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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 11, 2009

The Age of Antidepressants?

By Worker Bee
77 Comments

Now that we’ve turned the page on August’s Primal Challenge, we’re digging into some of our “regular programming,” including news highlights. We like keeping a finger on what’s new and novel – and occasionally outrageous. This one definitely fits the latter. (Hint: Are you sitting?) A few weeks ago the Archives of General Psychiatry reported the following: “Antidepressants have recently become the most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States.” Yikes, yowza, criminy, uff da! No foolin’, folks. According to the findings, “The rate of antidepressant treatment increased from 5.84% … in 1996 to 10.12% … in 2005.” Want hard numbers? Approximately 27 million people in the U.S., the report says, used antidepressants in 2005.

(To be fair, the IMS, a company that tracks health care industry growth and trends, reports slightly different results (PDF), but the general trajectory remains dramatic. And the growth has continued since 2005.)

But back to the point. The researchers examined estimates from Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys in 1996 and 2005 as well as individual interviews with 18,993 people in 1996 and 28,445 in 2005. Also among the trends found… The use of anti-psychotic medications (in addition to antidepressants) in those surveyed rose from 5.46% to 8.86%. Want more? Simultaneously, the use of psychotherapy in those treated with antidepressants significantly declined from 31.5% to 19.87%. Finally, the majority of those surveyed received their prescriptions from general health practitioners rather than psychiatrists.

First, let us say that we don’t have anything against the existence of these drugs or the use of these drugs for the treatment of serious mental health conditions. And we’re in no way judging or criticizing any particular individual’s use of these kinds of pharmaceutical treatments. What makes our jaws drop is the big picture of it all – the infinitesimally short time interval for dramatic growth, the shocking trajectory of increased use. What the hey happened in the last twelve years? Did an asteroid hit? Did we happen to miss some cataclysmic event that shook a large portion of American civilization? Hmmm…

Sure, the researchers suggest a number of potential factors behind these trends, including the de-stigmatization of mental health diagnoses and treatment. (We applaud this progress, and think it’s about time. Our commentary here isn’t at all directed at the treatment of serious, chronic mental health conditions for which these drugs were initially created and intended.) However – and it’s a big however, if this de-stigmatization doesn’t explain the literal doubling of prescriptions, it certainly doesn’t explain the move from psychological to pharmacological emphasis. Yes, there are more and very probably more effective medications out there, but there’s also an elephant in the living room. Hmmm…maybe he’s performing on the T.V. screen now.

We’ve railed on this point before, but this seemed like a fitting time to emphasize the issue again. What would these numbers look like if Big Pharma hadn’t been allowed to begin television advertising? How have these marketing suggestions impacted the way we think about “managing” our mental health? (That phrase still doesn’t sit well somehow….) How have they impacted our sense of mental health period? For those of us who live the ups and downs of life but don’t suffer from a serious mental health condition, do these commercials ever make us question our own emotional well-being? Our own relative happiness? The stream of consciousness can take on a life of its own. What am I supposed to feel like day to day anyway? Do I smile enough? Maybe I don’t laugh as much as other people. What could I feel like? What should I feel like? Is it “normal” to expect that a tenth of our society’s population shouldn’t emotionally function without pharmacological assistance?

And one more caveat here – for those who don’t suffer from a serious mental health condition… Let us say that we’re not trying to diminish the impact of temporary stress. Life these days, with its often uprooted nature and crazy pace, makes it difficult to deal with the normal but significant effects of anxieties, grief, etc. Certain episodes even, such as serious illness or the loss of a loved one, can leave us feeling like we live in a clouded existence. Pardon if we stray from science for a minute, but maybe part of the problem involves a cultural disconnect with the underbelly of the human condition (particularly when it comes to grief) and maybe even an unreasonable expectation of what life should feel like day to day. Again, the media feeds us a distorted means of comparison. Is eating chips really that exciting? Do other people lead completely spontaneous, exciting lives in which they throw together massive rooftop parties to dance, flirt and drink soda? Pardon me while I go throw in another load of laundry.

Let’s add this. We wouldn’t discourage people from trying to get a leg up when they can on their well-being as they navigate rough waters. But this endeavor seems to suggest and entail something different than even a few years ago. Eat well, sleep well, exercise often, supplement wisely, unwind regularly? Is this really pat advice? Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t think so. We obviously believe in maximizing health – all inclusive health (mental, physical, etc.). However, we think there’s a distinction to be made between the impact of naturally healthy measures and pharmaceutical treatments for those not subject to serious and chronic conditions.

