By NBH, Ph.D., Diplomate of Anti-Aging Medicine,
Advanced Fellow of Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine

The Amen Clinic recently posted an article discussing depression and medications frequently prescribed for patients who have been labeled “depressed.” This article is quoted in full below with added paragraph headings. At Natural Bio Health, we agree with Dr. Amen’s comments that antidepressants are grossly overprescribed and can be harmful. This happens because clients may tell their physician that they are “depressed” and then the physician agrees and gives them the diagnosis and label of “depression.”

The Label of Depression

*The UNFORTUNATE TRUTH is that once a person is labeled as suffering from Depression, a drug is then prescribed regardless of whether you are in fact clinically depressed. Furthermore, the drug prescribed may not even be helpful  in the short run and may be harmful. In the long run, antidepressants are mostly detrimental to your health. Further, the health insurance company or the life insurance company now (or in the future) has YOU identified as suffering (or having suffered) from a psychiatric problem.

*The REAL TRUTH is that you may be legitimately sad or “feel poorly” because of a divorce, death in your family or other reason and are temporarily going through a grieving process.

What is Depression? Are YOU Depressed?

“Major depressive disorder (MDD) (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, unipolar disorder or recurrent depression in the case of repeated episodes) is a mental disorder characterized by episodes of all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.”

How does your physician diagnose your depression?  Generally, major depressive disorder is based on “the patient’s self-reported experiences, behavior reported by relatives or friends, and a mental status examination.” However, often, the patient comes into the doctor’s office and just states, “I am depressed.” Or they may say, “I do not feel myself;” “I feel anxious;” “
I feel sad;” or “I just can’t seem to get going.”

Any of these statements can trigger a diagnosis of depression and a drug to treat that diagnosis. You may be prescribed Prozac, Wellbrutin, Lexapro, Cymbalta, Celexa,  Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft or one of many other drugs. The FDA has even approved antidepressant drugs for pediatric use. These drugs can result in weight gain, sugar and/or carbohydrate cravings, lowered sex drive, more severe depression and even suicide.

Depression May Not be Depression

Depression is one of the most common “diagnosed” mental disorders in the United States.  There are legitimately clinically depressed persons. *However, many people diagnosed as depressed and prescribed drugs may have a hormonal imbalance, a gut health issue or just temporarily going through a grieving process. *Hormonal imbalances can include low progesterone in women, low testosterone in men, dysfunctional thyroid, or high or low cortisol (stress hormone). Low neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin can cause symptoms of depression.

For example, we know that our gut produces 90% of serotonin. If you have an unhealthy gut, this affects your serotonin production. Many of the prescription drugs are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Scientists believe that depression can be triggered by a lack of the chemical serotonin, and these drugs essentially maintain higher levels of serotonin in the brain to correct the issue. The drug make a of money for the drug companies. In 2010, 24 million prescriptions were written for Prozac or its generic.

*THE TRUTH: A healthy gut can often be “cured” by a good probiotic and a healthy diet (vegetables and fruit with some lean protein and some healthy fat) without the use of drugs.

Natural Remedies

*Progesterone and testosterone are two natural “anti-depressants.” At Natural Bio Health we use Theanine, which is derived from leaves of green tea and has been called “natures form of the drug Xanax,” to help with moodiness. We use 5 HTP (natural serotonin booster) in appropriate cases to help sleep and mood and to decrease sugar and carb cravings.

The vitamins B3 and B6 are important cofactors in serotonin production (as is a healthy gut).  We also use  Phosphatidylserine to raise the levels of calming neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, thereby  improving mood. Heart Rate Variability is a measure of stress and is a computer program that also teaches calming exercises.

Are Antidepressant Drugs Addictive? What Can I Do?

“Although antidepressants like Prozac are not technically considered to be addictive, at least in the sense of inducing cravings in patients, doctors say they do make users dependent. Drug dependency means that the body has adapted to a chemical to the point that it requires steady doses to normally function.

Because of this, patients who abruptly stop taking antidepressant drugs are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness and lethargy. Patients are warned to wean themselves off antidepressants slowly and under a doctor’s care.”

*At Natural Bio Health, we help patients rid themselves of antidepressant drugs (and others) by identifying the underlying cause of a client’s symptoms. We treat the gut when appropriate, balance hormones when necessary, use Neurofeedback, natural supplementation and other natural remedies to stop the long term damage caused by antidepressants and many other drugs. Most patients want off their drugs and seek our help. Many have tried to get off these drugs in the past without success.

