Scallywag

Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet.

~ German Proverb ~

There are Happy Pills and Happy Pills

May 19th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 32 secs

Can happy pills make life happy?

Forget the dodgy drugs people take to give themselves a kick. Even so-called happy pills medically prescribed for depression get a mixed reception. Why is this? And how can they be so popular if their effects are questioned?

Some years ago, I recall attending a conference in Sydney where a psychiatrist and a researcher were having a ding-dong argument about the actual value of “happy pills.” In particular, the kind called SSRIs; short for “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (there are other types too).

The researcher insisted his data showed such “happy pills” were nothing more than placebos; that they didn’t do anything except make people think they worked. This angered the psychiatrist who questioned questioned the researcher’s methods. Yet, I suspect people are more critical of antidepressants as a shortcut to happiness.

So let’s get this straight. Antidepressants don’t leave depressed people feeling really happy. It’s a myth. When they work (and there’s overwhelming evidence they do), they can take the top off depressed feelings, enabling you to feel more like your regular self. Hardly a magic pill to make you happy, antidepressants merely address a chemical imbalance in the brain. So, just as an anti-inflammatory medication won’t make you strong, “happy pills” won’t bliss you out.

Nor will they work for everyone. Some “happy pills” can even leave you feeling terrible. So it’s vital that practitioners are experienced in this area and treatment is carefully managed and monitored (you can find out what happened when it wasn’t, in my book).

Like every other medication, so-called happy pills aren’t perfect. Getting to the heart of despair or clinical depression takes wise minds, with room for counseling too. Even then, medical treatment remains an imprecise science. Not because health professionals are slapdash. But because there is so much more to know. Fact is, you are one very complicated being. So if you have health issues of one sort or another, blame your incredible complexity. As I once heard a doctor remark, “You can’t expect to go through life unscathed.” And no happy pills of any kind can ever change that.

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