What’s disturbing is the seemingly cavalier prescribing of strong drugs with life-altering, even dangerous side effects for the general public. (Again, most prescriptions the report said were most often given by general practitioners who likely don’t have the full picture of these drugs compared with their psychiatric colleagues.) The pharmacological trend – the increase in use, the raising the bar to increasingly include anti-psychotics – and the dramatic decrease in simultaneous personal counseling suggest a head-scratching conundrum. We see two stories: either doctors believe all these patients suffer from serious and chronic mental health disorders, or they don’t believe all of them do. If the first scenario is true, why aren’t they then referring patients to therapists? Are they counseling them on lifestyle means of supporting mental health and reducing stress? If the second is more accurate, why are they putting so many people on these drugs? And, more to the media point, how many people ask for these drugs outright? Either way, we think, it’s a depressing picture.

Tell us your thoughts on the findings in this study and your comments about our current mental health treatment model? Thanks for reading.

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77 Comments on "The Age of Antidepressants?"

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JamieBelle
JamieBelle
7 years 14 days ago
Hi, my name is Jamie and I’m OCD. I find life is much easier on medication than not, sort of like the difference between chopping up an onion with a butter knife vs. using a cuisinart. Lazy? Perhaps. In my humble opinion, however, life is too short to spend it strung out with anxiety. Therapy does help, but generally studies indicate that medication and therapy together are the best route. I’m guessing most people aren’t in therapy because of the expense. Even reasonable state-sponsored insurance programs have a high copay for mental health appointments (mine are $45 per visit…a stark… Read more »
Russ
Russ
7 years 14 days ago

I feel most of our mental issues are United States culturally caused. People just do not have the tools to be happy eventhough happiness is what we seek.
Too much information, mental overlaod and peole cannot deal with it.

We have these long laundry lists of requirments and if all are not met we are angry or sad.

I am not religious nor is this book but if everyone read this book we’d all be better off. The tools are so simple and easy to apply.

Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective by The Dalai Lama

Rusty

Hortense
Hortense
7 years 13 days ago

If you care to expand, are you getting Exposure and Ritual Prevention (ERP) therapy for your OCD? That is probably the most effective non-pharmacological therapy and has a better long-term prognosis than drugs.

Anders
7 years 14 days ago

Great post Mark. I might need some anti-depressants after reading it though( in the form of steak). It just saddens me to see (and know) people who have a pharmaceutical fix for every emotion that they feel. It’s a vicious cycle of masking the real problem over and over again. I see it especially in college with young adults now…I guess all we can really do is make people aware and set an example.

Worker Bee
Worker Bee
7 years 14 days ago
Jamie, Thanks for your response. I have friends with OCD and understand that it’s a chronic condition that can seriously interfere with the daily process of living. As mentioned in the post, the point wasn’t to criticize every use of these medications or to disparage in any way any particular person’s use of them. Some people benefit greatly from them, and there are few if any measures that could offer the same basic relief. Our point with the post is the big picture itself – the sheer skyrocketing of these prescriptions in the context of the overall ballooning of medications.… Read more »
PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
7 years 14 days ago
My doctor put me on anti-depressants for my migraines. Migraines, can you believe it? I was younger, mid 20’s, didn’t think to question him. Well, it destroyed my libido and 4 years later, I am still not back to where I should be…not even close. Stranger yet, when I talked to my doctor about it, his reaction? Another anti-depressant. You see, Effexor causes decreased sex drive, but Welbutrin causes increased sex drive, so that should even me out…Never got that prescription filled and stopped taking Effexor that same day. Fast forward to the PB and my migraines are GONE, just… Read more »
lady_daraine
lady_daraine
7 years 13 days ago

AMEN! I was on antidepressants for chronic depression, which I am now not taking. It did help, and I’m glad I took them – but I have no libido whatsoever. I wonder if that is a common side effect? I’ll definitely be looking up that one, to see if there’s anything that might help….. But it does help to know that I’m not alone, as strange as that sounds.

PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
7 years 13 days ago

I have often thought that a class action lawsuit should take place regarding this. My poor boyfriend has had to suffer the slings and arrows more than he deserves!

PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess
7 years 13 days ago
lady_daraine
lady_daraine
7 years 12 days ago

Thanks for that info – I wonder if any of the herbs listed at the end would help? I’m thinking I’ll pick some up and give it a shot. My boyfriend and I both deserve better! I wonder if we complained loudly enough that there would be some sort of response?

Jill
7 years 13 days ago
Great points. The pharmaceutical companies are big business. They promote like big businesses and care nothing for their consumers, just like most big businesses. They like you if you continue to make them money. So if you continue to be addicted or need more prescriptions, they win. Too bad you lose. Right? You are a smart cookie for quitting while you were ahead. Big Pharma paid for 90% of all continuing education for doctors last year, not to mention all the free lunches and marketing materials they gave to doctors as gifts. It’s pretty disgusting as an industry. And, even… Read more »
Lula
Lula
7 years 14 days ago

I have found chromium to work wonders for my mood swings. Everyone comments on how stable I’ve been the past few months.

Big pharm has only the bottom dollar in mind-horrible, horrible industry.

angela
7 years 13 days ago
In 2005 I got really sick with what turned out to be a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I had to do all my own research to find out what was wrong with me because when young women present with stomach problems to the typical middle-aged male doctor, we’re often just told to relax, eat some more fiber and get some exercise. Never mind that I was newly wed and pretty happy, vegan at the time and so eating nothing but fiber, and already pretty active as I was trying to shed the pounds that my high carb diet kept on… Read more »
Melanie
Melanie
4 years 10 months ago
Angela, Okay so it’s been a couple years since you wrote this post but I just now stumbled upon it and want you to know I think it’s a brilliant little piece of writing. It’s just too damn long of a story to tell, but I can really relate to a lot of what you said, especially with regard to having trouble being taken seriously(!), and also how eventually you can end up caving in to all the pressure, and find yourself on antidepressants. I’m so glad you found your own way…I’ve had to do the same thing myself. Still… Read more »
Stephen Hernan
7 years 13 days ago
Antidepressant use – especially SSRI’s – is out of control in our society. The good thing is that the primal blueprint lifestyle goes a long way towards eliminating the need for most people to be on them. Check out this interview I conducted with Dr. Stephen Ilardi who is taking a “primal” approach to treating depression with his patients: http://tiny.cc/0QD3i It reinforces everything Mark talks about in the primal blueprint. And as far as Big Pharma goes, they’re just opportunists. People have to first get out of the “happiness in a pill” mindset and actually make lifestyle adjustments that might… Read more »
Sarah J.
Sarah J.
5 years 11 months ago

Updated link for the Dr. Stephen Ilari interview:

http://tinyurl.com/2bzuosy

Lovestoclimb
7 years 13 days ago
The problem, as I see it, really boils down to the doctors and their quick-draw prescription pads. I approached a doctor 10 years back for my life-long serious anxiety attacks. When I met him I told him that I wanted to go a more natural route and address the cause rather than have the band-aid solution. I asked to be referred to a psychologist or similar and he went on to tell me how long the waiting list was. Quite frankly, it was only three months but he would still not provide me with a referral. Then, quite bluntly, the… Read more »
Lovestoclimb
7 years 13 days ago

BTW…I’d rather spend $85 per shot with a therapist than piddle my money away on meds that are going to change the chemistry of my brain.

mom500
mom500
7 years 13 days ago

uff da? is worker bee from the midwest?

Worker Bee
Worker Bee
7 years 13 days ago

Mom500, Good eye there. Yes, I have Midwestern roots. Don’t you love the quirks of this country of ours? Thanks for the note.

mom500
mom500
7 years 13 days ago

i grew up in minnesota. now i live in the west and don’t hear “uff da” too often!

(interesting article, btw – i do think they should give you less anonymous pseudonyms than worker bee, though!)

Ryan Denner
7 years 13 days ago
Mark, Hmm, is it too early to add depression to the list of ‘western diseases’? Let’s take a look at pop/mainstream culture. Using your example of people hanging out on rooftops, flirting and drinking soda – look whats on the media these days. Everything on TV and internet ads is about glamour and image. Now, I am only 28, and can’t appreciate how much of this went on in the 70’s-90’s, but I think its absurd how mainstream culture is with image, and everyone else. I can’t even imagine what its like to grow up as a teenage girl these… Read more »
queequeg
queequeg
7 years 13 days ago

I’m 27 and I totally agree with you… Each time is harder for kids to tell the diference between “having” and “being”…

Sorry if there’s any mispell…
Saludos de México!

