Honey can you please pass the Prozac? Maybe not as common as salt and pepper, but the last 20 years has seen a meteoric rise in depression and the use of anti-depressant drugs. The NY Times in 2013 reported that ONE IN TEN Americans and ONE in FOUR women in there 40’s and 50’s are taking the drugs. Are there really that many unhappy people in the USA who can not deal with these feelings on there own and need drugs (legal or illegal) in an attempt to change the way they feel? One in four…one in ten…that is really hard to comprehend. What is “depression”? When should drugs be involved? That article states the primary problem:
“Depression is being overdiagnosed on a remarkable scale.”
Real time update on this story. It is actually worse, NBC News in December 2016 reported – ONE IN SIX adults are taking anti-depressants. Usage has increased over 400% in the last 20 years and overdose deaths have quadrupled! Anti-depressants are the most prescribed drug in our country. Isn’t that amazing! It is a huge business over $13B. We are blessed in the USA with so much abundance and reasons to be happy and optimistic. We have the richest country and have the highest rates of depression. Nigeria is desperately poor, corrupt in a legendary way, generally filthy and has a shortage of food and water. The depression rate is 0.8%, by far the lowest of all countries surveyed.
I have saved this article from the WSJ and quoted it for seven years – Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy . The conclusion is shocking.
“Psychiatry seems to have lost its way in a forest of poorly verified diagnosis and ineffectual medications. Patients who seek psychiatric help today for mood disorders stand a good chance of being diagnosed with a disease that doesn’t exist and treated with a medication little more effective than a placebo.”
There are many studies that actually do show that the drugs are not more effective than a placebo AND are downright harmful! In this 2015 study on anti-depressants the finding is so obvious, common sense AND not followed:
“Six separate studies were combined into one to look into the effectiveness of antidepressants, and the results have shown that you may be better off treating the underlying CAUSES of your depression rather than the SYMPTOM itself.” Eureka! What a concept!
You might be thinking Chip where are you going with this? Well, in my last post I promised I would discuss how we can be more of a “thermostat” in the way we control our emotions. Many people are more like a “thermometer”. Outside events/circumstances/people impact their temperature/emotions and they do not have the ability to self-regulate and change it themselves. They can have one bad moment or upset and think to themselves or actually say to someone, “You ruined my day.” For some, that bad day cascades in to a bad week….month…..year…..even the entire decade! Ten years later that event still owns them. I am of course going for a little levity here but it does happen.
I believe that being happy and switched on about your life is the natural state of being, not being sad. There are people with clinically diagnosed MAJOR depression that need help. The prescribing of drugs to treat depression may not be the most effective solution. Suicides have surpassed car crash deaths. If anti-depressants were so effective wouldn’t suicide rates be plummeting instead of increasing? Why is there a link and a warning that taking them can INCREASE suicidal behavior, especially in teen-agers?
I believe one main challenge is the ease at which so many are prescribed drug after drug in pursuit of finding one that will “work”. The articles document that doctors are busy and will write a scrip for their patients “depression” after a only few minutes of conversation. 73% of patients who were prescribed an antidepressant were not given a psychiatric diagnoses.
IF you think that by taking the drug you will feel better – TREATING THE SYMPTOM – then you do not need to address the underlying CAUSES. A big part of the success of taking an anti-depressant or a sleeping pill is proven to be the placebo effect.
My belief is if your life is a big mess than your mind is a big mess. You need to start there. “As a man thinketh so is he.” You can download a copy of the classic James Allen 1902 book, AS A MAN THINKETH here. That 65 page book could change your entire philosophy of life. Earl Nightingale had the only million selling motivational record (millennials that is a black vinyl disc) of all time called, THE STRANGEST SECRET. It is worth your time to listen at that link…the strangest secret is you will BECOME what you think about most often. The legendary Zig Ziglar called it stinkin’ thinkin’! You need to get a check up from the neck up to avoid it. Here is a classic video on how your brain works from Zig. Check out the advice Jesus gives in Philippians 4:8-9. Do you notice a theme?
It is not about positive thinking, it is a about programing your thinking like a thermostat. Tony Robbins used to tell me that the quality of your life is the quality of your questions. Ponder that one for a moment. You can control what you are focusing on! Here is a list of great questions you can download, laminate and put in your shower to ask yourself each morning. You could also ask them at the end of each day. Write your answers in a gratitude journal. Pray for the wisdom to recognize your blessings each day.
You must be willing to confront the brutal facts about what you are DOING or NOT DOING in your life that is impacting how you feel. Your mind and your body are a team and linked together in your ability to be happy. Motion creates emotion! Many studies (Harvard Medical, DoctorsHealthPress) show how effective diet and exercise are in fighting “depression.” The question is are doctors telling depressed patients about the value of exercise and a better diet? How about reading a book, listening to The Strangest Secret, hiring a personal trainer or meeting with a counselor BEFORE taking the drug? Is that a crazy idea?
Perhaps there are some TV shows you should quit watching or binge watching on NETFLIX. How about how you spend your time on line? Are there some web sites you need to quit going to? On line gambling and pornography is a huge problem. What are you reading? Anything there a problem? What was they last inspiring book you read? What about how you spend your time on your phone? Do you sleep with it by your head? Is it the first thing you touch in the morning? Are you addicted to some silly game on it? Who are you spending time with that is toxic? Anyone toxic you need to quit associating with?
I hope this post makes a difference. It took longer to research and write that any other. I get it that life happens and disappointments, tragedy and failure can impact the way you feel. We all have our adversity throughout our lives. Virtually everyone of us could make a list of reasons of why we could feel depressed. Life can be hard. Learning to deal with issues head on is a learned skill and mindset. I know that if you or a loved one are currently taking an anti-depressant/anxiety drug/sleep aid that you can learn to be drug free. Will it be difficult? More for some than others for sure. The key belief is to know it will not be impossible.