As I pondered this question, I decided to look at three statistics: the number of people with depression, the amount of antidepressant drugs being used and the number of suicides. I researched books printed in 2002 to 2005 and two papers written in 2006. All three of the above stats have increased.
Some causes of depression are the death of a loved one; financial loss (including gambling); rejection by a spouse or significant other; betrayal by a trusted friend; alcohol and drug abuse; guilt about an illicit romance or contracting a sexually transmitted disease; loss of job; and loss of a pet. Depression resulting from any of these events is normal, but if feelings of depression last more than two weeks, then it is considered clinical depression, especially if it results in any of the following symptoms: loss of appetite or overeating; insomnia or too much sleep; change in weight; loss of energy; fatigue; loss of interest in things once enjoyed; social withdrawal; slumped posture; eyes downcast; unemotional speech; poor concentration; helplessness; hopelessness and thoughts about death and dying.
There are different degrees of depression — mild, moderate; and severe. Treatment consists of psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsant therapy (ECT). ECT is a last resort, and it is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. Electrodes are placed on different parts of the patient’s skull and an electric current is turned on for a couple of seconds.
Antidepressants were introduced in the 1970s, but in 1988, a new and far superior group of antidepressants called SSRI’s (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibiters) were introduced. Eighty percent of patients using those drugs improved, and many even recovered. Others relapsed and had to try ECT, or be on maintenance medication for life.
I found it interesting that in one medical book printed in 1985 (before the discovery of SSRIs), I read only one sentence that suggested religious counseling might be helpful, but only for a short time.
Fact: Twice as many women than men suffer from depression.
Warning: If you suffer from depression, be sure you are under the care of a specialist because taking an antidepressant incorrectly could result in suicide!
Warning: Untreated depression contributes to more than 30,000 suicides in the U.S. each year.
Rule: All persons with depression must be asked gently and directly about suicide. Any mention must be taken seriously and monitored. Unrecognized or inadequately treated depression contributes to 50 to 70 percent of all completed suicides.
Alert: In children, major depression may appear as irritability.
Individuals with major depression in their immediate family are up to three times more likely to have the disorder themselves.
Each year in the U.S., depressive disorders affect an estimated 17 million people at an annual cost of $53 billion! Last summer the FDA warned that several recent studies suggested that SSRIs and other antidepressants raise the risk of suicide in adults as well as children!
In the U.S., 150 million prescriptions for SSRIs were dispensed in 2004. In fact, we’re taking so many SSRIs that their breakdown products in urine flushed into waterways have accumulated in fish, raising concerns they may be getting toxic.
Final warning: When coming off SSRIs, wean off slowly, over a period of 3-4 weeks.
And don’t forget to pray. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).