There are a variety of treatments for depression, but over-the-counter antidepressants are not as readily available as other types of treatment and medication. The most common types of over-the-counter antidepressants are only available in herbal form.
Some members of the medical community are wondering why over-the-counter antidepressants are not readily available, and there are a few answers to this question. However, it is important to note that some methods of over-the-counter antidepressants treatments are available, but they are not of prescription variety. Herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders that might be caused as a result of dealing with these mental illnesses. However, those looking for over-the-counter antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, etc. are not going to be able to access these medications without a prescription from a health care professional that is able to write prescriptions for patients.
Some health care professionals have discussed working to make anti-depressants available to be sold over the counter. However, for several reasons this could be a bad thing. This topic, heavily discussed in a recent Time Magazine article, covers the dangers of antidepressants being available over the counter. Some feel if antidepressants were more readily available directly over the counter then more individuals suffering from depression would be able to seek help through the assistance of antidepressants. However, because so many might abuse antidepressants, there is always the danger of releasing such powerful drugs directly over the counter. There are many side effects to the use of antidepressants, which could cause some serious problems in those with preexisting conditions or situations that might interfere with the use of antidepressants.
The Argument: The Pros and Cons of Over-the-Counter Antidepressants
Many who are proponents to the distribution of over-the-counter antidepressants believe that these depression medications are being so widely dispensed anyway, that it really couldn’t hurt to make them available for anyone without a prescription despite the number of side effects. These same proponents believe individuals should have a right to their own medical treatment and shouldn’t have to rely on a doctor visit to get medicated.
However, some don’t believe in the idea of making the over-the-counter antidepressants so readily available. The biggest reason so many are concerned about this is because they believe antidepressants would become a recreational drug like alcohol. Another argument against making antidepressants so readily available is that the drugs are sometimes only effective if they are used in conjunction with other treatments like therapy or support groups for depression. Antidepressants also really only work if they are taken regularly for a few weeks rather than just someone popping a pill when they feel upset or down. This would counteract the idea of being able to sell them over the counter rather than under a doctor’s orders and supervision. There are also concerns about those with serious mental issues that misdiagnose themselves, which is a likely possibility especially if they don’t get properly diagnosed by a doctor. Someone with bipolar issues might think they are depressed and will take antidepressants, which could actually cause their issues to become more severe.
Antidepressants becoming so readily available over the counter also might cause problems with depressed individuals using the drugs to mask their pain rather than dealing with the issues and healing instead. The overall concept of over-the-counter antidepressants would be undermining traditional treatments and therapy that would be more effective in treating depression.
While over-the-counter anti-depressants are not a viable option at this point, there are alternative remedies like herbal supplements and even just other more simply ways to treat depression. Working out, getting exercise and that release of endorphins is a great way to treat depression. Eating healthier foods with less fats, sugars and carbs are also ways individuals can treat their depression symptoms. Lastly, getting a good, solid nights rest is also a great way to get the strength and energy to treat depression.