Why Not Treat Depression with Self Love?

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 09:29
Submitted by Carlin Ross

I'm writing this post because Betty takes too much heat for speaking out against antidepressants.  When she was in a bad marriage, her doctor prescribed one of the first antidepressants on the market...she took one and decided to throw the rest out.  Getting a divorce and joining the Sexual Revolution cured her depression.

Recently, 60 Minutes covered some of the latest research on antidepressants: for most people antidepressants have little more than a placebo effect.  You take a pill and you feel better.  Antidepressants only worked for severely depressed people.  And the drug companies knew that from the start. 

What they don't tell you is that antidepressants have been linked to stroke and heart disease in men and breast and ovarian cancer in women.  Dr. Andrew Weil believes that antidepressants are over prescribed and there are other more effective therapies like diet and exercise.  He points out that Iceland has the lowest incidence of depression in the world which is surprising since they don't have daylight several months of the year.  But they have diets high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Aerobic exercise and social connection have also been effective in treating depression.   

The issue is that there isn't a definitive test to ascertain whether or not you should take an antidepressant.  There's no depression test.  And no where in my antidepressant research did anyone talk about the role of orgasm in your overall health.  Somehow sexuality never comes up in any medical discussion.  It doesn't seem to register that if you're having regular orgasms through masturbation you're releasing endorphins and oxytocin which make you feel good about yourself and connected to the world around you - that this may be beneficial. 

Betty's first question when she has a private session client is, "are you on antidepressants?"...frequently they are.  Whenever we're at sex conferences, we talk with other practitioners about the role of antidepressants and the inability to achieve orgasm.  No one will come out and say that there's a connection.  No one wants to get sued. 

Personally, I wouldn't take the risk of developing cancer...I'd rather hit the gym, eat some fish and have an orgasm.  I can't help but wonder - why not treat depression with self love?

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Cognitive therapy

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 10:29

Even if you accept the horrible side-effects of anti-depressants,  the worst problem is that it is mostly a lie that they actually do much about depression itself.  Mild or severe,  throwing a drug at it is much cheaper at helping patients deal with their actual thoughts an feelings that actually cause depression.  Often depression is called a no bootstrap problem,  yet depression traps people into thinking they CANNOT do anything anyway.  So what really happens if people really want to conquer it,  they can only get self-help books,  not therapy or coaching.  Thus most people skip the books and expect the drugs to just SOLVE the problem.  That is WHY the placebo effect is actually true.  It is the expectation that gets the brain moving.  But long term day to day,  it doesn't get you to much THINKING better.  
Betty got a lot of comments for the whole "big girl panties" comments she has made,  but actually depression is much more serious that expecting a pill to solve.  I think she actually was on to something.  They say exercise helps.  Well,  guess what.   Depression isn't gonna help you exercise.  You really just have to make yourself do things.  Some people get so depressed they procrastinate taking the drugs.  
So you can see the REAL problem.  I think the Brits are onto a better solution,  according to the video.


Thu, 03/14/2013 - 09:03

I've been on anti-depressants for 16yrs. They make masturbation more difficult.

No good choices with Depression

bonameechi's picture
Thu, 03/14/2013 - 13:04

I really think there is a huge unmet medical need with depression.  Betty probably has a unique perspective  due to the type of work she does.  Not meaning to be a wet blanket, but I would like to point out  there is a group who benefit from these drugs.  In my mind the problem is there is no serious, sound scientific model for what depression is and no way to screen if a particular person's depression is caused by X so will improve with drug Y.  Until we get to that point, any medication prescribed is a crap-shoot  whether or not  it will work.  And while its true that many issues can be improved with diet, excercise and positive encouragement (orgasms!), for those with serious clinical depression, this isnt sufficient.  Bottom line we need to understand depression so that better therapies can be developed.

the diet cure

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 17:13

May I mention the book The Diet Cure. She has a great deal of information on depression, sees antidepressants as possibly beneficial FOR THE SHORT TERM, and has many other suggestions. Depression is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, which is grotesquely undertreated in this country and the UK. This book is helpful in that she discusses everything from amino acid therapy to hypothyroidism to problems with sugar, and far, far more.

