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Full Version: Has the Church ever declared on anti-depressants and other such pills?
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Friends,

I've been trying to identify an evil hole in my heart for a long time. I found this odd little video that somehow manages to encapsulate everything horrible I feel: not being able to go outside for weeks or months at a time, being stranded in inner isolation without one friend in the world.

http://animatedminds.com/the_films/fish_on_a_hook/

This is so singular. I need to get some sort of medicine or I will rot, a wretched soul, but what did/does the Church teach about such things? I know the precursors of Prozac didn't even exist 30 years before Vatican II, so it can be hard to gauge. Is there any traditional, sound, good declaration on anything like this? What of a person who has no peace - prayer feels empty, he is dissociated from himself; always feeling watched, laughed at, hated, etc. - wtf is he supposed to do? Going to Mass of any kind is pure mental torture for him, because it is outside, beyond safety - he cannot even trust his best friends not to glare at him and laugh at him in their hearts. He cannot become a saint without joy, peace, and doing the will of God.

I often wonder if pills change the personality, the character, the humanity that God has given us. Isn't it an insult to God to say "thanks for this body, but I'd rather it was another way so I'll augment and correct your errors"? This is how I feel about such pills and corrective medicine. How restricting, how suffocating. What does Holy Church say, from its eagle-eye view, not my personal interpretation of life?

I can relate to what you have said.  I don't know what the Church has said if anything about anti-depressants,  but only know in my case they have been a big help.  I've taken them for years now.  What they do is to keep your mood from becoming absolutely impossibly black.  They help you feel not so bad about things.  I think if I wasn't taking them I would probably have tried to kill myself.
See a doctor.  They will start you on a small dose.  If you don't like them you can always stop them.
As far as I'm aware, the Church hasn't declared anything on pills- although I can tell you that I would only turn to them as a last resort.  I've been on many, many pills for reasons you've listed.  If they help at all, they'll do about 20% of the work for you.  The rest needs to be done in therapy, or better, spiritually.

In retrospect, I think many of my problems were spiritual.  Not all, and I know I actually needed some of the stuff I took.  But I wouldn't have needed it as long or as much.

You're a recent convert, right?  I'd suggest talking to a traditional priest about being depressed in general.  You don't need to tell him that you're thinking about pills, just talk to him about how you're feeling.  

In my experience, most emotional problems stem from pride.  On both spectrums- not just grandiosity, but depression and low self esteem.  I suggest submitting yourself entirely to the will of God.  St. Ignatius' Suscipe  prayer has helped me a lot:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.


Also, feel free to PM me.

As a side note, any kind of medication, as long as it is not interfering with the intended nature and process of the human body is fine.  So if you really need pills, there's nothing wrong with it.  But first you need to figure out (with God's help) whether or not you need pills.
What Mithrandylan said is right on point.  I would only add that, though pills may only do 20% of the work, it's the 20% that may allow you enough breathing room to effectively work on the root emotional and spiritual causes of the problems.  That has been my personal experience at any rate.  Pills without the subsequent spiritual work are pretty much a dead end - or at best a holding pattern.
(09-27-2011, 02:04 AM)Mithrandylan Wrote: [ -> ]As far as I'm aware, the Church hasn't declared anything on pills- although I can tell you that I would only turn to them as a last resort.  I've been on many, many pills for reasons you've listed.  If they help at all, they'll do about 20% of the work for you.  The rest needs to be done in therapy, or better, spiritually.

In retrospect, I think many of my problems were spiritual.  Not all, and I know I actually needed some of the stuff I took.  But I wouldn't have needed it as long or as much.

You're a recent convert, right?  I'd suggest talking to a traditional priest about being depressed in general.  You don't need to tell him that you're thinking about pills, just talk to him about how you're feeling.  

In my experience, most emotional problems stem from pride.  On both spectrums- not just grandiosity, but depression and low self esteem.  I suggest submitting yourself entirely to the will of God.  St. Ignatius' Suscipe  prayer has helped me a lot:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.


Also, feel free to PM me.

As a side note, any kind of medication, as long as it is not interfering with the intended nature and process of the human body is fine.  So if you really need pills, there's nothing wrong with it.  But first you need to figure out (with God's help) whether or not you need pills.

THIS.  And I love that prayer. Offer even your troubled mind itself to God.  A troubled mind is not a good thing and should be fought against spiritually and even physically.  But God may allow it for some time,  for reasons He knows; perhaps to make you turn to Him, or to be less proud.
(09-27-2011, 01:37 AM)Laetare Wrote: [ -> ]Friends,

I've been trying to identify an evil hole in my heart for a long time.

Laetare, I am moved by your realness, honesty here.

I am rushing now, have not had time to look at video properly, read all comments properly.

But pressed for time as I am, I find myself wondering how much and/or other turn to the Sacraments daily?

Daily reception of the Eucharist. frequent confession, adoration also have been INCREDIBLE for me in this regard.

I confess: I am alarmed by people turning to these pills if  they have not (?) tried daily participation in the Sacraments ...
I might have to be the odd one out and say that you should go to a doctor and follow whatever he suggests. I've never experienced depression or anything like that so I'm struggling to understand where you're coming from, but the people I have known with depression have benefited hugely from having medication. It obviously doesn't solve everything, and you'll need to do a lot of work, but please don't look at this as a choice between medical treatment or the sacraments/prayer/whatever. Both can help you.

(09-27-2011, 05:05 AM)Roger Buck Wrote: [ -> ]I confess: I am alarmed by people turning to these pills if  they have not (?) tried daily participation in the Sacraments ...
I have been in the mental health field for more then 9 years. Depression is a genuine medical condition that can be fatal (suicide).

If you think you may have depression it is very important that you see a licensed and credentialed professional.  It is also very important that you work closely with a Spiritual Director, preferably a religious or member of the cleregy.

God Bless.
:pray:

As someone who is gradually coming off Citalopram after 7 years, I would never try to dissuade anyone from antidepressants, especially as they came as such a relief at a period when things were very black (depression and panic attacks).

That being said, I have two concerns with antidepressants: (1) antidepressants are often handed out as the 'solution' for what is, really, ordinary unhappiness, when really support and not medication is what is needed; and (2) the side-effects and/or the effects of coming off the antidepressants are not made clear to the patient before the course is started, in some cases the effects can be very severe.

I am not asking you to respond to this question, but are there any circumstances that could be making you so unhappy? It sounds as if you have hit a really low ebb. If so, I would approach a good priest about it and speak to him about it. If you then think that there might be something else at play here i.e. clinical depression then I would take it further and go to a doctor who will probably then prescribe you some sort of antidepressant.

In the meantime, whilst you look for a priest to speak to, would you consider trying St John's Wort? It is used for 50% of all cases of depression in Germany and can help low moods (as opposed to proper clinincal depression). Don't continue to take if you are prescribed an AD, however.

With regards to the pills changing the personality: I would say that in the majority of cases they definitely don't, but it depends on the strength of the dose and the specific AD that you take.
The Catholic Church doesn't make many declarations on things outside the scope of faith or morals.  And even then, she has made surprisingly few declarations.  You might be able to find the opinions of many saints and clergy on both sides of the issue.  But those are just their opinions.

I second Adam_Michael's advice of talking to a capable spiritual director and trustworthy medical doctor.  Anti-depressants have done wonderful things for some members of my family.  But then again, so has prayer.

ETA: I didn't mean to imply that prayer and medical treatment are mutually exclusive. They can certainly work hand-in-hand.
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