Rodney
Rodney
7 years 13 days ago
Great post. Obviously there are people who need and benefit from the drugs in question as evidenced by comments above. However, I agree that tv advertising is a big problem. Too many people are willing to opt for the pill solution, taking the easiest route rather than sacrifice lifestyle in any way to cure their problems. Due to time constraints doctors are often obliged to take the easiest route to get the patient out of their office rather than discuss viable options. There are side effects with any medication. How do we often treat these??? Another pill. And so it… Read more »
DML
DML
7 years 13 days ago
I’ve been taking meds for ADHD (attention deficit side, not hyperactive) and depression for 5 years. For years, in retrospect, I tried to use alcohol to “solve” my problems. Finally, in 2004, I finished a really, really hard race, a goal of a lifetime. And I felt numb by what I’d accomplished. The numbness gradually turned into thoughts of suicide. It made no sense. I have a great family, a nice home, no unreasonable stresses, I’m a healthy athlete, my job is fine, but I suddenly didn’t want to be around any more. When I told my wife I thought… Read more »
Aaron Blaisdell
7 years 13 days ago
DML, Thank you for sharing your important story so openly. This is exactly why pharmacology is an important part of modern treatments for mental disorders, along with counseling and other less biologically invasive treatments. But the increase in real disorders (not the incorrectly diagnosed) raises the question of why the increase is occurring? One suggestion that Worker Bee was touching on was that our modern lifestyle–in particular diet–may be partly responsible for the increase in real mental disorders like depression and anxiety just like it’s implicated in the increase in other disorders like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. Actually,… Read more »
Dave, RN
Dave, RN
7 years 13 days ago

Watch him as he grows. I spent ages 14-19 in an adolescent, hormone induced haze! I’m pretty certain that if it were 20 years later, I’d have been on anti-depressants. Once I hit 19, I came out of the haze, and everything was fine. I don’t know why, but I think the rush of teenage hormones really does a number on some kids. I think once the rush was over, I went back to normal. Looking back, it really was like night and day. Being a teenager can be rough!

hilarydanette
hilarydanette
4 years 24 days ago
Thank you for this reply, DML! I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about 20 years and have been medicated for about 16 of them. When I try to go off my meds I get suicidally depressed and so anxious that I cry myself to sleep at night. Mental health problems run in my family for generations. However, I have the most severe case since my great-grandmother. As good as I feel on the PB plan, I have to take my meds. If I don’t take them I get so ill that I start crafting up ways to end… Read more »
Aaron Blaisdell
7 years 13 days ago

“Is eating chips really that exciting?”

Yes. Yes it is. One of the hardest things for me to give up (chips and salsa, that is, not potato chips or doritos or any of that crap). I used to be able to plow through the blue corn chips and salsa from Trader Joes in one sitting as a substitute for a proper dinner. You just wouldn’t want to be around me the rest of the evening. Ah, those were the days.

FlyNavyWife
7 years 12 days ago

ditto on the tortilla chips and salsa. There really isn’t a substitute that works, either.

SullynNH
7 years 13 days ago

I agree with Mark’s article the meds are great when coupled with effective therapy and under the appropriate care/medical specialty…I speak from first hand experience having dealt w/ PTSD, it was a short term thing to help deal with the underlying issues that could be brought out more “gently” in therapy than the “flood gate” effect. As a Veteran, the meds can be of great use in treating our troops who are dealing with issues, with the caveat that they get the accompanying therapy and aren’t just given out by their primary with no further help…

TheBumbler
TheBumbler
7 years 13 days ago
SSRIs/SNRIs are serious meds designed to treat serious illnesses and should, in no way shape or form be as prescribed as widely or with as little regard to their power as they are today. In 2004, I went to my GP because I was stressed out and having a hard time sleeping. I also smoked a pack a day, lived on pizza and hadn’t broken a sweat in years so I’m guessing treating my body like garbage so was not helping the situation. I went home with a prescription for an antidepressant. Four days later, I started having muscle spasms… Read more »
Kelly
7 years 13 days ago
This is very loaded for me. Mental health issues abound in my family and for several years I fought going to therapy because I didn’t want to admit that I had the “crazy” too. Finally, I started therapy. It helped some, but I still had further to go before I hit the bottom. In 2004 I had a period of a little more than a month where I couldn’t function. I was in law school and I had a job so I managed to drag myself to class and work, but I was in a haze. I didn’t do any… Read more »
Molly
Molly
7 years 13 days ago
One of the challenges I see with the whole anti-depressant issue is doctors prescribe them with no exit plan (mulitple refills) or a plan for resolving the suppressed conscious or unconscious emotions which are at the core. The treatment of depression with drugs is once again treating the symptom, not the dis-ease. Anti-depressants can help to create a space of clarity (for a limited time before going completely numb) to dig deeper within oneself. Unfortunately most people either don’t, won’t or are caught up in unproductive traditional therapy. Luckily I have found a couple non-traditional forms of therapy that helped… Read more »
PapaG44
7 years 11 days ago

