Can Vitamins really do the trick?

One of my friends was diagnosed with an eating disorder and depression last year.  She spent most of the day in her room with the lights off sleeping or crying.  It was difficult to watch her go through this time especially at college, where we, her friends, were her only support.  I remember the moment I decided that her behavior was not normal and that it was time to do something about it.  After talking this over with my other friends, we decided to confront her about what was going on and encourage her to get help.  Although she was resistant we finally got her to agree to go see a therapist.  However this was just the beginning of the battle.

Her therapist was encouraging her to go on antidepressants, which both her and her family were completely against.  My friend believed that she was strong enough to fight her depression on her own, and that using antidepressants was a sign of weakness.  Just as Jen said “mind over matter.”  She believed that using drugs shows that her mind alone was not strong enough. However her father, who was a doctor had a different view.  He believed that therapy would not be any help and that using drugs was the only way to treat medical problems.  However his argument got a little fuzzy because he was still against antidepressants.  He did not consider treating depression with antidepressants the same as treating any other part of the body with a drug treatment.  So my friend with confronted with very different opinions on both the use of drugs and therapy.

My friend’s struggle to decide to use antidepressants or not reflects perfectly the different clinical views of treatment for psychological disorders.  Miller and Keller state that, “In psychopathology, one of the most unfortunate consequences of the naïve competition between psychology and biology is the assumption that dysfunctions conceptualized biologically require biological interventions and that those conceptualized psychologically require psychological interventions.”  I agree with Miller and Keller that both treatment types are effective in different situations.  There is a time where “psychological interventions” can be most effective and times when it is not enough. My friend viewed her depression as a psychological problem and thus believed it could be treated through therapy, but her father viewed it as (mostly) a medical problem and believed that it could be treated medically (again his argument gets little fuzzy).   There are obvious problems when you separate these two views because in many cases by viewing the disease as both a psychological and biological disorder better treatment strategies can be developed.

Just for fun I posted a link to Tom Cruise talking about how he is against the use of drug treatment for depression.  In this interview when discussing Brooke Shields use of antidepressants he says, “But what happens with the antidepressant is it masks the problem there are ways with vitamins and through exercise and various things.  I’m not saying that that isn’t real” (Tom Cruise).  But are vitamins and exercise always enough??

5 thoughts on “Can Vitamins really do the trick?

  1. First, I want to say something….I think Tom Cruise is legitimately insane. I could go on and on about how I think he’s a froot loop, but for everyone’s sake I will refrain. 🙂

    I think that the stigma of antidepressants is very interesting, and I am glad that your friend considered different sides of the issue. When I was prescribed my antidepressents, it was under stipulation that I see a therapist/counselor concurrently. Initially, I was very hesitant to use pharmaceuticals to treat my ‘feelings’. Especially after doing the research, and finding out that antidepressants can increase suicidal thought, and can even be addicting and hard to wean off of (the latter, I will say holds some truth, since your body does get used to having certain levels and kinds of chemicals in it). I think it is important, though, to recognize that there are so many options for treatment. Not everyone needs medication, just like not everyone needs talk therapy, and some people just deal with it alone (though I wouldn’t recommend it). For me, I have a history going back to before I remember, so I was put on medication and recommended to counseling. Whether my symptoms dating way back when were ’caused’ by my own biology, or perhaps my environment and my reactions to it, I have no idea–which is the big question, and of course leads back to whether or not these things can be reduced to one or the other. After this reading, I believe 100% that there are multiple factors–what these are, however, I am very interested in discovering.


  2. Well Tom isn’t completely out in left field, okay he’s out there, but nonetheless vitamins (yay choline) and exercise both exert effects on brain not unlike that induced by antidepressants. So what’s better then? Is it a matter of potency? Tailoring treatment to the individual?


  3. Nice post Hannah. You bring up some very interesting ideas.
    There seem to be a chicken before/ after egg phenomenon with depression. Which comes first, the biological imbalance or the psychological instability? Does the chemical imbalance first lead to a depressed mental state or does the high stress college environment and other mental taxations cause the depression which then results in a biological alteration in the brain.
    After taking an applied psychology course while studying abroad, I learned that one approach, cognitive behavioral therapy, counsels clients(I also think its interesting that the Europeans make you call people who seek counseling clients) out of depression by getting them to see a different perspective or view on life. CBT believes that if you can eliminate the clients distorted way of thinking and get them to narrate rational thoughts then they will be able to overcome the symptoms of depression. So does fake it until you make it really make a therapeutic treatment to depression? Because if so, I think I’d might call my psychiatrist for some drugs.


  4. I think it’s important to have an open mind when discussing mental illnesses and medication, which I must say Tom Cruise does not. Although he seems to have done his “research” as he states multiple times, he seems to have only researched one side of the argument. I remember when teachers told us to write a persuasive essay we needed to also research the other side of the debate and describe why we think one idea is superior to the other. I think Tom Cruise has forgotten this. He brings up some good points, but as Matt Lauer tries to point out, he is too stuck in his ways to see what the other viewpoint brings to the table.

    I think that as a patient/client and a psychiatrist/physician you need to be aware that everyone is an individual. All symptoms and treatments need to be taken into consideration to create a personal remedy.


  5. I couldn’t even make it all the way through this video because I was so frustrated with Tom’s one-sided perspective. It’s great to do research, but in my experience doing research usually makes me more aware of the opposite perspective, too, which clearly was not the case here. I said repeatedly that medication just masks the problem… but if nothing else works, and an individual is remarkably better on medication than no, is masking the problem really so bad? The individual is suffering less, and wasn’t that the original goal? I agree that a natural cure-all would be better, but successful medication is a very legitimate runner up in my mind.


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