The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in ten American adults have some form of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted a survey for psychological disorders between 2001 and 2003 and claimed that 46 percent of randomly selected adults had at least one mental illness at some time in their lives. These mental disorder tests used the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) under the categories “anxiety disorders”, “mood disorders” (depression is one of these), “impulse-control disorders” and “substance abuse disorders”. Today mental disorders are the leading cause of non-fatal illness worldwide according to these psychiatric labels.
As a result of increasing screening, 11 per cent of the US population over the age of 12 was on antidepressant medication by the end of 2008. According to a Mayo Clinic survey this number has risen to 13 per cent in 2013. The CDC statistics for depression come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey data from 2006 and 2008. Some 235,067 adults age 18 or older from 45 states, the District of Columbia [DC], Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands made up the test group. They were all non-military civilians not in jails or institutions.
The information was gathered by dialed telephone surveys. The goal was to determine “current depression” which met the BRFSS criteria for either major depression or “other depression” during the 2 weeks preceding the survey. Questions used were the Patient Health Questionnaire 8 (PHQ-8) which covers eight of the nine criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) for diagnosis of major depressive disorder. (The ninth criterion in the DSM-IV assesses suicidal or self-injurious ideation and was omitted from the BRFSS depression module “because interviewers would not able to provide adequate intervention by telephone.”)
Here are the PHQ-8 questions: Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following: 1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things? 2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless? 3. Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much? 4. Feeling tired or having little energy? 5. Poor appetite or overeating 6. Feeling bad about yourself—or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down? 7. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television? 8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or the opposite—being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual? For each question the participants reported if they had that symptom:
◾ Not at all
◾ Several days
◾ More than half the days
◾ Nearly every day
As an historical note, patients in the early 1990’s were tested with something called the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders. Patients first completed a one page 27 item screener and those who screened positive for depression were then asked additional questions by the clinician using a structured interview guide. However, this 2-stage process took an average of 5-6 minutes of clinician time in patients without a mental disorder diagnosis and 11-12 minutes in patients with a diagnosis. This proved to be a barrier to use given the competing demands in busy clinical practice settings. Therefore, in two large studies enrolling 6000 patients (3000 from general internal medicine and family practice clinics and 3000 from obstetrics-gynecology clinics),a self-administered version of the PRIME-MD called the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) was developed and validated. Apparently 11-12 minutes to make a lifelong customer for antidepressant drugs was too slow and the PHQ 8 or 9 question form became the solution. Normally it’s just filled out by the patient so I phone interviewer is not even needed.
There are two aspects to these mental disorder tests overlooked or ignored by the psychiatrists who create the DSM and these quick diagnostic tools. Their results were sorted by age group, by sex, by race/ethnicity, by education level, by marital status, by employment status, and whether or not one had health insurance coverage. Of all these categories the biggest per cent showing depression were the “unemployed” at 21.3 percent and “unable to work” at 39.1 percent. So, 60.4 percent of those people who scored as having current depression were not working!
The feelings associated with being productive and earning one’s keep are far more invigorating and satisfying than the emotions one feels when he’s out of work or unable to contribute and must be contributed to financially by others. With the huge rise in US unemployment and disability checks being sent out it is no wonder that feeling depressed will score higher today. An antidepressant drug will certainly not help an unemployed person to get a job or training for a new one. Nor will it help a person with a physical challenge to find work they are capable of doing.
The other glaring error in this personality disorders test is that 3 of the 8 questions ask about physical problems that anyone regardless of their mental state might have. And these symptoms can be handled without antidepressants or drugs. There are proven ways to handle 3) sleep problems, 4)low energy and 5)poor appetite and/or overeating. Using correct nutrition and correct changes in the foods one eats can fix these complaints. Even the mental and emotional symptoms can be handled nutritionally as was recently pointed out by Dr. Mercola, a well known spokesman who explains the nutritional causes and nutritional handlings for unwanted symptoms that are labeled mental disorders by psychiatrists. He cites research done at UCLA: “Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well. ‘Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,’ [Dr. Kirsten] Tillisch said. ‘Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.'”
He also reports that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor in the UK with a postgraduate degree in neurology, successfully treats children and adults with autism, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems without using any drugs. She had found that toxicity in your gut can flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause symptoms of autism, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia and many other mental and behavioral disorders. Dr. Mercola has learned that the following nutritional factors are what have contributed to a growing population that believes they need an antidepressant pill.
◾Genetically modified foods can significantly alter your gut flora, thereby promoting pathogens while decimating the beneficial microbes necessary for optimal mental and physical health
◾Glyphosate—the most widely used herbicide on food crops in the world with nearly ONE BILLION pounds applied every year—has been shown to cause both nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals (which are critical for brain function), and systemic toxicity.
According to the researchers, glyphosate is possibly the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions, and this includes mental health disorders such as depression. Dr. Don Huber believes it is far more toxic than DDT
◾High-fructose diets also feed pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake beneficial bacteria. Furthermore, sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called BDNF. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.
Sugar consumption also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, and wreaks havoc on your brain. Last but not least, sugar (particularly fructose) and grains contribute to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which also play a significant role in your mental health. (Leptin is a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism).
◾Artificial food ingredients, the artificial sweetener aspartame in particular, can wreak havoc with your brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are indeed known potential side effects of aspartame consumption Leading nutritional research has shown it can handle a vast number of cases of “mental disorders” and “depression” with correct diet, nutrition and exercise.
If the government would stop funding psychiatric drug treatment, it would decrease rather than increase the growing number of people too disabled to work. Many of these have been disabled by the effects of the antidepressants they consume and can’t work without first going through a proper detox program to get off their drugs. It’s time we demand that unworkable psychiatric drugging ends and workable alternative treatments are offered. Our vibrant, creative society is in danger of being overwhelmed by the growing numbers of drugged and disabled citizens.