This is a great book that has helped me immensely.

hilarydanette
hilarydanette
4 years 24 days ago

I have been on anti-depressants since 1996 and have never had it cause me to feel “numb.” I’ve also had over a decade of therapy and am pretty well adjusted at this point. I think the depression is the disease.

rachel allen
7 years 13 days ago

having a successful career in high stakes poker should become much more lucrative and easy in the coming years. *rubbing chin thoughtfully* 🙂

Katie
Katie
7 years 13 days ago

Depression and ADD can be a sign of amino acid deficiencies (such as tyrosine and tryptophan). Check out Julie Ross’s book- the Mood Cure!

C2H5OH
7 years 13 days ago

Tried, don’t work

Kelly
Kelly
7 years 13 days ago
Great post, and very relevant. This is my first time commenting on your blog, though not the first time reading. My husband is the “paleo nut” and blogger of the two of us, so I’m usually satisfied with letting him do all the researching/commenting 😉 However, as a mental health professional (art therapist), I felt the need to speak my mind on this one… I think there are many factors contributing to the US increase in antidepressant use and simultaneous decrease in psychotherapy, some of which are obvious and some of which are more subtle. First, I think the dates… Read more »
Bonnie
7 years 13 days ago
Thank you for saying so eloquently what I would have said far less eloquently. People want the quick fix–in fact one frustration I have is that acupuncture can help with anxiety and depression (particularly the side effects like not sleeping etc). It’s hard to advertise that because I realized many of my patients really did need therapy but they didn’t want to do it–they also didn’t want to do acupuncture because it wasn’t a quick enough fix. I’d also like to recommend the book Our Daily Meds for anyone interested in how pharmaceutical companies got these drugs so well marketed…
hilarydanette
hilarydanette
4 years 24 days ago

I had acupuncture for two years and it did nothing for my depression and anxiety.

Chris Heath
Chris Heath
7 years 13 days ago
I actually published my thesis on lifestyle factors that differ between current and pre-modern times, and their relationship to mental health. =) It was a pretty paleo paper. I guy named Steve Ilardi from the University of Kansas also does this work. My email address is christopherheath@my.unt.edu if you wanted to contact me, I’m happy to send along the thesis, and/or the published article (which is shorter). Good stuff though. Martin Seligman said it best, (quote is approximated), “something about the modern lifestyle creates fertile grounds for depression” And I believe it was evolutionary psychologist Crawford who wrote, “we live… Read more »
marci
marci
7 years 13 days ago

Chronic long-term depression is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism (I know coz I’ve had both since I was a kid). One of my sisters, who I believe is hypo, has her OCD & other issues treated w/Paxil or some such drug when she should be on natural dessicated thyroid & follow the PB instead of her hi-carb vegetarian diet–which would produce much better results, I’m sure. Hypothyroidism is an underdiagnosed disease and it makes me wonder how many poor souls are just being given an anti-depressant when they should be treated for thyroid disease!

Trinkwasser
7 years 11 days ago
Excellent point! Many cases of “treatment resistant” depression resolve when thyroid is adequately treated, and often thyroid *should* be treated at numbers many doctors regard as normal (like TSH 0f 3 or 5, or subclinically low T3 or T4) There are somewhere around 50 – 100 chemicals which work as or modify the effects of neurotransmitters, and many of them respond to problems with the endocrine system via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. My “depression” is endemic to one side of the family and is more related to hibernation than suicidality. I’ve been on and off various meds for years. Curiously (or… Read more »
goodfriendsam
7 years 13 days ago

a practical note from those who do suffer from anxiety and depression from time to time – check out the mood cure by julia ross. neurotransmitter supporting dietary supplements are available that basically supply your brain with raw materials to make the neurotransmitters it wants to. most people are out of balance upstairs as a result of modern diet and lifestyle.

