Depression Untreatable with Medication

Antidepressants fail to cure the symptoms of major depression in half of all patients with the disease. (more…)

8 comments On Depression Untreatable with Medication

  • In other news, anitdepressants succeed in curing symptoms of major depression in half of all patients with the disease.

    Go back and take a look at the statistics. I believe the statistics match the success rate of heart bypass surgery, among other things. And we seem to know a lot more about how the heart works than we do about the mind. I don’t think you’ll see heart patients opting to forgo heart bypass surgery because of the poor success rates.

    50% ain’t great, but it ain’t bad either.

  • Placebos are often that effective. I think there are serious cases when medication is absolutely necessary for mental health. I think that as a society we’re going overboard a bit. We now have pills for just about everything. I think it’s getting a bit out of control – and statistics no better than flipping a coin doesn’t prove a drug’s efficacy.

  • I believe that if a certain drug isn’t working, then chemically something else may be going on and requires a different pill. I took several antidepressants to no avail, until finally discovering the one I’m on now. Once I found it, clouds were lifted and so was weight. Simpleton has a good point too, with the heart thing.

  • The Fearsome Randall

    I think that Matt is simply saying that a chemical solution is used today without any recourse to other methods. And that this is potentially dangerous mode of comportment by a society. I think that this is a legitimate beef, considering that the divide between nueroscience and us common folk is as large as say the gap between superconductors and PCs.

    I was stimulated to do a little research on Existential Philosophy recently, and it occurred to me how similar Existentialism and modern psyciatry is.

    The relation that we have to look at with both sciences is the relation between feeling and thought.

    For example, for the Existential writier, Camus , “we” experience absurdity when we understand that there isn’t a God (i.e. if there isn’t a god then there’s no inherent order to things). Therefore, the thought that there isn’t a ‘God’ leads to the feeling of despair. Despair then conditions our thought in such a way where life has no meaning and you kill yourself.

    Now in modern psychiatry a chemical combination is basically responsible for a “mode of attunement” or an “affective state”. When you isolate the right chemical, you change the attunment. The assumption in psychiatry is that a “mode of attunment” is responsible for the conditioning your thoughts. So in this way, modern psychiatry suggests that when you change the “attunement”, you effectively change the “tone” of the thinking.

    But even if we aren’t neuroscientist, we can acknowledge a couple things here. There is a “what comes first? The chicken or the egg?” syndrome here. Is it possible to discursively think ourselves out of “a mode of attunement”?

    For example, if we are engaged in a math problem that is very difficult, we feel a “tension”, and when we “solve” the problem we experience a “release” of the tension.

    Heck, we don’t even have to “solve” the problem mathematically, we can simply crumple of the paper that the problem is printed on and throw it in our teachers face, and a tension is released.

    Now, if we think of depression as something that is “unsolved” or “unresolved” our own thoughts and actions can bring us out of this “mode of attunment”.

    Now all of that sounds easy enough, but I know as well as anyone how debilitating depression can be, or how paralysing anxiety can be.

    It is possible that our thoughts have caused us such anxiety that there is an irreversible feedback loop happening (i.e we have thought or acted ourselves into anxiety, and our anxiety has in turn entangled our thoughts into meaninglessness).

    In the above case our anxious “mode of attunment” has paralysed any potential skill we might have to rid ourself of the problems that started the anxiety. Or our depressed “mode of attunment” has debilitated any capacity that we might have to pick ourself up by our bootstraps.

    In the above case, a drug may be able to help us get our own thoughts back. Thoughts that aren’t laced with a morbid craving. The drug might permit us to simply think in the way that we would before the incessant feedback loop initiated. Is this so bad?

    No. Not really. But I’m not asking people to be “Rambo thinkers,” blasting their way out of depression with German Idealist style fire power.

    My concern is at the societal level though. I consider, anxiety, and depression to be major creative impulses. I fear if we medicate the Jimmy Hendrixes of the world, the Mozarts, the Nietzsches then we are in a way “sterilizing” society. I am willing to bet that nearly every great artist in the world would have qualified for some form of antidepressant by todays clinical standards. And so okay, the adult great ones probably wouldn’t show up at the psychiatrists door for fear of feeling lonely. But what about their parents?

    I think that the danger is real with an overmedicated society. But on the individual level I have no problem with antidepressants. It’s just that alternative pathways need to remain competitive. Right now that just isn’t happening.

    Conventional methods of discursively thinking your way out of problems are also effective.

  • I think what Matt tried to state simply, you made terribly complicated. Is this Richard Winfield meeting Hegel? Or is it a reflection of the impression Immanuel Kant had on Hegel? Make a point already. 🙂

  • The Fearsome Randall

    “You’ll shut your mouth if you know what’s good for yah mister!” ( drinking urine…gulp…gulp….svvsvvsvvssvss..)

    Listen, I’ll admit that the above argument is especially clumsy…but the core argument is in there somewhere dude. If I took the time to edit and re-edit…well then I would be forced to put it aside, I’m trying to participate here…after all it’s just a comment on a blog right? I consider it a pleasant distraction. Matt is especially good at broadening the focus with his research so I enjoy playing along. But you know me Chris, whenever, things become unpleasant in anyway I quit and watch the tube for fear of getting indigestion.

  • Brotha, as with Matt, it was a joke. Interestingly enough when I was searching for Winfield’s first name I found his phone number and e-mail. If you don’t still have it, let me know, I’d be happy to give it to you. You know I play. There was no attack intended. You being thousands of miles away it’s nice to hear your thoughts. It brings back (fond) old times. Put your your rolaids and remote control aside and please continue. 🙂

  • P.S. I really enjoy Matt’s broad spectrum as well. Thank you for this forum Clapper.

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