Saturday, May 15, 2010

Antidepressant medications: Effective treatment for depression or pharmaceutical industry scam?

Mark Hyman, MD recently wrote an article which can be found on, which outlined how Americans have been convinced by skewed scientific research to believe that antidepressant medications are an effective treatment for depression. Here is what he had to say:

"Here's some depressing recent medical news: Antidepressants don't work. What's even more depressing is that the pharmaceutical industry and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have deliberately deceived us into believing that they DO work. As a physician, this is frightening to me. Depression is among the most common problems seen in primary-care medicine and soon will be the second leading cause of disability in this country.

The study I'm talking about was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It found that drug companies selectively publish studies on antidepressants. They have published nearly all the studies that show benefit -- but almost none of the studies that show these drugs are ineffective. (1)

That warps our view of antidepressants, leading us to think that they do work. And it has fueled the tremendous growth in the use of psychiatric medications, which are now the second leading class of drugs sold, after cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The problem is even worse than it sounds, because the positive studies hardly showed benefit in the first place. For example, 40 percent of people taking a placebo (sugar pill) got better, while only 60 percent taking the actual drug had improvement in their symptoms. Looking at it another way, 80 percent of people get better with just a placebo.

That leaves us with a big problem -- millions of depressed people with no effective treatments being offered by most conventional practitioners. However, there are treatments available. Functional medicine provides a unique and effective way to treat depression and other psychological problems. Today I will review seven steps you can take to work through your depression without drugs. But before we get to that, let's take a closer look at depression.

What's in a Name?

"Depression" is simply a label we give to people who have a depressed mood most of the time, have lost interest or pleasure in most activities, are fatigued, can't sleep, have no interest in sex, feel hopeless and helpless, can't think clearly, or can't make decisions.

But that label tells us NOTHING about the cause of those symptoms. In fact, there are dozens of causes of depression -- each one needing a different approach to treatment. Depression is not one-size-fits-all, but it is very common.

Women have a 10 to 25 percent risk and men a five to 12 percent risk of developing severe major depression in their lifetime. (2) One in ten Americans takes an antidepressant. The use of these drugs has tripled in the last decade, according to a report by the federal government. In 2006, spending on antidepressants soared by 130 percent.

But just because antidepressants are popular doesn't mean they're helpful. Unfortunately, as we now see from this report in The New England Journal of Medicine, they don't work and have significant side effects. Most patients taking antidepressants either don't respond or have only partial response. In fact, success is considered just a 50 percent improvement in half of depressive symptoms. And this minimal result is achieved in less than half the patients taking antidepressants.

That's a pretty dismal record. It's only made worse by the fact that 86 percent of people taking antidepressants have one or more side effects, including sexual dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, loss of mental abilities, nausea, and weight gain.

No wonder half the people who try antidepressants quit after four months.

Now I want to talk to you about the reasons why doctors and patients have been deceived by the "antidepressant hoax." Despite what we have been brainwashed to believe, depression is not a Prozac deficiency!

How We have Been Deceived by the Antidepressant Hoax

Drug companies are not forced to publish all the results of their studies. They only publish those they want to. The team of researchers that reported their findings in The New England Journal of Medicine took a critical look at all the studies done on antidepressants, both published and unpublished. They dug up some serious dirt ...

The unpublished studies were not easy to find. The researchers had to search the FDA databases, call researchers, and hunt down hidden data under the Freedom of Information Act. What they found was stunning.

After looking at 74 studies involving 12 drugs and over 12,000 people, they discovered that 37 of 38 trials with positive results were published, while only 14 of 36 negative studies were published. Those that showed negative results were, in the words of the researchers, "published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome."

That means the results were twisted to imply the drugs worked when they didn't.

This isn't just a problem with antidepressants. It's a problem with scientific research. Some drug companies even pay or threaten scientists to not publish negative results on their drugs. So much for "evidence-based" medicine! I recently had dinner with a step-uncle who runs a company that designs research for drug companies. He designs the study, hires the researcher from an esteemed institution, directs the study, writes up the study and the scientist just signs his or her name after reviewing it.