Stop Throwing Medicated Tipped Darts in the Dark

Posted on April 2, 2013 by AmenClinics (Paragraph Headings and Bold Added)

Is it Depression?

Do you feel sad, blue, negative, worried, and unable to let go of thoughts that upset you? Do you have trouble sleeping, struggle with a low libido, and have you lost the zest and joy in your life? These are all common symptoms of depression, and when you tell your family physician, internist, or gynecologist about them, he or she often reaches for the prescription pad in the hopes of giving you a quick fix.

They only have a few minutes for you on their busy schedules, and antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications have been billed as offering fast, easy relief with few side effects. But before you accept the prescription you might want to give it second, third, and even fourth thoughts, and consider another way.

Are Medications Necessary

Let me be clear, I am not opposed to medication for anxiety and depression.  I have been a psychiatrist for over 30 years and have helped many people overcome life threatening mood disorders with these medications.  But, unfortunately, I’ve also made people worse, especially before I started looking at the brain … when I was metaphorically throwing medicated-tipped darts in the dark at my patients.  Medications can be very effective when targeted properly after a thorough work up, but they can also be a disaster when not used appropriately, and trigger manic episodes and even suicidal or aggressive behavior.

While I am not opposed to medication for anxiety and depression, I am deeply opposed to the indiscriminate use of these medications and the way many physicians and other healthcare professionals prescribe them, without a comprehensive work up and without clearly telling patients about the potential side effects, poor long term outcome studies, and alternative treatment options.

Overprescribing of Anti-Depressants and Dangers

The rampant use of these medications is hurting our society.  It has been estimated that the use of antidepressants have gone up 400% in the last two decades and that nearly a quarter of all females (23%) between the ages of 40-59 are taking them.

The overall effectiveness of antidepressants has come into serious question over the last decade with large scale studies showing that when all depressed patients are started on the most popular antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, or Prozac, they are no more effective than placebo (sugar pills), except for the most severely depressed patients.  Dr. Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health wrote in 2009, “The unfortunate reality is that current medications help too few people to get better and very few people to get well.”

Labeling A Person “Depressed” and Insurability

Few physicians ever tell their patients that taking psychiatric medications can negatively affect their insurability and the ability to get health, life, long term care, or disability insurance.  Insurance companies tend to view “psychiatric” patients as having more risk and often charge higher premiums or deny coverage.  I have seen this happen repeatedly for patients I have treated over the years.  These medications are also not without their own side effects, especially in the area of sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and relapse.  Patients who start with antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications tend to have higher relapse rates than those who never start or use alternative forms of therapy, such as exercise or talk therapy.

Why Antidepressants are Ineffective

One of the main reasons why antidepressants are ineffective in large scale studies is that most physicians have been taught that depression as a single or simple disorder.  Feel depressed, take an SRRI.  After I started looking at the brain 22 years ago I came to realize that thinking is just wrong.

Giving the diagnosis of depression is exactly like giving someone the diagnosis of chest pain.  Doctors don’t give people the diagnosis of chest pain, because it has too many different causes and wildly different treatments.  It can be caused by such diverse things as heart attack, an arrhythmia, pneumonia, an ulcer, anxiety, grief, and gas.  Giving everyone the same treatment for chest pain is crazy.

Yet, depression is the same way.  It can be caused by loss, grief, low thyroid, pancreatic cancer, brain trauma, toxins, obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea, and more.  It is estimated that nearly 30% to 40% of all depressions have underlying medical causes.  Without a thorough work up it is impossible to know.  Untreated thyroid problems or sleep apnea are not helped with SSRIs….

 The typical way most physicians diagnose and treat depression looks like this:  Symptoms of depression = diagnosis of depression, leading to largely ineffective treatment and poor outcomes.

So, What is the Sane Way to Treat Anxiety and Depression?

If you feel anxious or depressed and it lasts more than 2 weeks make sure to get a thorough medical workup, including a comprehensive blood work including a detailed thyroid panel.

Before trying medication, unless your condition is severe, try some simple treatments, such as exercise (walk like you are late for 45 minutes a day), go on a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, start taking fish oil higher to boost omega 3s, especially in the form of EPA, work with a therapist to make sure your thoughts are honest and true.  Negative thinking patterns provide the fuel for anxiety and depression.  Investigate a new type of treatment called TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, which was recently FDA approved for depression with few side effects.

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