Masturbation has been part of the cure for me

Sat, 03/23/2013 - 08:55

I think antidepressants have their place and benefit some people. But I do think they should be used cautiously and after everything else has been exhausted. A few years ago I was mildly depressed. I made myself a list of things to do when feeling down, such as spend time outside and get more exercise. At that time, I did not have "masturbate" on my list, but if I were to make a list these days, that would be at the top of it!
One of the reasons I was depressed was my frustration with being in a sexless marriage, and I felt hopeless. Masturbation has been part of the cure for me. Maybe not for everyone, but I am certainly glad I went down that road instead of the pill popping route. Thank you Betty!!!

Bi-Polarity of a Male User

MaryAnn1955's picture
Thu, 04/04/2013 - 19:38

About the crap-shoot theory: Yes, my psycho-docs tried a few different meds for my mania.
First, the cause of bi-polarity.  Who knows?
Next, the seven-year itch--and guilt?  And then?  Was it mania?
After some serious mood swings, and hospitalization, the thoughts of suicide presented themselves.
Lithium: what a mess I was, and that helped.
But then Depacote came by--and "saved" me.
Fish Oil? Perhaps the closest I got to non-pharm meds.
So, now I "have" ED.  What is the cause?  Or is it a combination of age and medications?
I will NOT stop the meds--I have, and have gone into awful withdrawal.  I'll accept the ED, continue to look at pornography, have fantasies, masturbate with a semi-erection, use penile injections to get a three-hour erection to have intercourse.  (Ouch!  That needle in the penis...)
But I have my bi-polarity under control--and have regular meetings with the psycho-doc for prescription renewals.  I take 150 mg of Wellbutrin daily, and 1200 mg of Neurontin.  And my alcohol intake is VERY limited.  Not much medication.  I have to live with it--or not live, the way I see it.

It's not always placebo effect

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 18:12
Efte (not verified)

A doctor built up my positive expectations for the first anti-depressant I tried and it made me suicidal within days and I threw it away after a few weeks.  After a year I finally had reason to try another one.  I expected it to be complete crap and make me crash and burn like the first one, but in two days I felt like my old self which I hadn't felt for years.

Exact opposite of what the placebo affect would predict.  Don't believe anything you read.

too bad all those suicidal

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 14:38
kuu (not verified)

too bad all those suicidal teens just don't masturbate. then we won't have many deaths due to cyberbullying.  stupid kids.

Carlin - (and Betty, if you

Sun, 02/16/2014 - 13:00
maeve (not verified)

Carlin - (and Betty, if you read this) - I'm an enormous fan. I feel all I know about my vulva and clitoris and sex, I owe to you!!

Thanks to Betty's writings (I used to visit the old website), I've been having great orgasms since my mid teens, and usually, several times a week. I'm in my mid/late 20's now and still continue to have wonderful o's, but begrudgingly and fearfully started antidepressants last summer (wellbutrin - NOT an SSRI, as most of these studies refer to).

This was AFTER ten (!) years of intense depression (mental illness runs in my family- dad with bipolar & mom with severe anxiety/depression) that I tried treating through diet, exercise, bikram yoga, professional therapy, counseling, MASTURBATION, etc. But after starting with a new therapist and seeing her for 3-4 months, she began to insist that I see a psychiatrist. I was DETERMINED to do anything BUT take medicine, and really thought I could get a handle of it on my own through making the right choices. But I couldn't stay happy for longer than a few days. It seemed that no matter what I tried, [= small]it was always remarkably easy to fall back into a severe depression (and usually became suicidal) after I had made some headway towards happiness. 
Once I saw the psychiatrist, he prescribed wellbutrin.  I was terrified at first, but it's been 6 months now, and I can safely say Wellbutrin has made it so much easier for me to be happy, and to stay happy longer. When I start to feel down, I can pull myself out easily (with all of the non-RX remedies you suggest), and usually only am "down" for a few hours. NEVER suicidal. I've been contented/happy for so many months in a row (that hadn't happened since childhood), and I haven't felt more like myself than I do now. AND I still have the wonderful orgasms (even crygasms) I had before wellbutrin. 
SO-- Yes...I agree that for most, depression CAN simply be treated by changing the lifestyle. But for some of us with severe, prolonged depression, the right medication can really help to give that extra boost to make it all come together.

Much Love,
a fan

I'm a 20 year old woman and

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 19:49
K (not verified)

I'm a 20 year old woman and I've been on antidepressants for 9 years, because I struggle with severe depression and anxiety.  You could say that I am "addicted" to my medication cocktail, but you can also say that it's keeping me alive.
Don't get me wrong, I am thoroughly passionate about sexuality; I am planning on pursuing sex therapy and sex education for my career.  I should note that I've never had an issue achieving orgasm-from childhood to now, regardless of whether or not I was on meds.
But I can't promote-and I don't want to promote in my future practice-this idea that you have to get off antidepressants.  Because I may never be able to, there may never be an alternative for me.  I've been struggling with severe anxiety and depression for more than half of my so young life.  And I am scared to tears of losing the rest of my life by throwing the rest of the bottle away.  
I deeply respect the work that you two do.  But it disheartens me to hear this argument against the medications that have kept me alive.  I'm not saying that they are the only things that have kept my alive; my determination and willpower to get better have certainly played a part.  But I don't think I can treat my depression with just self love or an orgasm.  And although I am able to orgasm, I would rather be anorgasmic and life a full life through others means than stop taking medication and spiral down to Hell again.
Sexuality can be very important in our lives.  I am extremely passionate about that.  But I can't get on board with the idea that it is the Only Important Thing in our lives, that it is a religion, that it is the only thing that could cure me.  If I were to be on board with that argument, where would I be leaving the asexuals?  Completely in the dust.  That's not what I'm here to do.
I'm here to promote mental health and sexual health, as long as both are possible.  I'm here to support those who choose one over the other-but that has to be their choice.  I'm here to find a way for people to live full and enriching lives in whatever way they can.
For me and for others that includes taking medication, and I needed to say that so that our voices are heard.

Depression, compassion, and self-love

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 15:19

Dear K,

I understand where the anti-med people are coming from. Our society over-prescribes anti-depressants (along with most other meds) and glosses over their unwanted effects, which can be dreadful for some people. There is also the idea that there's a 'magic pill' for every condition, preferably a patented and expensive one. Money is far more important to Big Pharma than our health;  a society of healthy, happy people would put them out of business. And many anti-depressants, particularly the SSRIs and SNRIs, can severely inhibit orgasm or even make it virtually impossible. With this said, there are depressions so horrendously painful that the average person, however well-meaning, can't begin to grasp what it's really like to feel that way.

I have known severely depressed people to stay in bed all day, whimpering in agony with the covers over their heads. Every waking moment can feel literally unbearable---the inner equivalent of being slowly roasted over a fire. It's far beyond what most of us can even imagine. So I don't personally blame anyone coming from such a terrible place for doing anything they can to feel more normal. Prescribing 'better orgasms' isn't going to help when life seems like a sick joke and just putting one foot in front of the other seems more than we can bear. I also can't blame the formerly depressed for being terrified of going back to that hell again, for that really is what the worst depressions are like: hellish.

Having said this, if it's possible to be healthy and happy in a more natural way, that's a very worthy goal. Anti-depressants do alter our neurotransmitters, and going off them cold-turkey or too quickly can have drastic negative effects---what's called a discontinuation syndrome. This can be severe---it can plunge the person right back into that hellish state of pain again. I'd suggest that anyone wanting to discontinue their anti-depressant meds do so through a VERY gradual taper, with the help of a trusted medical practitioner who knows what they're doing and is supportive of your goals. Several months would not be too long for this slow process of weaning off meds. The body and mind need time to re-establish an equilibrium. Whether we're on meds or not, we need to try every avenue in recovering from depression. Psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been proven to be extremely helpful in ultimately overcoming depression, and self-help books such as those of Dr David Burns have helped many to have happier lives. Self-love, on all levels, is truly one of the keys to happiness. Self-compassion can help us nurture ourselves through even the worst of times. We also need to remind ourselves that even the worst depressions are, by their nature, self-limiting. In time, even without treatment, we will get better. It certainly doesn't seem that way in the midst of an agonizing depression, but it's true nevertheless. We just have to stick around long enough to find it out.

So the bottom line for depression sufferers is never, ever give up. Call our therapist or the suicide hotline if we're thinking of harming ourselves. Try meditation, psychotherapy, spirituality, self-help, talking with friends, volunteering, medication---whatever is needed to keep body and soul together. Then, when we're in a better place and can better evaluate our options for coping with depression and anxiety, we can come up with a long-term plan for staying healthy and happy. But in order to do that, we have to stay alive long enough to begin getting well. Sometimes, for some people, medication may be a part of that solution.

