I recently interviewed for a job at a psychiatric facility, to be a coordinator for a non-invasive anti-depression treatment. While I was in the interview, I realized that I was engaged and continually asking questions about their company. I found myself much more interested than some interviews I've been on. It's happened a few times that the interviewer will ask me if I have any questions to ask them, and my mind goes blank because I'm not inspired by the job. Realizing that this was something I was interested in more than just for money, I began thinking about what sort of subjects most energize my mind.
I've always found psychology to be fascinating, but I haven't yet decided whether I want to set my trajectory towards primarily scientific explanations and solutions rather than spiritual. In fact, moving out to California enhances the likelihood that I'll become new age-y and ditch scientific thought altogether (mostly joking). But just as being extremely organized in a town full of disorganized artists can be a benefit, so can having a scientific mind in a primarily spiritual environment - if I'm willing to consider the whole picture.
Thinking about depression, I could comfortably say that many of the mood disorders, panic disorders, and depression are due to a weakness or an incorrect wiring in specific nerve centers of the brain. This is not a disease like some other psychological diagnoses - and I'm certainly not claiming that all psychological disorders fall under this category. In any other animal other than the human though, this flawed assembly would lead to pretty rapid termination - humans, however, have created for themselves leeway when it comes to Darwin's 'fittest'.
The faulty wiring is due to a variety of factors, but the more pertinent concern is that the organism (a.k.a. the depressed human) is not existing in a way that is consistently maintaining and improving their state of life. The inconsistency causes a person to become blind to their need for survival; their need to find the most beneficial way of living, which improves their quality of life and allows them to feel most authentic.
This is where the drugs come in, in the scientific world. For medicines such as anti-depressants, the formula is obvious - when you take the medicine you feel good. When you don't take the medicine, you feel bad. Clearly, this doesn't solve the long-term issue. But here's where my medical opinion diverges from the 'system': like any transformative drug - be it prescription anti-depressants, prescription anti-anxiety medication, hallucinogens, or even marijuana - the point is not to become dependent on them and allow them to redefine your life. The point is to see what possibilities there are for an evolved existence, working towards a higher quality of life that you hadn't previously been experiencing in your habitual, stagnated self.
I'll try to clarify further. When a person takes an anti-depressant and feels good, that shows them that their body really can feel good and happy, and not only when they take the drug. They might think it's only possible with the drug because the person is scared to take on the responsibility of finding the reality where they feel good all by themselves, but that's false. When a person has seen and understood the possibility of what they can experience, that is the moment where they have the ability to break off from the substance and go on a personal quest - if only they accept that they have the strength to do so.
If you are a negative person with terrible self esteem, 'but' and 'can't' are probably two of your favorite words. 'But' is dangerous because it can be used to justify a negative thought - "BUT I'm not saying I'm feeling negative, I'm just expressing how I initially reacted with a negative thought! It's not the way I am!" See the trap? Now imagine setting a goal to in effect re-wire your mind by not allowing the words 'but' or 'can't' to come out of your mouth. Everything has to be in the context of possibility, and nothing negative will be expressed about yourself. Do you think that eventually you will change the way your mind thinks? Without a doubt. You become a more positive person by disciplining yourself to stop falling into self-pity. This is an example of a first step that can be taken, on the road to reconfiguring your life.
So are the drugs useful at all? This is a bit of a double-edged sword. They have the potential to be useful for the reasons I've just stated. But, the fact that so many people take anti-depressants and never get off them only means that people are encouraged to let go of the reins on their life and allow the drugs to do the work. It would be one thing if the people were presented with the option of how they could really re-create their lives after they've experienced what is truly possible for their happiness - but they usually aren't. Doctors wouldn't make money if they encouraged their patients to take control of their own lives and health. The unfortunate part is, most people don't want to take control anyway. They'd rather just be dependent on the prescription drug than have to really focus on understanding how their body is functioning/malfunctioning.
As for spirituality, a lot of what I've been experiencing recently is energetic work and meditation - a focus on how the energy flows through my body and recognizing the ailments that occur when energy is trapped. This to me relates exactly with what I've been saying - if certain energies are not flowing correctly through the body, it could be skipping over energetic impulses that were long ago weakened and forgotten about. Using meditation to calm the mind's reactions to immediate stimuli, and to experience personal energy and it's response to/effect on all energies around it can result in the same benefits. Add some conscious language work in there to focus on the way a person is perceiving and sharing themselves with the world in a social context - they're in great shape now. And the good news is, this sort of practice will result in long-term benefits, not the temporary results that anti-depressants will offer.
I've been diligently working to reframe my mind based on the ways I've personally allowed it to weaken, and I'm going to keep on doing it - persistence and strength is the key. Courage, also.