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Zoloft and The Sacred

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy by Caitlin McDonagh

We expect antidepressants to make people feel better (or perhaps worse) but are surprised to hear that they make people feel more or less spiritual. Here is the first study of the spiritual side effects of antidepressants.

I vividly remember the first time I ever thought about the relationship between psychiatric medication and spirituality. It was June of 2004, and one of those beautiful, endless summer days San Diego is so famous for. My friend and I were at the beach, and she was telling me all about what it was like to be on Prozac. She said the medication had helped her mood to be more consistent, which was great, but the side effects were that she could no longer cry and that she could no longer have an orgasm. And as hot as it must have been that day, I got gooseflesh. My throat closed in and went dry, and my thoughts became panicky. I tried to hide my intense reaction to what I was hearing from my friend, but I remember thinking: What the heck was in those pills that could prevent both tears and climaxes? These were such sublime aspects of being human that I had always considered them as sacred. Even if we understand that spirituality is used to cope in times of crisis, distress, and depression, it can be easy to miss the link between antidepressants and the sacred. We tend to see the drugs as biological interve …

Lynne Vanderpot, PhD, LMHC, is a psychotherapist working at a community mental health center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She is the author of Psychiatric Medication and Spirituality, an Unforeseen Relationship. Her current interests and expertise are in spirituality and psychiatric medication, self-esteem, resilience, the role of narrative, and attachment theory.   

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