A recent study by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that antidepressant use in the United States has skyrocketed over recent years, increasing nearly 400% between 2005-2008 alone. The study went on to report that antidepressants are the most frequently used prescription drug taken by Americans between the ages of 18-44; that more than one in ten Americans over the age of 12 takes an antidepressant for depression; and, that almost one in every four women between the ages of 40-59 takes antidepressants. What’s more, over 60% of Americans taking antidepressant medication have been taking it longer than 2 years and about 14% of Americans taking antidepressant medication have done so for 10 years or longer.
Given the above, and unless things change, there’s no reason to assume we’ll see a decline in the number of Americans taking these medications. It appears that antidepressants are here to stay. This is not only disturbing, it’s depressing.
But wait! There is a better way. We’re not thinking here about techniques, or methods, or therapies, although many of them are helpful. We’re thinking about a strikingly-simple solution to what can at times seem to be a complex, insurmountable and overwhelming problem. In a nutshell, we’re going to tell you about a real breakthrough: a non-drug, alternative approach to Depression which can offer you some real hope. So, take heart. And, read on…
Depression: First Things, First
Before we get into possible solutions, though, let’s take a brief look at the problem. What is Depression, anyway? Well, if you want to be technical about it, “Depression” is officially classified as a type of “Mood Disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or, “DSM”). The DSM is the APA’s Standard for listing psychiatric and psychological disorders.
Under the category of the term Depression, the DSM makes the distinction between various types of depressive disorders: “Major Depressive Disorder”; “Dysthymic Disorder”; “Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood”; “Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood”; and, the catch-all, “Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” (which includes: “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”; “Minor Depressive Disorder”; “Recurrent Brief Depressive Disorder”; “Postpsychotic Depressive Disorder of Schizophrenia”; and, “Major Depressive Episode superimposed on Delusional Disorder or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified”, to name a few).
Now, one of the things we’ve assumed when writing this post is that you really don’t want to spend a lot of time “deep in the weeds” of the DSM, getting bogged down in the minutiae of psychiatric jargon. We’re assuming that, instead, that you simply want to “cut to the chase” and get down to the basics of what you need to know in order to find a solution for feeling depressed (however, if you really want to dive into the DSM, you can get a copy here).
Before we abandon the DSM entirely, however, we should at least give you an idea of what it requires for the official diagnosis of Major Depression. First, it requires that, for at least a two-week period, you have felt yourself to have been in a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, feeling sad or empty and/or you may have a markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day. As others have observed you, they may have noticed these things about you, as well. In addition, and in the language of the DSM, you must also have at least three of the following symptoms (if you have both a depressed mood and diminished interest/pleasure) or at least four of the following symptoms (if you have either a depressed mood or diminished interest/pleasure):
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Insomnia or hypersomnia [i.e., excessive sleepiness] nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation [i.e., restlessness] or retardation [i.e., sluggishness] nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation [i.e., thoughts about suicide] without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide
Note: We’ve included additional [comments in brackets] above in an attempt to
clarify some of the jargon for you.
Now, keep in mind that when medical types are talking Depression, this is the kind of thing they mean.
Although Depression in the formal sense is common enough, there are many who don’t “qualify” for the formal diagnosis of Major Depression but who still, off and on, struggle with at least some depression-like symptoms: having feelings of sadness, guilt, or worthlessness; loss of interest or pleasure in activities; loss of energy, increased fatigue; restlessness or irritability; crying spells; difficulty thinking, concentrating, making decisions; disturbance in appetite and weight changes; disturbance in sleep (insomnia or oversleeping); and even thoughts of death, or suicide.
When confronted with these patients who are “feeling depressed”, who are suffering from what amounts to what we might call “subclinical depression”, doctors often prematurely (and carelessly!) prescribe strong, anti-depressant drugs. [For example, in a study of primary care outpatients, Berardi et al. found that 45% of patients labeled “depressed” did not meet official criteria for major depression, but more than 25% of those patients were prescribed an antidepressant! In a large retrospective study, Boland et al. found that approximately 40% of patients referred to an inpatient psychiatric consultation service for depression did not meet the criteria for a depressive illness].
