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Daily Dose - The "sad" truth about depression (Health)

posted by bibleprobe(R) Homepage, Mass., 06.04.2007

June 04, 2007

Glimmer of Hope for the Doctors of Dope...

Just when I think that a certain segment of medicine - psychiatry - has been washed so far down a river of drug-money that it can't ever recover its credibility, I read something that gives me the barest hope for the discipline's survival...

Today, it's this: According to a recent study summarized in The Archives of General Psychiatry, nearly 25% of those who seem to fit a modern definition of "depression" are simply wrestling with the PERFECTLY NORMAL AFTERMATH of some traumatic event or blow to their emotions - a failed marriage, a lost job, or maybe even a major investment gone sour.

Beyond this, the study's authors (which I'm pretty sure DON'T include anyone sitting on any of Big Pharma's Boards of Directors) suggest that the standardized definition of depression may need to be redrawn to avoid unwarranted diagnoses or treatment, a recent New York Times article on the study reveals...

The research flies somewhat in the face of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) diagnostic manual - which doesn't adequately differentiate depression from normal feelings of profound sadness, except (oddly) in the case of bereaved patients. These folks are the only ones allowed under the book's guidelines to feel overwhelmed, despondent, or even suicidal without automatically being labeled "depressed" and drugged into a stupor.

If the APA acts on it, this could be good news not just for psychiatric patients who don't want to suffer through the side effects of anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs - but also to an ever-larger number of high-school and college students. Nowadays, "depression" is all but formally diagnosed at school nurses' offices and university health centers using ridiculously simplistic checklists which don't take life events into proper account...

But this doesn't stop most doctors from cramming pills down their young throats anyway!

As I mentioned before, the study suggests that of the more than 30 MILLION Americans the psychiatric establishment estimates as having suffered from depression at some point in their lives, around 1 in 4 may have been misdiagnosed - and very likely needlessly medicated.

As if this weren't enough "depressing" news...

According to researchers from Denver's University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, children of at least one "depressed" parent are more likely to end up in the emergency clinic or to consult a doctor for an acute illness than kids of a similar age with well-adjusted parents. Conversely, older children (teens) living with a depressed parent were less likely to visit the doctor for routine check-ups, the study indicates...

The rub: Parents' states of mind can profoundly affect their kids' health.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, were based on scientists' review of the health insurance medical records of approximately 70,000 kids of all ages from 1997 to 2002. How the researchers established the parents' "depression" wasn't made clear in the Reuters article on the study I read...

This doesn't much matter, though. My point (as I've said many times before) is that a diagnosis of depression itself can often stigmatize and emotionally cripple the patient who's being diagnosed!

Bottom Line: People trust their doctors. And when a doctor refers the average person to a psychiatrist, that headshrinker may dash off a prescription for antidepressant drugs without gathering all the facts first. As a result, some merely SAD adults become convinced that there's something wrong with them in the head - and they also may begin struggling with the mind-numbing effects of their anti-depression medications.

Neither of these things bode well for attentive child rearing - which might explain the extra doctor visits for injuries and illness among youngsters and the lack of regular healthcare for older kids. And apparently, in at least 25% of cases (it's probably more like 90% if you ask me), these "depressed" parents are medicated needlessly...

Too bad for our kids that the concept of "medicated needlessly" is so depressing to the APA and Big Pharma. Only time will tell if this landmark research will result in any meaningful reforms in depression diagnosis or not.

I'm betting "NOT."

Always diagnosing unnecessary dosing,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

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