Depression. It is a condition that we have been hearing about more and more in recent years and there is not a single person I know who does not know someone who suffers from it. It is one of the most common conditions in modern times and is one of the biggest causes of workplace disability in the world. Why is depression so prevalent?
This is a complex question with no simple answer but I believe that the causes of depression are multifactorial. Medical science would have you believe that the main cause is a chemical imbalance in the brain which can be treated with pharmaceutical agents which act at the level of neurochemistry, however this is an oversimplification of a complex issue.
The pharmaceuticals most commonly used to treat depression include tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as paroxetine which is more commonly known as prozac. However. anti-depressants have not been proven to be an effective treatment for depression. In fact, studies show that anti-depressants are only about 20% more effective than placebo at alleviating depression.
I mention this because this fact ties in with the earlier question about why depression is so prevalent. I believe that antidepressants are ineffective in alleviating depression because they target neurochemistry which is only one of a multitude of causes which underly depression.
And what are these causes? These include emotional trauma, social isolation, ongoing relationship issues, workplace and financial stress, limiting beliefs that we have picked up in early childhood, chronic health issues, loss of a loved one through the end of a relationship or death, inadequate nutrition, lack of regular movement and exercise and an overall grim outlook on life based on past experience and what we are fed through the media.
So you see, in order to adequately address the complex issue of depression a thorough assessment needs to be done which takes into account all of the above factors. In addition, an individualized approach, beyond the use of antidepressants, must be utilized in each patient and client which is something that the medical profession has yet to discover and implement.
In my next blog post, I will dive deeper into how a depressed individual needs to be assessed and introduce a more comprehensive approach to managing and alleviating depression.
Nauman Naeem MD