SullynNH
7 years 13 days ago

one of the reasons to take fish oil…great for the brain and good synaptic function

Cherie
Cherie
7 years 13 days ago
Big Pharma advertising on TV should be banned! While I am not entirely opposed to “Better living through Pharmaceuticals” I hate Big Pharma’s ability to come into my home and try to convince me that there’s a pill for everything!! Followup research has shown that when they advertise a new drug, demand for it jumps considerably! Most Docs are too lazy to actually diagnose you and are happy to write a script for whatever you request (as long as it’s not narcotics!!) My mom gave me advice when I was much younger and I believe it has helped me avoid… Read more »
Grant
Grant
7 years 13 days ago
This is a philosophical issue, mostly. Altruism, collectivism, egalitarianism… they have all been on the rise over the last few generations. The original American conviction that the individual lives in a rational, predictable universe where his own mind and actions have efficacy, and where his own happiness is all that matters, has faded. Instead, we are exhorted daily, from every corner of the culture, to take pride in things which aren’t genuine sources of pride. Sure, we’re still given some credit for being smart, healthy, virtuous, and successful – but ultimately a person’s worth in this culture is determined by… Read more »
kricka
kricka
7 years 13 days ago
Something not really addressed here is what happened to me. I found myself in a depression one day, realizing that I didn’t have the energy or care to get off the couch to get stamps to pay my overdue electric bill. Realizing I had some kind of issue, I went to my doctor, who asked me a lot of questions, and told me she could refer me to a therapist, or write a Rx. As much as I would have loved to go see a shrink, my health insurance at the time didn’t cover therapist visits at all, but had… Read more »
Mutsanah
Mutsanah
7 years 13 days ago

Humans have not genetically changed all that dramatically in the last 30 years, so why has depression/OCD/ADD/ADHD diagnosis experienced such an increase?

paleo_piper
7 years 13 days ago
My own anecdote: When I “came out” as depressed to my regular doctor, she immediately offered to prescribe me anti-depressants after speaking with me for five minutes. Is that really a long enough time to make a decision about chemically altering my brain? Then she sent me to a psychiatric nurse who again, just wanted to give me drugs and told me about all the various drugs even though I told her I wasn’t interested in taking drugs to help my depression. I didn’t want to just cover up my symptoms, I wanted to get to the root of my… Read more »
Lee
Lee
6 years 10 months ago

It’s all about money, the kick backs Dr’s get for pushing one drug or another in an effort to boost Big Pharma’s bottom line.

Martin P
Martin P
7 years 13 days ago

We need some love in this country.

jessica
jessica
7 years 13 days ago
for those with stories of adhd and crippling depression, i have been there myself, experimented with pharmaceuticles and therapy for years (i am only 26 but have been seriously depressed/agressive/hyperactive/manic/ocd/eating disorders/insane since birth lol!) i have always been able to appreciate nature and find my sanity there, so after finding no help in western medicine i started my own research and experimentation with what i knew worked(hiking, spending time with nature, farming, playing in a LOT of dirt!) and also found an MD who specialises in adults with ADHD and uses more holistic approaches to health. he tested me for… Read more »
jennifer
7 years 13 days ago
whew! loaded subject! this is a fantastic post, btw. i’m one of the chosen in that i do have to take my happy pill every morning. however, through lifestyle and nutrition (i exercise religiously, eat primal, sleep whenever i can, keep in close contact with my friends, and get regular touch…even if i have to pay for it in the form of massage (calm down)), and copious amounts of fish oil, i take the lowest possible dose. my family history is a smorgasbord of mental illness. i am not from here, however, and i was shocked when i moved here… Read more »
Diana Renata
7 years 13 days ago
I really wish I had the brain power to respond to this subject properly, but it’s just not happening tonight. Great article, great topic. I’m happy to say I’ve never been on any medications, ever, and I remain anti-drug for every reason short of cancer. I firmly believe anything that’s wrong with our bodies can be fixed naturally. But that’s my opinion and that’s how I’ll choose to live my life. I think our country’s pill problem is two sided. On one hand we have a country full of people not willing to deal with life and the problems that… Read more »
Stevie
Stevie
7 years 13 days ago
That second point while there is some merit to it is deeply flawed. If you’re a doctor, and a patient comes to you with a checklist of the symptoms of depression how can you not treat? If you don’t treat and send them to therapy and the patient commits suicide you will be sued for malpractice. “But I didn’t think he/she really needed it,” is not a valid legal defense. As for the lady with migraines who was put on an SSRI. It’s a very common use of SSRIs. 5-HT (serotonin) does many things in the brain beside make you… Read more »
Wendy
Wendy
7 years 13 days ago
Listen buddy, I already said in my post that I was young and stupid. And being 21 years of age, naive as well. And you know what, I don’t think it’s such a horrible thing to expect your doctors to be up front about these things! AND having migraines that put me in the ER 2 or 3 times a month…well, let’s just say that I was willing to try anything to help. And that’s like telling people to do their research before they eat that box of whole grain. The powers that be lead you to believe that it’s… Read more »
lady_daraine
lady_daraine
7 years 12 days ago
Seriously! Not to mention the fact that while you are (sometimes) told that sexual dysfunction is a possibility, NO ONE mentions that it can remain after discontinuing treatment! Most doctors don’t know that! It is their JOB to tell us the side effects, the possible negatives and positives. The fact that they don’t do it isn’t our fault! And expecting someone to do research before taking a life-saving or pain-preventing treatment is ridiculous. If you are depressed and at risk of suicide, you don’t think to yourself “I better read about this before I take it”. No, you take it… Read more »
Catalina
Catalina
7 years 13 days ago

