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1yo boy in Scotland prescribed antidepressants on NHS

A one-year-old boy was prescribed antidepressants by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), it has emerged. ...

Forget Dangerous Antidepressants

By Dr. Mercola One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression1 and 11 percent of the U.S. population over the age...

Antidepressants Don’t Work as Advertised

By Dr. Mercola Depression and other mental health problems are at epidemic levels judging by the number of antidepressants prescribed each year. According to CDC data,1...

Study: 70% of People on Antidepressants Don’t Have Depression

If sales for antidepressants such as Zoloft, Lexapro, or Prozac tell us anything, it’s that depression is sweeping the nation. But a new study questions the...

30 Million Americans On Antidepressants And 21 Other Facts About America’s Endless Pharmaceutical Nightmare

Michael Snyder RINF Alternative News Has there ever been a nation more hooked on drugs than the United States? And I am not just talking about...

Antidepressants Use Up 400%: 5 Ways to Boost Happiness Naturally

Christina Sarich RINF Alternative News A few years back, Harvard conducted a study to reiterate what many in the psych professionals already know — Americans are addicted to...

Were These Knife Attacks Caused by SSRI Antidepressants?

Martha Rosenberg  RINF Alternative News It's a crime to jolt the most jaded TV News watchers. Last week, a 14-year-old girl in a Chicago suburb allegedly...

FDA Approves Antidepressants for Children, Even After Revelations of Bribery

The FDA has approved Forest Laboratories' antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) for use in children and adolescents, even as the federal government and 11 states have...

Truth About Antidepressants Kept From Public

Sweeping Overview Suggests Suppression of Negative Data Has Distorted View of Drugs By DAVID ARMSTRONG and KEITH J. WINSTEIN The effectiveness of a dozen popular antidepressants...

When Will Co-opted Figures and Board Members of Companies like Monsanto and Bayer Be...

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Pro-Palestinian Muslim rally was suspected Finsbury Park terrorist’s real target

The suspect behind the Finsbury Park terrorist attack may have intended to target a pro-Palestinian...

The ‘Why’ Behind Bad Grades

The end of the school year has a tendency to bring crises to my attention. I’m a graduate teaching assistant, which means I have more...

Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission: A System of Food and...

Sir John Beddington is Senior Advisor and Professor of Natural Resources Management at the Oxford Martin School in Oxford, UK. He also belongs to...

Marijuana and a Free Society

Not all Americans are celebrating the recently passed ballot measures relating to marijuana—especially some conservatives. People in the states of California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada...

You Can Inadvertently Make things Worse

Many ardent dietary supplement users are aware there is a widespread deficiency of magnesium in the American diet.  Upon learning this they often visit...

Church of England ‘buries’ shocking child sex abuse report

The Church of England published a damning report on the horrific abuse of youngsters at...

Never Take These Killer Drugs

By Dr. Mercola It is now estimated that 1 in 8 Americans are on serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants1 and a shocking 1 in 4...

The Miserable Catch 22 of Mental Illness

I’m depressed. I’ve dealt with mental health issues for decades now. Nothing fancy or interesting like multiple personalities or hallucinations. Just run-of-the-mill boring ones —...

Half of antidepressant prescriptions given to people who don’t have depression – study

Physicians are increasingly prescribing antidepressant drugs for nondepressive conditions without approval from regulatory bodies, according to a new study. Of the 101,759 antidepressant prescriptions...

Wisconsin youth prisoners receiving wrong medication

An inmate at a Wisconsin youth detention center was sent to the hospital after being given...

Prescription Painkiller Crisis: Why Do Americans Consume 80 Percent Of All Prescription Painkillers?

Michael Snyder (RINF) - If Americans are so happy, then why do we consume 80 percent of the entire global supply of prescription painkillers?  Less...

Why doesn’t the U.S. government track prescription drug death statistics more diligently … since...

Recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the heads of state of countries allied with the United States – even after...

Research on antidepressant drugs distorted by pharmaceutical industry

By Brad Dixon According to a recent study, authors of articles conducting meta-analyses of antidepressant drugs in clinical trials with links to industry were 22 times...

Almost all psych drug use is unnecessary, claims doctor researching medical holocaust of over...

More than half a million people age 65 years or older die every year in the West from psychiatric drug use, and the worst...

Same corporations that manufacture vaccines are killing half a million people annually with deadly...

Psychiatric medications are not only useless, but they're responsible for killing at least 500,000 people aged 65 years and older every single year. This...

Robin Williams Was on Drugs at the Time of His Death – Antidepressant Drugs

Kelly Patricia O’Meara If news headlines were to be believed about the autopsy findings of beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide nearly two...

Why Cannabis Is The Future Of Medicine

Sayer Ji RINF Alternative News The future of medicine rests on the fundamental right we all have to use things that spring from the Earth naturally...

Babies on psychiatric drugs: crime with no punishment

Babies on psychiatric drugs: crime with no punishment by Jon Rappoport July 8, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Here is typical, circumspect, utter bullshit reporting from the mainstream: “For the most vulnerable foster children, those less than 1 year old, foster children were nearly twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug compared to non-foster children.” (ABC […]

Psst, kid, want drugs? I’m a psychiatrist.

Psst, kid, want drugs? I’m a psychiatrist. by Jon Rappoport June 10, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Look at it this way. The kid doesn’t have to pay for drugs out of his pocket. He gets them in a shrink’s office. Insurance covers it. His parents may be able to work a Social Security disability claim and receive […]

Drug cartels? Amateurs! Here’s the real thing.

Drug cartels are amateurs: here’s the real thing by Jon Rappoport June 9, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Mexican cartels? Colombian cartels? Afghan poppy lords? Middlemen? Street dealers? Are you kidding? They’re small fry. Check out the pros. Medical News Today, June 22, 2013, “Most Americans on Prescriptions.” “7 out of every 10 Americans are on prescription drugs, […]

Obamacare: watch out, here comes “predictive modeling”

Obamacare: watch out, here comes “predictive modeling” by Jon Rappoport June 5, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Modeling or programming? A Medai.com article, “Why is Predictive Modeling Essential to Healthcare?” offers this quote: “…the algorithms of predictive modeling can analyze hundreds of data points to make a diagnosis or a prediction of risk.” This is the new thing […]

Elliot Roger, Santa Barbara killer: parallels and numbers

Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara killer: parallels and numbers by Jon Rappoport May 25, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com These are preliminary notes. For now, they’re based on media accounts of the killing spree on May 23, in Isla Vista, California—and of course, these media accounts of mass murders should never be accepted, on their face, as ironclad facts. […]

Alert: Imperial Psychiatric Empire is Invading the Mind

Jon Rappoport A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big...

