According to statistics, the use of antidepressants in Australia rose dramatically in the past decade. Australia is ranked second world-wide for anti-depressant use.
As of 2014:
- Nearly 1 in 11 Australians (9%) over the age of 12 are reported to be on antidepressant medication
- Approximately over 25% of those who had taken an antidepressant in the past month reported being on them for 10 years or more
- Caucasians were more than three times more likely to use antidepressants than Blacks, Hispanics or Asians (16.5 percent compared to 5.6 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively)
In Scotland, researchers also warn that antidepressant use among children under the age of 12 has risen dramatically. Between 2009 and 2016, use in this age group quadrupled. Use among children under 18 doubled in the same time frame.
Major depression is one of the most common disorders. When you look at all forms of depression, that number goes even higher. In Australia, it’s estimated that 45% of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety. Depression reduces your ability to care for yourself properly and make adequate decisions about your health, including nutrition and sleep. Imbalances in nutrition, weight fluctuations and poor sleep habits may lead to compromised immune function.
If ignored, depression can become chronic and can lead to self-harming behaviours such as drug or alcohol abuse and can even lead to suicide. Up to 70% of people who commit suicide are clinically depressed, and 90% of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts experience a combination of depression and substance abuse.
Research Reveals Antidepressants Are Rarely the Right Answer
However, the most widely used remedy for depression is also among the least effective. In addition to a long list of potential side effects, which include worsening depression and suicide, 40% of people with major depressive disorder treated with antidepressants do not achieve full remission.
Many studies have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression, so you’re taking grave risks for a very small chance of benefit. As noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect:
“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain … But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect …
Analyzing the data we had found, we were not surprised to find a substantial placebo effect on depression. What surprised us was how small the drug effect was. Seventy-five percent of the improvement in the drug group also occurred when people were give dummy pills with no active ingredient in them.
The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”
Natural Treatments for Depression
Natural effective treatments for depression and anxiety that work include:
- Exercise – many studies show that exercise outperforms drug intervention. It helps us create new GABA producing neurons which in turn produce a calming state of mind, boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which helps to reduce the effects of stress. Both active forms of exercise such as aerobic or even gentle forms such as yoga up to 3 times a week can reduce major depression by 50%.
- Express Yourself – depression is a ‘lack of expression’. Find something you love to do, such as a creative project, dancing, arts. When we participate in a form of expressive love or creativity we suffer less with depression.
- Limited Wifi Use – if you struggle with depression or anxiety limit your exposure to EMF’s including wifi. Turn it off at night and remove mobile phones or other electronic devices from your bedroom at night. Do not carry your mobile on your body.
- Spend Time in Nature – studies confirm the therapeutic effects of spending time in nature. It can lower stress, improve mood and reduce depression symptoms. You can enjoy walking in nature, time at the beach, gardening, walking barefoot in grass or sand and taking your exercise outdoors.
- Meditation/Breathing – meditation and deep breathing techniques have huge psychological benefits in reducing anxiety and stress. Learn to breathe properly and aim for 10-20 minutes of meditation a day.
- Nutritional Intervention – depression can be due to extreme inflammation in the body. Removing sugar, gluten, dairy from the diet and doing a food sensitivity test can show you which foods are causing harm in the body. Eating whole food diets can help reduce inflammation. Some common nutritional deficiencies have also been shown to be contributors to depression. These include: Omega 3 fats, B vitamins (low dietary folate can increase your risk of depression by 300%. Vitamin D deficiency (less than 20ng/mL) has also been shown to increase depression by 85%! Probiotics have also been shown to increase effect on moods, emotions and the gut brain. Bad gut flora and inflammation can affect mental health. Magnesium is also beneficial for reducing depression and calming the mind.
- Helpful Supplements – some herbs and supplements can be used instead of drugs to treat depression and anxiety. These include: John’s Wort, this medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe), is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Chinese Herbal Medicine, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), have been found to reduce the effects of “chronic and unpredictable stress,” thereby lowering your risk of depression. See a qualified practitioner for diagnosis and treatment.
- Acupuncture – is extremely effective for treating depression and anxiety. (See link) Acupuncture has been shown to move blocked energy, decrease stress and treat mind, body and spirit. It treats the root cause of depression and together with herbal medicine has been shown to reduce the need to any medication or drugs.