Antidepressants & Love

So, we know I’m on a TED talk kick. I stayed up way past my bedtime last night watching some of the world’s most interesting people with their brilliant minds just speak about what interests them. Man, I love listening to people speak.

I also had dinner with my friend Sarah tonight. We made delicious zucchini patty sandwiches and then we went out and got frozen yogurt. Lady dates are really fun.

On our lady date, I mentioned how happy I’ve been with my new birth control. I was struggling with horrible skin, a week of pain, and the worst symptom – the existential crisis of my relationship. My hormones would peak so dramatically right around “my special time” that I would turn into a monster with my relationship. I would cry, I would wonder, I would fear. I don’t know exactly how my hormones are directly related to this, but my attachment to Jesse always ended up feeling incredibly fragile one week out of every month. I’m happy to say I’m in recovery from my hormonally-induced existential crises about my relationship and have been quite the happy and contented camper for the last several months.

I said to Sarah, “Wow, it’s amazing how much hormones affect our brains.”

Which made me think of this TED talk I watched last night.

Helen Fisher is well-known for her work on understanding who we love and why we love. She’s also quite revolutionary in her conceptualization of love. She proposes how love is integral to our survival as humans and how it has evolved over time to allow for long-term attachment.

I hope you will watch the whole video, but I would like everyone to pay specific attention to what Fisher says at the end about how dangerous antidepressants have become to our development and maintenance of love.

You see, drugs can be helpful because they can regulate hormones. I know birth control can be risky, but my quality of life has gotten much better in the past few months because of the assistance I received from medication to regulate my emotions/hormones (the two are almost directly linked for me sometimes). I’m willing to take that risk because my choice serves my needs in many ways and I have one side effects as a result of the medication – I’m growing interesting tufts of hair I’ve never had on my hairline. I’ll take it.

However, medications can also be damaging to our lives, especially when we’re taking pills and they’re not serving our needs while also potentially infringing on our ability to create and support long-lasting attachment and love, among other issues like insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, restlessness, dry mouth, blurred vision, etc.

I’ve already spoken about my thoughts on antidepressants. We know that they don’t really do much for most people with the exception of the placebo effect unless the depression is severe and enduring. We’re spending billions of dollars on medications that are usually prescribed by doctors who are not psychiatrists (80 percent of the time) and what are we getting?

Nothing.

We’re still unhappy. The world has not gotten any less depressed since the advent and dispensing of antidepressants. We have poorer romantic relationships and we’re likely not having sex in them. We’re the most medicated, obese, and addicted group of people in the history of the world.

Why are we so willing to put up with side effects? Why is taking a pill which doesn’t allow us the energy or desire to have sex with our partner seem easier than getting therapy? Why do we look at a label warning us in big, black letters about the risk of suicidal ideation and we just shrug our shoulders and take our meds?

I am not saying it’s right or wrong, but I am concerned. I share Fisher’s worries for our future. I’m worried about the clients I see daily who are terrified to go a day without an antidepressant or a sleeping medication. No one is really changing their behaviors if they drank to keep away bad thoughts and now they take a pill to do the same. We’re all just numbing out. We’re all missing out on opportunities to engage in our lives.

I’m happy I have the ability to regulate my hormones because it provides me the opportunity to connect more. I get to be closer with my partner and my friends for one more week out of the month without being a tearful mess. I think that’s a good measure for our future with medications. Are we connecting or are we disconnecting? Are our relationships getting deeper and more intimate or not?

Sources (1, 2, 3)

What do you all think about what Fisher has to say?



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Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Addiction, Brilliant Ideas, Couples, Individual, Mind, Mind-Body Connection, Theory
Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.