Biological Depression

Q: Hello Dr Frank!

I am a long-term member of GFW. I have a question that maybe you can give me a general answer. If you don’t feel comfortable giving “advice” to people you don’t know, I understand this.

I have PTSD/long-term depression from trauma that started around age 5 that lasted into my teenage years. Sexual abuse from 3 different family members.

My question has to do with the depression with probable brain chemical imbalance. Does this chemical imbalance ever resolve itself? Will there be a time when I no longer have to take something to treat this brain imbalance?

Thank you Dr Frank for your support to GFW. The site has provided me with much valid and reliable information

A: Dear T, Some people have “biological depression” -meaning, through no fault of their own, they have a medical condition in which their brains do not produce enough nerve-transmitter to make all systems work as they should. The pills for depression can help this condition enormously. The pills are not nerve-transmitters (those substances can’t get from the blood into the brain). But the pills can make the brain’s own nerve-transmitters act effectively by blocking re-uptake and causing the concentration to reach appropriate levels. That is why there is no black market for these pills. They are not “happy pills” or “uppers.” They do not help medically normal people feel high. They only help those who need the boost, the same way certain pills help diabetics improve their concentrations of insulin.

Bottom line – you may need ant-depressant medication and if you do, it is safe to take the pills for a lifetime.

Some people do reach a point where they no longer need this class of drug. It certainly makes sense to try to reduce or eliminate drugs which require increases in dosage to do the job (pain killers, sedatives, minor tranquilizers like Xanax or Ativan). But I’d stick with Prozac, Zoloft or other drugs in that category as long as they seem to help. No real harm in long-term use.

Best to you,

Frank Ochberg, MD