I think it’s a combination of things: the influence/advertising of the pharmaceuticals is very strong; people do want a quick fix–one that doesn’t take their precious time away from sitting on the couch watching TV (and therapy can take years–I did it for 12); and the insurance companies cover prescriptions without batting an eye–rarely and barely paying for therapy. Sad, really. We’d hate for anyone to have insight and understanding about their lives. (And I’m in full agreement that prescriptions are essential for some folks.)

Andy Meacock
Andy Meacock
7 years 13 days ago
I’ve actually stopped taking prozac quite recently, 6 days ago in fact. I went through a bad time about a year ago with anxiety and OCD. The drugs worked after about 2 months and I have to be very thankful for that because I was a real mess and life was a struggle. At the start of this year, I made a real effort to cut the carbs and start eating a lot more fats. I cut alcohol down to 1 night a week and ever since then I’ve been getting a lot better. I think alcohol plays a massive… Read more »
Anne
Anne
7 years 12 days ago
My doctor wrote me multiple prescriptions for antidepressants even though I told him I was not depressed. Well, we were both wrong. I was depressed, but I did not need the antidepressants. Six years ago I found out I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I stopped eating gluten and many symptoms that had bothered me for years started to disappear. My mood became much lighter and my energy level soared. I never realized how depressed I was because I had always felt that way. I could hardly believe how wonderful one should truly feel. I can only describe how I feel… Read more »
Justin De Quim
Justin De Quim
7 years 12 days ago
bit o fasting, low carb ketosis inducing paleo diet walking daily 40 mins some kind of weight bearing exercise some times per week…tyres, gym, dead bodies, rock, prebbles, stones, churches..gravy ! a pharm grade fish oil of at least 1000mg of EPA and a proportional amount of DHA the Oblig 10000iu of D3 if not in sunny climes bit of mag from a citrate, malate or aspartate source Jacobson muscle relaxation daily ..few mins at night similar in morn.Truly Edmund was a genius Do all this and even a person with the most intense anxiety will i’ll wager heavily be… Read more »
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[…] Unlike drugs, nutrients do not have rapid effects, No quick fix. The business of nutrition is to build a better body, that has to wait on nature to turn over body cells.  A blood cell lasts 60-120 days, in 3-4 months your whole blood supply is completely replaced, even the DNA of your genes. In one year all your bones and even the enamel of your teeth is replaced and constructed entirely out of what you eat! – From the Juice Plus+ Wellness Newsletter Some veggie wisdom: Go Green! The age of antidepressants […]

