I've got to say that I'm rather sick of people freaking out when they here I'm on anti-depressants. And for the most part they aren't freaking out because I'm depressed (which is definitely freak-out-able. It sucks.) but because I'm on the pills for it.
I mean don't they ruin your life? They can't really make you happy? Don't they have horrible side effects? And if you do get happy on them how do you know if you are really happy or if it's just the drug?
Where to start? No, they don't ruin my life. Being depressed ruined my life. I let people down, treated them like crap, I didn't get my degree. Also, I felt like complete and utter shit. I was still functioning, yes, but getting up and feeding myself was exhausting. I wanted to die. Anti-depressants didn't do any of those things to me. They gave me my life back.
Second, I studied English literature so I really can't tell you, in anything but the floweriest terms, how 'happiness' works. All I know about brain chemistry is a doodle by the wonderful GP who diagnosed me. But my little pills got me to a state where I could function. Where things that used to make me happy could make me happy once again. That was good.
And yes, horrible side effects. Every little pill you take has that potential and many people have to try out almost every pill in existence before finding the right one. Which is why - ideally - you need a bloody good Doctor to help you deal. And yes, I do have a relativity minor side effect but the benefits I get from my anti-depressant outweighs it. For some people it doesn't and they decide against making anti-depressants part of their treatment. Cool. You have to do what's best for you. That is what treating depression is all about.
Lastly, I don't give a damn. Many people have asked me in their deep philosophical voice 'well how do you know if you are really happy'. Hell, as a kiddo, I asked that question myself. As a grown up I can say, without a doubt, that I just don't care.
Am I really happy? There is probably no way to tell. I feel happy and after feeling miserable for so long that is all that matters to me.
All those questions, those fearful questions, have been asked by people. Ordinary people. And you don't wonder why any more when half-baked advice columnists freak out over the same thing.