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I do not believe depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not contradicting science and arguing that there are demons in our heads that need to be exorcised. I simply refuse to believe that depression is just a chemical imbalance in our brains.

Depression in an illness. Implying a detectable abnormality in our bodies makes this assumption more real; it can be seen, proved. In other words, we are not making this up and moaning about being sad, it’s a fact. Having a scientific way to prove that depression exists and it’s not just a musing also makes most of us accept the idea of taking pills.

My problem with the idea of blaming the chemical imbalance is that some people seem to believe that depression is only a chemical imbalance that can be cured with pills. My fear is that they would rely solely on the pills and refuse to do the rest of the work.

I know a few people who think that and have read about many others who maintain the same point of view. They are just fine; before depression their life was basically perfect, they had no problem, only one day the chemical imbalance struck and everything was turned upside down. But then they started this medication and everything was fine again. Sounds familiar?

It’s wrong. And it’s dangerous. Well, no, it’s just mainly petty.

The relationship with antidepressants can be complicated and frustrating. Many of us fight strenuously against them, some of us are dangerously eager to get them and never cease to do so, some can’t take them even if they want to, some go through excruciating months to find just the right one. I belong to the group of people who prefer to do without them.

I wrote a post a few months ago where I stated I had decided to take them just for the sake of trying something new and get a fresh chance at getting better. In the end I never did start, because of some of the many, possible side effects and because it’s not just an in-and-out thing, it takes ages and I am not keen on the idea of embarking in a year-long journey. My kind of depression, dysthymic disorder, allows me to choose. If it got any worse, I know I could resort to antidepressants. It can help, but it’s not mandatory.

For other, major depressions it is not only recommended but necessary. Still, this doesn’t mean it is the only cure.

I know how depression works. I live dysthymia every day and I have watched major depression very closely. It put ideas, monsters in your head. And yes, they do go away when you feel better; not because you realise it’s just the depression talking, but because you get out of the loop, because you can block the anxiety, because you manage not to think about it. Even when I am not in a depressive bout though, I get to the same answer: I am not fully happy because of my negative thoughts. This I believe is the core.

The chemical imbalance might be responsible for the bouts, the loops, the anxiety, whatever. But at our core, we are not alright. Pills could be good enough. Dysthymia is as hard as it gets to eradicate and I know that I will probably never be as “fine” as those who have never suffered from any mental illness whatsoever. So I am content with the idea of being better, without strong bouts, without most of the anxiety, possibly without the chemical imbalance. But that doesn’t mean that a pill is the answer. That it isn’t worth trying to fight to eradicate the faulty thought process altogether.

Because pills are like a pause button. They allow you time to breathe, which is essential, but when you stop taking them you are back at square one. Because they do not cure the disease, they only take the pain away. I want a cure. I want a long-lasting, long-term solution and I strongly believe that modifying our negative thought patterns is the answer.

Those who believe that making the chemical imbalance go away will solve the problem are ostriches. They want to believe in the magic pill, the blue pill that will erase all change and let your life go on undisturbed. I understand. I wish it were that simple. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near that simple. Maybe to some, depending on a drug to live an acceptable is fair game.They prefer to sweep it all under the carpet and leave it there hoping it will disappear.

I could never accept it. I have already spent many years of my youth turning my head away from the problem, I would be constantly terrified that it all could backlash at me when I least expect it, making me realise just how much time I have wasted way too late.

But maybe, here’s the deal: they do not even realise how badly it could backlash.

So please, do the work. That hard, frightening, menacing work of getting to know yourself and your problems, your weaknesses and try to embrace change. Because it can’t really get worse, worse than not being aware of your emotions, worse than living subjugated by fear, worse than being the cause of your own pain. And if it does get worse, it’s only the first mile of the road to getting better.

This I would like every single person on Earth to understand. Not just the family of the depressed, but every one struggling with an emotional problem. Do not live in slavery of your imperfections. Anxiety can be defied, panick attacks can be defied, depression can be defied. It’s not a settled and unquestionable God-sent curse. Fight for a better life, because you can have it. Fight or die trying.