Heard about a study this morning that links depression and stroke risk, finding that people who have been depressed have an increased likelihood of stroke even after they are no longer depressed. Recommendation, of course? Identify and medicate depression earlier-even thought the stroke risk remains elevated indefinitely after depression is ‘gone’. REALLY??? What about the possibility that impaired oxygen flow may be a causal factor in depression, and a precursor to stroke? What about a low level of B vitamins and other nutrients that impact the physical brain and mental health? What about a person lacking the basic skills to cope with stress, which may also impact overall function and increase stroke risk? What about a diet based on refined carbohydrates, which raises triglycerides, which have been positively linked to stroke risk, and leads to depression?
The issue here is the acceptance of the doctrine that giving people more pills sooner will prevent every other possible health problem, rather than looking for root issues that can be personally managed and will prevent a plethora of other concerns. Enough exercise has been shown to drastically reduce both depression levels and stroke risk. Enough Vitamin D (see my blog post for more on that fraud) does the same. In Chinese medicine depression is rooted in unexpressed anger, which is associated with the liver, which regulates blood quality, so could be a factor in strokes. Likewise balanced calcium and magnesium levels, adequate trace minerals, breathing exercises and yoga are proven to lower hypertension, depression, and a host of related and other health conditions.
I may get lots of hostility for this comment, but depression is way over-diagnosed, and ridiculously over-treated. As a culture we have accepted the myth that life is supposed to be painless, easy and fun. (“The Prozac Effect” is an excellent book on the subject!) We don’t allow mourn
ing even after great personal loss; you get two weeks off work and are ‘depressed’ if you aren’t ‘moving on with your life’ after six weeks so we need to “give you something to help you get over this”, isolating us from each other instead of having us reach out to each other for and with support. I know so many people (including many close to me) on anti-depressants-and after years and years they are still depressed. Obviously, it is not working, and most find they need an anxiety medication as well within 2-3 years on the medication. Why? Anti-depressants ‘numb’ emotions (the biggest comment I get from clients who ask for help in feeling better so they can stop taking them). In real life, the only time we feel that way is in a serious crisis situation; when we feel that way for an extended period our mind begins to wonder why, and starts looking around for the crisis that has to be lurking somewhere. I have seen it over and over and over. Connection to stroke? Anxiety increases adrenalin output, and that is something that will elevate stroke risk. Bottom line here is that we need to look at our overall picture, recognize that we can manage much more than we believe we can, and that we have got to stop looking for a magic bullet that will ‘fix’ us. There is much more ‘right’ with us than can ever go ‘wrong'; every symptom is just a message that we need to address something differently in our lives. Let’s get better!