Medical chart reviews consistently show that doctors are more likely to give women psychiatric medications than men, especially women between the ages of 35 and 64. For some women in that age group the symptoms of perimenopause can sound a lot like depression, and tears are common. Crying isn’t just about sadness. When we are scared, or frustrated, when we see injustice, when we are deeply touched by the poignancy of humanity, we cry. And some women cry more easily than others. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or out of control. At higher doses, S.S.R.I.s make it difficult to cry. They can also promote apathy and indifference. Change comes from the discomfort and awareness that something is wrong; we know what’s right only when we feel it. If medicated means complacent, it helps no one.
When we are overmedicated, our emotions become synthetic. For personal growth, for a satisfying marriage and for a more peaceful world, what we need is more empathy, compassion, receptivity, emotionality and vulnerability, not less.
We need to stop labeling our sadness and anxiety as uncomfortable symptoms, and to appreciate them as a healthy, adaptive part of our biology.
(Julie Holland is a psychiatrist in New York and the author of Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.)
--March 1, 2015, New York Times, "Medicating Women's Feelings."