Circle the bandwagons

'Why anti-depressants have become the alcopops of mental health,' says former depressive, Jeremy Thomas.
Here, one writer who suffered from crippling depression launches a withering attack on the ease with which the medical profession doles out "happy pills"

My particular low came in 1981. My mother had died two years earlier and I found myself sinking into a heavy depression which left me contemplating suicide. I planned to throw myself under a Tube train — anything to escape the awful blackness that had descended. I rehearsed it several times, but in the end did not have the courage.
Or wasn't depressed enough, maybe?

My normally buoyant personality was immobilised by indecision and procrastination.I felt hopeless and useless, and paralysed by a terrible self-hatred. Next, I became dreadfully, maniacally high. I flew to New York, where I styled myself Lord Thomas and took a room at the Plaza Hotel. I truly believed that I was a peer of the realm. As I became more out of control, I moved to the exclusive Carlisle Hotel, where I kicked Warren Beatty out of his $1,250-a-night suite. Outside, my stretch Cadillac waited, complete with chauffeur. Paranoid because of John Lennon's recent murder in Manhattan, I rented round-the-clock bodyguards. Aged 26, I became like Napoleon Bonaparte, ordering everybody around. Eventually, my friends called a doctor...
Shame blogging wasn't around at the time, you sound like you'd have fitted in wonderfully.

Happy pills have become the alcopops of mental health. GPs in this country have an average three minutes to see somebody. Faced with somebody who says "I feel awful", they have time only to hand out pills.
Really, where did this snippet come from, more 'research'? I have been a regular visitor to GPs over the years and I've never felt rushed by any one of them. Quite the contrary, in fact. My GP practice allocates 10 minutes per visit for most consultations and where a longer follow up visit is needed the doctor will arrange a twenty minute consultation.

I know, however, that the very best thing for depression is to talk to somebody you can trust. That might be your doctor, a friend or relative, a stranger, a therapist or maybe even a priest.
Strange that this writer chooses to completely ignore the fact that repeated research has shown that counselling (which is what we are really talking about here) is often not just ineffective but actually counterproductive. But then that's the great thing about 'research' nowadays. There is so much of the stuff you can take a pick'n mix approach and use it to bolster whatever preconceived prejudices and opinions you have.

People who are depressed lack perspective. Their internal dialogue grows and their outlook becomes blacker and blacker. If they are able to express what they are feeling, they are going to get some relief. If they speak to somebody with empathy they will feel better. We underestimate the power of the human voice and human touch — somebody who will listen and hold your hand. It makes a difference when you feel low, but we have reached a sorry state where anti-depressants are often offered first. turning to medication as a first port of call, we are losing the ability to make ourselves better.

It used to be that if you felt down, you went for a walk, talked to somebody, maybe had a cry, or even bashed something against the wall. You expelled something from within — anger, sadness, disappointment. Gradually you felt better. Sadly, as our communities have disintegrated, seeking informal help from those around us has become more difficult. It might be unfashionable to say, but the decline in the Church and the parish vicar over the past 40 years has left a huge gap. Humans need to be able to reach out to each other.

As the internet has taken hold, even phone calls are becoming a thing of the past. Really, so all those people I see in the street are actually using their Nokia to surf the net with their ears? Yet we need to remind ourselves it's good to talk. Hey! That would make a great advertising slogan...oh wait a did already. There are other ways we can help ourselves...One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to get a pet...Often, the answer lies within ourselves. I do believe that for many of us, antidepressants are not the answer.**
So there you have it. Get out more. Get a tortoise. Talk to it. Stroke it. Meet the vicar. Hold his hand. Get him to give you a shoulder massage while you talk to your mum on the phone, and have a good cry together over the price of wheat. Remember, there are people in the world worse off than you. Ponder that and feel the depression lift as if by magic. Look at Mother Teresa, was she depressed? Oh, yes, actually she was. Shit! Anyway you get the drift. But hang on a minute. What's this?

My brother met me at Heathrow, and drove me to the Bethlem Royal in South London, the world's oldest psychiatric hospital. There, I came back down to earth over a period of six weeks: back to the reality that I'd lost my house and was bankrupt. Shortly afterwards, I was diagnosed with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder. It is a serious illness in which people's moods swing between high and low. I was like a bouncing ball: the lows were awful, and the highs were dreadful for those around me. Let me be quite clear, though. For the rest of my life, I will be on the mood-stabilising drug Lithium for my bipolar disorder. I know that I need to take medication in order to function.
Right! So you are in fact suffering from bipolar disorder which has depression as a major symptom and you will take your drugs as directed for the rest of your life? You are, in fact, suffering from a completely different condition from the one you've been pontificating about. **So, for you, antidepressants aren't the answer because, erm, Lithium is. It's the same with diabetics, In their case Prozac simply doesn't work, they need Insulin. Oh, and for fuck's sake don't give them any of them there sugar pills which appeared to be so efficacious with those unhappy folk in the study.

PS: I know this will come as a complete surprise but Jeremy Thomas has a book coming out. 'You Don't Have To Be Famous To Have Manic Depression: The A-Z Guide To Good Mental Health' will be in the shops on March 27. I can't wait for the follow-up. 'You Don't Need To Be Famous To Be An Ill-informed Fucking Tosser'.