At one time or another, everyone has been depressed. For this reason, it would not seem to be a mysterious malady, but it is. The latest studies on popular antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil indicate that about 50 percent of patients get little or no benefit. These are people with mild to moderate depression, which account for approximately 70 percent of depression cases.
Is there a way to help them and to get millions of other depressed people off the pill?
This is now an urgent question. Doctors keep writing prescriptions, but back in the research lab, the findings are discouraging. It turns out that antidepressants don't correct imbalanced brain chemistry. And there's no real proof that the brain chemistry of depressed people is any different that of people who aren't depressed. All of this is bad news for big pharma, but it opens the way for other approaches. So let's start from scratch.
If you met a young person with awful table manners, what would you think? It's natural to suppose that this behavior started in childhood and turned into a habit. What if the same is true for depression? Most patients who complain of depression cannot say when it started. They talk about depression running in the family. This indicates that depression has three components:
- 1. An early outside cause.
- 2. A response to that cause.
- 3. A longstanding habit.
Let's rid our minds of calling depression a disease, just for a moment. Severe, chronic depression can be approached like other mental disorders. But you aren't ill if you get depressed after a bad divorce. We commonly say things like "She's out of her mind with grief" when someone loses a beloved spouse, but grief is natural, and the depression that comes with it is also natural. What this tells me is that depression is a natural response that can go terribly wrong.What is to blame when depression goes wrong?