Most of the time, we only have the evidence that the drug companies want us to have. Both doctors and patients are deceived into putting billions of dollars into drug companies' pockets, while leaving millions with the same health problems but less money.

The scientific trust is broken. What can we do? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. But I do think functional medicine, on which my approach of UltraWellness is based, provides a more intelligent way of understanding the research. Rather than using drugs to suppress symptoms, Functional Medicine helps us find the true causes of problems, including depression.

I see this in so many of the patients I have treated over the years. Just as the same things that make us sick also make us fat, the same things that make us sick also make us depressed. Fix the causes of sickness -- and the depression takes care of itself.

Consider a few cases from my practice ...

A 23-year-old had been anxious and depressed most of her life and spent her childhood and adolescence on various cocktails of antidepressants. Turns out, she suffered from food allergies that made her depressed.

Food allergies cause inflammation, and studies now show inflammation in the brains of depressed people. In fact, researchers are studying powerful anti-inflammatory drugs used in autoimmune disease such as Enbrel for the treatment of depression.

After she eliminated her IgG or delayed food allergies, her depression went away, she got off her medication -- and she lost 30 pounds as a side effect!

Here's another story ... A 37-year-old executive woman struggled for more than a decade with treatment-resistant depression (meaning that drugs didn't work), fatigue, and a 40-pound weight gain. We found she had very high levels of mercury. Getting the mercury out of her body left her happy, thin, and full of energy.

Or consider the 49-year-old man with severe lifelong depression who had been on a cocktail of antidepressants and psychiatric medication for years but still lived under a dark cloud every day, without relief. We found he had severe deficiencies of vitamin B12, B6, and folate. After we gave him back those essential brain nutrients, he called me to thank me. Last year was the first year he could remember feeling happy and free of depression.

These are just a few of the dozens of things that can cause depression.

The roots of depression are found in the 7 keys to UltraWelless and the 7 fundamental underlying imbalances that trigger the body to malfunction. Taking antidepressants is not the answer to our looming mental health epidemic. The real cure lies in rebalancing the underlying systems in your body that are at the root of all healthy and illness.

Here are a few things you can do to start treating your depression today.

7 Steps to Treat Depression without Drugs

1. Try an anti-inflammatory elimination diet that gets rid of common food allergens. As I mentioned above, food allergies and the resultant inflammation have been connected with depression and other mood disorders.

2. Check for hypothyroidism. This unrecognized epidemic is a leading cause of depression. Make sure to have thorough thyroid exam if you are depressed.

3. Take vitamin D. Deficiency in this essential vitamin can lead to depression. Supplement with at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day.

4. Take omega-3 fats. Your brain is made of up this fat, and deficiency can lead to a host of problems. Supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 mg of purified fish oil a day.

5. Take adequate B12 (1,000 micrograms, or mcg, a day), B6 (25 mg) and folic acid (800 mcg). These vitamins are critical for metabolizing homocysteine, which can play a factor in depression.

6. Get checked for mercury. Heavy metal toxicity has been correlated with depression and other mood and neurological problems.

7. Exercise vigorously five times a week for 30 minutes. This increases levels of BDNF, a natural antidepressant in your brain.

Overcoming depression is an important step toward lifelong vibrant health. These are just of few of the easiest and most effective things you can do to treat depression. But there are even more, which you can address by simply working through the 7 Keys to UltraWellness."

Mark Hyman, M.D.


(1) Turner EH et al. 2007. Selective publication of antidepressant trials and its influence on apparent efficacy. New England Journal of Medicine. 358: 252-260.

(2) Eaton WW, Kalaydjian A, Scharfstein DO, Mezuk B, Ding Y. 2007. Prevalence and incidence of depressive disorder: the Baltimore ECA follow-up, 1981-2004. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 116(3):182-188.

While this article is both informative and compelling, it eliminates the argument that physicians and mental health care providers have counted on for years: some people suffering from depression and/or anxiety DO improve with a treatment regimen that includes the use of antidepressant medication, with minimal or no side effects, and it takes a trial and error method to find this out. It's also alarming that of the 7 Steps to Treat Depression without Drugs recommended by Dr. Mark Hyman, none of them are psychotherapy, which a multitude of research studies have proven to be a highly effective treatment in managing depression.

The message of this article is to remain open and willing to identify both the potential causes of your depression, as well as the most effective and least invasive combination of treatments for YOU. This may or may not include anti-depressant medications, but you won't know until you have talked with your physician and mental health care provider about which forms of treatment make sense for you, given your unique situation. Remain skeptical, but open to the combination of treatments that can best help YOU effectively manage your mental health.

Respectfully submitted by Dr. Christina Villarreal, Clinical Psychologist in Oakland, CA

Poynter's News University: Education for Bloggers by: Nikky Raney


Online Media Law for Bloggers is a free self-directed course offered by Poynter Institute's News University.

Bloggers and others who want to know more about the laws that relate to gathering information and publishing content online should definitely take this course (as well as the MANY other courses offered by News University).

The self-directed course is said to take up to two hours, but you can start and stop whenever you want. You can start part of it now and then finish it up later. Although the course is self-directed there will be instructors helping you out (pre-recorded instruction).

The course description states, "It will make you aware of the red flags you should watch for to stay on safe legal ground. And, you'll have fun learning with activities such as "You Be the Judge" that tests your knowledge on some recent court cases involving bloggers."

The instructors for this course include David Ardia, Geanne Rosenberg and Scott Swift.

The training partners for this course are Citizen Media Law Project, Baruch College, Media Bloggers Association, and Axis Pro.

After completing this course you will know more about defamation, copyright infringement, and invasion of privacy. Even though I already know about these things it never hurts to learn more.

I am probably going to go take all the free courses within the next few days. I would recommend that (especially now that schools are almost out of session) bloggers, journalism students, writers, reporters, teachers, etc. should take a look at the offered courses and enroll. There are some courses on there that are said to take 14 hours of instruction!

This is a great way to continue learning about journalism while not being in school.

Although the BEST way to learn journalism is through EXPERIENCE, this definitely counts as a great way to learn even more. You also are given TESTS and QUIZZES to track your learning!

There are so many other courses that I would love to take, but I can't afford them. Maybe if one of the courses really sticks out to me I can save up some money! There are some courses/seminars/programs that require advanced application due to time sensitivity, group size available, and instructors availability.

I am glad that News University is available online for EVERYONE. This will help anyone who writes and publishes information online whether it be on a blog, Facebook, comment, website, etc. There are also free design training courses and the list goes on and on. Check it out for yourself.

This is definitely a PLUS for the future of journalism! Although it does not REPLACE the classroom (or a college degree), it can ADD to that as well as education for those who are unable to attend school or want to learn something specific! I am so glad that this exists. It is all done on your own free time (well, the self-directed ones). There are even design and photoshop training (free ones!)

Dear News University,

The Future of Journalism has become a little brighter thanks to you.

(As long as people use this source!)

Written by Nikky Raney

If you have anything in particular you want me to write about send me an e-mail.

I will try to incorporate more photos/visual into my posts

This entry originally was originally posted HERE

Oliver Stone Wall Street 2 Oscars - Suzannah B. Troy

Okay, I want to be the first to say "Oscars"!  There I said it.  Wall Street 2 will  be nominated for plenty of golden statues but will Oliver Stone clean up?   I am not selling him "short" or anything but will this film be on the level of Platoon and Wall Street?

I answer all these questions in my YouTube where I share just a few memories of working on the film Wall Street.   I had the lowest non-union job possible after I got, ehem, promoted, yes, that's right;  I was promoted from one of the only women parking production assistants  to craft services.   Not  really a promotion by the way and I had to feed a big crew and lots of extras.  I share my first conversation with Oliver Stone which was unforgettable, hilarious and proof I can give as good as I get if not better.

Oliver returned to NYC to film part 2 and I past the set and inquired after him.  They told me he was huddled in a hotel with bodyguards.  Yikes!   The controversial movie director has his fans and also his haters.  I am not a fan of his politics but Platoon was deeply moving and I saw it on my day off while working on Wall Street (1).   At one point we were working 6 days a week because as I recall they were afraid there was going to be a writer's strike or something.

