What Does it Mean

“Roughly 12 percent of men and 20 percent of women will suffer a major depression at the same time.

“The first episode of a major depression happens in the mid-20’s, and for a substantial number of people it’s during late childhood or adolescence.

“Five percent of the population is suffering severe depression at any given time.

“15 to 39 percent of cases may be still depressed after one year, and 22 percent after two years.

“The chances that a person will experience another episode of depression increases by 16 percent with each episode

“10,000,000 people in the U.S. take antidepressants.”

-Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way of Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (The Guilford Press, 2007, pg 16)

I LOOK AT ANTIBIOTICS as something that we put into the body to kill the bacteria.  We use chemotherapy drugs the same way to kill cancer.  So shouldn’t we have the same expectations for antidepressants?  If we don’t, then aren’t we simply dealing with mind-altering compounds like cannabis or alcohol?  Are antidepressants not meant to create a new mind and a mind that thinks properly?  In my free time, I enjoy reading traditional philosophical and narrative stories as an outlet.  It is a way of managing stress that works for me.  It is also a way of learning and not being dependent on someone else’s opinions.  Are we making an informed decisions when we are use mind-altering drugs?  Do we even know?  I have some real concerns.

Spiritually or medically speaking, suffering is a reality.  I sometimes wonder if psychiatry is any more relevant or substantiated than religion.  If you do not have clarity and transparency, the potential for bad things to happen rises.  Anything that’s unbridled can be declared evil.  In 1949, Antonio Moniz, a neurologist and one of the founders of psychosurgery received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for inventing the frontal lobotomy.  If a person does not have the tools to deal with life, do we label this person mentally ill?  Shouldn’t psychiatry be more about relationships rather than substances of fixes?  My concern is about giving up control of the emotional state.

As a society, have we become that avoidant of pain and suffering that they have no meaning? With such an explosion of defined mental pathologies, everyday living can now be diagnosed and medicated.  Is it not normal to grieve, to be sad, or toe experience a loss?  Are we becoming so passive that we do not wish to take responsibility for any of our feelings?  At what point, do we relinquish that?

Pain Has Meaning: Psychiatry professor Nassir Ghaemi writes: “We experience pain so that we may live; without pain, we die.  This is the case with physical pain in the body, and it is the case with mental pain in the brain.  There is, perhaps a key functional role for depression in human existence.  When we become depressed, it is a sign that we are at a dead-end;  perhaps our judgments were wrong about something or someone, and we should change course.  Depression, like pain, has a meaning.  Our job is not simply to eradicate it but also to find out what it means.” (On Depression: Drugs, Diagnosis, and Despair in the Modern World, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 2013, page 11)

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