Tonight I watched one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. CBC’s Doc Zone aired a show called Age of Anxiety. In short, the program explored how anxiety has become yet another mental illness that is often over diagnosed and immediately treated with pharmaceuticals instead of other options. I found this really interesting because I started taking Wellbutrin last summer to deal with, well, anxiety. Specifically, I felt as though my thoughts about food were getting out of control. I didn’t just think about food, I had all consuming manic thoughts racing through my head. A friend of mine told me that she had the same problem and Wellbutrin helped her get it under control. I went to my doctor and he was okay with letting me try the lowest dose possible and I’ve been on it ever since.
I have to admit that since I have been taking this medication those racing thoughts have gone away. However, last summer was also one of my most stressful summers ever. In fact the anxiety that I was experiencing, as well as the depression that I have had in years past, seemed almost exclusively situational. In other words, once the situation I was in changed, I felt as though I had changed. Maybe I could have toughed it out instead of running to my doctor for a prescription.
I’m not saying that mental health issues like anxiety and depression don’t exist. What I am saying is that there is a difference between having these very real illnesses and simply going through a rough (but temporary) patch in your life. As someone who has experienced both I have to say that I have always felt that going to therapy with a psychologist made far more of a difference than any pill. Personally I think that everyone would benefit if doctors suggested various lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, breathing exercises, etc) before dispensing medication.
On a final note, if you are currently taking an antidepressant or anti anxiety medication and want to stop taking it please, please, please talk to your doctor first! He or she can help to wean you off of it so that you can eventually end your treatment safely and successfully. If you want to watch the CBC documentary check it out here.