Recently, Cleveland, Ohio’s medical writer for the Plain Dealer wrote “Depression: some experts think we might be over diagnosed and overmedicated.” Since 1 in 10 Americans takes an antidepressant, she wondered if people are actually sad or if they’re clinically depressed.
According to the author, “There is no medical test to prove someone is depressed,” and many depression symptoms are normal feelings. In fact, psychologist Eric Maisel writes in his new book “Rethinking Depression” that depression has been incorrectly labeled a mental disorder and says the feelings most people feel are “a natural part of life.”
So what about all those people being prescribed SSRIs? Are they just sad, or do they truly suffer from depression?
Psychiatrist and Today show contributor Dr. Gail Saltz says that 19 million American adults suffer from clinical depression, which manifests as:
- Persistent sadness or anxiety
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- An increase or decrease in appetite
- A lack of interest in activities or anything in general
- Restlessness or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Helplessness, hopelessness, and/or worthlessness
- Physical problems with no medical cause
- Suicide contemplation.
But before you say, “Hey, that’s me,” please consider that depression is experiencing half or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks; depression is not sadness over a recent breakup or divorce. As Saltz says, “If you feel sad about something or nervous over an issue in your life, this does not mean you are in need of a pill. It means you are human and we all have bad feelings sometimes.”
Two of the most common types of depression are major, or clinical, and chronic. Major depression saps a person’s ability to function and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Typically, a person may have trouble performing day-to-day activities and may attempt or think about committing suicide. Chronic depression, on the other hand is considered milder, but symptoms may last two years or longer.
Though serotonin reuptake inhibitors balance serotonin levels, which transmit nerve impulses that regulate learning, mood, and sleep, a number of research organizations – including the authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – report that placebos are almost as powerful in treating symptoms in patients with mild to moderate depression. Interestingly, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that one-third of SSRI studies submitted to the FDA that showed a lack of effectiveness were never published.
SSRI safety is also questionable, since Canada just added heart warnings to Lexapro labels, and thousands of lawsuits are pending over antidepressants possibly causing birth defects. Additionally, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that one-third of SSRI studies submitted to the FDA that showed a lack of effectiveness were never published.
In short, not everyone is depressed. But if depressive symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks, seek help. Visit the following website for a treatment center closest to you: http://treatmentcenters.com/categories/Ohio/Depression-54.