Teaching critical approaches to depression and anxiety when you are depressed and anxious - by Jane EM Callaghan

New blog bost by Jane EM Callaghan: 

"In the many years I have taught mental health, I have always wrestled with a fundamental contradiction. On the one hand, I have a political commitment to an anti-diagnostic, and anti-medicalisation stance. On the other hand, I have struggled life long with anxiety, trauma responses, and depression.

This year, I came to teach my classes on anxiety and depression 9 months into my treatment with duloxetine. This has been a life saving drug for me. It has relieved my anxiety very significantly, I can sleep better at night, and I can function without constant ruminative thoughts during the day.  It is also probably slowly eroding my liver function, but hey, swings and roundabouts, right?

So how do I handle this reality, when teaching my students to be appropriately skeptical about the claims of pharmaceutical companies, and to be concerned about the validity of certain diagnoses?......"

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Views: 30

Comment by Bob Sapey on April 8, 2017 at 8:59
Very interesting blog.
Comment by Simon Rose on April 25, 2017 at 17:01

Really interesting article

Am wondering if there is also something in the fact that medication can be started immediately whilst there are often significant waiting lists for anything other than the simplistic IAPT 6-8 weeks of CBT. In the area that I live and work, waiting lists of 1-2 years are the norm for more involved forms of therapy. Todays society puts so much pressure on people to 'get cured' and go back to being a productive human being (worker, carer, parent etc.), that the idea of having to wait so long is difficult - plus, of course, living in emotional pain waiting for therapy to start is not something that anyone would relish.

But, medication, for lots of us, does little more than paper over the cracks. Accepting Eleanor Longdon's argument that a good starting point for a psychiatric 'history' is not 'what has happened to you?' rather than 'what is wrong with you'?, over reliance on medication looks problematic. The core reasons behind the emotional and mental distress are never resolved - we are chemically 'modified' to be able to live with the symptoms that stem from whatever has caused the problems in the first place.

I write this from the perspective of someone that has taken meds for 20 odd years, been hospitalised numerous times who now works alongside undergrad medical students helping to get lived experience into their learning when on psychiatry placement. I have had spells of psychological intervention, but not enough to overcome the damage that occurred through childhood. Meds help me keep a lid on my emotions most of the time. For that, I am thankful. Problem is that I cannot actually see a time when I would be comfortable to come off them

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