Rich Jones of New York City credits anti-depressant medications with saving his life, or at least, possibly helping a little.
"Instead of total despair, i now just feel generally blah," reported Rich. "For that, I have these drugs to thank.”
Rich considers himself somewhat of an expert on the effectiveness of psychopharmaceuticals. Over the course of his depression "career," he's taken a wide array of antidepressants including Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, Celexa, Xanax and Wellbutrin. According to Rich, these medications have immeasurably - if at times imperceptibly - enhanced his quality of life. "I couldn't be happier," he said.
He quickly amended, "Well, I guess in theory I could. But we take what we can get, right?"
While some have called into question the value of antidepressant medications, claiming that there is little, if any, unbiased medical research to substantiate their long-term or even short-term effectiveness, Rich stated that in his personal experience, the medications all worked - and they worked wonders.
"Sure, sometimes they didn’t really seem to be doing anything for me," he said. "But then I realized that without them I’d probably have felt even worse. Not just chronically bummed-out and down, but suicidal. Or not just suicidal, but shooting up a school. Yeah, thank God for those drugs.”
When it was drawn to his attention that in a great many of these mass shootings, like the tragic incidents at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, the perpetrators were taking antidepressant medications, Rich only shook his head sadly.
"If only these tortured, violent souls had gotten on the medications sooner," he rued. "Heart-wrenching cases of too little, too late. All the more reason for people who may be at risk of depression to start medicating preemptively. These are chances we don't want to take."
Rich acknowledged that the antidepressants he currently takes do have some rather unpleasant side effects, including dryness of mouth, waning of sexual desire, and even impotence. However, he noted that many such medications also have a number of positive side effects, of which people may be unaware. "For instance," he said, "some of these drugs were originally developed to treat other conditions, like epilepsy. So now, in addition to just feeling generally blah, I also don't have to worry about seizures. I'll take it!"
More than anything, Rich said that he hopes that his own story of somewhat-successfully dealing with depression will serve as a ray of light to the many Americans who still suffer. When asked what message he'd like to convey to fellow depression-sufferers, he didn't hesitate.
"First of all, you are not alone. And second, have faith in the meds. Even if they don’t seem to be working, or even if they seem to work for awhile and then stop working and leave you feeling even worse than ever before, hang in there. Know that, even if you can’t perceive it, those drugs are working around the clock to irrevocably alter your brain chemistry in ways that not even the scientists yet fully understand. Trust in the science. And keep popping those pills."
He summoned a less-than-blah smile and offered some final words of encouragement. "After all, they worked for me! More or less."