived with depression for 21 years (well I can’t exactly remember being depressed before I was about four years old, so we can shave that to 17 years). For me personally, my depression comes and goes, seemingly randomly. I do know that when I am at my worst there is no way I would be able to do something as positive and gutsy as seeing a doctor, nor would I be coherenet enough to explain my situation to a doctor. I have only been able to see doctors when I am on my way up, when things are lifting and I can want to feel better. I also know that the most random stuff can snap me out of it when I am on my way up (this is not to say that people with depression can make themselves snap out of it- they can’t- but that sometimes things can trigger them to feel better). A strawberry pizza once snapped me out of a month long bout of depression. There isn’t a lot of logic to it. I am sure for some people, some times, getting a nifty new perscription for a very popular drug that has a lot of media sensation surrounding it and legions of avid supporters can help. Even the ritual of taking a new drug every day can be enough of a change to trigger something. Or it could be talking to doctors and filling out forms. Any number of things could cause some people to feel better when they take SSRIs. And it is pretty likely that some of these things are not related to the stuff that SSRIs do to your head.
Personally SSRIs did one good thing for me- they made me so nasiated and exhausted and confused and twitchy that I was downright eager to get back to my old life, where at least the demons that plague me are familier.
Every single therapy for depression is “all in your head”. Your head is where these changes need to be made. The line between what a chemical objectivly does to your brain and what your brain does when one takes these chemicals is not a clear one. The brain/mind split is not a neat one. The brain is a strange, powerful, mysterious organ. It can regulate and change itself in drastic ways. Science doesn’t have all of the answers right now. When you are dealing with something as wierd and unfathomable as a sentient beings, science might never have the kind of neat answers that we’d like.
For now, I am glad that some people have found a way to feel better, but please understand and respect the fact that SSRIs are not the perfect cure for everyone, and that just because someone chooses not to take them or to challenge popular beliefs about SSRIs and depression does not mean that they are disparaging you or otherwise belittleing your pain or your happiness.