But there’s still so far to go before people start to really understand that pills are not the answer, and that depression and anxiety are primarily spiritual issues, with spiritual solutions.
One of the things that has been bugging me for years now is that while the average lay person may not know that there is no scientific evidence behind the ‘myth’ of chemical imbalances, and that anti-depressants are no better at relieving symptoms than a sugar pill would be (without all the horrible side effects) - I simply can’t understand how experts in the field are continuing to tell unsuspecting people these lies.
Once again, there is NO science backing up the pharmaceutical-driven idea that chemical imbalances cause mental illness, and there is PLENTY of science showing that anti-depressants, benzodiazepenes, Ritalin and pretty much every other psychotropic ‘medication’ out there do enormous damage to people’s mental and physical health over the long term.
The benefit of using these drugs hardly ever outweigh the long-term costs, for the vast majority of people being prescribed them (of course, there is always the odd exception that the world and his wife likes to email me about, but exceptional they indeed are.)
There’s also PLENTY of science out there showing that emotional illnesses are nearly always a result of traumatic experiences and / or childhood neglect and abuse. (A great book on this subject, if you’re interested, is Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, by Pete Walker.)
Until and unless people get to grips with how this trauma affected them, and their reactions to the world, and their beliefs about themselves, they effectively can’t heal from the emotional and mental distress they’re experiencing. As soon as you leave the ivory towers of modern psychiatry (that have all been paid for by Glaxo…) and stop listening to all the delusional, self-serving waffle being put out by psychiatrists, all this stuff becomes as clear as day.
So why is it that even some of our most well-known ‘frum’ psychiatrists continue to peddle a bunch of hogwash to the unsuspecting Jewish public about what’s causing emotional illnesses, and the role medications play in apparently ‘curing’ these problems?
There, this eminent rabbinic psychiatrist writes:
“The important point to realize is that a person may be depressed even in the absence of a psychological cause, but due to chemical changes in the body. These types of depression can be effectively relieved by appropriate medication.”
“There are also some people who have a ‘depressive personality’. They are chronically unhappy and just do not feel that the world is a nice place to live. This attitude may begin in childhood, so that there are children who mope for no apparent reason, and are chronically dissatisfied. Many cases of depressive personality are due to low self-esteem.”
Later on, he continues:
“Halachah requires that a person take antibiotics for pneumonia and the proper medication for diabetes. Refusal to take such medications is being a chassid shoteh (pious fool). Depression is no different.”
There’s plenty more I could quote, but let’s start with what I find troubling in these three paragraphs.
Firstly, body, mind and soul work together, with each mirroring the other. It’s common knowledge to anyone with a little bit of background in the biology of trauma that trauma affects the body viscerally, via the workings of the vagus nerve. (A big explanation of this is beyond the scope of this post, but take a look at THIS article, for more details.)
To put this into plain English, traumatic experiences (especially those that lead to PTSD and Complex PTSD), can change the way the body reacts to stimuli, and the way the brain processes and reacts to our experiences.
Trauma can affect our sleeping patterns, our digestive system, our ability to breathe, to have a clear head, our ability to think straight, our heart rate, how ‘on edge’, anxious and nervous we feel - to name but a few of the more obvious common symptoms of someone with C-PTSD.
When it comes to emotional and mental illnesses, there are NO chemical changes in the body that aren’t caused a priori, by being exposed to trauma-induced stress.
Also, SCIENCE has proven that regular exercise and a healthy diet can have a huge impact on overcoming mental illnesses, including depression and even schizophrenia. (See this article, which shows how regular exercise is more effective than anti-depressants at beating the blues).
Given that exercise and healthy eating have no negative side effects, why aren’t they the first port of call being suggested by this eminent rabbinic psychiatrist, to correct these ‘body imbalances’?
Next, there is simply no such thing as a ‘chronically dissatisfied’ kid who was born a ‘depressive personality’. There may be genetic tendencies that would pre-dispose a person towards things like depression if their childhood environment was stressful, neglectful or abusive enough, but SCIENCE shows that when a person is given ‘good enough’ parenting as a child, those depressive tendencies just don’t manifest.
Also, self-esteem has been directly linked to a child’s attachment to their mother, especially in the first three years of life. Why are these crucial pieces of information missing from the eminent rabbinic psychiatrist’s essay?
Lastly, the canard about the spiritual and emotional state of depression being like the physical state of diabetes, is a line that psychiatrists just love to trot out to persuade people why they need to take their meds like a good little girl. But if you READ THIS article that I wrote over on spiritual self-help, you can see for yourself why it’s a very deceitful and bogus comparison, not least because moods can and do change all the time, while diabetes doesn’t.
So now, what’s a person to think?
Why are some of our most eminent ‘frum’ psychiatrists continuing to peddle these deceitful statements about the causes and cures of things like depression and anxiety to members of the frum community?
Aren’t they up on the scientific literature? Don’t they read the statements that even the American Psychiatric Association has put out, stating there is no basis for claiming that so-called ‘chemical imbalances’ cause depression? (Click this link if you want an excellent article on this subject...)
Aren’t they following the court cases and exposes which have proven the ‘clinical evidence’ supporting use of anti-depressants as a Big Pharma scam? Don’t they know that God doesn’t send an illness to anyone ‘stam’, but that there’s always a message hidden in it, about what we need to acknowledge, change and fix in our lives?
Hopefully, I’ve done enough to convince you that meds is not the way to go, to manage our out-of-control negative emotions.
So that begs another question that one of the commentators asked: If meds are off the table, then what is a person meant to be doing instead to cope with it all!?!
In the next bunch of posts, I hope to start answering it with some practical, usable suggestions that you can start implementing ASAP.