On Mental Health

Stress Management.  Pursuing happiness. Understanding and managing anxiety and depression.


Rethinking Depression

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression were, until about 50 years ago, a very small part of family practice, with an incidence of about 1%.  Yet today, depression appears poised to overtake cardiovascular diseases as the largest contributor to disability claims in Canada and the USA in terms of it dollar value.  More college kids are taking antidepressants than are taking birth control pills;  and the incidence of depression in the family practice setting is now estimated to be over 10%.  More depression, and more use of antidepressants than ever.  Makes one wonder about many things: Is there a real increase in the incidence of depression worldwide, or is this an artifact of either previous underdiagnosis, or more recent overdiagnosis, or both? Are the antidepressants actually fixing anything?  Were they even intended to?

A recent three-part CBC radio series on the program, Ideas, with Paul Kennedy, is very illuminating.  The program covers the history of the diagnosis and treatment of depression, the development of the DSM III diagnostic criteria, the seeming success of the drugs Valium and then Prozac, the FDA approval of antidepressants, and finally, the recent research that demonstrates that the efficacy of the current medications, vs. placebo, at least for mild to moderate depression, is sketchy at best.  Check out these podcasts:

So for those endless hours of free time you have: