Unipolar Depression

The focus on medically curing unipolar depression has been on the production, preservation, and transmission of neurotransmitters. Some of the earlier antidepressant drugs were monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). The purpose of these medications is to block the action of monoamine oxidase, which is an enzyme that destroys certain neurotransmitters. Tricyclic antidepressants were the next generation of antidepressants. Their purpose is to keep the neurotransmitters in productive service longer. Presently more focus has been given to stimulating the production of mood-altering neurotransmitters such as serotonin. The most common are the Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. Additional meds include Effexor Remeron, Wellbutrin and Ritalin.

The overall purpose of antidepressant medication is to get the brain functioning normally again so the mind can think clearly. While I agree with that I have two concerns. Which came first, external negative circumstances, poor mental evaluation of life, lack of faith in God, or the chemical imbalance? A depressed mood will likely accompany biochemistry changes in the body, but to say that changed biochemistry caused depression is as incomplete as saying a dead battery caused the car not to start. We should ask, “What caused the battery to fail?” and “Is there another reason the car wouldn’t start?” “Is the car out of gas?” “Was there a faulty alternator or a broken belt?” “Were the lights left on?” “Is the battery old and worn out?” One could jump start the car by using booster cables, which would be enough if you just left the lights on, but a good mechanic would consider other causes to ensure that he car would continue to run.

Second, taking a pill to cure your body is commendable, but taking a pill to cure your soul is deplorable. The medical profession only addresses depression as a biochemical problem. I think it is primarily a mental and spiritual problem, which I will address next week. I received the following testimony by email:

I am 27 years old and on my second marriage. I have been dealing with depression for most of my life. I overdosed on meds several times and was hospitalized last year. I was in and out of the hospital for the next couple of months, but never felt better. My church was doing a studying Victory Over the Darkness, but I missed the first ones. I started the class when you were talking about the battle for our minds. I suddenly realized that I was not crazy. I have always heard “voices,” but was afraid to tell anyone. I met with my pastor to go through “The Steps to Freedom In Christ.” The voices are gone and I’m like a new person. I am happy, really happy for the first time.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog