Hi David, Thank you so much for sharing your warm and moving story with us. I came across it this morning, because I have been searching the internet for articles on major mood and anxiety disorders. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for a very long time. I think that the noticeable signs began when I was a teenager and now I’m almost 42! My reality is that it never goes away for good, it is always lurking there somewhere, comes and goes, but in different intensities and lengths of duration. The impact that major depression and anxiety has had on my life is mammoth. Everything is affected, such as: your personal life can become chaos, your job and career can go down the toilet, relationships can be destroyed, simple daily functioning can become an enormous challenge and death can come to you. My brother also had to cope with major depression and in 2012, he took his own life. This had a devastating impact on me and my family. We are left with so many questions and not enough answers. His death changed something in me, I am now far more cynical and skeptical than ever before. I have this void inside me that cannot be filled. It has been almost 18 months since his death, but I am still grieving and still feel so psychologically tortured. Nothing seems to work in making me feel better, sure there are those quick-fixes, but I haven’t come across a good long-term treatment plan yet. I have tried so many antidepressant medications and have persevered with them all, but never experienced any positive changes. Some talk of the placebo effect, perhaps I am too much of a skeptic to experience this. I know that it is important to look at some of the root causes of my mood disorder. Growing up in a very patriarchal society where hegemonic masculinity was seen as the ‘norm’ and also the most ideal form of manliness, did impact severely on my self-esteem and holistic health. I am gay and always felt like a second class human being in this very harsh society. The challenges that society imposed on my brother appeared even greater. He was a heterosexual male, but also didn’t fall into this hegemonic masculinity group. According to statistics, suicide is much higher among men than women, except in China. We live in a society that promotes this tough, macho, career orientated, materially successful and highly competitive idea of what it means to be male. When one does not fit into this category or you fall short, you feel like an outcast and you also feel lessor male. What has my bother’s depression cost us? Well, I’ve lost my dear brother and best friend in the world forever. My mother and father have lost a son that they love very much. My siblings are also coping with this devastating loss and my 13 year old niece has lost her father forever. My niece was abandoned by her biological mother when she was only 9 years old and now her father is gone. My mother now raises my niece, she is a mother, a father and a grandmother to her. Such conflicting roles and such a challenging path to be on as an old age pensioner. My parents are divorced, so my mother is actually raising my niece as a single parent and grandparent. My niece’s biological mother has been absent from her daughter’s life and even the tragedy of my brother’s death hasn’t brought her closer to her daughter. Life can truly suck sometimes and there is no thing as justice, only just us! What has depression cost me? I have no career at age 42. I am unemployed and possibly unemployable, because I have large gaps on my curriculum vitae. I tried to complete my degree, but eventually gave up after the umpteenth time. I have lost all my friends and none were there to support me through my brother’s horrible death. I now call them ‘fair-weather friends’ and I’m afraid to say, that is exactly what they are. When everything is going well in one’s life, then people want to be your friend, but people run a mile when they hear that you are down in the dumps. My self-esteem has slowly been stripped from me over the years and it is often so subtle that you don’t even realize it is happening. I have social anxiety now and the nail in the coffin was my last unsuccessful attempt with full-time studies at university. When you are a mature aged student who is twice as old as everybody in your class and then also has to contend with disrespect and being laughed at, this can badly damage self confidence. I never want to set foot in university ever again, it was a hideous experience. People do not realize how difficult it is for mature aged students to go back to school. They should be treated well, but instead the exact opposite occurs and you feel more like a freak! I have become a bit of a hermit now and do not like going out and hate socializing. Fortunately, I am in a same-sex marriage with a very supportive husband and I have a very loving family. Friends? What is that? That word means nothing to me anymore as I have been terribly hurt by so-called friends, but in reality, they must have been ‘fair-weather friends’. The point of my response is that I have found that antidepressant medication did not work for me and I have tried many different kinds over the years. I would take my pills religiously every single day and continued on each medication regime for well over six months or a year. I stopped Prozac about two months ago, because after taking this medication for six months, I found no benefits at all. In fact, my maladaptive behaviours were exacerbated and I felt far worse. Eventually, I stopped and actually feel better not being on the medication. I’ve read many medical and scientific journals which confirm that some people have a placebo effect when taking antidepressants and that it is not always the case that the properties of the antidepressant medications can be attributed to their improved mood. Further more, I spent a fortune on Prozac and various other antidepressants, yet it was actually money down the toilet, because I didn’t get better. These pharmaceutical giants are making millions out of selling this medication and I’m sorry to say this, but they don’t always work on everybody. I won’t go as far as to say that it is a big lie, but I will caution against people who willingly believe everything that their doctor tells them. This can be dangerous, denial can have disastrous effects. My brother was also on antidepressants for many years and saw a psychiatrist, but these are NOT magic pills nor do psychiatrists have magic treatments available. I have heard that cognitive behavioural therapy, electro convulsive therapy, exercise, following a healthy diet, being passionate about an interest and avoiding destructive lifestyle patterns can help with treating major mood disorders.