Points to Paulina Porizkova for being brutally honest in her HuffPost.com essay, "Ending a Midlife Affair With Meds," in which she comes clean about what she calls her "dirty little secret," a two-year stint on the antidepressant Lexapro.
To her credit, the former model/actress/novelist/America's Next Top Model judge doesn't shy away from describing the agonizing panic attacks that prompted her to start taking Lexapro in the first place, nor does she gloss over the lack of libido she suffered while taking the drug or the painful process of withdrawal.
I just wish she could have written about her experience without the aforementioned "dirty little secret" reference and others along the same lines. Porizkova's words make antidepressants sound like an easy way out, the lazy woman's way to happiness. She makes antidepressants sound like an option, and the truth is, for many people, they're not.
Calling antidepressants "the emotional equivalent of plastic surgery" and comparing being medicated to "going through life anesthetized and smooth with all the self-awareness of a slug," clearly Porizkova falls into the other camp: Those who benefit from the temporary use of antidepressants as a sort of bridge over troubled waters (Porizkova cites her shifting hormones, the growing independence of her children, and a flailing career as reasons for her own bout with depression and anxiety).
There's been buzz for years about the wide usage of SSRIs like Lexapro, Prozac, and Celexa, particularly among women, and whether or not the majority of these prescriptions are really necessary. Everyone wants to know why women are suddenly so depressed.
Maybe we've been depressed all along, but we just didn't know what to call it or how to treat it. Would Brooke Shields, Carrie Fisher, or Catherine Zeta-Jones, all of whom have publicly shared their battles with mental illness, have joined the ranks of these women without modern medicine?
Then there's the list of women from history whose attempts to self-medicate did them in: Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe. I can't begin to imagine what their futures might have looked like had they lived during the age of antidepressants. I also can't help but think that recent tragedies like the mother who killed herself and her children by driving her car into the Hudson River might have been averted if the woman behind the wheel was receiving proper psychiatric treatment.
I know that Porizkova doesn't mean to slight the women in true medical need of antidepressants. I just hope that reading her essay won't shame anyone into going off meds without consulting their doctor.
Do you think antidepressants save lives?
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