Eight years ago, I started taking antidepressants. I was single and in the thick of a Ph.D. program in theology. The combination of academic stress, a solitary lifestyle, and a spiritually toxic environment sent me spiraling into the worst depression I had experienced since college. Fortunately, I'd gained enough hard-bitten experience with depression over the years to recognize what was happening and seek professional help.
Within a few sessions, my Christian therapist recommended antidepressants. I had never taken them before and was initially resistant, but my depression was so intense that I soon agreed to try them. The results were nothing short of miraculous. Within weeks, my depression had lifted. I no longer felt overwhelmed or that God was nowhere to be found. I was freed from confusion and emotional paralysis to make vital life decisions that led, among other things, to the marriage and family I now have. Antidepressants (combined with counseling) dramatically improved my life. And because my depression is hereditary, my therapist's recommendation that I continue taking them—indefinitely, if necessary—seemed like wise counsel.
I continued with the same regimen for the next six years. But slowly, I began to notice that the medication was affecting me in ways I didn't like. I found myself becoming cavalier and impatient, insensitive and spiritually complacent. The antidepressants kept me feeling good even when I should not have. Like George MacDonald's The Light Princess, I felt as if I were floating through life unaffected, enveloped in a pharmaceutical sphere of emotional impenetrability.
And so, a little over two years ago, I stopped taking antidepressants. I'm grateful for the way they helped me when ...