For Diane, one glass of wine wasn’t enough. In order to just feel okay, she’d started to drink more alcohol than she knew she should.
“I felt like I was almost unraveling mentally,” said Christina, who had severe fatigue. “At points I was starting to get paranoid about stuff, very anxious, nervous…I was having panic attacks. I started having them at work.”
Frank described himself as “depressed, sad at all times, no desire to do anything…that was a big change for me…no energy, feeling weaker. I didn’t feel like myself. I’ve always been a bodybuilder. When all this started I quit bodybuilding. I quit everything.”
These four patients do not have any blatantly obvious physical ailments. So what could possibly be wrong? What do you think the diagnosis would most likely be?
Unfortunately, for Shaun, Diane, Christina and Frank, most traditional medical physicians would diagnose a psychiatric problem, and write a prescription for a medication like Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Xanax or Ativan.
However, an Ageology Physician, who takes an integrative metabolic medicine (IMM) approach to treatment, would most likely have a very different idea about what the source of the problem might be for these patients. Before I go any further, consider these startling statistics:
- According to current figures from the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 4 Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. That’s 57.7 million people.
- More than 1 in 5 Americans take at least one drug to treat a mental disorder. That’s a 22 percent increase just in the last decade.
- In her 2011 article in the New York Review of Books, Marcia Angell, M.D., shared a frightening statistic: the rate of depression is 10-20 times higher than it was 50 years ago.
- When women feel depressed or anxious, they are more likely to end up on prescription medication than men. Twenty-five percent of women receive a prescription for antidepressants in response to doctor visits, compared with only 15 percent of men. The same survey (from a report from pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions) found that anti-anxiety medications are used twice as much by women as by men.
Let’s go back to our four patients. It’s highly probable that Shaun, Diane, Christina and Frank would all be prescribed a prescription drug to combat their “psychiatric” problems. While, these medicines might temporarily relieve symptoms, there are three downsides to their use:
- Most have side effects that range from uncomfortable (for example, loss of libido, restlessness, sleepiness) to dangerous (increased suicidal thoughts, severe restlessness, addiction).
- Stopping these medications can create withdrawal symptoms, which can last for days to weeks. Users trying to wean off the drug often feel an intense surge of depression or anxiety. This is due to an imbalance that was created and maintained by the medicine. Thinking they need the meds to get by, they start using them again. Far too many doctors are willing to play along with the idea that these patients will require these medicines indefinitely, maybe for life.
- They don’t address the root causes of the symptoms for which they are prescribed. They are a “Band-Aid,” and a flimsy one at that.
The most important point to remember here is that none of these patients’ problems were caused by neurotransmitter imbalances, which is what these medications are designed to address. Any doctor unwilling to take an IMM approach—looking at deeper issues involving hormone balance, nutrition, lifestyle and life stresses—is going to do little for these patients.
Fortunately, the patients I mentioned above sought out the care of an Ageology Physician. In my next blog, I’ll share with you how each of their stories ended.
Photo Credit: DailyMail.co.uk