depression

  1. The battle against PTSD

    Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are routinely pumped full of antipsychotic drugs. And as most of them will tell you (in language I can't use here), those drugs aren't doing a darn thing for them.

    And now there's research to back them up -- and it's not all in their head.

    Researchers randomly assigned 247 combat vets who were suffering from PTSD to either the antipsychotic medication Risperdal (aka risperidone), or a placebo, for six months.

    In both groups, only 5 percent of veterans had a complete recovery. In both groups, between 10 percent and 20 percent showed some modest improvement. And in both groups, the vets reported similar scores for depression, anxiety, and quality of life.

    In other words, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that this "powerful" drug has all the power of a sugar pill.

    But while the vets who took the drug didn't get any relief, they did get a few other things: side effects such as weight gain and fatigue, including an extreme level of fatigue known as somnolence.

    While the study only involved Risperdal, the researchers say they believe similar antipsychotic drugs -- including Seroquel, Geodon, and Abilify -- will prove to be every bit as useless.

    Fortunately, our soldiers don't have to wait for Big Pharma to answer the call when it comes to PTSD. The U.S. military itself has been quietly investigating some of the best alternative treatments, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, fish oil, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and acupuncture.

    And the early word from many veterans who've tried these treatments has been encouraging (and printable).

    Some of the most promising research involves acupuncture, with medics in the field even using the needles to treat the traumatic brain injuries.

    Back on the homefront, research on the technique for PTSD itself is under way right now.

    In one small recent study, veterans suffering from PTSD who were given either acupuncture or group cognitive-behavioral therapy for 12 weeks had significant improvements when compared to a control group. The benefits lasted for full three months after treatment.

    Obviously, we need more studies to ensure these treatments really do work -- but since we now know for sure that drugs don't, let's stop wasting time and give veterans the real thanks they deserve.

    Let's get them healed.

  2. The real reason for Prozac Nation

    Who's responsible for the antidepressant frenzy that's led to 10 percent of all Americans taking these dangerous meds?

    If you guessed shrinks, you're only partly right. Fact is, there's been a stunning rise in the number of non-psychiatrists dishing out mood drugs.

    The worst part about it is that they're not just prescribing them for depression. Family doctors are giving these meds out as a cure-all for practically everything under the sun.

    A recent study found that the number of family doctors and other non-shrinks prescribing antidepressants more than doubled between 1996 and 2007, from 4 percent to 9 percent.

    At the same time, the number of antidepressants given without any mental diagnosis at all -- no depression, no anxiety, none of it -- shot up at an even faster rate, from 2.5 percent to 6.4 percent, according to the study in Health Affairs.

    Doctors were prescribing them for conditions like smoking, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders and more -- despite the fact that they're approved for exactly none of those conditions.

    Not only that, but long-term antidepressant use has been linked to sex problems and sleep disorders. Talk about ironic!

    And while those drugs won't do much for you, they can do plenty to you. Studies have linked long-term antidepressant use to weight gain, diabetes, cognitive decline, and cataracts... not to mention some pretty serious withdrawal issues when you eventually do stop taking them.

    But what's even worse than what we know about these drugs is what we don't. There's simply not enough research out there on the long-term use of antidepressants.

    Or, as lead researcher Dr. Ramin Mojtabai of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore told HealthDay News: "Pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in long-term effects because they don't need that for FDA approval."

    Ain't that the truth.

  3. Always look on the bright side of life

    Your outlook could play a direct role in your stroke risk, with the most negative people facing the most negative outcomes.
  4. Slow motions pack a real punch

    This ancient martial art can help beat everything from physical pain to depression -- and new studies show how it can help speed recovery in heart failure patients, reduce the risk of falls, and even improve your mental health.
  5. Lousy job can be worse than no job

    While a steady job can help keep your bank account healthy, a lousy one can actually destroy your mental health--and a new study shows how it could even be worse for you than not working at all.
  6. Depressed? Don't touch that pill bottle!

    Just look at Chantix: The notoriously bad antismoking drug was never tested on depressed people--even though studies have found that up to 40 percent of all depressed people smoke.
  7. Tai chi beats depression

    A new study finds the slow, rhythmic Chinese exercises called Tai Chi can help seniors beat depression--even in cases where drugs have failed.
  8. The sad, quiet death of talk therapy

    Talk therapy has proven time and again to be every bit as effective as drugs for conditions like depression--without the nasty side effects.
  9. Fish oil helps seniors beat the blues

    If the maritime atmosphere doesn't lift your spirits, the menu sure will--because the omega-3s found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna are the ultimate blues busters.
  10. Junk food in depression link

    It's a never-ending cycle that'll have you depressed and wearing pants with an elastic band in no time... and a new study links that cycle to one ingredient in particular: trans fat, the not-so-secret ingredient that helps to make junk food so tasty... and so dangerous.
  11. Antidepressants for everyone

    Primary care docs are prescribing antidepressants so easily that they're practically giving them away--and a new study shows that millions of Americans are now taking these meds despite never actually being diagnosed with depression.
  12. Screen time is disease time

    Researchers surveyed 3,034 children in Singapore from third grade through eighth grade every year from 2007 through 2009, and found that while nearly all of them played games, about 9 percent went much further. They were addicts.
  13. Shine a light on depression

    Light therapy, as you may know, involves staring at a specially focused light for a little while each day. It's already the standard treatment for a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
  14. Magnetic therapy beats depression

    A new study finds that the emerging depression treatment I've been telling you about, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), can help beat even the toughest cases of depression.
  15. Eeyore Nation: How mainstream treatments keep America depressed

    A new survey finds that nearly 10 percent of the nation is suffering from clinical depression, a stunningly high number that only proves again how drugs have failed.
  16. Drink and be merry

    If you find that you're happier when you have a drink or two, you're not alone – and you're not necessarily drunk, either.
  17. Saving teens from depression

    Two of the biggest problems when it comes to teens and depression is that many are overtreated – while many others are not treated at all.
  18. Talking yourself to sleep

    If you're not getting enough sleep, don't be so quick to reach for that pill bottle.
  19. Don't drown your sorrows

    A new study confirms what most of us already know – but plenty of people somehow still can't avoid: Heavy drinking to cope with the blues can lead to alcoholism and depression.
  20. Antidepressants just don't work

    Recent studies have questioned the effectiveness of some of the most common antidepressants – drugs millions of Americans take in the belief it'll help them feel better.

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