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind by Jon Rappoport May 14, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big support from both sides of the political aisle. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is the key point man […]

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind by Jon Rappoport May 14, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big support from both sides of the political aisle. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is the key point man […]

The James Holmes Batman-murder psychiatric circus

The James Holmes Batman-murder psychiatric circus by Jon Rappoport April 28, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com This article is not about all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the official story of “the Batman murders” at the Aurora Theater. This article is about the use of psychiatry in the judicial system. Judge Carlos Samour has ordered James Holmes to […]

Medicated to Death: SSRIs and Mass Killings

by James Corbett BoilingFrogsPost.com April 16, 2014 In May 1998, 15 year old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and two classmates, as well as injuring 25 others, after engaging in a shooting spree that ended up in his school’s cafeteria. In the in...

Gluten Intolerance Isn’t Just a Trendy Fad – It Can Wreck Your Whole Life

Just playing off gluten intolerance as some random trendy diet fad or a make believe food hysteria is not just misleading...it is dangerous. It could kill someone.

Interview 858 — Dr. David Healy on SSRIs and Violent Behaviour

Today we talk to Dr. David Healy, a professor of psychiatry and author of over 150 peer-reviewed research papers and 20 books, including his latest, Pharmageddon. We discuss the issue of antidepressants and behaviour modification, including the link between SSRIs and mass shootings.

100 Facts About The Moral Collapse Of America That Are Almost Too Crazy To...

The collection of facts and statistics that you are about to read is highly controversial.  A lot of people are going to be greatly upset by it.  Why?  Because they don’t like to be confronted with the truth about America.  Most people tend to believe that we can “fix this country” by getting the [...]

He Who Hesitates is Lost: The Psychology of Survival

In a crisis situation, denial can be deadly.

In Russia, Boys Learn To Use Military Equipment — In America, Boys Learn To...

The way that boys are raised in Russia is very different from how boys are raised in the United States.  In Russia, boys as young as five years old are taught survival skills, learn how to use military equipment and are trained in hand to hand combat.  Boys as young as twelve are taught [...]

10 Health Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be Real

by Michael Snyder Originally Published at The Truth Note from Daisy: Last week I wrote about the survey that marginalized the beliefs of those of us who prefer to avoid Big Pharma and the AMA, calling our beliefs “medical conspiracy theories.”  Michael Snyder took it further with this excellent piece,Read the Rest...

10 Health Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be Real

Do you believe in any “health conspiracy theories”?  Do you believe that there are “natural cures” for diseases that the medical establishment is not telling you about?  Do you believe that vaccines, cell phones or the fluoride in the water can have a harmful impact on the health of your family?  If you answered [...]

Dr. Breggin rides again: the dangers of psychiatric drugs

Dr. Breggin rides again: the dangers of psychiatric drugs by Jon Rappoport February 24, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com In court, the tide may be turning against psychiatric-drug damage. A recent jury decision, in which Dr. Peter Breggin testified as an expert witness, highlighted the extreme danger of the drugs. The civil case was filed on behalf of […]

Mind control research and freedom

Mind control research and freedom by Jon Rappoport February 12, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com There is a whole brand of mind control that is little more than torture. In other words, by inflicting duress, coercion, making threats, causing pain and disorientation, an “expert” can make a victim do and say many things. That’s no secret. There are […]

Religion is Useful

Jacob Scharf  RINF Alternative News Say what you will about religion, but don’t say that it isn’t useful. Personally, I’m all for skepticism as it relates...

The most profitable diseases for big pharma in 2014

Martha Rosenberg  RINF Alternative News Most of us have our guard up when it comes to direct-to-consumer drug advertising. We know the butterflies, sunsets and puppies...

Exposed: Sandy Hook shooter’s biggest threat still lives

Exposed: Sandy Hook shooter’s biggest threat still lives by Jon Rappoport January 26, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Adam Lanza, the purported Sandy Hook School shooter, is the subject of an ongoing investigation in Connecticut. No, it’s not a police probe, it’s about “mental health.” The investigation is all about Lanza’s medical history, what diagnoses were made, who […]

Consciousness, art, and psychiatry

Consciousness, art, and psychiatry by Jon Rappoport January 22, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com With the NSA scandals, many more people have read and heard the term “metadata.” It means “data about data.” Well, there is also “metalife.” It means “life about life.” Which means Art. Art is a way of reaching life on another level. When the […]

Kava’s Anti-anxiety and Other Medicinal Uses Validated — Liver Risk Diminished

Kava kava medicinal value

Kava kava has all but been dismissed as a serious herbal medication due to a few overblown and misunderstood reports of liver toxicity. Its time to take a serious look at this valuable herbal medicine.

17 Strange Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Penises

Swallowing semen has been known to...

MDMA (Ecstasy) Is a Lifesaver for Vets with PTSD: It’s Time to Bring It...

Veterans and therapists press the military...

10 New Year’s Resolutions That Every Prepper Should Make in 2014

Every year, people make a series of New Year’s Resolutions that are usually forgotten by the time you flip the page of the calendar over to February.  This list starts with some of the standard resolutions that everyone makes that are particularly pertinent to preppers, and then contains some thatRead the Rest...

The New York Times Is Dead Wrong About Drug Addiction

The paper of record's insensitive approach...

MSM attacks multivitamins in yet another example of quack science

Mike Adams Today the mainstream media is gleefully reporting findings they mistakenly believe show all multivitamins to be worthless at preventing disease. “Case Closed: Multivitamins...

Video: Drug Companies Caught Pushing Drugs Causing Same Dangers They ‘Prevent’

For years, major drug companies have known about the true scientific research behind their highly profitable antidepressant drugs, which in many cases were pegged...

American Men’s Hidden Crisis: They Need More Friends!

Men aren't making the same kinds...

Video: Political Correctness Is Mind Control

I recently appeared on the Alex Jones Show to break down how political correctness, along with other techniques employed by the mainstream media and...

America loneliest country in the world

Of all the nations on the entire planet, the United States is the most lonely place to be. Of all the nations on the entire...

Why Sex Feels Good: The Science Behind Orgasms

New brain studies explain how pleasure...

Dramatic Increase of Mass Shootings in America: The Role of Prescription Psychiatric Drugs?

“While the data about the ever-increasing random shootings is important, it doesn't mean spit unless someone in a position of power is willing...

Herbal Medicine Treats Children with Learning and Behavioral Problems

depressed children improve with herbal medicine

German researchers have determined that a formula of three herbs successfully treats children with learning difficulties, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression and attention deficit issues.

America Is The Loneliest Country In The World — Is It Because We’ve Abandoned...

Michael Snyder American Dream November 14, 2013 Of all the nations on the entire planet, the United States is the most lonely place to be. We have...

MIND GAMES: Cyberspace and Psychiatric Drugs

At least 10 percent of all Americans over six-years-old are on antidepressants. That’s more than 35 million people, double the number from less than two decades ago. Meanwhile, anti-psychotics have eclipsed cholesterol treatments as the country’s fastest selling and most profitable drugs, even though half the prescriptions treat disorders for which they haven’t been proven effective. At least 5 million children and adolescents use them, in part because more kids are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

This raises some troubling alternatives: Are a growing number of people experiencing psychological troubles? Have we just become better at recognizing them? Or is some other dynamic at work?

One possibility is that the criteria for what constitutes a mental illness or disability may have expanded to the point that a vast number appear to have clinical problems. But there’s an even more insidious development: the drugs being used to treat many of the new diagnoses could cause long-term effects that persist after the original trouble has been resolved. That’s the case made by Robert Whitaker in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.

Speaking of long-term impacts on the brain, we’re also heading toward a world where humans are directly linked with computers that profoundly influence their perceptions and ideas. Despite many potential benefits, there is danger here as well. Rather than simply augmenting our memories by providing neutral information, the brain-computer connection may lead people into separate realities based on their assumptions and politics.

Brain-altering drugs and digital “indoctrination” – a potent combination. Together, they pose a potential threat not only to the stability of many individuals but of society itself. Seduced by the promise that our brains can be managed and enhanced without serious side-effects, we may be creating a future where psychological dysfunction becomes a post-modern plague and powerful forces use cyberspace to reshape “reality” in their private interest.

Do prescription drugs create new mental problems? And if so, how could it be happening? For Whitaker the answer lies in the effects of drugs on neurotransmitters, a process he calls negative feedback. When a drug blocks neurotransmitters or increases the level of serotonin, for instance, neurons initially attempt to counteract the effects. When the drug is used over a long period, however, it can produce “substantial and long-lasting alterations in neural function,” claims Steven Hyman, former director of the National Institutes of Mental Health. The brain begins to function differently. Its ability to compensate starts to fail and side effects created by the drug emerge.

What comes next? More drugs and, along with them, new side effects, an evolving chemical mixture often accompanied by a revised diagnosis. According to Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, it can go this way: use of an antidepressant leads to mania, which leads to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which leads to the prescription of mood stabilizers. Through such a process people can end up taking several drugs daily for many years.

What may happen after that is deeply troubling. Researcher Nancy Andreasen claims the brain begins to shrink, an effect she links directly to dosage and duration. “The prefrontal cortex doesn’t get the input it needs and is being shut down by drugs,” she explained in The New York Times. “That reduces the psychotic symptoms.” But the pre-frontal cortex gradually atrophies.

Anyone who has been on the psychiatric drug roller coaster understands some of the ride’s risks and how hard it can be to get off. But the new implication is that we may be experiencing a medically-induced outbreak of brain dysfunction caused by the exploding use of drugs. One big unanswered question at the moment: What does Big Pharma really know, and when did they learn it?

Drug companies are not the only ones experimenting with our brains. Bold research is also being pursued to create brain-computer interfaces that can help people overcome problems like memory loss. According to writer Michael Chorost, author of World Wide Mind and interface enthusiast who benefited from ear implants after going deaf, we may soon be directly connected to the Internet through neural implants. It sounds convenient and liberating. Ask yourself a question and, presto, there’s the answer. Google co-founder Larry Page can imagine a not-too-distant future in which you simply think about something and “your cell phone whispers the answer in your ear.”

Beyond the fact that this could become irritating, there’s an unspoken assumption that the information received is basically unbiased, like consulting an excellent encyclopedia or a great library catalog. This is where the trouble starts. As Sue Halperin noted in a New York Review of Books essay, “Mind Control and the Internet,” Search engines like Google use an algorithm to show us what’s important. But even without the manipulation of marketing companies and consultants who influence some listings, each search is increasingly shaped to fit the profile of the person asking. If you think that we both get the same results from the same inquiry, guess again.

What really happens is that you get results assembled just for you. Information is prioritized in a way that reinforces one’s previous choices, influenced by suggested assumptions and preferences. As Eli Pariser argues in The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, environmental activists and energy executives get very different listings when they inquire about climate science. It looks and feels “objective” but they’re being fed data that fits with their existing view – and probably not seeing much that conflicts.

A study discussed in Sociological Quarterly looked at this development by following attitudes about climate science over a decade. Here’s a strange but significant finding: Although a consensus emerged among most scientists over the years, the number of Republicans who accepted their conclusion dropped. Why? Because the Republicans were getting different information than the Democrats and others who embraced the basic premise. In other words, their viewpoint was being reflected back at them.

Does this sound dangerous? Pariser thinks so, and suggests that the type of reinforcement made common by search engines is leading to inadvertent self-indoctrination. For democracy to function effectively, people need exposure to various viewpoints, “but instead we’re more and more enclosed in our own bubbles,” he writes. Rather than agreeing on a set of shared facts we’re being led deeper into our different worlds.

Whether this is a problem depends somewhat on your expectations. For some people it is merely a bump in the road, a faltering step in the inevitable evolution of human consciousness. Techno-shamen and other cosmic optimists see the potential of drug-induced enlightenment and an Internet-assisted “hive mind,” and believe that the long-term outcome will be less violence, more trust, and a better world. But others have doubts, questioning whether we’ll really end up with technological liberation and a psychic leap forward. It could go quite differently, they worry. We could instead see millions of brain-addled casualties and even deeper social polarization.

How will current trends influence democracy and basic human relations? Increased trust and participation don’t immediately come to mind. Rather, the result could be more suspicion, denial and paranoia, as if we don’t have enough. In fact, even the recent upsurge in anger and resentment may be drug and Internet-assisted, creating fertile ground for opportunists and demagogues.

In False Alarm: The truth about the epidemic of fear, New York internist Marc Siegel noted that when the amygdala — the Brain’s central station for processing emotions – detects a threatening situation, it pours out stress hormones. If the stress persists too long, however, it can malfunction, overwhelm the hippocampus (center of the "thinking" brain), and be difficult to turn off. In the long term, this "fear biology" can wear people down, inducing paralysis or making them susceptible to diseases and delusions that they might otherwise resist. Addressing this problem with drugs that change the brain’s neural functioning isn’t apt to help. Either will the Internet’s tendency to provide information that reinforces whatever one already thinks.

More than half a century ago, Aldous Huxley – who knew a bit about drugs – issued a dire prediction. He didn’t see the Internet coming, but other than that his vision remains relevant. “There will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude,” he wrote in Brave New World, “and producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods."

Pretty grim, but there’s no going back. Despite any dangers posed by computer algorithms and anti-psychotic drugs, they are with us for the foreseeable future. Still, what we’ve learned about them in recent years could help us to reduce the negatives. Not every illness listed in the DMS – that constantly growing, Big Pharma-influenced psychiatric bible – requires drug treatment. And the results of your online searches will very likely tell you what you want to know, but that does not mean you’re getting a “balanced” or comprehensive picture.

(Originally published on 6/15/11, based on a radio broadcast)

Messing with Our Minds: Psychiatric Drugs, Cyberspace and “Digital Indoctrination”

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CDC Says 20 Percent of Children Have Mental Disorder; Why the Increase?

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When God Is Not Enough: Religious States Have Highest Rates of Anti-Depressant Use

They say that religion is the opiate of the masses, but it seems that the opiates of the religious are antidepressants.

February 14, 2013  |  

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They say that religion is the opiate of the masses, but it seems that the opiates of the religious are antidepressants. 

A study released yesterday confirmed that Mississippi remains the most religious state in the Union, followed by a handful of its southern belt brothers: Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, as well as the Mormon stronghold of Utah. The Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of all Mississippians identify as “very religious.” The least religious states in the U.S. are the former stomping grounds of the very, very religious Puritans: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.

But life in these highly faithful states doesn’t seem to be all its cracked up to be. The most religious states in the U.S. share another trait: the highest use of anti-depressants. 

Utah has long been the nation’s capital of happy pill popping, with its citizens twice as likely to be on anti-depressants than the general U.S. population. But the rest of the observant states aren’t far behind. Of the top-ten most religious states, nine have higher than average use of anti-depressants.

Some states have startlingly medicated populations. 

In Utah, Louisiana and Arkansas--the 2nd, 4th and 5th most religious states in the Union-- nearly 20 percent of the population is on some form of anti-depressants, according to a 2006 study by one of the largest prescription companies. 

The rest of the highly religious states aren’t far behind. Mississippi (most religious), Alabama (third most religious), South Carolina (6th), Tennessee (7th), North Carolina (8th) and Oklahoma (10th) have above average rates of anti-depressant use, with 15 to 17 percent of the citizens medicated. Of the top-ten most religious states, only one--Georgia--isn’t disproportionately addicted to anti-depressants. Nationally, the prescription rate was about 14 percent.

Anti-depressants weren’t the only medication being doled out in the most religious states. In fact, a state’s level of religiosity correlates with a state’s overall medication rate. Of the top ten most religious states in the Union, six are also on the list of top-ten most medicated states.

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and activist in New York City.

The Frightening Tale Of The Antibiotic Apocalypse

Every time your doctor has prescribed you an antibiotic to treat an existing bacterial infection is a time you could have died of that infection. Maybe much less likely in some cases, more likely in others; but the risk is there. Now imagine that antibiotics stop working, especially for the really dangerous cases, and you and everyone you know has to face future infections with nothing better than hope, rest and tea.

Welcome to the antibiotics apocalypse.

Since it could actually happen, I'm going to rate an antibiotic apocalypse, worried over by the UK's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, as well as World Health Organisation head, Margaret Chan, as much scarier than a zombie apocalypse.

As Davies told the UK Parliament last month, "Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is both alarming and irreversible – similar to global warming ... Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work."

Why is this more alarming now? Two reasons, and both have to do with corporate greed. (You are shocked, I know.)

The first reason is that pharmaceutical companies have mostly stopped researching new antibiotics because they aren't very profitable. Which makes sense. Of course it's more profitable to come up with new antidepressants and boner pills than the next treatment for staph infection. How often do people get staph?

Well, more often these days, since staph is infecting more people now that it's developed antibiotic-resistant strains, thanks to modern pig farms. In a sane country, we could call for more public research spending to develop new antibiotics if the market won't pick up the slack, but that's just not likely to happen.

Hog confinement barn interior, courtesy EPA.govThough this takes us to the second reason for jumped-up antibiotic resistance, which is modern livestock practices for food animals of all types. Because it turns out that giving animals steady doses of antibiotics in their daily feed helps them put on weight faster, and it has the handy side effect of allowing them to survive incredibly filthy and overcrowded conditions where they're basically walking around ankle-deep in their own waste. (Mmm, bacon!)

The meat industry now consumes four-fifths of all antibiotics used in the US, or 29.9 billion pounds of antibiotics in 2011, nearly four times the amount prescribed for human illness. Last year, the FDA responded to this crisis by releasing voluntary guidelines for reducing antibiotic use in livestock and banning the non-prescription use in livestock of one class of antibiotics that the meat industry formerly used about 54,000 pounds of per year.

The livestock industry has no qualms against non-therapeutic overuse of even last resort antibiotics that are reserved to treat the most challenging human infections, and they'll do it remorselessly until the government steps in with a ban. And when you expose bacteria to (even very powerful) antibiotics on a routine basis, basic evolutionary biology tells us that any survivors will develop resistant populations, and basic evolutionary biology is right.

So there you have it. The outlines of an apocalypse, and one that might even peak before global warming can do its worst. I'd like to hear a Republican explain how this can be solved by cutting public health funding or decreasing government regulations and industry oversight -- but solely because the inevitable word salad would be the only funny thing about the situation.

Why Are Suicides Climbing in the Military? Let’s Look at the Drugs Being Prescribed

Photo Credit: Martha Rosenberg

Why does the suicide rate among military personnel continue to climb--even among those who never saw combat? This week the Pentagon announced there were more suicides among active-duty members of the armed services in 2012 than combat deaths--a staggering 349. Eighty-five percent had not even seen combat, reported Bloomberg.

