FIVE COMMON PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS SHARE A GENETIC LINK
The development and maintenance of an organism is orchestrated by a set of chemical reactions that switch parts of the genome off and on at strategic times and locations. Epigenetics is the study of these reactions and the factors that influence them.... The genome dynamically responds to the environment. Stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors activate chemical switches that regulate gene expression. What you eat can change your gene expression. Parents have a role in shaping the epigenome. Epigenetic mechanisms play an important role both in normal brain function and in mental illness. Cherry-picked from the headlines of various articles from the website of the University of Utah's Genetics Department
A rather major point (probably the point) in evolutionary philosophy, is that we are largely (if not solely) a product of our genetic makeup. Are you fat? It's just bad genes? Do you have a bad temper? It's a family trait. You have AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES? It's that dadblasted DNA! However, as you can see from the quote above, the field of Epigenetics says that we are not so much defined by our genes as we are defined by the various things that turn our genes on or off. And what are these things? They mention some of the more obvious ones (parental upbringing, stress, diet, etc). But there are a couple elephants in the room that are being ignored by most of the scientific medical community.
Understand that the medical community never uses information like that found in this study to actually make people healthier. Their goal? As stated in the study, it is to, "contribute to prediction and prevention of psychiatric diseases, along with the identification of molecular targets for new generations of psychotropic drugs." You see, it's always about the drugs. It has to be. The studies themselves are funded by the drug industry, carried out in research centers that were built by pharmaceutical dollars, by doctors who are getting paid by big pharma (HERE is an example of this). And unfortunately, the "drugs-for-everything" approach of modern medicine has not panned out as well as initially hoped.
By the way, this is not the first time a link between these sorts of psychiatric problems has been proposed. In Dr. Harris Coulter's 1990 offering called VACCINATION, SOCIAL VIOLENCE, AND CRIMINALITY: THE MEDICAL ASSAULT ON THE AMERICAN BRAIN, he makes a great case that all five of these things are linked as well. What is one of the big "Epigenetic Switches" that is turning these genes on so that they can express Psychiatric Disease? If you read the beginning of the post, you saw that not only are Antibiotics one of the bigger "Epigenetic Switches", but so are Vaccinations. Throw them in bed together and you have the potential for a Tsunami --- the "Perfect Storm" for creating a lifetime of ill health. Before you take your children for their next series of shots, or go for another FLU SHOT yourself, look into this issue. It is the elephant in the room that everyone shuffles past while staring at the ground and trying not to acknowledge or make eye contact with.
WE KNOW IT HELPS PEOPLE WITH DEPRESSION
BUT WHY IS EXERCISE SUCH A HUGE PREVENTATIVE
STEP AGAINST VARIOUS FORMS OF DEMENTIA?
Study leader, Dr. Denise Head of Washington University in St. Louis looked at 200 healthy individuals (ages 44 to 88) with a family history of Alzheimer's, but no cognitive symptoms of their own. The doctors then did PET Scans to look for Amyloid Plaques (the tell-tale sign of Alzheimer's) inside the subject's brains. After looking at genetic tendencies, they looked at the Exercise Habits of the individuals in the study over the past decade. As amazing as it sounds, the genetically predisposed part of the group (they are 15 times more likely to come down with Alzheimer's), were able to bring their chances of developing Alzheimer's down dramatically with regular exercise. How dramatically? Listen to the study's conclusion. "physically active lifestyle may allow e4 carriers [those genetically predisposed] to experience brain amyloid levels equivalent to e4-negative individuals". In other words, exercise leveled the playing field, wiping out the 1,500% increase in genetically induced Alzheimer's ---- living proof that sickness and disease is much more related to EPIGENETICS than it is to genetics.
But not surprisingly, what else did the authors conclude? They realized from the questionnaires that hardly anyone was exercising enough to actually lower the Amyloid Plaques. This is not surprising and I do not want to dwell on it. Instead, let's discuss for a few moments the reason(s) that exercise can prevent Dementia.
ALZHEIMER'S AND PROPRIOCEPTIVE LOSS
The brain's center for deciphering the Proprioceptive Messages are in the CEREBELLUM via the Spinocerebellar Tract -- see above picture). Although the cerebellum was, up until recently, thought of as the "Lower Brain" (because it seemed to perform less-advanced functions in the body), we now know that this is far from true. Although the Cerebellum has some very specific functions related to what we call "lower functions", a healthy Cerebellum is critical to overall neurological health.
WHAT SORT OF SPECIFIC EXERCISES SHOULD
WE BE DOING TO DIMINISH CHANCES OF ALZHEIMER'S?
- INCREASED PROPRIOCEPTION
- INCREASED CEREBELLAR FUNCTION
If you understand what these two things are and what they do, it is not difficult to grasp some of the reasons we may want to stimulate them. And as cool as it may sound, increasing Proprioception is automatically going to increase Cerebellar Function. The big thing we want to do is to exercise in ways that forces us to develop our sense of balance (proprioception). Although most people think of balance as having to do mostly with the inner ear, this is not really true. Balance mostly has to do with Proprioception. Just remember that Proprioception is the number one input into the brain. When you move or perform coordinated functions, you are heavily stimulating the brain. Here is a list of simple exercises (and non-exercise related activities) that will help stimulate proprioceptive function.
- STRETCHING: Increases Proprioception via increasing Ranges of Motion. Firing off more proprioceptors / mechanoreceptors is typically a good thing --- a very good thing. Just be aware that if you are trying to stretch against Scar Tissue such as FASCIAL ADHESIONS, you can make yourself worse (HERE). When you stretch in yoga-lime combinations that involve balance, this is particularly beneficial.
- ANY EXERCISES (RESISTANCE-TRAINING INCLUDED) DONE ON AN EXERCISE BALL: Increases both balance and Ranges of Motion (HERE).
- WOBBLE BOARDS / BALANCE BOARDS / TRAMPOLINES: There are others, and they all work in similar fashion to the Exercise Ball to increase balance.
- WORKING OUT WITH FREE WEIGHTS INSTEAD OF MACHINES: This increases both balance and Range of Motion --- especially using dumbells with an Exercise Ball. HERE are some great examples.
- SCAR TISSUE REMODELING: Yes; the dramatic increases in Range of Motion can actually work just like exercise. This happens via two different pathways. First, it happens because releasing FASCIAL ADHESIONS causes a potentially huge increase in ROM, which in turn increases proprioception (it fires off many more mechanoreceptors). Secondly, by diminishing CHRONIC PAIN, we know we can help prevent (or possibly reverse) Alzheimer's-like Dementia. Click the links to understand why.
- NEW ACTIVITIES: Although I am speaking of physical activities here (one of my Functional Neuro Professors recently taught himself to play the banjo and speak German), we could be speaking of mental activities as well. Anything new is going to stimulate your brain. Remember the old adage 'Use it or Lose it'? It is as true for the brain as it is for the body.
- THINK TWICE ABOUT FLU SHOTS: We have known for decades that Flu Shots cause (or at the very least contribute to) Alzheimer's Disease (HERE).
- CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR: Critical to understand if you want to keep your cognitive ability into old age (HERE).
- WHOLE BODY VIBRATION: This hot modality is being touted as a 'cure all' for a wide variety of health problems. Why? Because your body's vibration centers are located in the Cerebellum. Stimulate the Cerebellum, and stimulate the body's ability to do all sorts of beneficial things --- including strengthening the control centers for the spinal postural muscles. More information on WHOLE BODY VIBRATION
(PART III) BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
HOW TO BEAT MOST CASES OF
DEPRESSION WITHOUT SSRI MEDICATIONS!
SSRI's first appeared in 1988 with the release of Elli Lilly's PROZAC. By 2005, sales of SSRI's had rocketed Antidepressants into the stratosphere of drug sales --- number one on the "Best Selling Categories of Drugs" chart. But do you really think it's possible that such a huge percentage of Americans have the kind of organic brain dysfunction that requires an SSRI? I would hope that I have already proved to you that this is not the case --- not by a long shot.
The problem is that prescribing drugs is easy. Way too easy. It's just plain easier to write prescriptions while shooing patients out the door than it is to educate them, and insist on some potentially difficult lifestyle changes. This would mean that doctors would actually have to confront their patients, and even risk losing them to another doctor who will prescribe them whatever they want. Most physicians are not willing to do this; particularly when writing a prescription for Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, or any of dozens of other SSRI's is so darn easy ---- and profitable.
But the truth is, if you want to have any chance of defeating DEPRESSION naturally ---- without drugs ---- you will have to buckle down and make some changes in the way you live. Some of these are relatively easy (getting outside in the sunshine more often, or having more sex). Some are more difficult and may involve making some radical changes in your lifestyle (eating differently, exercising). It really boils down to what you want out of life. Effectively dealing with most cases of Depression is really no different than dealing with most other health issues. Your doctor cannot do it for you. It is completely up to you. Many of you have already figured this out the hard way. For those of you who have not figured this out yet; I know what you're thinking.
You are just itching to learn about these special secrets and anti-depressive supplements that only I have ---- natural products that will "cure" you of your Depression. The first thing you must understand is that it does not work that way. There are no shortcuts or "Wonder Products" that are going to effectively deal with all the underlying issues working to cause (or at least contribute to) your Depression. To understand this (and to gain the foundational knowledge it will take to kick Depression's butt), you need to go back a couple weeks and read HOW TO CURE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. Don't argue with me. Just read it. You'll see. Once you have some foundational truths under your belt, we can proceed.