DML
DML
7 years 11 days ago
For the people who have suggested all sorts of “natural” treatments and therapy-based treatments, thank you. However, I can tell you that I’m someone who has “tried them all” and sometimes, they don’t work. I’ve been consistent with my exercise for the past 25 years. I’ve been through therapy and CBT, and I’ve read way more on the subject than I care to admit. I’ve tried all of the supplements, the dietary changes, etc. When I was diagnosed in 2004, I didn’t even have TV channels in my house, so no drug manufacturers were suggesting anything to me. I live… Read more »
Bonnie
7 years 11 days ago
I think you were able to articulate your issues very well in your post. It is important that while certain things can help some people, only you know what’s going on in your body. As an acupuncturist I often deal with chronic conditions. I think your ability to stand up for your body and your needs and remind people they haven’t walked in your shoes is admirable and deserves some acknowledgement. I wish many of my patient’s could stand up and learn from what you just did. While there is a lot of misuse and overuse of medications in today’s… Read more »
Jayadeep Purushothaman
7 years 11 days ago
I have been on the rough rides of several bouts of Bipolar depression myself and has some history in the family as well. I have seen or heard mostly of the other extreme – where people refuse to admit that there is a problem. So one reason you see more people on meds could be because people are consulting docs for their problems that they would never have admitted earlier. I have had a doc induce a manic and a subsequent depression(and a couple of deaths in the family during the time) because of overdoses of anti-depressants. I was on… Read more »
Anon
Anon
7 years 11 days ago
I think this post handled the issue sensitively and I appreciate that. However, the complete Big Pharma bashing is uncalled for. Medicine–pharmaceuticals–saves peoples’ lives. My father’s life expectancy has doubled because of the drugs that were created, tested, and distributed by so-called Big Pharma. What drugs? Chemotherapy drugs. Not to mention steroids, anti-nausea medications, vitamins, and pain killers that allow him to continue working full time despite having an extremely painful and aggressive form of cancer. Sure, there are problems in the system, but don’t forget that real good is done for society by a lot of the people who… Read more »
Joe
Joe
3 years 7 days ago
There was a cancer treatment by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, called antineoplastons, about which you may or may not have heard. Of course, the medical community generally asserts his treatments to be unproven, but a certain accounting of the treatments, “The Burzynski Breakthrough,” by Thomas Elias, chronicles various success stories (as well as a few tragedies). Long story short, the FDA aggressively tried to put Burzynski in jail, apparently for 300 years, even though his success rates were better than that of traditional methods. He was also sued and prosecuted various times for various things, including fraud. Wikipedia’s article on the… Read more »
Mark Tyrrell
7 years 11 days ago

The crazy thing is that antidepressants are little more effective than placebos in lifting the symptoms of depression about a third of people using placebos or antidepressants will notice some symptom reduction.

Added to the fact that there has been a ten fold increase in the incidence of depression over the last fifty years (because we are living differently)

There are basic emotional needs as well as the physical ones that Mark describes http://unk.com/t/3

Julie
Julie
2 years 9 months ago

Mark,

The link you posted goes to The Depression Learning Path, a depression website in the UK. Exactly what part of the site or what page details the basic emotional needs to which you refer?

Thanks

Brendon
7 years 8 days ago

Mark, I have read how white flour and sugar can lead to chromium depletion and how milk interferes with chromium absorption. Low levels of chromium, as you know, can be linked to depression.

I have struggled, and continue to do so, with “the blues” and anxiety throughout the ups and downs of life. I truly believe that most cases of depression can be overcome with a clean “paleo” diet and plenty of vitamin D.

Thanks for all your great information!

Brendon

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[…] Crystal Meth Lattes Are Bad For You – Mike Mahler The Age of Anti-Depressants? – Mark […]

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[…] or replace their conventional treatments for depression. Since our post a few weeks ago on antidepressants, I’ve gotten a slew of emails asking me about the role of nutrition in mental health. In response […]

William Calhoun
5 years 12 hours ago
All I know is what worked for me. I had a lifetime of the usual endless cycle “unhappiness — eat the wrong thing–gain weight–unhappiness–eat–etc.”. I was doing what most folks do to live in an artificial, cruel, polluted, chaotic, noisy, stressful world: I self-medicated. Overeating for me (as alcohol for some, sex for others, drugs for others) wasn’t the problem: IT WAS THE SOLUTION. It helped hold off and ease the emotional and mental pain. Most of us are already medicated, self-medicated and in most offered solutions to personal health problems, that is being ignored. Talking about “exercise, eating right,… Read more »
David
4 years 2 months ago
I am 46 and I’ve been diagnosed with major depression for 1 1/2 years. I struggled for 2 years prior trying so many things on my own to figure out my issues. Finally I went to my GPrac, who threw some Lexapro and Xanax at me. Got worse so we switched to Cymbalta, which was helpful for a few months but it stopped working also. I finally found a great Physchiatrist who has helped me work through my med issues, I know take Pamelor, Xanax (as needed) and a dose of Concerta (I also was diagnosed w adult ADD) He… Read more »
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