The  suicide rate rose similarly last year and also included troops who had not faced combat. There were 38 Army suicides in July of 2012 compared with 32 suicides in July of 2011. In a 2010 Army report called Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report, 36 percent of the troops who killed themselves had never even deployed. The suicide rate increased by more than 150 percent in the Army and more than 50 percent in the Marine Corps between 2001 to 2009, reported Military Times in a series of in-depth articles.

One in six service members was on a psychoactive drug in 2010 and "many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily 'cocktails' for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches--despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations," said Military Times.

The pills and pill cocktails many troops are prescribed are clearly linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior. Antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil, antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa and anti-seizure drugs like Lyrica and Neurontin all carry clear suicide warnings and all are widely used in the military. Almost 5,000 newspaper reports link antidepressants to suicide, homicide and bizarre behavior on the website SSRIstories.com. The malaria drug Lariam is also highly correlated with suicide and its use actually increased in the Navy and Marine Corps in 2011, according to the Associated Press.

Eighty-nine percent of troops with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are now given psychoactive drugs and between 2005 and 2009, half of all TRICARE (the military health plan) prescriptions for people between 18 and 34 were for antidepressants. During the same time period, epilepsy drugs like Topamax and Neurontin, increasingly given off-label for mental conditions, increased 56 percent, reports Military Times. In 2008 , 578,000 epilepsy pills and 89,000 antipsychotics were prescribed to deploying troops.

Both the increase in the overall suicide rate in the US (rising to 36,000 a year after falling in the 1990s according to USA Today) and in the military coincide with the debut of direct-to-consumer drug advertising in the late 1990s. They are also correlated with the FDA's approval of many drugs with suicide links and a population that is increasingly taking psychoactive drugs for minor problems and symptoms. Several powerful military psychiatrists and administrators are also consultants to Big Pharma who shamelessly enroll veterans in drug studies and promote the pills that drug companies pay them to promote. Who can say conflict of interest?

When concerns about the rise in the general suicide rate in the US surfaced last fall, US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced federal grants for suicide hotlines, more mental health workers, better depression screening and Facebook tracking of suicidal messages. Nowhere, did she mention examining the role of suicide-linked drugs on, ahem, suicide. The Pentagon is apparently in similar denial.

More information about overmedication of troops and suicide-linked drugs is found in Martha Rosenberg's recently publishedBorn With a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health.

Treat Depression … Naturally. Little-Known Secrets to Boosting Mood

mind

Little-Known Secrets to Boosting Mood …

If you’re depressed, you might consider asking your doctor to prescribe anti-depressants.

But as best-selling author Christiane Northrup, MD, notes:

In 2008, we learned that the benefits of antidepressants had been greatly overstated. Former FDA psychiatrist Erick H. Turner, M.D. uncovered some startling information about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. In reviewing all the medical literature, he learned that 94 percent of the reports showing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs were published compared to only 14 percent of the reports showing either no benefits or inconclusive results (of taking SSRIs were published). When he weighed all the literature, Dr. Turner determined that SSRIs were no more effective than a placebo for treating most depressive patients. Those with severe depression were helped, sometimes greatly, but those with mild to moderate depression, the majority of cases, received little relief. British researchers using the Freedom of Information Act uncovered identical findings.

In January 2010, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these findings. The newest study also evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant.  The first author of the study, Jay C. Fournier, MA, told Medscape, “I think the most surprising part of the findings was how severe depression has to be in order to see this clinically meaningful difference emerge between medication and placebo, and that the majority of depressed patients presenting for treatment do not fall into that very severe category.”

The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.’”

(In addition, modern SSRI anti-depressants have been shown to increase violent and suicidal behavior in a certain percent of the population.)

So what can those with depressive tendencies do?

Secret of Human Evolution

Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is also crucial in preventing depression. As Science Daily notes:

Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain collaboration, have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours.

Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

***

The researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically ….This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

***

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity … is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens.

***

“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders,” explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required.”

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

Dr. Northrup writes:

One of the best ways to support health brain chemistry is by taking fish oil. Fish oil has been shown time an again to relieve mild to moderate depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and, according to Capt. Joe Hibbeln, M.D., these important fats support the serotonin system, may help reduce stress and lower your risk of all kinds of mental illness. Dr. Hibbeln, Chief of Outpatient Services for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is one of the world’s leading researchers on omega-3 fats. His findings have been compelling and encouraging.

***

Also encouraging is the largest ever clinical trial presenting in 2009 showing that fish oil may benefit half of all people with moderate to severe depression.

How could something as obscure as Omega 3s be so critical in preventing depression?

We’ve previously explained that humans evolved to eat a lot of Omega 3s:

Wild game animals have much higher levels of essential Omega 3 fatty acids than domesticated animals. Indeed, leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so.

In other words, while omega 3s have just now been discovered by modern science, we evolved to get a lot of omega 3s … and if we just eat a modern, fast food diet without getting enough omega 3s, it can cause all sorts of health problems.

So something just discovered by science can be a central fuel which our bodies evolved to use.

Here’s further detail focusing on beef:

For all of human history – until the last couple of decades – people ate beef from cows (or buffalo or bison) which grazed on grass. The cows were usually strong and healthy. Their meat was lean, with very little saturated fat, as the critters ate well and got outdoor exercise. Their meat was high in good Omega 3 fats. See this and this, and humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more).

Today, on the other hand, beef is laden with saturated fat and almost entirely lacking healthy fats like Omega 3s, because the cows are force-fed food which makes them sick. Specifically, instead of their natural menu – grass – they are force-fed corn, which makes them sick. Because their diet makes them ill, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics.  Even with the antibiotics, the diet and living conditions would kill them pretty quickly if they aren’t slaughtered.

Science Daily explains:

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are “essential” lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

So insufficient Omega 3s is a major source of depression in modern industrialized countries.

The flip side of getting enough healthy Omega 3s is to stay away from the kind of fats which cause depression: trans fats.

(Contrary to what you’ve heard, getting enough of the right kind of healthy cholesterol also decreases depression.)

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants …

Antioxidants also help to prevent depression.  Specifically, oxidative stress has been correlated with depression (and see here).

On the other hand, antioxidants reduce depression. See this, this and thisHere are the tricks for finding the least expensive, most powerful antioxidants.

Moreover, a multivitamin might be smart.  Specifically, Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., argues:

It is possible to become depressed because of the lack of a sufficient amount of a single trace element.

And as we’ve previously noted, modern foods can be nutritionally depleted:

We evolved eating foods which were high in vitamins and minerals ….

