Beat Your Depression

Tips, Facts and Information About Overcoming Depression
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Abraham Lincoln’s journey to becoming President of the USA

July 13, 2009 By: John Category: Attitude, Depression Facts, Depression Stories

The road to becoming President of the United States of America was not smooth sailing for Abraham Lincoln as you will see from the Portrait of an Achiever list below.

He managed to get there though, despite many setbacks, including suffering from depression. Years ago a severe depressive episode was called a “nervous breakdown” and sufferers were often shunned as they were thought to be unreliable and even weak.

Abraham Lincoln proved to be neither unreliable nor weak and he must have been well aware of the axiom, “Winners Never Quit, and Quitters Never Win.”  He obviously had his thinking right!

It can be surprising what persistence and determination can lead to.

Have you ever been to a presentation of an award for outstanding achievement of some form or other? Has the presenter ever said that the recipient achieved their objective WITHOUT overcoming at least some trials and tribulations?

PORTRAIT OF AN ACHIEVER
Failed in Business – Bankruptcy, 1831
Defeated for Legislature, 1832
Sweetheart/Fiancee Dies, 1835
Nervous Breakdown, 1836
Defeated in Election, 1836
Defeated for U.S. Congress, 1843
Defeated again for U.S. Congress, 1846
Defeated once again for U.S. Congress, 1848
Defeated for U.S. Senate, 1855
Defeated for U.S. Vice President, 1856
Defeated again for U.S. Senate, 1858
ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Elected President of the U.S.A., 1860
You cannot fail… unless you quit!”

Abraham Lincoln is just one of the very many famous people who have suffered from depression.  Obviously he had his thinking right.

Plant Your Garden

October 28, 2008 By: John Category: Attitude, Depression Treatment

Recently I received an email that I believe compliments the information concerning “Tending the Mind Garden” in the free e-book, “As a Man Thinketh”.  I am sure that you will agree that the email contains some very wise words, albeit tongue in cheek, that will help all of us to brighten our days.

To Plant Your Garden

FOR THE GARDEN OF YOUR DAILY LIVING,

PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS
:

1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul


PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:


1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:

1. Lettuce be faithful

2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:


1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN WE MUST HAVE THYME:


1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends


WATER FREELY WITH PATIENCE AND CULTIVATE WITH LOVE. THERE IS MUCH FRUIT IN YOUR GARDEN BECAUSE YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. NOT BAD, HUH?!

My instructions were to send this to people that I wanted God to bless and I picked
you!

What barbaric acts do we perform in the name of medicine?

October 11, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Treatment

Psycho surgery was once used to treat people with difficult to manage mental illness. This consisted of cutting nerve fibers connecting the frontal lobes of the brain with the rest of the brain.

This operation was known as a pre-frontal lobotomy or leucotomy and served to sedate difficult patients.

The practice was originally introduced back in about 1936, or shortly thereafter, by Antonio Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist who had success with the operation when he performed it on monkeys that exhibited neurotic behaviors.

The operation certainly had the desired effect of calming patients and Moniz was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1949 for his work. The only problem was that it also removed the patients’ emotional response so that they became akin to zombies.

This practice was widely used between 1936 and 1978. Reports indicate at least 35,000 in the United States were subjected to the procedure. It was also used in the United Kingdom and probably other countries as well.

Who would have derived the most benefit from this operation? Was it the patient? I doubt so. Or was it the staff of the institutions that “cared” for the patients?

Thankfully, this practice now appears to have been terminated.

Now there are those who consider that the use of drugs achieves the same result of “anesthesia of the soul” or emotional blunting, apathy, or unconcern. [Your Drug May Be Your Problem - Peter R. Breggin, M.D. and David Cohen, Ph.D.]

Perhaps it is time that we paid more attention to “Tending the Mind Garden.”

Great news – Shaun Tait recovers from depression!

September 15, 2008 By: John Category: Recovery from depression

You may recall the post entitled, “The Great Australian Sportsman Succumbs To Depression” [February 1st 2008].  This dealt with how the immense pressures associated with being a top athlete can cause sufficient stress to precipitate an episode of depression.

The great news is that Shaun Tait, the Australian cricketer noted for his immense speed when bowling, has now recovered from the affliction and is preparing to do battle with the ball again.  Hopefully, the setback that he had, like many other great sportspeople, will make him an even better person and athlete.  I certainly feel confident that this will be the case.

