How would you feel if I told you that depression is being “manufactured” or “created” by leading professionals in the field of psychiatry? Would you be relieved to know that perhaps depression isn’t as severe as psychiatry says it is? Or would you feel like you are hearing another “conspiracy theory?”
Depression is a rather controversial topic, not simply because it is the leading cause of disability for individuals ages 15 and up, but because psychiatry’s definition of depression has changed over time and has been treated based on a changing and created categorical system known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Depression is a very real condition characterized by abnormal sleep and eating patterns, anhedonia (ability to experience pleasure), chronic sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. I define depression in 3 major ways:
- Emotional (affecting our emotions and reactions to life)
- Physiological (affecting our body and health)
- Psychological (affecting our self-esteem or outlook on life)
Depression influences an individual’s life in negative ways. But the problem is not with depression itself, but with the way in which it has been misrepresented, diagnosed, and categorized. The problem lies with psychiatry, not depression.
Psychiatry has dominated the mental health system for years and has contributed very little real science to the study of human behavior and the brain. Unfortunately, psychiatry has prospered as a result of a categorical system (the DSM) that continues to house many flaws, errors, political viewpoints, and cultural ideas. This categorical system, encouraged by Emile Krapelin in the 1950s-1960s (who was influenced by Sigmund Freud), has given psychiatry a “scientific cloak” and has contributed to the view of depression and treatment for decades. Sadly, psychiatry has a history of diagnosing individuals based on insurance needs, money, and managed health care protocols. For example, an individual who is mildly depressed may visit a mental health clinic and instead of getting a recommendation to adjust eating patterns, sleep patterns, or receive talk therapy, etc., the individual will walk away with a prescription (an antidepressant) and a new label of dysthymia. Holistic healthcare is rarely looked at by psychiatry because the leading “tool” is currently medication and labels. These categorical labels have kept us from looking at thyroid disorders or other health conditions responsible for depression.
As an advocate of medication use when severe or untreated mental illness is controlling an individual’s life, I encourage the use of meds in necessary cases. However, I am not in support of over-prescribing or over-medicating our children, adolescents, and even adults. Medication alters every aspect of your life (brain chemistry, emotions, thoughts, life perspective, etc.). Medication should be a last resort in mild-moderate cases of mental illness and a necessity for severe mental illness. In cases where a health condition is influenced by a psychological condition (depression influencing chronic migraines or chronic fatigue syndrome), medication should be pursued. But instead our society receives medication for very mild conditions and almost for every condition they seek help for. We must evaluate this further! We are living in a society where medication has become a crutch, a bench for people wanting to alter their brain, emotions, or views. Many people are taking Tylenol PM just to sleep or any over the counter med to block reality. This is not healthy.
Have you ever considered that we are contradicting ourselves as a society by fighting against substance abuse, yet prescribing medication at the drop of a hat? It’s something to think about.
If you have a loved one struggling with a mental health problem, research your options and watch to see if medication is truly needed for your loved one. You can research your loved one’s prescriptions at Drugs.com. It’s always good to know why a prescription has been given and what the medication does. If you find that medication is a necessity, it is important to look into changing diet, getting more sleep, exercising, taking vitamins (if needed), and engaging in self-care.
If you would like to read more about this and more issues, stay tuned for my new book coming in 2014!
As always, I wish you the best
Anxiety And Depression Association of America. (2013). Facts & Statistics. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.