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Beyond Your Past
Antidepressants, PTSD, and Taking an Active Role in Your Treatment, with Dr. Wallace Mendelson - Ep. 104
November 29, 2018 Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

Antidepressants, it seems to carry the idea of being a necessary evil for those who struggle with depression, any number of mental health challenges, including PTSD. It's not something that most would want to rely on, either temporarily or in an ongoing basis, but yet their effectiveness can bring about a world of positive difference when used properly and under the supervision of a trained professional.

I used medications to help get some struggles I had, under control, and while it took some time and several doctor visits to get the dosage, amount, correct, the results were with it. Using the medications to help regulate my mood, reaction to stress, and ability to cope did serve me for a time, and with the combined efforts of a trauma informed therapist, I was able to wean myself off of them in time, again staying in contact with a trained medical professional.

Millions of people rely on antidepressants or have used them in the past. In fact, in the United States alone, 16 million Americans experience a major depression each year, and at any given time about ten percent of the population is taking antidepressants.  The popularity of antidepressants is increasing rapidly: there are about four times as many people taking them than in the 1990s. That means as you walk down the street, through the mall, or in the office, it's likely that someone you see is on this type of medication.

There's certainly no shame in using an antidepressant, but there is a certain amount of stigma and shame that can come with relying on a medication to help us in daily life. My guest today, Dr. Wallace Mendelson joins me on the podcast to discuss the use of antidepressants and share his expertise on how and why they work.

Wallace B. Mendelson MD is a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Pharmacology (ret) at the University of Chicago, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has authored or co-authored four books and numerous scientific papers, primarily in the fields of psychopharmacology and sleep medicine.  His most recent book, The Science of Sleep (available on Amazon), shares with Understanding Antidepressants the goal of providing the scientific background of a group of disorders in a non-technical and very readable manner.

During our chat on this episode of the podcast, Dr. Mendelson and I discuss the following, surrounding the use of antidepressants:

  • The use of antidepressants to help with PTSD. Which medications are actually FDA approved for PTSD, and how doctors choose between the correct ones to use with someone who's experienced trauma.
  • Concerns and apprehensions about using antidepressants.
  • The potential benefits of using antidepressants with therapy modalities such as CBT and Interpersonal therapy.
    • CBT - (in the area of depression) works on the idea that some kinds of thinking in which a depressed person does, can contribute to making the depression worse. Changing those beliefs, processes, and thinking patterns.
    • Interpersonal therapy - oriented to the way you interact with another person; having satisfactory relationship with others as being a critical part of ones overall mental health.
  • How antidepressants actually work; what they do in the body and brain.
  • The importance of taking an active role in your treatment, and educating yourself so you can better understand your progress and interactions with your medical and/or mental health professional.
  • His book, Understanding Antidepressants: which outlines in a non-technical, lavishly illustrated introduction on how antidepressants affect the brain, and a more general presentation of how drugs are absorbed, distributed, and eliminated from the body.
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