Depression Anxiety Medication

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 02:18
W (not verified)

Thank you for speaking for so many of us who suffer acute anxiety with panic attacks and debilitating depression. That is the very definition of hell on earth. I am a 63 year old female. I have been on medication since my 20's. I take the minimum dosage to keep me sane and much of the time it is not enough. I, too, have been orgasmic from early childhood and through adulthood. It has always been very easy for me to achieve orgasm on a regular basis. However, after a hystrectomy at age 34, my anxities and depression got much worse. I am now diabetic with type 2. Life gets harder. I still have orgasms, self love, but nothing like I had early in life. Without medication, I would be back to the beginning and looking for something to give me relief, anything. Ending it all would not be a stretch, in fact, sometimes it's the only comforting idea in that state of existence . Telling females to forego life saving medication to have an orgasm is sophomoric, unknowing, and juvenile advice. My orgasms are not as good as they were off medication, but they are impossible when my mental state is not controlled. We must all be very careful about coaxing anyone to delete life-saving medication to have an orgasm. It's irresponsible and makes the preachings of such a person seem void of understanding of the situation. It is more the backward thinking of the 1950's than present day understanding of mental health and orgasms. I stay anonymous because discussing orgams and sex is much easier and acceptable than discussing mental disease, even in this enlightened age. There is a stigma attached that still has to to be closely guarded.

Dear W, Thank you for putting

Sat, 11/29/2014 - 01:50
K (not verified)

Dear W,
Thank you for putting what I was trying to say into more clear words: [= small]"We must all be very careful about coaxing anyone to delete life-saving medication to have an orgasm."[/]
I am a huge fan of orgasms, naturally.  But when it's life or death, we can't put orgasms first.  And I think that a lot of people who haven't had severe, clinical depression (especially when it is not caused by an external situation but by an internal one dealing with brain chemistry) have difficulty seeing this perspective.
I defintely belive that the stigma around mental health is at play here: the whole "why don't you just get better by (excercising, talking to someone, having an orgasm, reminding yourself that it's okay) instead of taking medication?" argument can only come from a person who understands that those techniques don't always work and sometimes we need medication.  
I really appreciate your support and comment.  And it's great to hear from someone with similar experiences as me in terms of anxiety, depression, sexuality, and medication.
I wish you the very best and you are very welcome for writing the post,

Dear Patrick, I so very

Sat, 11/29/2014 - 01:55
K (not verified)

Dear Patrick,
I so very appreciate this response.  It is very respectful and compassionate to me, as well as filled with hope.  Thank you for offering alternatives while also acknowledging that medication may be a part of my solution.  I'm going through a rough time right now and all I can do at the moment is stay on meds (I've been on them for a decade-going cold turkey through this time would be a terrible idea) and work on getting better through my therapist and other techniques like meditation and excercise (and orgasms!).  
Maybe someday I will get back to a place where I am truly happy again, and when I am at that place for a stable amount of time perhaps I will try to use more natural methods.  I just can't do that right now.
Thank you so much,

Dear K, best wishes

Sat, 11/29/2014 - 20:17

And you're very welcome. A severe depression is so much more painful than just 'feeling blue' or 'down in the dumps'. Most people just don't realize this. I'm sorry you're having a rough time right now. Please do keep in mind the many ways there are to restore ourselves to well-being. It sounds like you're hanging in there just fine, and you're already in touch with helpful resources like a therapist, daily exercise (we need to make ourselves get out the door and get moving even when we don't feel like it---it's a huge mood lifter), and (last but not least) those orgasms! And, of course, whatever else you need to do to give yourself the loving care you need. I will be sending good energy your way and wishing you all the best.

If depression is not severe,

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 03:15

If depression is not severe, it is always better to try natural remedies.

Natural Remedies for Depression

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 05:32

No, I disagree vehementally if you mean not just a healthy diet, but 'natural medicines'. There is no control over these drugs, whether as to what they contain or their strength. People have died - I have the links if anyone wants them - you should never take any medication your doctor hasn't prescribed, and that includes what's on supermarket shelves like Panadol. If you'd ever had to deal with a person who is addicted to non-prescription painkillers you'd know why I am so against self-medication.