Just understand is that although some of my suggestions are not easy to implement, they are simple to understand. There are things that you can do to help deal with Depression naturally and avoid all the crazy SIDE EFFECTS that go along with SSRI Antidepressants, but it's not as easy as simply taking a pill ---- even if the pill is "natural". If you understand a little bit about how the body works, you will begin to understand where I am going with this. And although there are a whole host of things that you can do to deal with Depression naturally, I am only going to cover the basics. Be aware that the last thing I cover will be the most important for most of you.
KICKING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
TIME TO GET HAPPY
- PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL: According to the most current medical research on the topic, Joe Average American (or "Jolene" as the case probably is --- Depression is far more common in females) is getting about 1 / 30th (that's one thirtieth) of the amount of Omega Three Fatty Acids they need. Lack of Omega 3's is a big driver of Inflammatory Processes in your body, and most diseases are known to be intimately related to these Immune System chemicals we collectively refer to as INFLAMMATION. The two active ingredients in Omega Three Oils are called EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, many of the good sources of Omega Three Fatty Acids (Flax Seed Oil for instance) contain negligible amounts of these two oils. This is why your sources of Omega Threes must come from wild game (venison for instance) grass-fed beef, free-range chickens / eggs, or wild, cold-water fish. When grain is introduced as animal feed (yes, unfortunately most salmon is farm-raised), the amount of Omega Three Fatty Acids these foods drops precipitously. Enter PGFO. PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL is being used by the most cutting-edge portion of the medical community to treat not only a whole host of common killers (DIABETES, Heart Disease, CANCER, etc) they are using it to effectively help people suffering with a whole host of BRAIN-RELATED DYSFUNCTIONS as well. Some of these include ADD / ADHD, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD, and yes, Depression ---- the very things that most people are prescribed SSRI's for in the first place.
- CLEAN UP YOUR DIET: This is nothing more than common sense. If we go back to our grade school days, we all remember the simple slogan, "You are what You Eat!". Although it is a cliche, it is as true now as it was then. But be honest; has your doctor ever said one thing to you about the relationship between the foods that you eat, your overall health, and / or your moods? Of course not. You were prescribed more drugs! A simple rule of thumb is that there are two kinds of foods --- foods made by man and foods created by God. Avoid the former and eat only the later (HERE). Just be aware that sometimes in our society, the line between the two can become really blurred. One of these is wheat, which we will discuss in a moment.
- AVOID SUGAR & HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX CARBS: Avoiding SUGAR goes right along with cleaning up your diet. My most popular Blog Post ever pertains to this subject. If you have not read it, you really need to take just a moment and see why the scientific community is coming around to the fact that in the Westernized world, uncontrolled blood sugar is the number one root cause of more health problems than any other single thing on the planet. Along these lines, if Depression is an issue for you, it is important to stay away from alcohol which is itself a depressant. Conversely, for many people, sugar provides an emotional lift / high. The problem is the crash that comes shortly afterwards --- it makes people crave that sugar high. Do you see the potential for a vicious cycle here? It is only one of the reasons that sugar is as addictive as "crack" for a lot of people ---- particularly women (HERE). Just be aware that many people will tell you that carbs are a great booster of both Serotonin and mood. There is more to this than meets the eye (HERE).
- LAUGH AND HAVE FUN: Some of you seriously need to stop being so serious. Laugh! Have some fun. A great "Depression-Buster" is the old "Mr. Bean" series (like where he gets the Christmas Turkey stuck on his head (HERE); or the time when he drives his little yellow car from an Easy Chair tied to the roof (HERE). Not only are there lots of studies about the physical / emotional benefits of laughter, there are plenty of Bible Passages as well (A merry heart doeth good like a medicine).
- GET REGULAR EXERCISE: The web is flooded with studies from Harvard, Duke, and other prestigious research institutions showing that exercise has major Antidepressant qualities. Just understand that to receive these benefits, your exercise program will have to be "regular". "Regular" exercise does not imply that you have to become a power lifter, be training for a marathon, or doing an hour and a half of P-90X per day. It simply means that you have to be deliberate about doing some exercise every day (HERE is my favorite). Besides increasing several of the body's "feel-good" chemicals such as endorphins ('endogenous-morphine'), exercise also drives OXYGEN into the brain (no other tissue uses more Oxygen per capita). And while I am talking about exercise, it is as good a time as any to mention sex. SEX releases the same anti-depressive chemical mediators as does exercise.
- DEAL WITH CHRONIC PAIN: I do not know anyone who has not at least made the attempt to deal with their CHRONIC PAIN. In fact, most people struggling with CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES have already tried everything they know to try. They have been through every conceivable test, and seen every specialist there is to see. And just what do we know about the relationship between Chronic Pain and Depression? According to the September 2004 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, "pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain." Although I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, I have been treating Chronic Pain patients since 1991. I can assure you that Chronic Pain is far more likely to cause Depression than the other way around. On top of that, there are better ways to deal with Chronic Pain than taking drugs. If you want an idea of what I am talking about, just take a minute or two to watch a couple of our PATIENT TESTIMONIAL VIDEOS.
- SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTS: I already mentioned Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil and will talk about another critical supplement at the end of the post. However, there are several supplements that are potentially quite effective for dealing with Depression. Some of the most common are St. Johns Wort, 5-HTP (a precursor to Serotonin), and SAM-e. WARNING: Supplements are no substitute for a clean, healthy diet! Let me say that again in a different way. I know people who want to eat whatever they want, and then take nutritional supplements in hopes that this will help "balance things out". It doesn't work that way. And if you'll be honest with yourself; you already knew that.
- GET SOME SUN & FRESH AIR: We live in a society where people either worship the sun, or they avoid it like the plague. Do not be afraid of getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Those of you who spend winters in cold or dark climates can use a lightbox. No I don't know. Just look online.
- GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: This can be a particularly difficult challenge with Depression. Your main sleep hormone, Melatonin, is actually made from Serotonin. Although Melatonin is a popular "natural" sleep aid, I usually advise people not to take it as a supplement. Healing the gut will help boost Serotonin production back to normal. Then you can watch Melatonin levels improve on their own. The result is usually much better sleep.
- AVOID EXCESSIVE SCREEN & TV TIME: Because the average American is watching something like 5-8 hours of TV a day, it is hard to know what one would consider "excessive". Although there are all sorts of studies linking TV viewing (particularly "late nite" TV viewing) with Depression, the one that caught my eye was published in a 2009 issue of the medical journal, Archives of General Psychology. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School teamed up to look at the screen habits of teenagers. They concluded that once you get past something like 2 1/2 hours a day, each additional hour of TV boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8%. Numerous other studies have shown similar things --- not to mention the fact that TV viewing has been shown to dramatically increase hunger, diminish personal contentment, and decrease happiness.
- SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND: Yes, even though the idiots at Yahoo wrote an article yesterday saying, "there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever," I for one am not buying it. The truth of the matter is that there are a bundle of studies from the medical-scientific field showing the benefits of regular prayer and a relationship with God as far as Depression is concerned. Go online and read them.
GUT HEALTH AND GLUTEN SENSITIVITY
What are some of the ways that we destroy our guts? Besides our poor diets, most of us are exposed to a wide variety of chemical toxins, including all sorts of VACCINES, from the time we are infants. On top of that, the average person living in America has been through dozens of rounds of ANTIBIOTICS over the course of their lifetime. And if you remember one thing about antibiotics, you must remember that they do not strengthen the Immune System ---- they weaken and destroy it (HERE)! Despite anything you may think about this statement, it is a cold, hard, medical fact.
You can combat this Antibiotic-induced destruction of the Gut's Immune System with Probiotics. Think of HSO PROBIOTICS as the exact opposite of antibiotics. If antibiotics destroy the Immune System & Gut, HSO Probiotics help restore them. But unless you are eating quantum amounts of homemade fermented foods (pasteurization and chemical processing are designed to kill bacteria in commercial foods), you simply cannot get enough good bacteria in your food sources to restore them from diet alone. Probiotics must be taken! Acidophilus is the most common product product used for this. The problem is, it is only made up of a single strain of bacteria --- acidophilus (this is why for some people, FMT might be the only viable solution). HERE is more information on this topic.
Now, I want you to recall the FIRST PART of this series (I warned you that there would be a quiz). Where is 90 - 95% of your body's "Happy Hormone" Serotonin produced? In the GUT! Due to antibiotic use / overuse / abuse, and unbridled SUGAR CONSUMPTION (sugar and high Glycemic Index starches are the food-of-choice for the bad bacteria, fungus' and yeasts we collectively refer to as DYSBIOSIS), we are destroying our Guts, and thus destroying our health. When it comes to the good bacteria that should make up our normal Gut Flora ----- we are "Running on Empty". And when you realize that 80% of your Immune System and 90-95% of your Serotonin-making capacity come from the Gut, you should begin to grasp just how critical this issue of Gut health really is (HERE)! And for many people (83% of all Americans carry the gene(s)), nothing is more toxic to gut health than Gluten.
I hear it all the time ---- "Jesus ate Gluten --- why can't I?". The wheat that Jesus ate is not the same wheat that people are eating today (HERE). There is a reason for the incredible growth of the Gluten Free section of the supermarket. People are beginning to learn the truth about Gluten. The recent explosion of Gluten Sensitivity is nothing less than the results of our genetic tinkering coming home to roost. I just heard about a yet-to-be-published Australian study saying that today's wheat contains 6 proteins in it that did not exist 20 years ago. This may not sound like a big deal, but these unrecognized proteins are labeled as "foreign" and then attacked by your Immune System. And the crazy thing is, once people start making antibodies to Gluten, they frequently start making antibodies to self. That's right; Gluten is being intimately related to the way that many people's bodies start to attack its own tissues, glands, and organs. This process is called AUTOIMMUNITY, and if you need an example, look no farther than America's THYROID EPIDEMIC. The vast majority of our thirty-plus million thyroid patients have Autoimmune Hypothyroidism that the medical community calls Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and almost 100% of them are Gluten Sensitive (HERE and HERE)!
You can begin to see why with every passing day I am increasingly convinced that for most Americans, Gluten is toxic. And even worse, it's neuro-toxic. A 2005 issue of the medical journal Gastroenterology stated that, "Celiac Disease [wheat sensitivity that is seen in the Small Intestine] has long been associated with neurologic and psychological disorders including ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, dementia, and depression." Did you catch that? Gluten is linked not only to things like NEUROPATHY, but to Depression. But forget about Depression for just a minute. It is being linked to a whole host of other neurological problems that are arguably much more severe.
This past weekend, I attended another one of Dr. Datis Kharazzian's courses on the Brain-Gut-Immune-Endocrine System. We were shown, using the most current research available from the Bio-Medical research journals, that even though we refer to Gluten Sensitivity in the Small Intestine as "Celiac Disease", we should be referring to Gluten Sensitivity in the Brain and Neurological System as "PARKINSON'S DISEASE". "MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS". "Cerebellar Ataxia (chronic equilibrium issues)". "ALS". "EPILEPSY" "FIBROMYALGIA". Do you grasp how big this is? The most current medical research on the planet is saying that numerous Nuero-Endocrine problems (including Depression) are the result of Gluten-induced Gut Dysfunctions. Gulp!
By far, the most prominent / common of these "Gut Dysfunctions" is something known as LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. The medical journals are now touting Gluten Sensitivity as the #1 driver of Leaky Gut. However, just 15 short years ago, the medical community debated whether Leaky Gut Syndrome even existed. Now there are almost 10,000 medical studies on the subject. Just remember that if you research this topic online, you should be aware that the medical community refers to Leaky Gut Syndrome as "Increased Intestinal Permeability". Fortunately, I have made understanding GLUTEN fairly easy. Just search my blog and start reading.
Do not even think about going GLUTEN FREE without having a basic understanding of what GLUTEN CROSS-REACTIVITY is first. Yeah, I know. This stuff is nutty. It's crazy. In fact, much of it is downright scary --- especially if you have children or grandchildren! But here is the really cool thing about the suggestions found in today's post. If you follow them, you will not only dramatically affect most cases of Depression, you will dramatically affect almost every other health problem you happen to be dealing with as well. In other words, if you follow the steps I lay out in this blog series, your overall health will improve ---- probably dramatically! And thanks to a man who is arguably the most brilliant Immunologist on the planet (Dr. Aristo Vojdani of Cyrex Labs), there are now very accurate blood tests for the three things mentioned (Leaky Gut, Gluten Sensitivity, Gluten Cross Reactivity). The tests not only tell you if you if you have a problem, it will tell you on a scale of one to ten just how bad that problem is.
Hopefully you realize that the protocol I gave you, is suspiciously similar to the posts filed under HOW TO CURE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. This is because the foundational principles of natural healing are the same universally. No, this does not mean that this protocol will fix every case of Depression (or anything else for that matter). The truth is, you may need some very specific testing & intervention to deal with the underlying causes of your health issues, including your Depression. However, the basic building blocks used to start the healing process are the same for virtually everyone. They're universal no matter what is wrong with you. So, take a few minutes today to sit down, write out a very specific plan of action, and get started (if you don't write it out, you won't follow through). You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!
BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
THE SIDE EFFECTS OF SSRI ANTIDEPRESSANTS
- An Inability to Enjoy Activities which are Normally Enjoyable (hobbies, friends, social life, etc)
- Indifference / Emotional Suppression
- Sleep Disorders. Can be Insomnia or Drowsiness (sometimes both, and frequently severe). Insomnia is much more common (HERE).
