This thread is terrifying me. I'm seeing a doctor later this week for a variety of problems I've been having and I know I might have depression. If I end up being prescribed something, now I'm going to have to quiz the doctor on all the possible side effects.
"Well, you see... I've been reading this thing on the Internet with stories of drugs gone wrong..."
Hey... i just wanted to say please don't be terrified, but instead be wisely cautious but also openminded, ask questions, educate yourself and weigh your options- like you would with any medical treatment.
In my mind, (as someone who has dealt with depression, and been prescribed and used a range of different antidepressants, over about 10 to 15 years) antidepressants are amazing drugs. I know that they can save peoples lives, and that short term and long term they can make dramatic differences to people with various medical needs. I've seen that they're also very strong drugs, with significant effects- which obviously can be both positive and negative in individual cases.
While they can be very beneficial, i feel that antidepressants are also sometimes seen by some doctors and some patients as a quicker or easier 'fix' for a problem than perhaps they might realistically be- by some people its perhaps seen as easier to use packet of pills like a bandaid to patch up a problem, than getting to the root of a complex issue and working longer term on resolving it.
If your doctor suspects or diagnoses depression, remember that there are LOTS of options open to you, just like there could be lots of reasons behind your illness. don't be afraid to ask questions, voice your opinions, and make your own desisons about your treatment.
For example: depression can sometimes be situational, and helped by a change of job, home environment, or activity. sometimes taking up a sport or voluntary work, being part of a more positive social circle/relationship, feeling like you have something positive to focus on, that you are making a difference to someone/something else, or that you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, etc can make a real differance. Similarly, so can slowing down, focused relaxation, and making time and space to breathe and look after yourself, if you're doing too much and spreading yourself too thinly.
Depression can be a result of life experience and learning, and helped by various types of therapy to confront the past, and a plan to build a different future- therapy to build esteem, confidence, more positive patterns and thoughts, and to figure out new ways of dealing with and handling challenges can be an excellent tool.
Depression can be hormonal, or caused by a chemical imbalance, or one of many other medical conditions or illnesses - there could be something else completely different thats going on in your body thats bringing you down, and in some cases, fixing that (eg: improving your quality of life if you have a debilitating condition- sorting out your hormones if they're outta whack), could solve your depression.
in lots of cases treatment with pills can be the answer, in lots of cases pills to help you cope for the short term, and making other changes long term are the answer, in lots of cases councelling, or help to make life and personal changes- without pills, will make a big difference.
remember that depression is different for everyone, and so is the solution to managing it.