For almost the last 100 years, mental health professionals have told us that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, there is a much more realistic theory that depression occurs due to an imbalance that occurs outside of your skull. New York Times journalist Johan Hari believes that depression these days comes from social problems. Johann offers some amazing statistics that show that antidepressants seem to be doing far more harm than good, among them, that one in four middle-aged women in the United States is taking a chemical antidepressant in a given year. If we want to get rid of modern depression, he says, we have to change society.
Read more at BigThink.com:
Follow Big Think here:
I continued to learn intellectually about the causes of depression and anxiety.
And that is much deeper than the story that my doctor told me, which is just a chemical that is missing in your brain.
But I think it was really emotional when I went and I met an amazing South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfield. Then Derek was in Cambodia when the chemical antidepressants were first introduced there. And the Cambodian doctors did not know what they were, right? They had never heard of that. Then he explained it to them and they said: "Oh, we do not need them." We already have antidepressants. "
And Derek said, what do you mean?
He thought they were going to talk about some kind of herbal remedy or something like that.
Instead, they told him a story. There was a farmer in his community who one day, a rice farmer, who one day had stopped at a land mine and had his leg blown off. And then they gave him an artificial limb and he went back to work in the fields. But apparently it is very painful to work in water when you have an artificial limb. And I imagine it was quite traumatic: it will return to the fields where it was flown.
And he started crying all day. He did not want to get out of bed. Classical depression, right? And then they told Derek, "Well, we gave him an antidepressant." Derek said what did you do? They explained that they sat with him, they listened to his problems, they realized that his pain made sense. I was depressed for perfectly good reasons. They thought that if we bought him a cow, he could become a producer of dairy products, then he would not be so depressed. They bought him a cow. In a few weeks her crying stopped, it felt good.
They told Derek: "You see, doctor, that cow was an antidepressant." Now, if you have been raised to think about depression in the way you have indoctrinated us, that is just the result of: there are real biologicals. factors, but it's just the result of a chemical imbalance in your brain, that sounds like a joke, a bad joke. Did the boy get a cow as an antidepressant and stopped being depressed?
But what those Cambodian doctors knew intuitively is what the World Health Organization has been trying to tell us for years. Depression is a response to things that go wrong in our lives and our environments. Our pain makes sense.
As stated by the World Health Organization, mental health occurs socially. It is a social indicator. It requires both social and individual solutions. It requires a social change, right?
Now that's a very different way of thinking about depression and anxiety but it fits the best scientific evidence.
And it really required me to re-evaluate how I had felt about my own pain and how I tried to treat it unsuccessfully and open a completely different way of responding to my depression and anxiety that worked for me.
And I think that as the World Health Organization says and the UN says, if we talk less about chemical imbalances and more about power imbalances we will get more at the heart of depression and anxiety and we will find better solutions.
This was a … this was such a personal and difficult trip for me. There were these two mysteries that really tormented me, and it's a sign of how scared I was to see them. I wanted to start doing this seven years ago and I thought that it would actually be easier to make a book that would force me to spend time with the hit men of the Mexican drug cartels, which I did then.
And the first was: why was he still depressed? I went to see my doctor when I was a teenager and I explained that I had the feeling that the pain was running away from me. I did not understand. I could not regulate it. I was very afraid of that. I was very embarrassed about that.
Video credits to Big Think YouTube channel