When I first heard the news about Shaun’s battle with depression I desperately wanted to contact him to offer any assistance that I may be able to provide from my own experiences and research.  However, I felt that my offer would be declined as the Australian Cricket Board had already implemented a course of action to assist Shaun by getting him to speak with other cricket greats who had triumphed over depression in the past.

On top of this Shaun’s father Phil had requested that everybody respect Shaun’s privacy on this occasion, and I did not wish to aggravate his condition in any way, even though my intentions were well meaning.

Now that Shaun has recovered, I may try to contact him to determine if he has any words of wisdom that he can pass on to others who are suffering from this miserable condition.

It has now been about eight months since the news of his hasty departure from all levels of cricket was announced.  This makes me reflect on how, even without any treatment, time can effect a recovery.  It reminds me of the saying that, if you have a cold it will take about fourteen days for you to recover, but if you take medication the cold will only last for two weeks. :)

Often, medication will only treat the symptons of a problem and make life a little more bearable whilst the mind and the body’s immune system tend to repairing the real cause of the damage.  This is similar to when a doctor will set a fracture in a splint and prescribe painkillers whilst the body mends the bone.

Our minds and body are truly amazing entities.  The more research I do, the more amazed I become about the inter-relationship between our minds and bodies.

Once again I am reminded of a story about a Scottish man who suffered from insomnia.  No prescribed medication had any beneficial effect on his condition and so he used to pour two fingers of whiskey into a tumbler each hour and consume it.  When questioned about this “self medication” he replied that the whiskey did not relieve his insomnia, it just made staying awake a lot more pleasant.  :)

P.S.

I wrote to Shaun Tait to ask him if he had any insights that he would like to share with other sufferers of depression but, as yet, I have not received a reply to my letter.  In his defense, I suppose that he is quite busy now with his cricket commitments.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to contact him by telephone or by letter to his physical address as both have been suppressed from the public.  This is understandable as there are many “cranks” out there and so I wrote to him care of the South Australian Cricket Association a couple of weeks ago.

Anti-depressants and engine oil

April 08, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Treatment, Overcoming depression, Recovery from depression

If you owned an automobile that was low on engine oil each week when you checked the oil level what would you do about it?

Would you just keep on topping up the oil to the correct level each week? Or would you find out what was causing the level of engine oil to be low and take appropriate action to remedy the situation?

You may find that there is a leaking seal or gasket that is the cause of the engine oil disappearing. This could be easy to detect by looking at the pavement below the engine after the automobile has been parked there for a while. Or the engine may have worn piston rings that need to be replaced, along with other mechanical procedures. This can be usually very noticeable by the clouds of gray smoke that exude from the exhaust pipe.

Another way of looking at this is that you find that there is a lot of oil accumulating on the pavement beneath where you park your automobile. You then discover that the oil level is low and this leads you to take the vehicle to a mechanic who will invariably find and fix the leak.

In the second instance you notice clouds of smoke coming from your exhaust pipe. You then discover that the oil level is low and this leads you to take the vehicle to a mechanic who will invariably find and replace the worn parts.

In either case you can make an informed decision about how to treat the problem once you have found the root cause of the problem. Topping up the oil level is only a temporary measure at best.

Now let’s look at anti-depressants and their role.

It is the contemporary “establishment” belief that depression, and similar disorders, are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemical referred to is usually serotonin, a neurotransmitter, that aids in the transmission of certain signals between adjacent nerves. When the level of serotonin drops a person can display signs and have symptoms associated with depression. Thus the argument that depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

If this is true then it could also be argued that happiness is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. This is because activities such as singing, dancing, listening to pleasant music, exercise, sex, being grateful for the good things that abound, and laughing can lead to an increase [imbalance] of the hormone beta-endorphin, the body’s natural opiate, that brings on feelings of happiness.

Could it possibly be that it is natural for the chemicals [hormones] in our brains to be in a state of flux, depending on the prevailing circumstances? I believe this to be the case as it is inappropriate to be happy, and natural to be sad, at the loss of a loved one through death or because of a breakdown in a relationship. Similarly, there are times, such as when at a celebration, when it is not appropriate to be sad.

Anyhow, let us go along with the “establishment” thinking that depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Then would it not be wise to determine what causes the chemical imbalances and remedy the problem rather than treating the signs and symptoms? This makes sense to me.

