As far back as college, a therapist I visited to address my eating disorder recommended antidepressant medication. At the time, Prozac and Wellbutrin were favorites. Something inside of me persuaded me not to take that path and, right or wrong, I ended up in a 12 step program by the age of 31.
I was depressed, very anxious, nuerotic in some respects and active in multiple addictions. I suffered from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bulimia, unhealthy personal and romantic relationships and cigarette addiction. I was referred to a Psychiatrist who specialized in addiction treatment. He wanted to put me on another type of medication to help me focus. He said it seemed as if a freight train was running through my head.
Again, something inside of me said, "I don't think medication is the right road for you." I did try the pill he suggested and the next day awoke to slurred speech. I was horrified. The medication was altering me in a way alcohol once did and it scared me to death. The psychiatrist recommended I wait it out and let the medication work to stabalize me. I made a choice to take a different road.
I continued working with a sponsor throughout my recovery. I added a fantastic therapist to the mix, as well as some meditation, exercise and artistic endeavors. One day at a time, over several years, my addictions fell from me like dead leaves. I began to flourish in my life and I know it is a direct result of the following behaviors which act as the best antidepressants to this day:
1. HELP ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN
2. MAKE A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL GRATITUDE LIST FOR ALL THAT IS GOING WELL IN YOUR LIFE, BECAUSE OF YOU AND DESPITE YOU
3. BELONG TO A GROUP THAT GIVES YOUR LIFE MEANING
4. DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOUR HEART SING
5. MAKE SMALL OR LARGE GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM FOR THE REWARD OF DOING SO
6. FORGIVE OTHERS
This list is far from comprehensive, but is a great start. Studies have shown that antidepressant medications only make a significant difference in the lives of people who are severely depressed (won't get out of bed). Otherwise, they are never curative and simply serve to address symptoms (ie, anxiety). While this can be very effective for the short term, I have found positive actions to be a much better long term solution.
I do not judge anyone who uses medication and it is working for them. I only want to offer a different kind of solution to anyone who wishes to go another route to success. I wish everyone on the road to recovery a successful outcome.
All my best,