More Depressing Information
According to American Psychiatric Association guidelines, antidepressant medications are the preferred treatment for moderate to severe depression. Just to give you an idea of the scale of just how preferred antidepressant meds are here in the US, in 2011 alone, there were 37,728,000 prescriptions dispensed for Celexa (citalopram); 37,208,000 prescriptions for Zoloft (sertraline); 24,507,000 scripts filled for Prozac (fluoxetine HCL); 23,707,000 for Lexapro (escitalopram); 22,591,000 for Desvrel (trazodone HCL); 17,770,000 for Cymbalta (duloxetine); and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.
Generally speaking, antidepressants are categorized as Tricyclics (these are the oldest), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), or the newer, “atypical” or “second generation” antidepressants. Here’s a listing of some of the various antidepressants being prescribed today:
Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide)
Desyrel (trazodone HCl)
Effexor (venlafaxine HCl)
Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate)
Nardil (phenelzine sulfate)
Norpramin (desipramine HCl)
Parnate (tranylcypromine sulfate)
Paxil (paroxetine HCl)
Pexeva (paroxetine mesylate)
Prozac (fluoxetine HCl)
Sarafem (fluoxetine HCl)
Tofranil-PM (imipramine pamoate)
Wellbutrin (bupropion HCl)
Zoloft (sertraline HCl)
Zyban (bupropion HCl)
No matter the drug of choice, each in one way or another “messes with your head” in the sense that each has a decided, often very powerful effect —either directly or indirectly—on one or more of the various neurotransmitters in your brain [In a few moments you’ll find out how important neurotransmitters are to your overall health and sense of well-being. Suffice it to say here that an imbalance of neurotransmitters is involved in all forms of depression, however it may be that this imbalance was caused].
What’s more, these drugs can have powerful, unwanted and harmful side effects. So much so that the FDA has issued more than one Public Health Advisory warning about the possible connection between antidepressant medications and possible worsening depression, increased likelihood of committing suicide, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania, and mania.
Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision. If you are presently taking any of the drugs listed above, we cannot urge you strongly enough to make sure you work with a knowledgeable, competent health practitioner before taking any steps to change your dosing.
All in Your Head?
OK, enough with the depression stuff. It’s time to start working our way towards a solution. We mentioned above that, in one way or another, depression involves an imbalance in neurotransmitters. In fact, depression, however it began, is often nothing more than a neurotransmitter-driven condition.
Take a look at the following list of symptoms and disorders. See how many of these describe you. This is a quick way to estimate whether or not your problem is fundamentally a matter of neurotransmitter imbalance. If you have two, three or more of these symptoms in addition to your feeling depressed then, strange as it may sound, this is good news! To the extent that your depressed feelings are the result of a neurotransmitter imbalance, there is reason to hope, reason to expect that, within just a matter of days, and without having to use potentially dangerous drugs, you can start feeling yourself actually coming up and out of this dark hole.
Which of These Describes YOU?
Gradual Memory Loss
Night-time Muscle Twitching, Spasms
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Decreased Ability to Think of the Right Words while Speaking or Writing
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Decreased Ability to Learn New Information
Difficulty with Reasoning, Problem-Solving
Restless Leg Syndrome
Traumatic Brain Injury
Increasing Difficulty with Reading Comprehension
Claustrophobia and/or other Phobias
Recurring Nightmares, Night Terrors
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Deterioration of Organ System Innervation
Hormone Dysfunction Problems
Adrenal Dysfunction Problems
Cortisol Dysfunction Problems
Once again, if you find yourself described by two, three or more of the above, then you need to read the Bio/Tech News Special Report, “All In Your Head?”. What we give you there in the space of eight pages has the potential to turn your life completely around. Please click here NOW to read this important information!