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Are Antidepressants Ever Necessary?

A new study suggests that about a quarter of the people who have been diagnosed with depression may actually be dealing with the normal and expected emotions associated with loss or traumatic events.

It is not unusual to experience depressive feelings when you have lost your job or marriage. But researchers are now suggesting that such feelings should not usually be diagnosed as depression.

The study was based on a survey administered to more than 8,000 Americans, which asked questions based on diagnostic criteria for mood problems.

The researchers found that extended periods of depression-like symptoms are common in people who have been through life stresses, and that this does not necessarily constitute illness. Only a fraction of people, however, had severe symptoms that could be classified as clinical depression.

Drug treatment may often be inappropriate for people who are responding to life's stresses. Supportive psychotherapy, however, may still be useful.

Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 64, No. 4, April 2007: 433-440

PsychCentral April 3, 2007

Washington Post April 3, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

I think that this study is really about semantics. When I first started practicing in 1985 I was very sensitive to the issue of depression and diagnosed many thousands of my patients with it. No matter what you call it, there are many millions of people who are not doing well emotionally and as a result have major physical complications.

So I am not sure if I agree with this study, as my experience suggests many are suffering out there. However, the central issue is what do you do? If you are cluelesss like I was over 20 years ago you put people on antidepressants because that is the "standard of care." 

Then you find out later that antidepressants provide no meaningful benefit, can harm your immune system and exacerbate the risk of suicide among younger folks.

So clearly another option is required. Fortunately, there are many that do address the underlying causes. You can also start an exercise program today, as it clearly is one of the best-kept secrets for treating depression. Omega-3 fats like fish and krill oil are also very effective.

You can find out more about this by reading The Omega-3 Connection by Dr. Stoll. He is a Harvard psychiatrist who has done a great job of compiling the evidence supporting the use of fish and krill oils for depression.

Among the other effective therapies for taming your emotions and boosting your health: Learning a proven energy psychology tool like the Emotional Freedom Technique, used daily in my practice. For serious problems it would be prudent to not treat yourself with EFT and instead contact a health care professional who is trained in the technique. You can use the list of guidelines and practitioners compiled by Dr. Patricia Carrington.

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