However, the “establishment” view appears to be to prescribe anti-depressant medication alone in many cases without looking for alternate methods to resume normal behavior.

When we discontinue pursuits that cause us to be happy, we eventually return to a state of mind where we are close to being neither happy nor sad. Similarly, over time we will progress from being depressed to being neither happy nor sad, unless we continue doing things, or thinking things that lead us to being depressed. Being happy or being depressed are emotions and emotions are usually the result of how we think or our state of mind.

Therefore if we change our thinking, or state of mind, we can change our emotions! We can then choose to be happy or sad. A great book to read on this subject is the old masterpiece, “As a Man Thinketh.”

A collection of books that proved very useful to my recovery from depression is the “Total Success Library” where there are a number of books on various subjects that assist in the development of our self-esteem and outlook on the challenges that life puts forward. The price that I paid for this collection was far outweighed by the amount of money that I saved on anti-depressants.

More about choices and depression

April 03, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Information, Depression Stories, Natural cures for depression

I would like to elaborate on the subject of choices available to us as a follow on from a previous article relating to choices. There are usually at least two choices that we can make on any subject that we choose to think about [another choice]. We can even choose not to make a choice, and that in itself is making a choice to do nothing.

There is generally a direct opposite to nearly everything that we can think of in life, and many degrees in between. Take, for example, the atmospheric temperature and consider it to be perfectly comfortable. If the temperature increases it will become warm, then warmer until it becomes hot, then hotter and so on until it becomes unbearably hot. If the temperature decreases it will become cool, then cooler and so on until it becomes cold, colder, and then eventually freezing.

The extremes are referred to as being of opposite polarity. An example of this is the axis of the Earth with it’s North Pole and South Pole being at extreme ends of the axis. This is also why the condition where a person may be deeply depressed for a while, return to being contented, and then swing to being deliriously exuberant and unreasonably overconfident [manic], is called “bi-polar disorder.”

This used to be known as manic depression. Between the extremes the person may have passed through being very sad, sad, disillusioned, unhappy, discontented, joyful, happy, very happy, and ecstatic. [Amongst other feelings or emotions]

As it says in the book, “As a Man Thinketh,” we tend to become what we think about. Therefore we have a choice. Do we focus on negative things in our lives or our past and be miserable, or do we focus on pleasant things associated with our lives, including our achievements, no matter how insignificant? We really DO have a choice you know!

Have you ever noticed how it is hard to be depressed when you are happy? Conversely, it is hard to be happy when you are depressed. But you CAN learn several ways how to find happiness. One of the best ways is to focus on being grateful for all of the good things in your life. By doing this, we can re-program our brains into being happy just as we can re-program a computer to overcome a glitch.

If you take just a few moments each day, preferably just after you awaken, to think of several things that you are grateful for, you will be off to a good start for the rest of the day.

You can be grateful for making it through the night, your good health, your cozy bed, your comfortable home, your caring partner, the fact that there is food in the refrigerator, etc. etc. If it is raining you can be grateful for the plants and crops getting a good drink and the reservoirs being topped up with water. If it is sunny you can be grateful for the plants and crops getting good light for growth via photosynthesis.

If you think of your friends you can be grateful for their friendship, and if you happen to think about somebody you do not like you can be grateful that you are not like them. Be grateful for your job if you have one and the fact that it provides you with money to cater for many of your needs. If you do not have a job you can be grateful that you have managed to survive and that you live in a land of opportunity where you should be able to find a job. Your new disposition may help you to get a job over a person who is gloomy or pessimistic by choice [not by nature.]

What about some of the achievements and experiences that you have had to date? Think of some of the lovely sunsets that you have witnessed. Be grateful for your vision. Remember, you won the sperm race to enable you to be born. You managed to beat all of those other sperm to the egg and fertilized it. So you are a winner! :)

Even if you have had experiences that you would prefer to forget, be grateful for the fact that you have the opportunity to forge a better future. The list is almost endless if you apply yourself to thinking this way.

Why not write down in an exercise book the things that you are grateful for? Be prepared to buy several more books as time passes as you should fill them up quite quickly once you get the gist of thinking of things to be grateful about. You will be amazed at how powerful this simple exercise can be. If ever you find yourself feeling a little disconsolate you can get out your book(s) and jog your memory into being grateful again.

