Dear Lake Norman,
Everyone knows it but depression is a big issue. It's something we are seeing more and more of and it is such a damaging condition. And not only to the people affected, but also their family and friends who sit on the sidelines as someone they care about battles this invisible enemy. Further the mainstream treatment of depression is really becoming heavy on the pharmaceutical intervention and counseling as a treatment is really diminishing. I was just reading a post by the New York Times Blogger Tara Parker-Pope titled Less Talk, More Medicine in which she highlights that very transformation to talking it out towards prescribing it out. (Check out the link at the bottom)
So today I wanted to post some information on depression and the effectiveness of our current treatment model that appeared in a recent Dr. Mercola article. Next time in part 2 we will explore some of the dangerous side effects of anti-depressants and the proven alternatives to managing depression safely, naturally, and effectively.
By Dr. Mercola
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. The psychiatric industry itself is a $330 billion industry-not bad for an enterprise that offers little in the way of cures.
Despite all of these prescriptions, more than one in 20 Americans is depressed, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those depressed Americans, 80 percent say they have some level of functional impairment, and 27 percent say their condition makes it extremely difficult to do everyday tasks like work, activities of daily living, and getting along with others.
The use of antidepressant drugs-medicine's answer for depression-doubled in just one decade, from 13.3 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005.
If these drugs are so extensively prescribed, then why are so many people feeling so low?
Because they don't work.
Unfortunately, research has confirmed that antidepressant drugs are no more effective than sugar pills. Some studies have even found that sugar pills may produce BETTER results than antidepressants! Personally, I believe the reason for this astounding finding is that both pills work via the placebo effect, but the sugar pills produce far fewer adverse effects.
Many people forget that antidepressants come with a slew of side effects, some of which are deadly. Approximately 750,000 people attempt suicide each year in the US, and about 30,000 of those succeed. Taking a drug that is unlikely to relieve your symptoms and may actually increase your risk of killing yourself certainly does not seem like a good choice.
In addition, since most of the treatment focus is on drugs, many safe and natural treatment options that DO work are being completely ignored. No wonder so many people are suffering.
Detecting Depression in Yourself or a Loved One
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of people with depression go undiagnosed. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, which is a sad testament to the clinical astuteness of most physicians. The diagnostic clues provided in this past article are telling indicators that you or someone you love might be suffering from this illness, so please review them now.
Depression is much more than just feeling blue once in a while.
One set of diagnostic criteria used to assess depression is known as "SIGECAPS," which stands for sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor and suicide. If four or more of these items are a concern, it strongly suggests major depression.
However, it is important to watch for symptoms besides mood changes, considering relevant information from family and friends as well.
If you have been feeling down for two weeks or more and have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, I'd encourage you to consider the treatment options for healing depression suggested later in this article, as opposed to immediately leaping into potentially dangerous drugs.
Why Antidepressant Drugs Don't Work
Every time a new study about the efficacy of antidepressants hits the journals, we see antidepressants plunge further into the abyss.
A recent study in the January 2010 issue of JAMA concludes that there is little evidence that SSRIs (a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and others) have any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression, and they work no better than a placebo.
That means that SSRIs are 33 percent effective as a placebo. And a study presented at the Neuroscience conference in 2009 tells a similar story. Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shared two major findings:
1. Antidepressant drugs were not invented for depression. Researchers used certain drugs to manipulate the behavior of stressed animals, and then concluded (erroneously) that the drugs would be "good antidepressants." But chronic stress does not cause the same molecular changes that depression does, making the hypothesis incorrect.
So, antidepressants were actually designed to treat stress, rather than depression-which is one reason they are so ineffective.
2. An imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain may not trigger depressive symptoms in the way that has long been believed.Instead, the biochemical events that lead to depression appear to start in the development and functioning of neurons. This means antidepressants focus on the effect of depression and completely miss the cause yet another reason why they are so ineffective for most people.
Unfortunately, the lead researcher is hoping the research will "open up new routes to develop new antidepressants," when in reality a drug solution is not the answer.
Similarly, in 2008, a meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small-and that both are ineffective for most depressed patients. Only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all, and that response was quite minimal.
In an interview, Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker explained that research suggests the use of antidepressant drugs may actually result in more relapses back into depression in the long run. In other words, these drugs may be turning depression into a more chronic condition.
The other worrisome effect is that antidepressant drugs appear to be converting people from unipolar depression into bipolar-meaning, fluctuating between mania and depression-and this disorder has much poorer long-term outcomes.
These are not new revelations.
Back in 2002, a meta-analysis of published clinical trials indicated that 75 percent of the response to antidepressants could be duplicated by placebo. Many antidepressants may actually make your "mental illness" worse. When your body doesn't feel good, your mood crashes along with it.
Thanks for reading and for more information on depression check out the link to Dr. Mercola's site. It's a phenomenal read.
All the best,