One of the main things I do is help people avoid psychiatric medications, especially for anxiety.
In Part 1 of this article last month I wrote about:
• Why my clients who want to get off of medication for anxiety and/or depression have a hard time believing it is possible
• Drug companies’ investment in the “chemical imbalance theory”
• That this is just one “theory” about anxiety and/depression treatment, and it may not be true
This can be hard to believe when we have been inundated with billions of dollars of TV advertising supporting the theory.
But sometimes things are worth questioning.
There was a time we didn’t believe smoking caused cancer.
There was a time we didn’t believe that stress contributed to illness.
Does Research Prove the Theory True?
Significant research challenges the chemical imbalance theory. [Acknowledgement to Dr. Kelly Brogan MD; see link to her research below.]
o A now famous 2008 study looked at 74 studies testing whether antidepressant drug use showed beneficial results. 38 showed positive results and 36 showed no benefit. Most of the ones that showed no benefit were never published.
o Another review of existing research showed that when unpublished studies were included, placebos (sugar pills with no active ingredient) outperformed antidepressants in more than half of the studies. [Placebos work because of the power of the mind to believe they will work.]
o To prove this point further, other research studied patients who were taking Prozac and reported a benefit from the drug. They lost their perceived benefit if they believed that they might be getting a placebo sugar pill – even though they were actually still getting the Prozac.
o A meta-analysis (which is a review of a large number of existing studies) found that when patients reported feeling better, only 27% of the reported benefit was from medication.
These are just a very few examples that leave a lot of room for questioning.
How Psychiatric Medications are Prescribed Today
At the same time, research shows more and more people are being prescribed psychiatric drugs without having a psychiatric diagnosis.
I believe that doctors are caring and want to help. They do their best to help relieve people’s symptoms with the time and tools they have to offer. Medication is their primary tool. And time is unfortunately limited – often times limited to 10-15 minute appointments.
My clients often tell me how this leaves them feeling under-informed, frustrated, limited, helpless, and even defective (i.e. I have a disorder, I have a permanent brain imbalance, I have a defect, I am weak, I’m not like normal people, I’ll be like this forever).
[By the way, ALL of those thoughts and feelings themselves are likely to cause anxiety and depression!]
Is There a Better Way?
Lots of experts have differing opinions about that.
I happen to believe in alternatives to medication which are proven by research to be equally or more effective. These have nothing to do with chemical imbalance. [HINT: The gold standard treatment for anxiety and panic is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).]
What do you believe?
I encourage you to question, to be aware, to be informed and know that there is more than one way to feel better. Ask yourself what makes sense to you.
Sometimes things are worth questioning.
There was a time when we all believed that the world was flat.
Disclaimer: The topic of prescription medication can be a challenging one for many people. I encourage you to take responsibility for being fully informed and confident making the right healthcare choice for yourself. This article is not medical advice and does not replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional of your choosing. Never make medication changes on your own.