His approach uses the body's own natural chemistry to restore the brain's chemical balance and end the dangerous cycle of negative thought patterns and behaviour that cause depression to recur. With detailed instructions on developing a tailored program of diet and exercise, new techniques for understanding and breaking free of negative habits, and targeted exercises for burning up self-destructive chemicals.
Natural Prozac gives every depression sufferer a new option. Robertson Author Joel Robertson, is an internationally renowned clinician, publisher, lecturer, consultant, and author of Home Recovery Systems and Help Yourself. He is the director of the Robertson Institute, which provides neurochemical evaluations and treatment Robertson ebook.
Joel C. More about Joel C. He was fitted with an artificial limb, and in time he went back to work. The farmer became deeply depressed.
Natural Prozac: Learning to Release Your Body's Own Anti-Depressants
So the doctors and his neighbors sat with this man and talked through his life and his troubles. They realized that even with his new artificial limb, his old job — working in the paddies — was just too difficult, that he was constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that these things combined to make him want to just stop living. His interlocutors had an idea. They suggested that he work as a dairy farmer, a job that would place less painful stress on his false leg and produce fewer disturbing memories.
They believed he was perfectly capable of making the switch. So they bought him a cow.
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In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depression, once profound, lifted. For more than 30 years, we have collectively told one primary story about depression and anxiety.
When I was a teenager and I went to my doctor and explained I felt distress was pouring out of me uncontrollably, like a foul smell, he told me a story. The doctor said that depression is caused by the spontaneous lack of a chemical in the brain called serotonin, and I simply needed to take some drugs to get my serotonin levels up to a normal level.
A few days before I wrote this piece, a young friend of one of my nephews, who was not much older than I was when I was first diagnosed, went to his doctor and asked for help with his depression. His doctor told him he had a problem with dopamine in his brain. In 20 years, all that has shifted is the name of the chemical. I believed and preached versions of this story for more than a decade. But when I began to research the causes of depression and anxiety for my new book, Lost Connections , I was startled to find leading scientific organizations saying this approach was based on a misreading of the science.
There are real biological factors that contribute to depression, but they are very far from being the whole story.
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I was initially bemused by statements like this: They were contrary to everything I had been told. So I spent three years interviewing the leading scientists in the world on these questions, to try to understand what is really going on in places where despair in our culture is worst, from Cleveland to Sao Paulo, and where the incidence of despair is lowest, including Amish communities.
I traveled 40, miles and drilled into the deepest causes of our collective depression. I learned there is broad agreement among scientists that there are three kinds of causes of depression and anxiety, and all three play out, to differing degrees, in all depressed and anxious people. The causes are: biological like your genes , psychological how you think about yourself , and social the wider ways in which we live together.
Very few people dispute this. But when it comes to communicating with the public, and offering help, psychological solutions have been increasingly neglected, and environmental solutions have been almost totally ignored. Instead, we focus on the biology. We offer, and are offered, drugs as the first, and often last, recourse. This approach is only having modest results.
When I took chemical antidepressants, after a brief burst of relief, I remained depressed, and I thought there was something wrong with me. I learned in my research that many researchers have examined the data on antidepressants and come to very different conclusions about their effectiveness. Depression is often measured by something called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a item test administered by clinicians, where a score of zero means you show no symptoms of the disorder and a score of 52 would indicate an absolutely debilitating episode.
The studies that most strongly support chemical antidepressants found that some 37 percent of people taking them experience a significant shift in their Hamilton scores amounting to a full remission in their symptoms. When therapy and other interventions were added in addition to or in place of these drugs — in treatment-resistant cases — remission rates went higher.
Yet other scholars, looking at the exact same data set, noticed that over the long term, fewer than 10 percent of the patients in the study — who were, incidentally, receiving more support than the average depressed American would receive from their doctor — experienced complete remission that lasted as long as a year.
When I read this, I noticed to my surprise that it fit very closely with my own experience: I had a big initial boost, but eventually the depression came back. I thought I was weird for sinking back into depression despite taking these drugs, but it turns out I was quite normal. Of all of those depressed individuals who take an antidepressant, only a small subset — estimated between 5 and 20 percent — will experience complete and enduring remission.
Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology who now teaches at Harvard Medical School, was initially a supporter of chemical antidepressants — but then he began to analyze this data, especially the data the drug companies had tried to keep hidden from the public. His research concluded that chemical antidepressants give you a boost, above the placebo effect, of 1.
This is less than a third of the boost that you get, by some estimates, from improving your sleep patterns. Kirsch points out that a study recently released in The Lancet , to much media coverage, confirmed what we already knew and everyone already agreed on: that chemical antidepressants have more effect than a placebo. The more important questions are: by how much, for how long?
And even people less skeptical than Kirsch point to this inconvenient fact: Although antidepressant prescriptions have increased percent since the s, there has been no discernible decrease in society-wide depression rates. After studying all this, I felt startled, and it took me time to fully absorb it. Kirsch regards the 1. I found his studies persuasive, but I disagree a little with this takeaway. There are people I know for whom this small but real benefit outweighs the side effects, and for them, my advice is to carry on taking the drugs. But it is clear, once you explore this science, that drugs are far from being enough.
We have to be able to have a nuanced and honest discussion that acknowledges an indisputable fact: that for huge numbers of people, antidepressants only provide either no relief or a small and temporary amount, and we need to radically expand the menu of options to help those people. But the scientists who study the social and psychological causes of these problems tend to see them differently.
Far from being a malfunction, they see depression as partly or even largely a function , a necessary signal that our needs are not being met. Everyone knows that human beings have innate physical needs — for food, water, shelter, clean air. There is equally clear evidence that human beings have innate psychological needs: to belong, to have meaning and purpose in our lives, to feel we are valued, to feel we have a secure future. Our culture is getting less good at meeting those underlying needs for a large number of people — and this is one of the key drivers of the current epidemic of despair.
I interviewed in great depth scientists who have conclusively demonstrated that many factors in our lives can cause depression not just unhappiness: full depression. Loneliness, being forced to work in a job you find meaningless, facing a future of financial insecurity — these are all circumstances where an underlying psychological need is not being met. The difficulty that some parts of psychiatry have had in responding to these insights can be seen in a debate that has been playing out since the s. By committee, they settled on a list of nine symptoms — persistent low mood, for instance, and loss of interest or pleasure — and told doctors across the country that if patients showed more than five of these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, they should be diagnosed as mentally ill.
But as these instructions were acted on across the country, some doctors reported a slightly awkward problem.
Using these guidelines, every person who has lost a loved one — every grieving person — should be classed as mentally ill. The symptoms of depression and the symptoms of grief were identical. Embarrassed, the psychiatric authorities came up with an awkward solution. Why, some doctors began to ask, should grief be the only situation in which deep despair is not a sign of a mental disorder that should be treated with drugs? What if you have lost your job? Your house? Your community? Rather than do this, the psychiatric authorities simply got rid of the grief exception.