As a counselor, I am often asked, “Can drugs be helpful for anxiety and depression?” The answer I give is “Yes” and “No.”
Yes, drugs may be useful for short-term help. No, drugs are not a good long-term solution.
Anxiety and depression are not caused by a lack of drugs. Drugs do not heal the underlying causes of anxiety and depression. However, when drugs are temporarily used to give a person a window of relief to do the inner work necessary to heal the underlying causes, they can be useful.
Anxiety and depression generally have two major underlying causes – emotional and physical.
THE PHYSICAL CAUSES OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Our bodies go into imbalance when we do not eat well or have enough healthy exercise. Our bodies are not made to handle the unnatural substances found in processed food. When we overload our bodies with chemicals, pesticides, sugar, and devitalized foods, our bodies become depleted of vital nutrients and go into stress. Anxiety and depression can be the result of this physical depletion and resulting stress.
Our bodies are designed to thrive on the food and water that God gave us – pure, clean, organic, unaltered food and water. If you take drugs for anxiety and depression and do not clean up your diet and get proper exercise, you are just using a Band Aid for a gaping wound.
THE EMOTIONAL CAUSES OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Emotionally, anxiety is caused by dysfunctional thoughts – thoughts that are not true. For example, if you tell yourself that you are not good enough or you have to be perfect, you will likely feel anxious. Thoughts of not being good enough and having to be perfect are generally focused on our outer qualities of looks and performance, rather than on the inner qualities of kindness, compassion, and gratitude. When we choose to be kind, loving and compassionate with ourselves and others, we feel good about ourselves. When we choose gratitude for what we do have rather than dwell on what we don’t have, we create inner peace. Kindness and gratitude are wonderful antidotes to anxiety!
Anxiety is always a sign that we are telling ourselves a lie. The truth creates peace inside, while lies create fear and anxiety. This is a sure-fire way of knowing what is true and what is not true!
Emotionally, depression is caused by not taking good care of ourselves. If we ignore our needs, don’t speak up for ourselves, judge ourselves, and make others responsible for our feelings, the result may be depression. If you have a child whom you ignore and judge, that child will likely be depressed. The same occurs on the inner level when we ignore and judge our own inner child. Putting yourself last and taking care of everyone else but yourself may cause you to feel unworthy and depressed.
There is little point in taking drugs for anxiety and depression without attending to your dysfunctional thinking and to how you are treating yourself. However, if you take drugs for a short time and give yourself the opportunity to do your inner work, they may be helpful. Many of the people I work with find that as soon as they start taking good care of themselves, they don’t like the effect of the drugs. They don’t like the fact that the drugs take the edge off their feelings. They find that, rather than wanting to be numbed out, they want to feel all of their feelings deeply, both the highs and the lows. The more they learn to take responsibility for their feelings by attending to their thoughts and needs, the more they want to feel all of their feelings. They discover that, while drugs may take the edge off pain, they also take the edge off joy.
Most of the people I work with can avoid drugs completely by learning to take loving care of themselves, both physically and emotionally. Many of the people who practice the Inner Bonding process that we teach find Inner Bonding to be far more powerful in healing anxiety and depression than drugs.
If you are a person who does not want to learn to take personal responsibility for your pain and joy, then drugs may be a way out for you. But if you want to feel true peace and joy, drugs are not the answer.