I tell you about Charlie Sheen and a very sad memory for me now looking back having to run to the World Trade Center to pick up something for Charlie and I did not want to go on the errand.  It is really heart breaking for me to look back now and talk about that the WTC which by the way was a symbol for "World Trade" whether you are pro or con but it is now an open wound still not near healing or near completion.   Sept. 11 was mass murder and mass destruction so it gives one perspective so let us switch to happy Hollywood thoughts french style....

Bravo for all the fanfare at Cannes Film Festival with uber glamour and the exciting opening of Wall Street 2.  I can't get any reports on whether the film was well received or not.  I have a unique take on the film and whether it will do well that may or may not surprise you and I hit on the news two days ago when President Obama was snubbed here in NYC at a mega-bucks fund democratic fund raiser by Wall Street including Goldman Sachs.  Hear why I think this and other factors will effect Wall Street 2 at the box office.  Watch my YouTube!

Jessica Watson, 16, shows Miley Cyrus what "role model" is

Jessica Watson
While the media and pop culture were buzzing about Miley Cyrus, The Miley Cyrus Lap Dance Video, and some were attacking Miley for not acting like the role model she is as a 16 and now 17-year-old pop star, 16-year-old Jessica Watson was battling high seas, intense loneliness, the elements, and the idea that a teenage girl could not go around the World by herself, to finish her trip around the World. Jessica Watson arrived in Sydney Saturday.

Watson's the youngest person to sail alone and unassisted around the World.

This was a story such that I wondered if her parents were even in their right mind to let their little Jessica Watson do it. But, as National Public Radio reported several times in 2009, Jessica Watson was determined to prove everyone wrong.

Watson told the waiting crowd according to the Telegraph UK: "As a little girl people don't think you're capable of these things, they don't realise what young people, 16-year-olds and girls are capable of. But it's amazing what you can do." It certainly is.

From her blog
Jessica Watson braved 200 days and 23,000 nautical miles, and reportedly consumed 32 cans of Spam, 64 cans of tuna, 32 cans of pineapple, 576 chocolate bars, and 290 freeze dried ready meals all alone in her small yacht. (UPDATE: If you want to go back in time in her journey, you can read her compelling blog, The Official Jessica Watson Blog. )

The young woman - it's not fair to call her a girl - was called "Australia's newest hero" by Austrialia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Watson will also gain wealth and fame. She's going to be paid $700,000 to tell her story exclusively to an Austrialia's newspapers owned by Rupert Murdock and for becoming an News Corp "Ambassador."

(Does this mean she's going to be on Fox News with Sarah Palin?)

Whatever the case, Jessica Watson brings a new meaning to Miley Cyrus' Can't Be Tamed, and just in the nick of time.

Welcome home!

Miley Cyrus Lap Dance Video gets Dancing with The Stars attention

A preview of Dancing With The Stars?
As if the whole Miley Cyrus Lap Dance Video scandal wasn't interesting enough, it seems to have drawn Dancing with The Stars' attention.

No, Miley Cyrus is not going to be a dancer on Dancing with The Stars. Miley's going to perform her new hit Can't Be Tamed on the show, Tuesday.

While the skeptic may say the Dancing with The Stars staff probably signed her up before the Miley Cyrus Lap Dance Video surfaced, the report is Cyrus was just inked for the gig yesterday.

One has to wonder how Miley will be introduced on "Dancing." How about: "Fresh from her controversial lap dance and grind action with producer Adam Shankman, here's Miley Cyrus appropriately performing her new hit Can't Be Tamed!"

If you don't know what the Miley Cyrus Lap Dance Video scandal is all about, here's this blogger's video on it, thanks to

Meanwhile, TMZ's gone off the deep end with a new online game that has you in the role of Miley's father Billy Ray Cyrus, trying to corral Miley before she can get back to Adam Shankman's "gyrating crotch."

This is not a joke. It's a real game.

TMZ's Rocking the Casbah with this one.

Stay tuned.