Monday, February 18, 2008

The Washington Post: Healing a Troubled Mind Takes More Than a Pill

Healing a Troubled Mind Takes More Than a Pill

By Charles Barber
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feeling depressed? No problem, pop a pill.

That's what more and more Americans are doing these days to quell what ails their troubled souls. The use of antidepressants in the United States has exploded in the past couple of decades, and drugs such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, which didn't even exist 20 years ago, are household names, almost household staples.

And why not? The television ads make it seem so easy: An agonized man or woman stares listlessly into space or slumps on a bed or couch, holding their head in their hands. Then they take a pill and suddenly morph into a happily engaged and joyous being, back on the job or walking in a park, awash in sunshine, surrounded by grandchildren, a golden retriever nipping at their heels, while lush music plays in the background.

But recovering from mental illness is rarely that simple. I know.

As an optimistic 18-year-old freshman at Harvard in the 1980s, I found myself afflicted by indescribably disturbing and intrusive thoughts that involved repetitious words and irrational fears that I had harmed others. This assault on my mind -- diagnosed a few years later as obsessive-compulsive disorder -- led me to drop out of two colleges in as many years and made it difficult to hold down a job as a busboy.

That was the low point. After that, I began the long, arduous and at times confused process of emotional recovery. Medication was helpful -- as was cognitive behavioral therapy, particularly early on -- but what ultimately made the difference, what really made me want to get well, was finding a sense of purpose in my new life, a life that had been reconfigured by illness.

read more ...

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | cna certification