Depression is the leading cause of disability affecting more than 1.1 billion people worldwide. According to Mark Hyman, M.D, “More than 40 million people have anxiety, and more than 20 million people have depression”. Millions of people each year use pharmaceutical antidepressant medicine for their depression. Yet, more people than ever are now depressed. Mark Hyman M.D. goes on to explain that one in ten Americans takes an antidepressant, and the use of antidepressants has tripled in the last ten years. In fact, the rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women in their 30s and 40s is extremely high. One out of every four middle aged woman is taking an antidepressant. That is 25% of middle aged women. With so many people taking antidepressants to treat their symptoms, you would think that depression rates would be going down. If antidepressants are as effective as they say they are, then why aren’t people getting better from them? Why do these people still feel depressed when they are supposed to be feeling better? And why isn’t anyone asking how effective these drugs truly are?
To start with, we all know that there are some undesirable side effects to pharmaceutical antidepressants. Some cause dry mouth, blurry vision, constipation, sedation, lightheadedness, and sexual disfunction. They can also slow the rhythm of the heart, and can therefore result in death in the event of an overdose. Other antidepressants can cause a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure that is accompanied by a severe headache. Yet others can cause nausea, headaches, anxiety, restlessness, weight gain, fatigue, loss of mental abilities, and trouble sleeping. On top of this, eighty six percent of people taking antidepressants experience unpleasant side effects. These unwanted side effects have been justified by proclaiming that they are worth-it because the drug is effective in curing depression. Unfortunately, this is also a misconception. According to Mark Hyman, M.D., most patients who take antidepressants either don’t respond or have only a partial response. In fact, success is considered a 50% improvement in half the symptoms. And this minimal result is achieved in less than half of the patients taking these medications. This is a pretty dismal record in anyone’s book. Unfortunately, the public still believes in the effectiveness of these drugs because drug companies selectively publish studies on antidepressants. The New England Journal of Medicine stated that the pharmaceutical companies publish nearly all the studies that show benefit and almost none of the studies that show they don’t work. This kind of underreporting and deception warps our view, leading us to think that their antidepressants work to cure depression when realistically they don’t. They’re more like a band-aid.
Is depression a Prozac deficiency? Is ADHD a Ritalin deficiency? Is Alzheimer’s an Aricept deficiency? Of course not. Yet the use of these drugs is skyrocketing. According to trends in psychotropic medication use among U.S. adults, psychiatric or psychotropic medications are the number-two selling class of prescription drugs, after cholesterol medication. The rate of increase in the use of psychiatric medications in the last decade is huge (such as 1,000% increase in the use of stimulant medication in children). Yet, as we discussed above, these medications don’t really work. These drugs don’t cure the problem, they cover over the symptoms. So why not look for alternatives? There is always more than one way to do things in life, and fixing your psychiatric difficulties is not an exception. In fact, I am arguing that maybe all of these mental illnesses are actually the noticeable results of deeper issues in the body. There is an answer to brain problems, but it is not more drugs or psychotherapy. Although these tools can be a helpful bridge during your recovery, they won’t provide long-term solutions.
The answer to fix our mental illnesses is in our bodies. Brain function is directly influenced by what you eat, and by nutritional deficiencies, allergens, infections, toxins, lifestyle, and stress. Mental health disorders such as “depression” and “anxiety” are simply names of common responses our bodies have to a variety of insults and deficiencies. Unfortunately, our current healthcare follows a 100% accuracy, 0% validity system. It provides a perfect way to describe symptoms, but has nothing to tell us about the underlying biology for what causes them. For example, being labeled ‘clinically depressed’ explains all of the symptoms of someone who is depressed, yet it does not explain why they are depressed or how they became depressed. Their depression may have been the result of a multitude of causes, for example, “folate or B6 or B12 deficiency, low thyroid function, brain allergies (reactions to food that can take many forms, including mood disorders, ADD, autism, insomnia, and just plain brain fog), an autoimmune response to gluten, that inflames the brain, mercury poisoning, abnormal proteins called gluteo- or caseomorphins from poorly digested food that alter brain chemistry, brain inflammation from a hidden infection, blood sugar imbalances, low testosterone or other sex hormones, a deficiency of omega-3 fats, or adrenal gland dysfunction from excessive stress, etc.” (Mark Hyman, M.D.). All of these body issues can result in depression. How can you fix anything before you know what is wrong? You can’t - yet that’s what modern medicine does today by diagnosing the symptoms and assigning a drug. In reality, mental illness subjective for each person. All psychiatric illnesses are results and symptoms of deeper physical problems.
The future of medicine is personalized treatment, not “one size fits all”. The outdated method of naming a disease and then assigning a drug to fix it clearly isn’t working. This problem is a direct consequence of the myth of diagnosis. Doctors are trained to name the disease, and then assign a medication to ‘treat’ it. But if the causes of a disease can be radically different for each person, why should we believe that a “one size fits all” prescription of medications would work to treat those underlying causes of the disease? For example, two people might go to a doctor both complaining of a bad headache. One gets headaches because she drinks too much wine. The other gets headaches because he keeps getting hit over the head with the wine bottle! They both have the same symptoms of a headache, but they have very different reasons for their headaches - and therefore, very different treatments. Just giving these patients Motrin or pain medication will not solve the underlying problem. One needs to drink less and the other needs to stop getting hit in the head!
Medications can be lifesaving and are incredibly useful if given in the right dose, for the right reason, at the right time, for the right reason. The problem in medical practice today is that their only tools are medications. This means that the best or right treatment for any particular condition may be ignored, because all that doctors have studied and used are medications. Our goal in medicine should be to find the right cure for each person, without prejudice, whether it is a drug, a nutrient, diet change, detoxification, a hormone, exercise, etc. For example, patients might just need a vitamin to cure a B6 nutritional deficiency causing their depression instead of a harsh antidepressant drug.
We need a completely different approach to address mental illness. It starts with your lifestyle and your body. This includes living a physically active life with social interaction and quality relationships. It also includes optimizing nutrition, balancing your hormones, cooling off inflammation, fixing digestion problems, detoxifying your body, boosting your energy metabolism, and calming your mind. In essence, it basically means that it is time to get healthy. This country is so unhealthy that we don’t even realize how bad we were feeling until we feel better again. If you keep your body healthy by doing these things, and also live a life that makes you feel happy, you will be healthy. You will not be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, etc. because you are taking care of your body, mind and soul. This is the holistic approach to treating mental illness, and it is extremely effective – especially compared to the harsh drugs used to “treat” these disorders. This approach addresses the root causes of your mental issues and heals you from the inside out.
If you are suffering from some kind of mental illness or difficulty, you should consult a high-quality holistic or naturopathic doctor who can help identify exactly what you need to do to fix the underlying problem, not just the symptoms. They also will be able to refer natural solutions to you for your depression, anxiety, stress, and much more. There are so many amazing natural supplements to help with mental illness and depression that are much more effective than pharmaceutical antidepressants and have fewer side effects. I also suggest using Life Tools as a resource. We are a community first and foremost. Our mission as a community and company is to help each other and the world become naturally happier and healthier to live a higher quality life. We have a Life Tools Community on Facebook where you can learn more about natural health and happiness for less stress, better sleep, and a better life. We also offer natural products that help people become happier and healthier in their lives, such as Peace of Mind Natural Blend, which is a natural supplement for less stress and better sleep. It is a harmonious blend of herbs and vitamins that also replenish your nutritional deficiencies and help you feel good while doing it. Like Dr. Mark Hyman says, “You can sit on a tack and take all the pain killers you want, but it is still going to hurt until you remove the tack”. Peace of Mind Blend removes the tack. Between recharging your body with the vitamins you need and the herbal comfort from our special blend, Peace of Mind Natural Blend will help you permanently reduce (or even eliminate) stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase your energy and greatly improve your sleep. Many people have enjoyed taking the Blend as a safer and more effective natural alternative to harsh antidepressant drugs.
Depression is not a Prozac deficiency, and it is time that we start finding real solutions - not just band-aids - so that we can become our happiest and healthiest together. Here at Life Tools, we want to address this disconnect to help make our community and our world a naturally happier and healthier place. If you would like to help with our mission, then please join us and share this article!
Live Natural, Live Happy
Demyttenaere, K. WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium. 2004.
Hicks, MD. 50 Signs of Mental Illness. Yale University Press, 2005. pp. 104.
Hyman, MD. The Ultramind Solution. Scribner, 2008. pp. 11, 42, & 47.
Paulose and Ram, R. “Trends in psychotropic medication use among U.S. adults.”
Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf, vol. 5, 2007, pp. 70.
Turner, H. “Selective publication of antidepressant trials and its influence on apparent
efficiacy.” N Engl Med, vol. 3, 2008. pp. 60.