But as the Journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes:

With soil depletion, overfarming and transportation of foods over hundreds of miles with loss of nutrients en route, together with the increased use of convenience and fast foods, women can be over-fed, but under-nourished in our modern society.

The Nutrition Journal points out:

In 1927 a study at King’s College, University of London, of the chemical composition of foods was initiated … to assist with diabetic dietary guidance. The study evolved and was then broadened to determine all the important organic and mineral constituents of foods, it was financed by the Medical Research Council and eventually published in 1940. Over the next 51 years subsequent editions reflected changing national dietary habits and food laws as well as advances in analytical procedures. The most recent (5th Edition) published in 1991 has comprehensively analysed 14 different categories of foods and beverages. In order to provide some insight into any variation in the quality of the foods available to us as a nation between 1940 and 1991 it was possible to compare and contrast the mineral content of 27 varieties of vegetable, 17 varieties of fruit, 10 cuts of meat and some milk and cheese products. The results demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of minerals and trace elements in these foods over that period of time.

Scripps Howard News Service noted in 2006:

The nutritional content of America’s vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years — in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.

“It’s an amazing thing,” said Davis, adding that the decline in nutrient content has not been widely noticed.

Many other studies have reported ongoing soil depletion around the world.

***

And many people eat highly processed foods in which most antioxidants have been destroyed.

So – just as with the low levels of omega 3s – there might be less antioxidants like vitamin C in the modern diet than the levels we evolved to run on.

Good Bugs

Live Science reports:

Researchers have increasingly begun to suspect the gut was somehow linked with the brain. For instance, bowel disorders seem linked with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in people.

To learn more, scientists experimented with mice by feeding them a broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1. This species naturally lives in our gut, and scientists are exploring whether strains of it can be used as “probiotics” to improve our health. They discovered these rodents displayed significantly less behavior linked with stress, anxiety and depression than mice fed plain broth. Bacteria-fed mice also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in response to stressful situations such as mazes.

“By affecting gut bacteria, you can have very robust and quite broad-spectrum effects on brain chemistry and behavior,” researcher John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, told LiveScience.

“Without overstating things, this does open up the concept that we could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut,” Cryan added. “You could take a yogurt with a probiotic in it instead of an antidepressant.”

***

The investigators found that one GABA receptor component was present in higher levels in bacteria-fed mice in parts of the brain where it is normally lowered during depression. In addition, several GABA receptor components were reduced in parts of the brain where they are normally increased in stressed or anxious animals.

Next, the researchers severed the vagus nerve, which helps alert the central nervous system to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. They found the bacteria-induced effects on behavior and GABA receptors were diminished, suggesting this nerve is the pathway by which changes in the gut can influence the brain.

Vagal nerve stimulations have been used at times to treat depression resistant to other therapies, but “that’s a surgical technique,” Cryan said. “By targeting the gut with probiotics, we could indirectly target the vagus nerve without surgery.”

And see this.

As with Omega 3s, this sounds strange until you realize how humans evolved.

As NPR notes, our bodies are largely made up of – and supported by – bacteria:

Jeffrey Gordon, a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, who studies the microbes that live on and in us, offers this factoid: “We think that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we’re 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There’s also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. So we’re really a compendium [and] an amalgamation of human and microbial parts.”

***

Gordon’s research shows that these microbes living in our bodies aren’t just there for the ride — they’re actively contributing to the normal physiology of the human body. He points to the trillions of microbes that live in our gut, doing everything from encoding enzymes to serving as pathways for vitamin production to digesting the parts of food we can’t digest on our own.

Many native cultures ate a lot of fermented foods containing healthy bacteria.  Think yogurt, miso and Inuit fermented seal blubber (gross, we know …)

In addition, antibiotics kill a lot of the healthy bacteria in our gut.  (The over-use of antibiotics has also been linked to obesity and other health problems. See this and this.  Indeed, the prestigious journal Nature suggests that antiobiotics may permanently kill off healthy gut bacteria.).

Given that the modern diet contains less fermented foods, and that antibiotics have killed off some of our healthy intestinal flora, probiotics – sold in health food stores – are an important preventative measure against depression.

Sunshine …

The New York Times points out:

A new, carefully designed randomized controlled trial— of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine — suggests bright light therapy deserves a closer look.

The study was small, involving only 89 patients ages 60 and older, but the results were remarkable. Compared with a placebo, light therapy improved mood just as well as conventional antidepressant medications, said Dr. Ritsaert Lieverse, the paper’s lead author and a psychiatrist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The effect sizes we found in this study are comparable to those reported for antidepressants, so I think efficacy is of comparable magnitude,” Dr. Lieverse said in an e-mail.

***

Since depression is often accompanied by poor sleep and other symptoms suggestive of circadian rhythm disruption, the scientists also examined markers of circadian function. The theory is that bright light therapy may act to elevate mood by activating the brain’s so-called circadian pacemaker, a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. As part of the study, researchers assessed sleep quality and measured patients’ melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep-wake cycles, and urinary cortisol and salivary cortisol levels, measures of stress.

Dr. Lieverse said bright light therapy may also work by targeting depression-associated neurotransmitter systems that regulate serotonin and dopamine.

Sunshine has many if not all of these properties.  So getting some sun will help with depression.

Exercise and Sex

Many studies show that exercise reduces depression.   For example, see these reports by the Mayo Clinic, New York Times and WebMD.

Sex also helps to prevent depression.

Testosterone

And naturally boosting your testosterone level also wards off depression.

Mindfulness Meditation

Last – but not least – meditation can prevent depression.  Psychology Today reports:

Imagine if you could cure depression with a therapy that was more effective and long-lasting than expensive drugs, and which did not have any side effects. These are the claims being made for a form of Mindfulness meditation.

Psychologists from the University of Exeter recently published a study into “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT), finding it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression. Four months after starting, three quarters of the patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

***

MBCT was developed in the mid-Nineties by psychologists at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto to help stabilize patients’ moods during and after use of antidepressants. About half of patients relapse into depression – even if they continue taking the medication. One common reason for a relapse is when a normal period of sadness turns into obsessive brooding.

***

The MBCT technique is simple, and revolves around “mindfulness meditation”. In this, you sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. (See box for details). Concentrating on the rhythm of the breath helps produce a feeling of detachment. The idea is that you come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord, and that your conscious self is distinct from your thoughts. This realization is encouraged by gentle question-and-answer sessions modeled on those in cognitive therapy.