- Nausea, Vomiting & Diarrhea
- Headaches (extremely common)
- Ringing in the Ears
- Dizziness / Vertigo
- Clenching the Jaw
- Increased Risk of Fractures / Increased Risk of Any Injury
- Urinary Retention and other Bladder / Kidney Issues (Believe it or not, I have actually seen young children given these drugs in hopes that this specific side-effect would somehow prevent bed-wetting. Simply astounding in light of the last thing on the list.)
- Exhaustion / Fatigue
- Changes in Appetite Causing Weight Loss or More Commonly, Weight Gain
- Numbness, Tingling, or other Various "Odd Sensations"
- Tremors --- Particularly in the Elderly
- Inability to Sit Still
- Increased Sweating
- Strange Dreams / Nightmares
- Anxiety, Depression, & Panic Attacks (Hey; aren't these the very reasons someone would take these drugs in the first place?)
- A wide variety of Psychotic Disorders (And when I say "wide variety", I mean "WIDE VARIETY"! Some of these are downright scary / freaky!)
- Detachment, Confusion, Memory Loss, Amnesia
- Sexual Dysfunctions (Depending on which study you look at, these occur in between 25% and 50% of the individuals on SSRI's and include DIMINISHED SEX DRIVE, Inability to Orgasm, Decreased Libido, Loss of Genital Sensation, and Erectile Dysfunction. The last two are so common that SSRI's are the drug of choice for treating Premature Ejaculation. Be aware that there is also something called Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction that is not only associated with these Sexual Dysfunctions, but with numerous far more serious sexual side effects as well. Many experts say that because some of these sexual problems are so "bizarre", they are dramatically UNDER-REPORTED and actually occur in over 50% of those who took SSRI's (according to the last link, maybe way more). One such example is recurrent spontaneous orgasms (men or women) that are so relentless they are associated with pain instead of pleasure.)
- Dramatic increases of Hostility, Suicidal Thoughts, and Suicides in Children
THE CONCEPT OF WIDESPREAD USE OF ANTI-DEPRESSION DRUGS IS NOTHING NEW
What's behind this explosion of Depression and mood-enhancing drugs? We'll get to what's causing much of the Depression tomorrow. As for what's causing the explosion of Antidepressant Medications? It's a no-brainer. Just follow the money! Instead of educating people about the best ways to deal with underlying issues (both physical and psychological) it is far too easy (and profitable) for doctors to give their patients drugs ---- put them on SSRI's. Of the three hundred plus billion dollars spent on medications in America each year, Antidepressants come in as the number one or two moneymaker depending on whose research you look at. But are they effective?
One of the biggest studies on the therapeutic effects of SSRI's was done by a group of Medical Doctors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists working through the University of Pennsylvania, and published in a 2009 issue of JAMA --- Journal of the American Medical Association. The interesting thing is that their work was not a single study, but a meta-analysis of several major studies on the effectiveness of SSRI's. Their conclusions? "There is little evidence that they [SSRI's] have a specific pharmacological effect relative to placebo for patients with less severe depression.... The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo..... may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms." Whoa! In other words, we are loading entire segments of our population up on expensive drugs that do not even work well, yet have a whole array of potentially serious side effects? Sure we are! That's how it works in a system that even most doctors will admit is run by Big Pharma. This is why EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE is such a pipe-dream!
SSRI DISCONTINUATION SYNDROME
With most drugs used to change the way you feel (alcohol, heroin, prescription pain meds, meth, cocaine, etc,), the amount of drug that created yesterday's "high", will not get you high tomorrow. And the cycle continues unabated until people are consuming mass quantities of these substances just to feel a buzz. Years ago, when Rush Limbaugh became addicted to prescription pain medications after a failed back surgery, he had worked his way up to as many as 30 Oxycontins per day. Alcohol works the same way. The more one drinks, the more it takes to get drunk. A similar thing happens with SSRI's and your body's own Serotonin. How does the body respond to the inhibited reuptake of Serotonin in the Synaptic Cleft? Follow along.
Body systems tend to run on feedback loops. These are like the thermostat that we set to keep our house at a certain temperature. When the inside temperature falls outside the range we have set, the furnace or air conditioner (depending on the season) automatically kicks on and regulates the temp back to its set point --- and then it shuts off. When the body perceives it has an overabundance of Serotonin, it will slow down the gut's Serotonin production. SSRI's are designed keep Serotonin in the Synapse by inhibiting its reuptake. But for many people, the body (rightly) perceives this as an excess of Serotonin. For many people who stop taking SSRI's, this is not a huge problem. They may struggle for a few weeks (this is the period where people get the SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome mentioned above), but eventually their Serotonin production goes back to normal (whatever "normal" is). However, for a significant number of people, the feedback mechanism fails, Serotonin production remains diminished, and they end up with a potentially ugly array of long-term problems ---- problems that can be both physically and / or psychologically devastating.
