Antidepressant Commercials and False Hope

One night last week while watching television I caught the newest installment in the series of Cymbalta commercials. The tagline, so to speak, for this one is that “simple pleasures shouldn’t hurt.” The simple pleasures referred to in the ad are taking a walk outside and playing with the dog in the backyard.

tv-largeThe point of course is that Cymbalta eases the “hurt” which is impeding someone from engaging in enjoyment at its most basic. The people depicted in the commercial are mobile but appear to be moving slowly, have a look of sadness and are socially isolating. I’m left to believe that after a course of Cymbalta, simple pleasures just come more easily.

It’s true that antidepressants can provide some initial energy and help someone feel a bit brighter. But these drugs will not increase motivation, because motivation is intrinsic and is a by-product of self-mastery.

I’ve often stated in this space that no drug will change behavior whether one feels more energetic or has a brighter outlook. To change behavior, we have to challenge ourselves to adjust, adapt and acclimate to our circumstances. This is true self-sufficiency.

The satisfaction and self-sustaining effect of pushing ourselves to do something in spite of our feelings to the contrary empowers us to do it again and again as we gain momentum. Turning over the responsibility for behavior change to a pill, puts the pill in control ushering in the possibility of disappointment.

We are the choices we make and should never cede our personal power to anything that cares less about us than we do.


Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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