In the University of Exeter study, funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, 47 per cent of patients with long-term depression suffered a relapse; the figure was 60 per cent among those taking medication alone. Other studies, including two published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, had comparable outcomes. As a result, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended MBCT since 2004. Availability is still patchy though, with many sufferers seeking courses at Buddhist centers.

“One of the key features of depression is that it hijacks your attention,” says Professor Williams. “We all tend to bring to the forefront of our minds the thoughts and feelings that reflect our current mood. If you are sad, depressed or anxious, then you tend to remember the bad things that have happened to you and not the good. This drives you into a downward spiral that leads from sadness into a deeper depression. MBCT prevents and breaks that spiral.”

Psychology Today provides an example of a typical MBCT meditation:

1. Sit upright in a straight-backed chair, with your spine about an inch from the back of the chair, and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Close your eyes. Use your mind to watch your breath as it flows in and out. Observe your sensations without judgment. Do not try to alter your breathing.

3. After a while your mind will wander. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. The act of realizing that your mind has wandered – and bringing your attention back – is the key thing.

4. Your mind will eventually become calm.

5. Repeat every day for 20-30 minutes.

Postscript:  If you are severely depressed and suicidal, contact a mental health professional. 

We are not health professionals, and this does not constitute mental health or medical advice.

Treat Depression … Naturally

If you’re depressed, you might consider asking your doctor to prescribe anti-depressants.

But as best-selling author Christiane Northrup, MD, notes:

In 2008, we learned that the benefits of antidepressants had been greatly overstated. Former FDA psychiatrist Erick H. Turner, M.D. uncovered some startling information about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. In reviewing all the medical literature, he learned that 94 percent of the reports showing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs were published compared to only 14 percent of the reports showing either no benefits or inconclusive results (of taking SSRIs were published). When he weighed all the literature, Dr. Turner determined that SSRIs were no more effective than a placebo for treating most depressive patients. Those with severe depression were helped, sometimes greatly, but those with mild to moderate depression, the majority of cases, received little relief. British researchers using the Freedom of Information Act uncovered identical findings.

In January 2010, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these findings. The newest study also evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant.  The first author of the study, Jay C. Fournier, MA, told Medscape, “I think the most surprising part of the findings was how severe depression has to be in order to see this clinically meaningful difference emerge between medication and placebo, and that the majority of depressed patients presenting for treatment do not fall into that very severe category.”

The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.’”

(In addition, modern SSRI anti-depressants have been shown to increase violent and suicidal behavior in a certain percent of the population.)

So what can those with depressive tendencies do?

Secret of Human Evolution

Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is also crucial in preventing depression. As Science Daily notes:

Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain collaboration, have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours.

Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

***

The researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically ….This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

***

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity … is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens.

***

“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders,” explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required.”

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

Dr. Northrup writes:

One of the best ways to support health brain chemistry is by taking fish oil. Fish oil has been shown time an again to relieve mild to moderate depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and, according to Capt. Joe Hibbeln, M.D., these important fats support the serotonin system, may help reduce stress and lower your risk of all kinds of mental illness. Dr. Hibbeln, Chief of Outpatient Services for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is one of the world’s leading researchers on omega-3 fats. His findings have been compelling and encouraging.

***

Also encouraging is the largest ever clinical trial presenting in 2009 showing that fish oil may benefit half of all people with moderate to severe depression.

How could something as obscure as Omega 3s be so critical in preventing depression?

We’ve previously explained that humans evolved to eat a lot of Omega 3s:

Wild game animals have much higher levels of essential Omega 3 fatty acids than domesticated animals. Indeed, leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so.

In other words, while omega 3s have just now been discovered by modern science, we evolved to get a lot of omega 3s … and if we just eat a modern, fast food diet without getting enough omega 3s, it can cause all sorts of health problems.

So something just discovered by science can be a central fuel which our bodies evolved to use.

Here’s further detail focusing on beef:

For all of human history – until the last couple of decades – people ate beef from cows (or buffalo or bison) which grazed on grass. The cows were usually strong and healthy. Their meat was lean, with very little saturated fat, as the critters ate well and got outdoor exercise. Their meat was high in good Omega 3 fats. See this and this, and humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more).

Today, on the other hand, beef is laden with saturated fat and almost entirely lacking healthy fats like Omega 3s, because the cows are force-fed food which makes them sick. Specifically, instead of their natural menu – grass – they are force-fed corn, which makes them sick. Because their diet makes them ill, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics.  Even with the antibiotics, the diet and living conditions would kill them pretty quickly if they aren’t slaughtered.

Science Daily explains:

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are “essential” lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

So insufficient Omega 3s is a major source of depression in modern industrialized countries.

The flip side of getting enough healthy Omega 3s is to stay away from the kind of fats which cause depression: trans fats.

(Contrary to what you’ve heard, getting enough of the right kind of healthy cholesterol also decreases depression.)

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants …

Antioxidants also help to prevent depression.  Specifically, oxidative stress has been correlated with depression (and see here).

On the other hand, antioxidants reduce depression. See this, this and thisHere are the tricks for finding the least expensive, most powerful antioxidants.

Moreover, a multivitamin might be smart.  Specifically, Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., argues:

It is possible to become depressed because of the lack of a sufficient amount of a single trace element.

And as we’ve previously noted, modern foods can be nutritionally depleted:

We evolved eating foods which were high in vitamins and minerals ….

But as the Journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes:

With soil depletion, overfarming and transportation of foods over hundreds of miles with loss of nutrients en route, together with the increased use of convenience and fast foods, women can be over-fed, but under-nourished in our modern society.

The Nutrition Journal points out:

In 1927 a study at King’s College, University of London, of the chemical composition of foods was initiated … to assist with diabetic dietary guidance. The study evolved and was then broadened to determine all the important organic and mineral constituents of foods, it was financed by the Medical Research Council and eventually published in 1940. Over the next 51 years subsequent editions reflected changing national dietary habits and food laws as well as advances in analytical procedures. The most recent (5th Edition) published in 1991 has comprehensively analysed 14 different categories of foods and beverages. In order to provide some insight into any variation in the quality of the foods available to us as a nation between 1940 and 1991 it was possible to compare and contrast the mineral content of 27 varieties of vegetable, 17 varieties of fruit, 10 cuts of meat and some milk and cheese products. The results demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of minerals and trace elements in these foods over that period of time.

Scripps Howard News Service noted in 2006:

The nutritional content of America’s vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years — in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.

“It’s an amazing thing,” said Davis, adding that the decline in nutrient content has not been widely noticed.