Besides diminishing Serotonin production, the body will respond to these perceived increases in Serotonin levels another way as well. It will down-regulate Serotonin sensitivity. In other words, when there is an excess of Serotonin at the Serotonin Receptors in the Synaptic Cleft, the brain will recognize this and automatically raise the threshold (decrease the sensitivity) of these receptors. The resulting desensitization to Serotonin causes "masked" or "robotic" patients (these are the actual medical terms used to describe these people) who are now physiologically unable to feel extreme joy or happiness. Because the body is no longer reacting normally to Serotonin, these intensely good feelings are blunted. Or worse yet; they become impossible. This helps us understand some of the more common sexual side effects of SSRI's.
IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP
Do your own research. Get on the online SSRI message boards / support groups. Find out what shocking numbers of people who have had their lives turned upside down by SSRI Antidepressant Drugs are saying about them. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of such websites. If nothing else, simply go to YouTube. Educate yourself so that you can make a wise decision. Sit down and make a list of the pros and cons of taking SSRI's. Yes, I believe that there are people who can benefit tremendously from taking SSRI's. However, I also believe that this number of people is far less than the actual number of Americans who are currently taking these drugs on a daily basis.
If you or someone you love is interested in taking the bull by the horns as far as SSRI use is concerned, come back tomorrow. I will show you how to start creating an environment (both inside and outside your body) that at least gives you a fighting chance to defeat Depression naturally. Come back and read the final installment of my series on Depression, when I reveal a list of things that you can do to defeat Depression without drugs (PART III OF BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY).
BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
As a clinician who sees lots of patients who are chronically ill and / or dealing with chronic pain, I keep an ear to the ground as far as trying to figure out what sorts of things benefit patients, and conversely, what things are a waste of time, energy, and resources. Anyone who has been in this game very long realizes that when doctors cannot find the underlying cause(s) of a patient's chronic pain, they usually wind up telling them that their underlying problem is "DEPRESSION". And Wallaaaa.... Their magic cure always seems to be one of the latest antidepressant drugs ---- usually an SSRI. Yes; I do realize that there is some medical research out there that links Depression to Chronic Pain. However, nearly 25 years of clinical experience has taught me that just the opposite is more likely to be true --- much more likely. I frequently see people who are fighting Depression because their Chronic Pain is destroying their lives and preventing them from doing the things they have always loved doing. Either way, it can become a vicious cycle. Pain, Depression, Pain, Depression. Repeat ad infinitum.
For decades, the drug of choice for treating depression in America was opioids (derivatives of opium such morphine). As you can imagine, this presented some serious problems --- namely addiction. Is it any coincidence that the 60's saw a veritable explosion of heroin use in the U.S.? By 1960 the medical community realized that this was not a good thing, so they did a total one eighty. The new drug-of-choice for these patients became amphetamines. Once it was determined that "speed" did not make a good anti-depressant either, the medical community did another one eighty. They started prescribing downers. For almost two decades, the number one prescription drug in America was Valium. Doctors may as well have told these patients to drop by the liquor store on the way home and purchase a fifth of scotch ---- it's cheaper, easier on the liver, and probably less addictive. And remember; all of this was done in the name of "science".
Not only do we now have about a jillion different drugs for treating Depression, we have numerous different classes of drugs for treating Depression. However, the only class I am going to address in this series of articles also happens to be the most common here in the United States ---- SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). Although there are dozens of drugs in this class, some of the most common include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac (Fluoxetine), Seneril, Paxil, and Zoloft (there are dozens of others). But how do they work? Stay with me and we'll get there momentarily.
SEROTONIN & THE GUT
I frequently remind people (especially those who have been on lots of ANTIBIOTICS) about the fact that 80% of your body's entire Immune System is found in the Gut (HERE). But it does not stop there. If you have visited ENDO-GUT, you are already aware that the scientific literature refers to the gut as the "Second Brain". Some of this has to do with the fact that 90% of your body's Serotonin is produced in the Gut.
Serotonin is synthesized, in the gut, from the amino acid Tryptophan (Tryptophan is a large constituent of the protein found in things like milk and turkey --- foods that are said to make you sleepy). Proper Serotonin synthesis is critical because it just happens to be the body's "feel-good" chemical neurotransmitter that is responsible for things like mood, one's sense of well being, and happiness. It is heavily involved in the regulation of sleep cycles and appetite as well. In other words, if your gut is not making enough Serotonin, you are going to feel crappy, sleep poorly, have low self esteem, eat too much, and typically weigh too much. And unfortunately this describes way too many Americans!
