There is an estimated 25 million Americans who are prescribed and taking antidepressant drugs. Although these drugs can be effective and even life saving in some instances, there is much controversy surrounding how they are prescribed and if they are truly needed in every case. The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" or DSM, is the psychiatric establishment's manual for diagnosing and prescribing medications for mental illness.
A recent study showed however, that approximately 50% of the included disorders in the DSM were funded by various pharmaceutical interests. Americans spend over $ 100 billion dollars annually seeking help for psychiatric services. Much of the controversy stems from the belief that mental disorders may be the result of a form of a chemical imbalance in the brain. This conclusion has led to the FDA approving of numerous drugs to "fix" the imbalance. Unfortunately there does not appear to be conclusive scientific facts to validate this belief.
There is no laboratory testing to gauge the actual chemical imbalance that is the basis of the diagnosis. A good example is the diagnosis of "Attention Deficit Disorder" or ADHD. Unlike for example, an oncologist who will determine a diagnosis of cancer based on physical testing, psychiatrists are unable to do so. Rather behavioral testing is conducted, diagnosed and labeled accordingly. Although there is certainly validity in this approach and has proven to be extremely important in helping people with psychological problems, the concern is the over usage of these types of tests. Perhaps many of the people who are diagnosed with these numerous mental illnesses do not in actuality have any of them.
Rather they may be going through a phase or experiencing a unique problem at a particular point in time. These types of problems if addressed properly can be resolved and the person can move forward constructively in their lives. Unfortunately the trend appears to be prescribing medications to deal with the behavioral problems. Again in many cases, the prescribing of medication may be extremely valid and important but it appears it is being overdone, generalizing many people as having a form of mental illness and setting them on a course of a lifetime of dependency on drugs.
Pharmaceutical Industry Involvement: The pharmaceutical industry is extremely important and provides an amazing array of life enhancing medicine. However, there is also an overreach that has occurred. The industry is involved in a great deal of lobbying in government and has deep reaching connections in the media, medical journals and medical schools. According to the CDC, statistically, 10% of all Americans may now be taking a prescribed antidepressant drug.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants : SSRI drugs first came to the market in the 1980's. Many studies have shown that these drugs have been linked to violent behavior and even suicide. Some lesser known side effects can include an emotional detachment from reality.
Alternatives to SSRI Medication: Although in some instances it would be vital to stay on ssri drugs there are many people who can stop using these medication by seeking alternative methods of dealing with emotional and mental issues. It is imperative to note however, that you should never stop taking your ssri medications on your own. You must always do so under the supervision of a medical doctor. If can be very dangerous to attempt to stop on your own. You can begin by looking at the problems not from a chemical imbalance point of view but perhaps a change in behavior or lifestyle. If a person is depressed this should be a warning side that something in your life needs to be addressed and constructively changed. Here are some good strategies that can be used.
Spend more time outdoors: Most people spend very little time outdoors. The trend and the media message are to avoid the sun as much as possible. If properly using sunscreen you can safely spend time in the sun and should do so on a daily basis. It has been shown that being outdoors and getting adequate sunlight can overcome even serious cases of depression. It actually works at a hormonal level in the body. Getting fresh air and even walking barefoot in the grass, dirt or sand can improve your mood and even your physical well being. So try daily to get a little sunshine and fresh air. It has been shown that the majority of people who suffer from depression spend very little time outdoors. Our modern day lifestyle has made us people who live and work in an indoor environment. The human body and mind need to experience being outdoors.
Physical Activity: Getting exercise on a regular basis can also help you to avoid antidepressants. When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin naturally and this will boost your mood. In fact this mood enhancement can last for over 24 hours after you have exercised. Simple exercises such as walking outdoors or on a treadmill for a half hour daily can make a huge difference in your mood and depression.
Healthy Foods Fight Depression: Eating fresh whole foods and getting enough omega oils will lift your mood naturally. Many people are simply depressed because they are not receiving adequate nutrition that the body and brain needs to feel healthy. They are usually eating a diet high in processed foods including large amounts of breads, canned foods and sugar.
Lead a more meaningful life: Many times , people become depressed because they feel they have no meaning in their lives. They are saddened by feelings of frustration. They may sense in their hearts that there is more to life than what they are living but they do not know how to go about making any constructive changes. You are able to overcome this form of depression by taking a good look at your life. Everyone has a purpose in life and you may already be doing it and not even recognize it. It is important to take a deeper look into your life and see what provides meaning to you. Are you happy with your work? If not, make a realistic game plan as to what type of work would bring you happiness. Perhaps it involves education or formal training to enter a new field that you would enjoy.
If you are having relationship problems, you need to address them in a healthy and constructive way as well. If you can work to resolve these issues you will begin to feel better about your life and your depression will be greatly lifted. This is not always the easiest thing to do and taking an anti-depressant can make you feel temporarily happy and mask true unhappiness. Find your purpose and meaning and you will find true happiness. 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.