Many other studies have reported ongoing soil depletion around the world.

***

And many people eat highly processed foods in which most antioxidants have been destroyed.

So – just as with the low levels of omega 3s – there might be less antioxidants like vitamin C in the modern diet than the levels we evolved to run on.

Good Bugs

Live Science reports:

Researchers have increasingly begun to suspect the gut was somehow linked with the brain. For instance, bowel disorders seem linked with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in people.

To learn more, scientists experimented with mice by feeding them a broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1. This species naturally lives in our gut, and scientists are exploring whether strains of it can be used as “probiotics” to improve our health. They discovered these rodents displayed significantly less behavior linked with stress, anxiety and depression than mice fed plain broth. Bacteria-fed mice also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in response to stressful situations such as mazes.

“By affecting gut bacteria, you can have very robust and quite broad-spectrum effects on brain chemistry and behavior,” researcher John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, told LiveScience.

“Without overstating things, this does open up the concept that we could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut,” Cryan added. “You could take a yogurt with a probiotic in it instead of an antidepressant.”

***

The investigators found that one GABA receptor component was present in higher levels in bacteria-fed mice in parts of the brain where it is normally lowered during depression. In addition, several GABA receptor components were reduced in parts of the brain where they are normally increased in stressed or anxious animals.

Next, the researchers severed the vagus nerve, which helps alert the central nervous system to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. They found the bacteria-induced effects on behavior and GABA receptors were diminished, suggesting this nerve is the pathway by which changes in the gut can influence the brain.

Vagal nerve stimulations have been used at times to treat depression resistant to other therapies, but “that’s a surgical technique,” Cryan said. “By targeting the gut with probiotics, we could indirectly target the vagus nerve without surgery.”

And see this.

As with Omega 3s, this sounds strange until you realize how humans evolved.

As NPR notes, our bodies are largely made up of – and supported by – bacteria:

Jeffrey Gordon, a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, who studies the microbes that live on and in us, offers this factoid: “We think that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we’re 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There’s also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. So we’re really a compendium [and] an amalgamation of human and microbial parts.”

***

Gordon’s research shows that these microbes living in our bodies aren’t just there for the ride — they’re actively contributing to the normal physiology of the human body. He points to the trillions of microbes that live in our gut, doing everything from encoding enzymes to serving as pathways for vitamin production to digesting the parts of food we can’t digest on our own.

Many native cultures ate a lot of fermented foods containing healthy bacteria.  Think yogurt, miso and Inuit fermented seal blubber (gross, we know …)

In addition, antibiotics kill a lot of the healthy bacteria in our gut.  (The healthy bacteria-killing property of antibiotics has also been linked to obesity and other health problems. See this and this.).

Given that the modern diet contains less fermented foods, and that antibiotics have killed off some of our intestinal flora, probiotics are an important preventative measure against depression.

Sunshine …

The New York Times points out:

A new, carefully designed randomized controlled trial— of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine — suggests bright light therapy deserves a closer look.

The study was small, involving only 89 patients ages 60 and older, but the results were remarkable. Compared with a placebo, light therapy improved mood just as well as conventional antidepressant medications, said Dr. Ritsaert Lieverse, the paper’s lead author and a psychiatrist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The effect sizes we found in this study are comparable to those reported for antidepressants, so I think efficacy is of comparable magnitude,” Dr. Lieverse said in an e-mail.

***

Since depression is often accompanied by poor sleep and other symptoms suggestive of circadian rhythm disruption, the scientists also examined markers of circadian function. The theory is that bright light therapy may act to elevate mood by activating the brain’s so-called circadian pacemaker, a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. As part of the study, researchers assessed sleep quality and measured patients’ melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep-wake cycles, and urinary cortisol and salivary cortisol levels, measures of stress.

Dr. Lieverse said bright light therapy may also work by targeting depression-associated neurotransmitter systems that regulate serotonin and dopamine.

Sunshine has many if not all of these properties.  So getting some sun will help with depression.

Exercise and Sex

Many studies show that exercise reduces depression.   For example, see these reports by the Mayo Clinic, New York Times and WebMD.

Sex also helps to prevent depression.

Testosterone

And naturally boosting your testosterone level also wards off depression.

Mindfulness Meditation

Last – but not least – meditation can prevent depression.  Psychology Today reports:

Imagine if you could cure depression with a therapy that was more effective and long-lasting than expensive drugs, and which did not have any side effects. These are the claims being made for a form of Mindfulness meditation.

Psychologists from the University of Exeter recently published a study into “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT), finding it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression. Four months after starting, three quarters of the patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

***

MBCT was developed in the mid-Nineties by psychologists at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto to help stabilize patients’ moods during and after use of antidepressants. About half of patients relapse into depression – even if they continue taking the medication. One common reason for a relapse is when a normal period of sadness turns into obsessive brooding.

***

The MBCT technique is simple, and revolves around “mindfulness meditation”. In this, you sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. (See box for details). Concentrating on the rhythm of the breath helps produce a feeling of detachment. The idea is that you come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord, and that your conscious self is distinct from your thoughts. This realization is encouraged by gentle question-and-answer sessions modeled on those in cognitive therapy.

In the University of Exeter study, funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, 47 per cent of patients with long-term depression suffered a relapse; the figure was 60 per cent among those taking medication alone. Other studies, including two published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, had comparable outcomes. As a result, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended MBCT since 2004. Availability is still patchy though, with many sufferers seeking courses at Buddhist centers.

“One of the key features of depression is that it hijacks your attention,” says Professor Williams. “We all tend to bring to the forefront of our minds the thoughts and feelings that reflect our current mood. If you are sad, depressed or anxious, then you tend to remember the bad things that have happened to you and not the good. This drives you into a downward spiral that leads from sadness into a deeper depression. MBCT prevents and breaks that spiral.”

Psychology Today provides an example of a typical MBCT meditation:

1. Sit upright in a straight-backed chair, with your spine about an inch from the back of the chair, and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Close your eyes. Use your mind to watch your breath as it flows in and out. Observe your sensations without judgment. Do not try to alter your breathing.

3. After a while your mind will wander. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. The act of realizing that your mind has wandered – and bringing your attention back – is the key thing.

4. Your mind will eventually become calm.

5. Repeat every day for 20-30 minutes.

Postscript:  If you are severely depressed and suicidal, contact a mental health professional. 

We are not health professionals, and this does not constitute mental health or medical advice.

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