By Gracelyn Guyol, Natural Solutions
Over the past 50 years, psychiatric drugs have become the major tools for treating mental illness. The first tranquilizers, introduced in 1952, have been followed nearly every decade since by a new class of drugs, the latest being antidepressants. While drugs were a godsend compared to the standard (and now seemingly barbaric) therapies of the 1930s–induced insulin coma, electroshock, and lobotomy–their shortcomings and dangers have become increasingly clear.
Fifty percent of depressed and bipolar patients experience no improvement with antidepressants. Of those who find relief, half go off their “meds” because of the unbearable side effects: Psychiatric drugs often cause a 30- to 60-pound weight gain, 58 percent report some level of sexual dysfunction, 40 percent develop tics or muscle spasms from major tranquilizers, and significant numbers report increased agitation, depression, mania, or suicidal urges. Other unadvertised, potential dangers include increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, invasive ovarian cancer, and lung and bladder cancers; doubled risk of heart attack; elevated risk for developing Type 2 diabetes; and, in children, increased mania, suicide, and stunted or delayed growth.
And yet in the face of this prescription onslaught, mounting evidence indicates that depression, bipolar, and other mood disorders are caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. While there’s not much anyone can do to alter the genes they’ve inherited, holistic approaches to the other two factors can lead to safer ways of managing these conditions.
Next: Are there underlying causes?