A VERY OVERSIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION OF NEURO-TRANSMISSION
SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) do exactly what their name implies they do. They inhibit the re-uptake of Serotonin. But let me back up a bit. Look at the picture above. Nerves are made up of individual nerve cells called neurons which are themselves made up of a cell body (it looks like an octopus in the picture above) with a long, branching appendage called an axon. It is the axon that actually transmits messages to other nerves, muscles, or organs. The end of the axon is somewhat bulbous and is pictured in the square above, as well as below right.
Amazingly enough, the nerves do not actually "touch" each other when they transmit their chemical / electrical messages. There is a tiny gap between them called a Synapse or "Synaptic Cleft". When the nerve impulse reaches the end of the axon, this triggers the neurotransmitter (in this case, Serotonin) that is stored in tiny bubbles called "Synaptic Vesicles", to be released into the Synapse. The Serotonin moves across the Synapse to the Serotonin Receptor on the dendrite of the next nerve. This causes an electrical impulse to fire up the dendrite to the cell body, and finally to the axon, which stimulates the release of Serotonin across the Synapse. Repeat at extremely high speeds.
Oh, one more critical thing to understanding this process is grasping the fact that the Serotonin has to be removed from the receptors on the opposite side of the Synapse so that it is ready for the next nerve impulse that comes along. And odds are that impulse will be coming along quickly. The adult brain has an estimated 500 trillion synapses, which calculates out to one billion of them in each and every cubic millimeter (unfortunately, politicians have less).
Interestingly enough, another class of drug, SSRE's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Enhancers) do the exact opposite of SSRI's ---- yet are also FDA approved Antidepressants. How can this be? How can two drugs that work in exact opposition to each other be prescribed to treat the same problem? Although hypothesises abound, no one really knows for sure. In fact, some scientists are saying that the current model for the way that SSRI's work is incorrect ---- radically incorrect. All we know is that there are a boatload of side effects associated with both of these classes of drugs. And because no one really understands exactly how they work, no one knows exactly who is going to get these side effects, how severe they might be, or how long they might last.
What exactly are the side-effects of SSRI's? Rest assured, they are many and miserable. Stick around for tomorrow's Blog Post ---- CHRONIC DEPRESSION PART II.
DYING TO QUIT?
Amazingly enough, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, 36 percent of the nation's smokers try to quit each year. But only 3 percent succeed in quitting for even six months (percentages go down from there). However, this number is said to go up to almost 10% if people use some sort of smoking cessation drug. Whenever you hear the word "drug" just start following the money. Enter the drug companies.
Although a recent scientific study stated that Pfizer's smoking cessation drug Chantix, "carries too many risks" it was still OK'd for public use. Exactly how bad were these risks ---- risks that PFIZER, the drug's manufacturer, vehemently denied? Chantix is a whopping eight times more likely to be linked with DEPRESSION and suicidal behavior than other nicotine replacement products (which themselves increase these problems as well). The findings directly contradict two studies released last month by the Food and Drug Administration that showed Chantix did not increase the risk of being hospitalized for psychiatric problems such as depression. The agency at the time acknowledged that those studies were flawed because they were too small, and they only captured cases that were severe enough to land people in the hospital.
"Our study contradicts the implications of a recent review by the FDA showing no difference in psychiatric hospitalizations. The FDA hospitalization studies were flawed because they could not capture most of the serious psychiatric side effects, including suicide, depression, aggression and assaults. These can be catastrophic events but do not normally result in hospitalization" said Dr. Curt Furberg, professor of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, co-author of the study published online in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One. He's right. How many sucessful suicide attempts are hospitalized? They're not hospitalized. They end up in the morgue!
The new study relies on adverse events reported via the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System from 1998 through September 2010. They compared 3,249 reports of serious self-injury or depression linked to
- Pfizer's Chantix
- Glaxo Smith Kline's Zyban --- an antidepressant that was approved for smoking cessation
- Nicotine Replacement Products (gum and patches).
They found that 2,925 cases, or 90 percent, of suicidal behavior or depression reported to the FDA were related to Chantix, even though the drug was only approved for four of the nearly 13 years of data included in the study. "We found that Chantix is associated with more suicidal behavior reports than any other smoking-cessation drug on the U.S. market. The risks simply outweigh the benefits".
Although Pfizer has strongly defended its drug, prior studies by Furberg and colleagues have shown Chantix increases the risk of other serious health issues including heart problems, unprovoked aggression, and sudden blackouts. "There were reports of people driving cars and blacking out," said Furberg. He and fellow researchers were so concerned about this side effect that they took their findings to the Federal Aviation Administration, which banned pilots from using Chantix in 2008.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
Scar Tissue Removal
Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration