Our minds register the vibrations of the sounds we hear around us, our bodies then resonate with it, reminding us of harmony. “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. ” – Nikola Tesla There is a YouTube channel, Healing Vibrations, has numerous videos of […]The Healing Frequencies of Sound
For ages, it has been thought that people are born with a certain level of intelligence. But, researchers have now found that you can elevate this potential and become more intelligent. In fact, learning new skills can help your brain build new neural pathways, which allow it to work better and faster. – Read a […]8 Incredible Ways to Increase Your Intelligence
Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfied life is within reach. A few tweaks to your regular habits can help you get there.
Habits matter. If you’ve ever tried breaking a bad habit, you know all too well how engrained they are.
Well, good habits are deeply engrained, too. Why not work on making positive habits part of your routine?
Here’s a look at some daily, monthly, and yearly habits to help kickstart your quest. Just remember that everyone’s version of happiness is a little different, and so is their path to achieving it.
If some of these habits create added stress or just don’t fit your lifestyle, ditch them. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.
We smile because we’re happy, and smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes us happier.
That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile plastered on your face all the time. But the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens. Or try starting each morning by smiling at yourself in the mirror.
Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness.
Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a cliff — unless that’s what makes you happy, of course.
The trick is not to overexert. If you suddenly throw yourself into a strenuous routine, you’ll probably just end up frustrated (and sore).
Consider these exercise starters:
- Take a walk around the block every night after dinner.
- Sign up for a beginner’s class in yoga or tai chi.
- Start your day with 5 minutes of stretching. Here’s a set of stretches to get you started.
Remind yourself of any fun activities you once enjoyed, but that have fallen by the wayside. Or activities you always wanted to try, such as golf, bowling, or dancing.
3. Get plenty of sleep
No matter how much modern society steers us toward less sleep, we know that adequate sleep is vitalTrusted Source to good health, brain function, and emotional well-being.
Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. If you find yourself fighting the urge to nap during the day or just generally feel like you’re in a fog, your body may be telling you it needs more rest.
Here are a few tips to help you build a better sleep routine:
- Write down how many hours of sleep you get each night and how rested you feel. After a week, you should have a better idea how you’re doing.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Reserve the hour before bed as quiet time. Take a bath, read, or do something relaxing. Avoid heavy eating and drinking.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
- Invest in some good bedding.
- If you have to take a nap, try to limit it to 20 minutes.
If you consistently have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder requiring treatment.
4. Eat with mood in mind
You already know that food choices have an impact on your overall physical health. But some foods can also affect your state of mind.
- Carbohydrates release serotonin, a “feel good” hormone. Just keep simple carbs — foods high in sugar and starch — to a minimum, because that energy surge is short and you’ll crash. Complex carbs, such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains, are better.
- Lean meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy are high in protein. These foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy and concentration.
- Highly processed or deep-fried foods tend to leave you feeling down. So will skipping meals.
Start by making one better food choice each day.
For example, swap a big, sweet breakfast pastry for some Greek yogurt with fruit. You’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth, and the protein will help you avoid a mid-morning energy crash. Try adding in a new food swap each week.
5. Be grateful
Simply being grateful can give your mood a big boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.
Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or just waiting for that snoozed alarm to go off.
As you go about your day, try to keep an eye out for pleasant things in your life. They can be big things, such as knowing that someone loves you or getting a well-deserved promotion.
But they can also be little things, such as a co-worker who offered you a cup of coffee or the neighbor who waved to you. Maybe even just the warmth of the sun on your skin.
With a little practice, you may even become more aware of all the positive things around you.
6. Give a compliment
Research shows that performing acts of kindness can help you feel more satisfied.
Giving a sincere compliment is a quick, easy way to brighten someone’s day while giving your own happiness a boost.
Catch the person’s eye and say it with a smile so they know you mean it. You might be surprised by how good it makes you feel.
If you want to offer someone a compliment on their physical appearance, make sure to do it in a respectful way. Here are some tips to get you started.
7. Breathe deeply
You’re tense, your shoulders are tight, and you feel as though you just might “lose it.” We all know that feeling.
Instinct may tell you to take a long, deep breath to calm yourself down.
Turns out, that instinct is a good one. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress.
The next time you feel stressed or at your wit’s end, work through these steps:
- Close your eyes. Try to envision a happy memory or beautiful place.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth or nose.
- Repeat this process several times, until you start to feel yourself calm down.
If you’re having a hard time taking slow, deliberate breaths, try counting to 5 in your head with each inhale and exhale.
8. Acknowledge the unhappy moments
A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s just part of life.
If you get some bad news, make a mistake, or just feel like you’re in a funk, don’t try to pretend you’re happy.
Acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness, letting yourself experience it for a moment. Then, shift your focus toward what made you feel this way and what it might take to recover.
Would a deep breathing exercise help? A long walk outside? Talking it over with someone?
Let the moment pass and take care of yourself. Remember, no one’s happy all the time.
9. Keep a journal
A journal is a good way to organize your thoughts, analyze your feelings, and make plans. And you don’t have to be a literary genius or write volumes to benefit.
It can be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts before you go to bed. If putting certain things in writing makes you nervous, you can always shred it when you’ve finished. It’s the process that counts.
Not sure what to do with all the feelings that end up on the page? Our guide to organizing your feelings can help.
10. Face stress head-on
Life is full of stressors, and it’s impossible to avoid all of them.
There’s no need to. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that stress isn’t always harmful, and we can even change our attitudes about stress. Learn more about the upside of stress.
For those stressors you can’t avoid, remind yourself that everyone has stress — there’s no reason to think it’s all on you. And chances are, you’re stronger than you think you are.
Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, try to tackle the stressor head-on. This might mean initiating an uncomfortable conversation or putting in some extra work, but the sooner you tackle it, the sooner the pit in your stomach will start to shrink.
Decluttering sounds like a big project, but setting aside just 20 minutes a week can have a big impact.
What can you do in 20 minutes? Lots.
Set a timer on your phone and take 15 minutes to tidy up a specific area of one room — say, your closet or that out-of-control junk drawer. Put everything in its place and toss or give away any extra clutter that’s not serving you anymore.
Keep a designated box for giveaways to make things a little easier (and avoid creating more clutter).
Use the remaining 5 minutes to do a quick walk through your living space, putting away whatever stray items end up in your path.
You can do this trick once a week, once a day, or anytime you feel like your space is getting out of control.
12. See friends
Humans are social beings, and having close friends can make us happier.
Who do you miss? Reach out to them. Make a date to get together or simply have a long phone chat.
In adulthood, it can feel next to impossible to make new friends. But it’s not about how many friends you have. It’s about having meaningful relationships — even if it’s just with one or two people.
Try getting involved in a local volunteer group or taking a class. Both can help to connect you with like-minded people in your area. And chances are, they’re looking for friends, too.
Companionship doesn’t have to be limited to other humans. Pets can offer similar benefits, according to multiple studies.
Love animals but can’t have a pet? Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter to make some new friends — both human and animal.
13. Plan your week
Feel like you’re flailing about? Try sitting down at the end of every week and making a basic list for the following week.
Even if you don’t stick to the plan, blocking out time where you can do laundry, go grocery shopping, or tackle projects at work can help to quiet your mind.
You can get a fancy planner, but even a sticky note on your computer or piece of scrap paper in your pocket can do the job.
14. Ditch your phone
Turn off all the electronics and put those ear buds away for at least one hour once a week. They’ll still be there for you later. If you still want them, that is.
If you haven’t unplugged in a while, you might be surprised at the difference it makes. Let your mind wander free for a change. Read. Meditate. Take a walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Be sociable. Or be alone. Just be.
Sound too daunting? Try doing a shorter amount of time several times a week.
15. Get into nature
Spending 30 minutes or more a week in green spaces can help lower blood pressure and depression, according to a 2016 studyTrusted Source.
Your green space could be anything from your neighborhood park, your own backyard, or a rooftop garden — anywhere you can appreciate some nature and fresh air.
Better yet, add some outdoor exercise into the mix for extra benefit.
16. Explore meditation
There are many methods of meditation to explore. They can involve movement, focus, spirituality, or a combination of all three.
Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 5 minutes. Even the deep breathing exercises mentioned earlier can serve as a form of meditation.
17. Consider therapy
We’re certainly happier when we learn how to cope with obstacles. When you’re faced with a problem, think about what got you through something similar in the past. Would it work here? What else can you try?
If you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, consider speaking with a therapist on a weekly basis. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition or overwhelming crisis to seek therapy.
Therapists are trained to help people improve coping skills. Plus, there’s no obligation to continue once you start.
Even just a few sessions can help you add some new goodies to your emotional toolbox.
Worried about the cost? Here’s how to afford therapy on any budget.
18. Find a self-care ritual
It’s easy to neglect self-care in a fast-paced world. But your body carries your thoughts, passions, and spirit through this world, doesn’t it deserve a little TLC?
Maybe it’s unwinding your workweek with a long, hot bath. Or adopting a skin care routine that makes you feel indulgent. Or simply setting aside a night to put on your softest jammies and watch a movie from start to finish.
Whatever it is, make time for it. Put it in your planner if you must, but do it.
19. Give back
If you find that giving daily compliments provides a needed boost to your mood, considering making a monthly routine of giving back on a larger scale.
Maybe that’s helping out at a food bank on the third weekend of every month, or offering to watch your friend’s kids one night per month.
20. Take yourself out
No one to go out with? Well, what rule says you can’t go out alone?
Go to your favorite restaurant, take in a movie, or go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Even if you’re a social butterfly, spending some deliberate time alone can help you reconnect with the activities that truly make you happy.
21. Create a thought list
You arrive for an appointment with 10 minutes to spare. What do you do with that time? Pick up your cell phone to scroll through social media? Worry about the busy week you have ahead of you?
Take control of your thoughts during these brief windows of time.
At the start of each month, make a short list of happy memories or things you’re looking forward to on a small piece of paper or on your phone.
When you find yourself waiting for a ride, standing in line at the grocery store, or just with a few minutes to kill, break out the list. You can even use it when you’re just generally feeling down and need to change up your thoughts.
22. Take time to reflect
The start of a new year is a good time to stop and take inventory of your life. Set aside some time to catch up with yourself the way you would with an old friend:
- How are you doing?
- What have you been up to?
- Are you happier than you were a year ago?
But try to avoid the pitfall of judging yourself too harshly for your answers. You’ve made it to another year, and that’s plenty.
If you find that your mood hasn’t improved much over the last year, consider making an appointment with your doctor or talking to a therapist. You might be dealing with depression or even an underlying physical condition that’s impacting your mood.
23. Reevaluate your goals
People change, so think about where you’re heading and consider if that’s still where you want to go. There’s no shame in changing your game.
Let go of any goals that no longer serve you, even if they sound nice on paper.
24. Take care of your body
You hear it all the time, including several times in this article, but your physical and mental health are closely intertwined.
As you build habits to improve your happiness, make sure to follow up with routine appointments to take care your body:
- see your primary care physician for an annual physical
- take care of any chronic health conditions and see specialists as recommended
- see your dentist for an oral exam and follow up as recommended
- get your vision checked
25. Let go of grudges
This is often easier said than done. But you don’t have to do it for the other person.
Sometimes, offering forgiveness or dropping a grudge is more about self-care than compassion for others.
Take stock of your relationships with others. Are you harboring any resentment or ill will toward someone? If so, consider reaching out to them in an effort to bury the hatchet.
This doesn’t have to be a reconciliation. You may just need to end the relationship and move on.
If reaching out isn’t an option, try getting your feelings out in a letter. You don’t even have to send it to them. Just getting your feelings out of your mind and into the world can be freeing.
Hello everyone have you ever felt stuck in a rut where you just try or do anything and everything to get out of it and it just does not seem posssible? weather it be spiritual, financially or just having a better way of life for you or your immediate family. in those moments that you feel hopeless and almost like you have your hands tied behind your back or perhaps mental fog has set in your mind or way of thinking.
most of the time is that we are trying way to hard to accoplish those goals or task at hand. but we have to realised that we must take a step back and relax take a breather let our minds take a mental break in the process becuase you will bet burned out if not.
Here are afew things that you can do to give your mind a break.
- Listen to soothing music or sounds that stimulate your brain into relaxing.
2. Go out for a walk weather it be with friends just around the block maybe to a park were they might have a track field. Going to the beach and taking in the sounds of the waves and the sounds of the seagulls and just the ambient noise that is soothing and calming to the soul..
3. Going hiking enjoying the great outdoors sothing that will lift your spirits and will give you a sense of hope a sense of accomplishment.
4. Get together with friends that will make you happy and will give you hope that will encourage you to accomplish whatever itr is that you are trying to do. friends that are in the same mental level as you or higher sos that your thincking or your brainstorming gerts challenged and find results to issues that you might not be capable at all by yourself.
5. Staying in good health is possibly the biggest challenges amongs everyone. We have so many temptations as far as foods this is were our will really gets tested. we must make those choices now because in the long run that will catch up with us and we will definitely pay for it..
Please leave a comment below i would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
Happiness is subjective; what makes one person happy won’t necessarily make another one feel the same. But even being subjective in defining our individual criteria for happiness, there are still some basic essentials we all need to live a happy life.
Health in 3 Forms
This is a universally accepted essential. Your health is the most important component of happiness. It isn’t just physical health that is required for happiness but mental and emotional as well. Without these three forms of health, your chances of happiness dwindle. You are surviving and not living. Keeping yourself healthy in all ways is essential. Make every effort to take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
Money is probably one of the most debated essentials for happiness. We have all heard, the repeated saying that money doesn’t buy you happiness. It’s usually said by the very people who seem to have made a very happy life for themselves by having a great deal of money!
You don’t have to be a billionaire to be happy, but a certain amount of money does help you to have a more positive outlook on life in general. It offers you a safety net. You don’t have to worry about not being able to meet your mortgage payments or losing your home, not having money to repair your car and not feeling desperate when a small financial crisis hits.
Certainly, having enough money to be able to take care of yourself and those you love is an added security.
Money itself isn’t evil, and it is an essential. It can buy you time to pursue goals and dreams, and there is also nothing wrong with living a certain lifestyle that adds to your happiness quotient.
You don’t need 50 BFFs to make your life happy nor do you necessarily have to join all the online social networks. What you need is people in your life who care about you and vice-versa. People with whom you can laugh, cry, hug, touch, kiss and share life. Statistics have always shown the positive benefits of having healthy relationships in life whether it is with friends or in a romantic partnership. We can include our pets in this essential since they are companions whose love for us is unconditional.
Contentment at Work
Note the word contentment. You don’t have to love your job but you have to derive a certain level of satisfaction from what you do, and a feeling of enjoyment during most of the work-day. Will you have days of frustration? Absolutely! But on the whole your job should be more than just a paycheck to you.
If you are in a job that you truly hate, (and we have all had that experience at one time or another), make solid plans for leaving. Keep looking for the job you really want, be prepared for opportunity and stay as positive as you can. Find a ‘bit of heaven in your hell’ and know that this is temporary. Life changes, it only stagnates if you give up.
Love and Accept Yourself
Self-love gets a lot of bad press because it keeps getting confused with the word selfish. There’s a world of separation between the two words. Love and acceptance of self is a key essential for true happiness. If you are accepting of who you are, warts and all, you are on the road to a happy life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t want to make changes in your life, it simply means that you know who you are, know your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and want to do what will best suit you to live successfully and happily.
The right to happiness is a basic one. You deserve to be happy simply because you are alive. The idea of what constitutes a happy life, however, differs from person to person; we are, after all, individuals. But the five essentials of health, money, relationships, contentment at work and self acceptance form the basis for creating happiness for yourself.
Try putting them into practice and see what changes they bring to your life.
“Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Bliss adaptogen mist works to correct this imbalance.”
Herein lies the Serotonin Myth
As one of only two countries in the world that permits direct to consumer advertising, you have undoubtedly been subjected to promotion of the “cause of depression.” A cause that is not your fault, but rather, a matter of too few little bubbles passing between the hubs in your brain! Don’t add that to your list of worries, though, because there is a convenient solution awaiting you at your doctor’s office.
What if I told you that, in six decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety has not achieved scientific credibility.
You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim, so here you go:
The Science of Psychiatry?
Rather than some embarrassingly reductionist, one-deficiency-one-illness-one-pill model of mental illness, contemporary exploration of human behavior has demonstrated that we may know less than we ever thought we did. And that what we do know about root causes of mental illness seems to have more to do with the concept of evolutionary mismatch than with genes and chemical deficiencies.
In fact, a meta-analysis of over 14,000 patients and Dr. Insel, head of the NIMH, had this to say:
“Despite high expectations, neither genomics nor imaging has yet impacted the diagnosis or treatment of the 45 million Americans with serious or moderate mental illness each year.”
To understand what imbalance is, we must know what balance looks like, and neuroscience, to date, has not characterized the optimal brain state, nor how to even assess for it. In a review of serotonin theories of depression, Andrews et al. turn the paradigm on its head and conclude:
we propose that depressed states are high serotonin phenomena, which challenges the prominent role the low serotonin hypothesis continues to have in depression research (Albert et al., 2012). We also propose that the direct serotonin-enhancing effects of antidepressants disturb energy homeostasis and worsen symptoms. We argue that symptom reduction, which only occurs over chronic treatment, is attributable to the compensatory responses of the brain attempting to restore energy homeostasis.
In this paper, they work to deconstruct our indoctrination around serotonin as a “happy chemical”, and elucidate its complex role in redirecting energy production when a creature is under duress. It is only when we perturb the system with medication that the body’s response can sometimes result in a chemically adaptive state, that is temporary, at best (accounting for relapse rates, while on medication, of up to 60%). Even this analysis is a theoretical offering in the service of challenging the dominant paradigm.
A New England Journal of Medicinereview on Major Depression, stated:
” … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.”
The data has poked holes in the theory and even the field of psychiatry itself is putting down it’s sword. One of my favorite essays by Lacasse and Leo has compiled sentiments from influential thinkers in the field – mind you, these are conventional clinicians and researchers in mainstream practice – who have broken rank, casting doubt on the entirety of what psychiatry has to offer around antidepressants:
Depression is Not About Low Serotonin
In the 1950s, reserpine, initially introduced to the US market as an anti-seizure medication, was noted to deplete brain serotonin stores in subjects, with resultant lethargy and sedation. These observations colluded with the clinical note that an anti-tuberculosis medication, iproniazid, invoked mood changes after five months of treatment in 70% of a 17 patient cohort. Finally, Dr. Joseph Schildkraut threw fairy dust on these mumbles and grumbles in 1965 with his hypothetical manifesto entitled “The Catecholamine Hypothesis of Affective Disorders” stating:
“At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models of the natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness.”
Contextualized by the ripeness of a field struggling to establish biomedical legitimacy (beyond the therapeutic lobotomy!), psychiatry was ready for a rebranding, and the pharmaceutical industry was all too happy to partner in the effort.
Of course, the risk inherent in “working backwards” in this way (noting effects and presuming mechanisms) is that we tell ourselves that we have learned something about the body, when in fact, all we have learned is that patented synthesized chemicals have effects on our behavior. This is referred to as the drug-based model by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff. In this model, we acknowledge that antidepressants have effects, but that these effects, in no way are curative or reparative.
The most applicable analogy is that of the woman with social phobia who finds that drinking two cocktails eases her symptoms. One could imagine, how, in a 6 week randomized trial, this “treatment” could be found efficacious and recommended for daily use and even prevention of symptoms. How her withdrawal symptoms after 10 years of daily compliance could lead those around her to believe that she “needed” the alcohol to correct an imbalance. This analogy is all too close to the truth.
No Intervention Creates Better Outcomes
Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said: “And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.”
So, what happens when we let drug companies tell doctors what science is? We have an industry and a profession working together to maintain a house of cards theory in the face of contradictory evidence.
We have a global situation in which increases in prescribing are resulting in increases in severity of illness (including numbers and length of episodes) relative to those who have never been treated with medication.
To truly appreciate the breadth of evidence that states antidepressants are ineffective and unsafe, we have to get behind the walls that the pharmaceutical companies erect. We have to unearth unpublished data, data that they were hoping to keep in the dusty catacombs.
A now famous 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by Turner et al sought to expose the extent of this data manipulation. They demonstrated that, from 1987 to 2004, 12 antidepressants were approved based on 74 studies. Thirty-eight were positive, and 37 of these were published. Thirty-six were negative (showing no benefit), and 3 of these were published as such while 11 were published with a positive spin (always read the data not the author’s conclusion!), and 22 were unpublished.
In 1998 tour de force, Dr. Irving Kirsch, an expert on the placebo effect, published a meta–analysis of 3,000 patients who were treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, placebo, or no treatment and found that only 27% of the therapeutic response was attributable to the drug’s action.
This was followed up by a 2008 review, which invoked the Freedom of Information Act to obtain access to unpublished studies, finding that, when these were included, antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 20 of 46 trials (less than half!), and that the overall difference between drugs and placebos was 1.7 points on the 52 point Hamilton Scale. This small increment is clinically insignificant, and likely accounted for by medication side effects strategically employed (sedation or activation).
When active placebos were used, the Cochrane database found that differences between drugs and placebos disappeared, given credence to the assertion that inert placebos inflate perceived drug effects.
The finding of tremendous placebo effect in the treatment groups was also echoed in two different meta-analysis by Khan et al who found a 10% difference between placebo and antidepressant efficacy, and comparable suicide rates. The most recent trial examining the role of “expectancy” or belief in antidepressant effect, found that patients lost their perceived benefit if they believed that they might be getting a sugar pill even if they were continued on their formerly effective treatment dose of Prozac.
The largest, non-industry funded study, costing the public $35 million dollars, followed 4000 patients treated with Celexa (not blinded, so they knew what they were getting), and found that half of them improved at 8 weeks. Those that didn’t were switched to Wellbutrin, Effexor, or Zoloft OR “augmented” with Buspar or Wellbutrin.
Guess what? It didn’t matter what was done, because they remitted at the same unimpressive rate of 18-30% regardless with only 3% of patients were in remission at 12 months.
How could it be that medications like Wellbutrin, which purportedly primarily disrupt dopamine signaling, and medications like Stablon which theoretically enhances the reuptake of serotonin both work to resolve this underlying imbalance? Why would thyroid, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and opiates also “work”? And what does depression have in common with panic disorder, phobias, OCD, eating disorders, and social anxiety that all of these diagnoses would warrant the same exact chemical fix?
Are There Alternative Options?
As a holistic clinician, one of my bigger pet peeves is the use of amino acids and other nutraceuticals with “serotonin-boosting” claims. These integrative practitioners have taken a page from the allopathic playbook and are seeking to copy-cat what they perceive antidepressants to be doing.
The foundational “data” for the modern serotonin theory of mood utilizes tryptophan depletion methods which involve feeding volunteers amino acid mixtures without tryptophan and are rife with complicated interpretations.
Simply put, there has never been a study that demonstrates that this intervention causes mood changes in any patients who have not been treated with antidepressants.
In an important paper entitled Mechanism of acute tryptophan depletion:is it only serotonin?, van Donkelaar et al caution clinicians and researchers about the interpretation of tryptophan research. They clarify that there are many potential effects of this methodology, stating:
In general, several findings support the fact that depression may not be caused solely by an abnormality of 5-HT function, but more likely by a dysfunction of other systems or brain regions modulated by 5-HT or interacting with its dietary precursor. Similarly, the ATD method does not seem to challenge the 5-HT system per se, but rather triggers 5HT-mediated adverse events.
Andrews goes further to include this interpretation in a long list of arguments against the role of low serotonin in depression (Box 1).
Why Your Prescription Never Expires
All you have to do is spend a few minutes on http://survivingantidepressants.org/ or http://beyondmeds.com/ to appreciate that we have created a monster. Millions of men, women, and children, the world over are suffering, without clinical guidance (because this is NOT a part of medical training) to discontinue psychiatric meds. I have been humbled, as a clinician who seeks to help these patients, by what these medications are capable of. Psychotropic withdrawal can make alcohol and heroin detox look like a breeze.
An important analysis by the former director of the NIMH makes claims that antidepressants “create perturbations in neurotransmitter functions” causing the body to compensate through a series of adaptations which occur after “chronic administration” leading to brains that function, after a few weeks, in a way that is “qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the normal state.”
Changes in beta-adrenergic receptor density, serotonin autoreceptor sensitivity, and serotonin turnover all struggle to compensate for the assault of the medication.
Andrews calls this “oppositional tolerance,” and demonstrate through a careful meta-analysis of 46 studies demonstrating that patient’s risk of relapse is directly proportionate to how “perturbing” the medication is, and is always higher than placebo (44.6% vs 24.7%). They challenge the notion that findings of decreased relapse on continued medication represent anything other than drug-induced response to discontinuation of a substance to which the body has developed tolerance. They go a step further to add:
“For instance, in naturalistic studies, unmedicated patients have much shorter episodes, and better long-term prospects, than medicated patients. Several of these studies have found that the average duration of an untreated episode of major depression is 12–13 weeks.”
“Long-term antidepressant use may bedepressogenic . . . it is possible that antidepressant agents modify the hardwiring of neuronal synapses (which) not only render antidepressants ineffective but also induce a resident, refractory depressive state.”
So, when your doctor says, “You see, look how sick you are, you shouldn’t have stopped that medication,” you should know that the data suggests that your symptoms are withdrawal, not relapse.
Longitudinal studies demonstrate poor functional outcomes for those treated with 60% of patients still meeting diagnostic criteria at one year (despite transient improvement within the first 3 months). When baseline severity is controlled for, two prospective studies support a worse outcome in those prescribed medication:
One in which the never-medicated group experienced a 62% improvement by six months, whereas the drug-treated patients experienced only a 33% reduction in symptoms, and another WHO study of depressed patients in 15 cities which found that, at the end of one year, those who weren’t exposed to psychotropic medications enjoyed much better “general health;” that their depressive symptoms were much milder;” and that they were less likely to still be “mentally ill.”
I’m not done yet.
In a retrospective 10-year study in the Netherlands, 76% of those with unmedicated depression recovered without relapse relative to 50% of those treated.
Unlike the mess of contradictory studies around short-term effects, there are no comparable studies that show a better outcome in those prescribed antidepressants long term.
First Do No Harm
So, we have a half-baked theory in a vacuum of science that that pharmaceutical industry raced to fill. We have the illusion of short-term efficacy and assumptions about long-term safety. But are these medications actually killing people?
The answer is yes.
Unequivocally, antidepressants cause suicidal and homicidal behavior. The Russian Roulette of patients vulnerable to these “side effects” is only beginning to be elucidated and may have something to do with genetic variants around metabolism of these chemicals. Dr. David Healy has worked tirelessly to expose the data that implicates antidepressants in suicidality and violence, maintaining a database for reporting, writing, and lecturing about cases of medication-induced death that could make your soul wince.
What about our most vulnerable?
I have countless patients in my practice who report new onset of suicidal ideation within weeks of starting an antidepressant. In a population where there are only 2 randomized trials, I have grave concerns about postpartum women who are treated with antidepressants before more benign and effective interventions such as dietary modification and thyroid treatment. Hold your heart as you read through thesereports of women who took their own and their children’s’ lives while treated with medications.
Then there is the use of these medications in children as young as 2 years old. How did we ever get the idea that this was a safe and effective treatment for this demographic? Look no further than data like Study 329, which cost Glaxo Smith Klein 3 billion dollars for their efforts to promote antidepressants to children. These efforts required ghost-written and manipulated data that suppressed a signal of suicidality, falsely represented Paxil as outperforming placebo, and contributes to an irrepressible mountainofharm done to our children by the field of psychiatry.
RIP Monoamine Theory
As Moncrieff and Cohen so succinctly state:
“Our analysis indicates that there are no specific antidepressant drugs, that most of the short-term effects of antidepressants are shared by many other drugs, and that long-term drug treatment with antidepressants or any other drugs has not been shown to lead to long-term elevation of mood. We suggest that the term “antidepressant” should be abandoned.”
So, where do we turn?
The field of psychoneuroimmunology dominates the research as an iconic example of how medicine must surpass its own simplistic boundaries if we are going to begin to chip away at the some 50% of Americans who will struggle with mood symptoms, and 11% of whom will be medicated for it.
There are times in our evolution as a cultural species that we need to unlearn what we think we know. We have to move out of the comfort of certainty and into the freeing light of uncertainty. It is from this space of acknowledged unknowing that we can truly grow. From my vantage point, this growth will encompass a sense of wonder – both a curiosity about what symptoms of mental illness may be telling us about our physiology and spirit, as well as a sense of humbled awe at all that we do not yet have the tools to appreciate. For this reason, honoring our co-evolution with the natural world, and sending the body a signal of safety through movement, diet, meditation, and environmental detoxification represents our most primal and most powerful tool for healing.
Avisae OptimALL Nutrition™ bliss™ adaptogen mist is unique formula that helps reset your body’s serotonin pathways for improved mood, better sleep and increased focus.
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