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Cartwright, 2016 Personal agency in women’s recovery from depression: The impact of antidepressants and women’s personal efforts

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Title:   Personal agency in women’s recovery from depression: The impact of antidepressants and women’s personal efforts


Authors:  Claire CARTWRIGHT,1 Kerry GIBSON1 and John READ


Journal:  Clinical Psychologist (2016) 





Background: Women are twice as likely to experience depression and use antidepressants as men. Personal agency protects against depression; how- ever, social factors contribute to lower levels of agency in women.

Aims: This study examines women’s experiences of using antidepressant treatment along with the other activities and practices they engage in to support their recovery from depression. It aims to understand how these experiences promote or diminish women’s sense of agency in regard to their recovery.


Method: Fifty women took part in telephone interviews focusing on experiences of antidepressants as well as personal efforts to recover. A thematic analysis examined the agency-promoting and agency-diminishing experiences of using antidepressant treatment and engaging in other activities.


Results: Antidepressants promoted agency when they gave women relief from depressive symptoms, allowing women to become more proactive in recovery. Women engaged in a range of activities they believed assisted recovery and hence enhanced agency. These included exercise, gaining social support, and engaging in therapy. Some, however, had shifted to long-term antidepressant use. Failed attempts to discontinue due to severe withdrawal symptoms, fear of a relapse, and the biochemical model of depression created a sense of dependence on antidepressants and thereby diminished personal agency in relation to recovery.


Conclusions: Antidepressants can support women to become agential in their recovery. However, long-term use signifies greater dependency on antidepressants, and personal agency is seen as insufficient. The fear of withdrawal symptoms and the biochemical model undermine women’s sense of personal agency in relation to recovery. 


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Hey Dalsaan you find some interesting stuff.


What a strange kind of a study.

So the study basically is an interview with 50 woman on antidepressants.

I would think that unless these woman are truly informed the result will be a parroting of doctor propaganda.

That's coming through in spades.


This is what i am reading

ads help give woman power, (im assuming agency = power)

woman suffering wdl problems have been told they have had a relapse and need to stay on for life ..and told they have a chemical imbalance.


The conclusion that ads can support woman to become agents in their own recovery is contradictory to the prior statement which says failed attempts to discontinue gives a diminished sense of agency.


What would be far 'more agential'  imo is to not touch ads at all. Clearly this study reveals for 'some' its a slippery slope.

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I think the argument is that for antidepressants have an initial response which gives people the space to engage in their own recovery through exercise, therapy etc. However, women often stay on because of fear or discontinuation effects and this means a form of dependency that does not support positive well being.


This is my experience. However, I believe my depression would have resolved without antidepressants and that given the downsides I should never have started to take them



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