Depression is Not a Disease

Depression is not a disease, although it can be contagious.

Depression is not genetic, although anyone can pass it on to others.

Depression often leads to suicide to end the pain, although for family and friends suicide brings new pain.

Depression is a problem that has infected millions of people worldwide, maybe even you.

In one small town in Oregon, the depression and suicide problem is so prevalent that there are signs all around town hoping to save a life:

Depression doesn’t discriminate. It crosses every social and economic class of people from the very poor to the very rich, to every religion, every nationality, every country, both sexes and all ages. It wreaks havoc on families, classrooms, businesses, communities and lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, which impairs how you function in life and is a leading cause of stress, accidents, mistakes, conflicts, learning disabilities and suicide.

The Growing Cost of Treating Depression

In the United States the growing expense of treating depression cost the U.S. economy more than $210 billion in 2010, according to a study published in 2015 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Unfortunately, only 40 percent of this sum is associated with depression itself. For every dollar spent treating depression, an additional $4.70 is spent on related illnesses, and another $1.90 is spent on reduced workplace productivity and suicides directly linked to depression. And that doesn’t take into account the financial burden depression has on the workplace where approximately 6-7% of full-time workers in the United States experienced major depression within the past year. The total economic workplace burden of depression is now estimated at $210.5 billion per year.

Current Treatments for Depression

In addition to talk therapy, the most prevalent treatment for depression and anxiety includes pharmaceutical drugs such as Adderall, Ativan, Ambien, Celexa, Cipro, Cymbalta, Flexeril, Halcion, Hydrocodone, Klonopin, Lexapro, Lisinopril, Mobic, Naproxen, Neurontin, Pradaxa, Prednisone, Prilosec, Prozac, Seroquel, Synthroid, Tramadol, Trazodone, Valium, Vicodin, Warfarin, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zocor and Zoloft, to name a few.

Anti-anxiety drugs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to decrease feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of well-being and happiness. For some people, the drugs can stabilize their mood. Low levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression, however, the serotonin drop is not what causes depression, rather it is a symptom of it.

More alarming is that anti-anxiety drugs are not without side effects that can make the problem worse, such as drugs that cause:

  • Anxiety,  irritability,  agitation, aggression or hostility
  • Hallucinations, delusional thinking, confusion
  • Dizziness, fatigue or drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, blurred vision or insomnia
  • Nausea, increased appetite and weight gain or even constipation
  • Loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm

The Bigger Threat from Opioid Drugs

Even worse than the anti-anxiety drugs are the opioid drugs, which are often prescribed for pain relief, and which have become a growing path to depression and suicide. According to the Natural Institute on Drug Abuse, from 1991 to 2011, there was a near tripling of opioid prescriptions dispensed by U.S. pharmacies: from 76 million to 219 million prescriptions. In parallel with this increase, there was also a near tripling of opioid-related deaths over the same time period. More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids – it nearly doubled within a decade – according to the CDC WONDER.

While the jury is out about exactly how these highly addictive drugs lead to depression, suicide and violence, opioid drugs – Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, Dilaudid and Astramorph – bind to receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. But opioids also create a temporary feeling of euphoria that is very addictive, followed by a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life that can easily lead to depression, suicide or violence.

And one thing is certain, as reported by Dan Roberts of Ammoland, “Nearly every mass shooting incident in the last twenty years, and multiple other instances of suicide and isolated shootings all share one thing in common, and it’s not the weapons used.”

“The overwhelming evidence points to the single largest common factor in all of these incidents is the fact that all of the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes.”

Why Is the Problem of Depression Getting Worse?

The biggest problem is that by viewing depression simply as a chemical imbalance in the body, you end up treating the symptoms rather than the cause, allowing the stress of negative thoughts like anger, hatred, revenge, worry, fear or hopelessness to feed the depression, which, in turn, stresses the body’s chemistry, lowers serotonin levels and can causes muscle tension, impaired organ and gland functions and more.

Depression also tends to inspire eating junk and comfort food that further exacerbates health, and prolonged stress eventually leads to an impaired immune system, weakened organs and a body heading toward illness, accident or worse.

The Real Cause of Depression

The critical piece missing in the search for curing depression is to understand what causes the body’s chemistry to go haywire in the first place that led to depression. Therein lies the cure.

Depression develops as you focus only on all the hard, bad, lousy, hurtful, unloving, abusive experiences you’ve encountered and worry or fear that it will never change, never get better. When you get to the point where you feel hopeless that your life will ever feel good again, thoughts of ending it creep in. The greater the pain the greater the desire to end it.

Sharing that pain with another person could risk more ridicule, criticism or rejection, so the pain is often borne alone, in silence, afraid to let anyone else know how bad and hopeless you feel.

The symptoms of depression are easy to spot and can include:

  • Avoiding people, spending time alone
  • Low energy, lethargic
  • Headaches, pain or tension in muscles, neck or other body parts
  • Heartaches, chest pain or rapid heartbeat
  • Upset stomach, including indigestion, diarrhea, constipation and nausea
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Frequent colds, infections and accidents
  • Loss of sexual desire or inability to perform

Anyone paying attention can tell when another person is depressed by observing what they say, the tone of their voice, their enthusiasm level, the behavior they exhibit, their body posture and how their face looks. But if you ask them if anything is wrong, they will tell you no.

People get depressed because things are going wrong in their life and that’s all they can see, so one of the best things you can do for them is to help them see what’s good and right in their life, because those are the experiences that feel good and can give them hope.

But more than hope, people need purpose and passion and to feel valued. They need to feel useful, needed, wanted and loved – who doesn’t want that?

When people are living their life’s purpose, using their natural talents, skills and knowledge, feeling confident and loved – when they are happy – they flourish, as does their health. Happiness promotes elevated serotonin levels, vibrant immune systems, energy galore, a zest for life and a cure for depression.

© Copyright 2018 Carol James 503-537-0636

Carol |


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