A Lesson from a Week of Making Antidepressants

I spent the week coating antidepressants, ’cause that’s my job.

Yesterday, I watched the waterfall of 800,000 tablets rush past, and thought about how messed up this was. In the last two weeks I coated literally millions of antidepressants for North American consumers.


According to Harvard Health contributor, Peter Wehrwein, “The federal government’s health statisticians figure that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. And by their reckoning, antidepressants were the third most common prescription medication taken by Americans in 2005–2008, the latest period during which the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected data on prescription drug use.”

There must be a root cause.  I recognize that depression is sometimes due to physical and chemical factors. There is a history of depression and other mental illness in my family.  I went through a period of depression and emotional instability in my mid-teens, which I attribute to chemical and hormonal causes.

However, I struggled with depression this spring, and after discussing it with a medical professional, tracking what triggered it, and eliminating factors, I realized it was not chemical. It was situational–caused by stress and discouragement in the workplace.  I don’t doubt many of those who suffer from depression are also suffering from situational depression.  It is serious.  It can’t be just ‘snapped out of’.  For me it took changes in lifestyle, a support-system of friends and family, faith in God, and just plain healing.  Many people do not have those options.

So, what to do?  I’m not content to just continue coating antidepressants.

I’ll be honest, I believe one root cause of depression is isolation and directionlessness caused by a broken relationship with Jesus Christ.  Depression pushed me to lean on God.  This gave me the strength to find a way out.

But I know many of you do not believe the same way.

Today, as I washed my heaps and heaps of dishes and listened to a sermon by Pastor Mark Driscoll, I was reminded of the need to be an encourager.  People spend their days in negative, being thumped by work, thumped by their family circumstances, thumped by their finances.  Then they turn on the TV and the news thumps them some more.  Jeepers!  That’s hard on the system.  The least I can do is bring some positive into their life–listen to them, complement them, point out the good in them.  A little encouragement won’t solve their problems, but it sure lifts the spirits.

Maybe my encouraging words could make one or two of those antidepressants unnecessary.  I’m not gifted in encouragement, but I’m going to step it up.  I invite you to do the same.

I can think of encouraging words that changed my life, for instance, when my voice teacher told me I could actually sing.  Up till that point I thought I had a bad voice. What are some encouraging words that have stuck with you over the years?



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