Another action that you can use to find happiness is to look at yourself in the mirror and smile, even if you do not feel like doing it. Tell yourself that you love yourself and that you are improving your lot in life each and every day. You can even give yourself a congratulatory pat on the shoulder. :) When I did this exercise to overcome my depression I would often sing a little rollicking ditty that I learned a long time ago at school. I am 65 years old and so I must have a good [long term] memory. Here are the words to the ditty that certainly helped to get my days off to a good start:-

“Good morning brother Sunshine!

Good morning sister Song!

I beg your humble pardon if you’ve waited very long.

I thought I heard you knocking.

To lock you out was sin.

My heart is standing open.

Won’t you walk right in?

Good morning! Won’t you walk right in?

(2)

Good morning sister Gladness!

Good morning brother Smile!

They told me you were coming. So I waited on a while.

‘Twas lonely here without you.

A weary time it’s been.

My heart is standing open.

Won’t you walk right in?

Good morning! Won’t you walk right in? ”

I have promised to record this ditty and will do so soon when I overcome my self consciousness and pluck up the courage to do so.

Another way to kick start being happy is to listen to your favorite music and, better still, dance to it. This is how the ancient Greeks cured melancholia. Dancing and other forms of exercising, even walking, produce the “feel good” hormone, beta-endorphin.

Or you could adopt the methods used by author Norman Cousins and watch comedy movies to promote good belly laughs. Told that he had little chance of surviving from debilitating illness, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

Why not try all of the above? What have you to lose? Better still, think of what you have to gain!

“You are not alone” E-Course

March 31, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Information

I notice that many people have signed up to receive the mini course showing that “you are not alone” and that many very famous people have suffered from depression in the past. There are also many suffering from depression now. Just read the newspapers or watch TV for a while, especially the news segments.

It does not matter how well you are doing in life, you can still become overwhelmed by various situations and lapse into depression. In fact take notice of how many “successful people” with their vast fortunes, fame, big houses, flash cars and very attractive partners, have problematical lives and resort to drugs and alcohol for respite. This is often because they are missing the key ingredient which is:- being inwardly happy. That is why I promote the e-book, “How To Find Happiness.”

As they say, “Money cannot buy you happiness.” There are many people in the world who are very poor from a materialistic perspective but extremely rich from a happiness perspective because they have learned to be grateful for the good things of life. It is in their mindset.

I am not suggesting that you cease working on increasing your wealth, because as Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “I have been rich and I have been poor. Rich is better!” In fact you CAN be both wealthy and happy. You can derive a lot of pleasure from giving away money to worthwhile causes.

The good news is that depression can be overcome if you are prepared to be proactive in your recuperation. By opting in to receive this information, and even just visiting the Beat Your Depression blog, you have already shown that you are proactive by taking action to learn more about the condition. :)

As I research the phenomenon of depression and related conditions, the more I become convinced that its onset is determined mainly by how we think and what we think about. Therefore, I strongly believe that it can be overcome by changing the way that we think.

The more that I research, the more alarmed I become about the use of drugs to treat the condition, particularly after reading Peter Breggin’s book, “Your Drug May Be Your Problem.” This has goaded me into action to write a book on my findings and beliefs. It is still being drafted at this stage.

If you navigate around our blog you will notice several resources that have been recommended. One is an e-book, entitled Understanding and Curing Depression, that we sell.

This book is of value for general information about the condition and conforms more with the “establishment” thinking about the subject. However, I believe that there is far more to know about depression than is contained in the book and the bonus e-book that accompanies it. If you read my posts you will understand why I am becoming more and more alarmed at the use of drugs to treat depression and similar conditions.

That is why I plan to give a copy of my upcoming e-book to whoever purchases a copy of Understanding and Curing Depression.

What I found to be very beneficial to me when I was personally overcoming the problem was the information contained in the Total Success Library. This library is actually a part of the Rapid Manifestation Package that has an audio recording, a type of self hypnosis that I listen to frequently, and a piece of software that can be used to stream your personalized intentions or affirmations across your computer screen. Rather than me writing about it, I suggest that you check out the contents for yourself. You will find that it can be used in many areas of your life, even if you do not suffer from depression.

I suggest that you also take advantage of the gift of the classic book, “As a Man Thinketh,” written by James Allen, and save it somewhere safe on your computer. Then read it of course, several times, as I suggest in the preamble to this give away.

Another thing that I found useful to turn my life around for the better was to listen to self hypnosis audios that are of a positive nature such as Creative Mind Training For Health and Wealth.

I used, and continue to use, the above set of audios to cleanse, clear, and regenerate my mindset. One thing that I warn against is those audios that contain negative phrases, or phrases such as “I no longer…,” or “I am not afraid of…,” “I release…,”etc. as they can be self defeating by focusing on what we do not want rather than that which we wish to achieve. As an example, consider what you think of when I say, “The dog is not chasing the cat.” If you are like most people, the image of a dog chasing a cat immediately springs to mind. It is better to re-phrase this and say, “The dog and cat are sleeping peacefully on the mat.” Then a different and more appropriate image appears in your mind.

In the past I have returned some self hypnosis audios that I purchased and that promised a lot but have been phrased in terms that I consider, from what I have learned, could actually cause poor mental programming. Our minds are like computers – garbage in, garbage out. Later I plan to produce audios that will encompass messages phrased in very helpful terminology. So keep tuned to the blog and/or keep enrolled in the opt in list. Remember that I shall not pester you or recommend anything to you that I do not believe in or genuinely approve.

I welcome any feedback that you may wish to provide on any of the posts that I write. So please feel free to click on the “comments” tab below and have your say.

Suicide and Depression

March 23, 2008 By: John Category: Attitude, Suicide and depression

Do you ever feel like you want to have a glass of wine, slowly slice your wrists & watch your life leave you? This was a question asked on Yahoo!7 Answers about a month ago.

When I saw this question as I was flitting through questions asked via Yahoo!7 Answers my first reaction was to leave it completely alone. I was concerned that I may not provide an appropriate answer and could contribute to somebody, or several people, choosing to end their misery by suiciding. Then I thought of the many inappropriate answers that are given in this forum from time to time and I felt compelled to give the matter my best shot.

I am now very glad that I chose this course of action as I truly believe, from the asker’s response, that I may have prevented this person, and others, from making a real mistake.

The question was posed by a young woman or late teenager and my thoughts went back to a time when one of my children’s friends took her own life and left her parents and sisters heartbroken.

This was my answer that was voted “Best Answer” with 5 out of 5 points and a comment by the asker, “Thank you so much for the information.”

“A lot of people have had the thoughts that you are espousing. Many have proceeded to do just that, or similar. Some have succeeded and others, luckily, have failed or chosen not to proceed and have been very grateful that they are still alive.

Remember too that things often appear worse than they really are.

I sadly miss one young girl, the daughter of one of our neighbors and friend of our children, who took a similar course of action because she thought that life was not worth living. Such a waste, especially as she really had a lot to contribute to society with the skills that she had but did not appreciate!

She had fallen out of love with herself because of some negative, and incorrect thinking. Then she became depressed and withdrawn.

I wish that I could have helped her those many years ago. If I had known then what I know now I would have directed her to some books that could have helped her to get her thinking back on track.

I am a great believer that depression and similar afflictions such as anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder are caused by the way we think, and therefore they can be treated by controlling the way that we think.

James Allen, in the early 1900s, wrote several books about self improvement. Amongst them was his classic book entitled “As a Man Thinketh.” Here is an extract that demonstrates that he believed we can, and should, control our character, circumstances, and destiny by controlling our thoughts.

“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth…

Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits, which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements operate in shaping his character, circumstances, and destiny.”

This is just a snippet of the many words of wisdom found in this masterpiece that has formed the basis of many modern self improvement teachings. You can learn more and get your own free copy of, “As a Man Thinketh” via the link below..

We cannot stop various thoughts from continually entering our heads, but we can decide which thoughts we choose to allow to remain there, and those that we wish to weed out. Some speakers I have heard have used the analogy that we may not be able to stop birds from flying over our head, but we can stop them from building a nest on our head.

If you want to change your life for the better, consider changing your thinking!

While you are at http://beatyourdepression.com/blog check out the Recommended Resources box for more useful material and especially the “Total Success Library” package that provided me with significant assistance to beat my depression and better myself in many ways to enable me to progress with life.

I hope that you and other readers heed this advice from an old man and that you will be around many years from now sipping on red wine and contemplating how well your life is after getting your free copy of “As a Man Thinketh” and implementing its teachings.

When you do, remember to make a toast to me, preferably with a glass of South Australian red.

All the best for a long and happy future!”

Suicide and depression often go hand in hand because sufferers of depression sometimes get so overwhelmed with some of the challenges that life puts up, or they fall out of love with themselves for a number of reasons that they believe, at the time, are insurmountable. If only they knew that many others have faced similar challenges and have managed to turn things around and eventually lead a happy, pleasant and fulfilling life by weeding out negative thoughts from their thinking and learning how to find happiness.

In fact, have you ever known of a happy person who has taken their own life? Happiness is at the opposite end of the scale to depression. That is why I promote the e-book, “How To Find Happiness.” You can learn to become happy if you change your thinking and set your mind to it. I did!

A great place to start is by learning to be grateful for all of the good things that already exist in your life. Once you start to focus on, and be grateful for the good things in your life, however small or insignificant, you will be amazed at how fortunate you really are.

MORE ABOUT CHEMICAL IMBALANCES AS A CAUSATION OF DEPRESSION

February 14, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Facts, Depression Information, Depression Treatment

On October 25 2007 I made a post entitled, “What Causes The Chemical Imbalances That Lead To Depression?

I did not receive any real convincing replies as a result of that article and so I have been doing a lot of research on the claims that depression is, more often than not, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain of sufferers of depression.

The results caused me to have many doubts and genuine concerns about the value and safety of using many of the prescribed medications. In fact, I was made to reflect on the drug, Thalidomide, that was once deemed to be the Godsend for pregnant women to alleviate their pre-natal problems. Unfortunately, there are many people alive today, who will attest to the fact that Thalidomide caused deformities in fetuses.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines ‘Chemical imbalances’ as:-

“Changes in levels of neurotransmitters and other neural level phenomena are hypothesised to be the underlying psychopathology for certain mental illnesses, notably clinical depression and schizophrenia.”

In 1965, Joseph Schildkraut hypothesized that depression was associated with low levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter, in the brain, and later researchers thought serotonin, another neurotransmitter, might be the culprit.

In addition to depression and schizophrenia, changes in levels of neurotransmitters have also been implicated in anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder (manic depressive disorder). As well as changes in serotonin and norepinephrine, dopamine systems have also been considered. So, while all biology is essentially chemical in nature, rather than being caused by simple chemical imbalances, mental illness is now widely recognized to be caused by complex and, in many cases, as-yet unknown factors.

According to Jaelline Jaffe and Jeanne Segal:

“The misconception the [drug] commercials foster is that the brain somehow develops a chemical imbalance and the result is depression, occurring in a single directional process. In fact, the relationship between brain chemistry and experience is a two-directional phenomenon: Life experience affects brain chemistry at least as much as brain chemistry affects life experience. The ‘chemical imbalance’ hypothesis is not wrong. It’s just not entirely correct.”

Most disorders treated with medication have a hypothesised neural mechanism, but it is important to note that chemical imbalances are not believed to explain all psychiatric differences, nor are medications used to treat all neurological or psychiatric issues.

The chemical imbalance theory, according to critics, is routinely presented as ‘fact’ so often it has become widely accepted as fact, despite having been challenged repeatedly. For example, Pfizer has heavily promoted its antidepressant drug, Zoloft, with ads asserting that mental illness may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and that “Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.”Without mentioning its own name, Eli Lilly urges viewers to seek treatment for depression, and to visit their website, DepressionHurts.com, because “Many researchers believe depression is caused by an imbalance of naturally occurring chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine, in the brain and the body.”

One critic, a psychiatrist mentioned in the book, “Your Drug May Be Your Problem” by Peter Breggin M.D. and David Cohen M.D., is said to have stated that “Biochemical imbalances are the only diseases spread by word of mouth.” Another psychiatrist, Douglas C. Smith M.D., in his praise for the book , stated, ” One hundred years from now, people will read current psychiatric books with the same incredulity we have about blood-letting and snake oil….”

Critics contend that psychiatric drugs are not always efficacious, not always safe, and not necessarily a scientifically sound method for improving mental health. The number of different chemicals in the brain and their unknown interactions limit understanding and increase the likelihood of unforeseen complications. Moreover, critics assert, the psychiatric establishment merely assumes patients who are diagnosed with a given mental illness have a neurological basis, even though behavioral checklists, and not actual neurological measurements, are used to reach a diagnosis.

Psychiatric diagnostic practices in the United States have come under criticism for over-reliance upon these behavioral checklists rather than thorough, whole-body medical testing, and for making decisions based solely on a fifteen minute consultation each month. For example, in a Florida psychiatric hospital study from the 1980s, one hundred patients diagnosed with a mental illness were subsequently given a complete medical exam, after which it was discovered nearly half of the patients’ psychiatric problems were secondary manifestations of an undiagnosed medical problem, such as hypothyroidism mimicking depression.

Even when neurological and neurochemical differences are associated with certain behaviors, the practice of pathologizing these behaviours has been questioned by some. Because neural mechanisms imply a physiological difference underlying mental illnesses, they appear to justify the use of medication in treatment. Critics argue that the legitimacy given to medication by neural mechanisms can lead to an over-reliance on medication. Similarly, the perceived efficacy of medication as a treatment implies an underlying neural mechanism.

Critics also allege that pharmaceutical companies have a conflict of interest when they fund research into biochemical mechanisms behind mental illness and the efficacy of medication at reducing behavior differences. Remember that they can be hounded by shareholders who want quick and lucrative returns on their investments, and the researchers may be swayed to “deliver the goods,” albeit at a subconscious level, to ensure future funding for research.

An important consideration with regard to chemical intervention is the potential for relapsing into depression or other psychiatric conditions when medication is discontinued abruptly or without medical supervision. This point is argued very strongly in the book, “Your Drug May Be Your Problem.” Aside from malnutrition, the only certain means of creating chemical imbalances in the brain is the use of psychotropic chemicals, a category which includes both legal prescription drugs and illegal drugs like LSD or cocaine. Side effects from psychotropic drugs can be significant. Great care must be taken to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms after using psychotropic drugs. Neuroleptic drugs (typically used in the treatment of schizophrenia) are particularly dangerous to withdraw from quickly. Rebound psychosis is common and can leave a patient more unstable than they were prior to taking the neuroleptic in the first place.

So what does all this relatively technical jargon mean?

It’s a bit like the old song, “It ain’t necessarily so” that recommends that we do not necessarily believe all that is being told to us.

This is particularly true with respect to the preaching of the virtues of the use of drugs to combat conditions of the mind, assuming that the cause is physiological. Many prominent psychiatrists argue strongly against this assumption and consider the cause to be psychological and therefore able to be treated by less invasive methods such as cognitive therapy.

If you, or a loved one, suffers from depression or similar conditions, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of the book, “Your Drug May Be Your Problem.” Whilst it appears to be directed at medical practitioners, it is written in lay terms that most people should easily understand.

I know that I weaned myself from using drugs as soon as practical because I could not feel any beneficial effect and was concerned about the possibility of becoming addicted to the drug. I credit my recovery to the information contained in the Total Success Library and listening to good quality self hypnosis tapes, especially the Creative Mind Training set.

What is the BEST advice you have ever received?

February 13, 2008 By: John Category: Depression Facts, Recovery from depression

Recently my son, Bryan, had to fill in a questionnaire relating to a survey. One of the questions was, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?”

This was his response:-

My dad and mum have had a great influence on my life and it is tough to determine which of the 3 below I consider the best.

Mum told me once that I should always look after myself first so that I am in a position of strength to help others. If ever I feel emotional about a situation that I feel is going wrong in my life I know that my mum will always come up with something totally amazing to help me out. What she told me here helped me out with a situation I was in about 15 years ago.

Dad has always told me to keep an open mind. When I was a child he would point to the stars and tell me about the possibilities that exist due to the unknown. This has helped me to develop an “outside the box” thinking attitude which increases my problem solving skills.

Dad recommended a set of books “total success library” for me to read, written by Dr Robert Anthony. This set of books was the best self development material that I have ever read and I feel that my life has improved since reading them. My girlfriend is currently reading one of them and she is incredibly impressed with it too. She asked if she could highlight parts that she liked. As it turns out, she has been highlighting just about every paragraph.

One thing mentioned in the books was something like “you always do the best you can for your present level of awareness”. I found this information very useful as it can be used for a number of things. If you are aware of this, then it is easier to forgive yourself, and hence forgive others. There is no right or wrong, it only exists for your present level of awareness (or belief system, as others have written in other books).

When I read what my son had written, I felt very proud of him and pleased that he had actually taken notice of at least some things that my wife and I had tried to teach him over the years.

The “Total Success Library” certainly helped me to overcome my depression and that is why I have included it in the Resource Section of the Beat Your Depression blog. In fact I rate this right at the top of my recommended resources. It is a valuable tool for dealing with many aspects of life, including relationships and financial matters, and represents extremely good value for money.