The irresponsible prescription and use of antidepressant medication is one of the great tragedies of humankind unfolding before our eyes, internationally and in Aotearoa. For years, scientists who specialise in pyscho-pharmacy have stated that most of these chemicals don’t work, and are often dangerous. The status and commercial success of antidepressants is based on inadequate information. Vulnerable people are given hope in the form of a chemical substance that largely works by coincidence and awful side effects. The root cause of depression is not known by science and pharmaceutical companies, let alone addressed.
Antidepressants are definitely not conducive to life, really only geared towards the economic machine. Perhaps that is why more and more people get seduced into swallowing them. Literally. And the takers appear to be getting younger, as in the case of 17- year-old Toran Henry who recently died in Auckland after committing suicide. He had been diagnosed with depression and was medicated with fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac. Mainstream media have treated the story as an isolated case. They simply described Toran as a “troubled teen” and didn’t seem to dig much deeper.
In the meantime, study after study confirms that antidepressants perform only a little better than sugar pills, or placebos. In some studies they turn out to be even less effective. What’s more, the world renowned psycho-pharmacologist, Dr David Healy, found that when healthy volunteers were given antidepressants in tests, the drugs made a number of them belligerent, fearful, suicidal and the takers even posed a risk to others. Dr David Healy estimates that worldwide at least 250,000 people have attempted suicide because of Prozac alone, and that at least 25,000 have succeeded.
As recently as October last year, the government’s pharmaceutical agency in Aotearoa, PHARMAC, approved funding for yet another type of antidepressant drug, mirtazapine, taking the total number of government subsidised antidepressants to seventeen. Interestingly, when submitted to the FDA for licensing in America, the reports of clinical trials of this drug showed an excess of suicides and suicide attempts. PHARMAC simply mentioned in its press release for the funding of mirtazapine that it “has a different action on chemicals in the brain to those antidepressants we currently fund. One of the views put to us during consultation was that this could provide benefits for people who have not had a good response to other treatments.”
Other recent attempts by the New Zealand authorities to tackle “the problem of depression” include websites such as depression.org.nz. It recruited former All Black and Rugby Union player John Kirwan to assure the public that depression “is not a weakness, it’s just an illness”. Relative to antidepressant medication, the website offers false hope by stating: “Antidepressant medicines can help to correct changes in your brain involved with depression. There are several options that can be effective, and your doctor or psychiatrist will help to find the one best suited to your needs.”
The view that “a chemical imbalance in the brain” may be causing depression in humans (and that depression therefore is an illness that can be treated with medication) is popular and prevalent. However, it is based on a fundamentally flawed hypothesis in neuro- science. In a recent interview on Dutch television, Dr David Healy explained: “There is no good evidence that there is anything wrong with the level of serotonin in the brains of depressive people”. In his view some people who are depressed simply get better as a side effect of antidepressant drugs. Dr Healy has also pointed out that for companies to market the drugs as antidepressants rather than as “agents that cause agitation” is a business decision rather than a scientific matter.
While the pharmaceutical genius of the modern age has served the bodily health of humankind in many wonderful ways, greed has now taken a hold in the industry. An example is that they spend more money on marketing than on research and make billions of dollars of profit a year from selling antidepressant medication alone. Generally speaking, people with “mental health issues” have not been served since pharmacology married psychiatry, a profession based on a lot of guesswork, and more error than trial, spanning hundreds of years.
But rather than blaming pharmaceutical companies and their supporters for distributing or cashing in on dodgy chemicals disguised as quick-fix magic happy- pills, it would be more mature and helpful for humankind at large to not blame anything or anyone at all, and simply acknowledge that the human tragedy of antidepressant usage is a stark symptom of our disconnection from Real Life, or Love.
In truth, we all suffer from depression while living outside of wisdom. Only the degree and extent are different for everyone.
The most potent antidepressant treatment does not come from a blister pack and is not prescribed by a medical professional or other authority figure.
It is coming to the realisation that you are not a problem, never were a problem and never will be a problem. This is the basis of a wisdom community. The basis of natural life.
In a wisdom community, depression is not diagnosed but understood. It is understood as suppressed life- force or joy, and “treated” accordingly. Spiritual Masters are always here, full and complete. They come with all the abilities to pass on the fundamentals of a wisdom community. What’s more, the fundamentals for wisdom are inherent in each and every one of us. On this basis, we do not have to rely on cultic affluent consumerism as the basis of life.
Artist and mental health expert Sally Johnson has first- hand experience with the approach of no-problem to all of life. “I was on antidepressants when I stayed for the first time at Tushita Ashram, the Wisdom Sanctuary of Sri Bhagavan YanchiGuruji. While there, I found I had no need to take them. It made me think about what I was doing to my life that caused the need for this medication.
Being with a Sat-Guru Master who has fully realised and lives the Unproblematic condition is very powerful. While I found the antidepressants I took useful, no one is going to recover unless they become personally responsible for all aspects of their life. I can see that anyone who persists in living the conventional and most prevalent, problematic way of life could make a case for antidepressants. At the time, in my own case, the medication flat-lined my emotions, so that I was able to function 9 to 5, because I had to work. But I also felt that there was something fundamental and essential missing while I took them. I was not aware about the research that there is little difference between the effect of placebos and antidepressants.”
A realignment with the principle of knowing that you are already completely okay needs to take place. Regular contact with human beings who live wisely is necessary. People who have foregone all quick fixes and put each and every earthly satisfaction back into its rightful context. They have mastered life. Realising who they really are (and therefore, what the true nature of every sentient creature on this earth is), they are then able to pass this on to others, and lay the foundations for a culture based in Love rather than mortal fear.
Some of the publicly available sources in English, used for this article:
– “Agnes’ Jacket” by Dr Gail Hornstein, (Rodale Books 2009)
– Pharmac press release dated 31 October 2009 “Newly-funded antidepressant to meet unmet need”, available online via www.pharmac.govt.nz/patients/media
– “Let them eat Prozac” by Dr David Healy, (NYU Press 2006)
– “Prozac: a mother’s painful quest” by Chris Barton (New Zealand Herald, 21 March 2009)
– SSRIs and withdrawal/dependence: http://www.social audit.org.uk