These days we have ADD/ADHD, PTSD, OCD, GAD. Phobias, depression, eating disorders, panic disorders — the list of mental disorders is very long. Did we have so many disorders a few decades ago, or have we just gone overboard with classifying diseases? Are we so focused on symptom treatment that we forget the cause?
Consider this sequence:
- A set of symptoms is classified as a disorder.
- Drugs are developed to reduce or halt those symptoms rather than the cause.
- Since the cause is not removed, the patient is dependent on those drugs to feel better.
- Pharmaceutical companies are profiting from sales of these drugs.
- The drugs may have “side effects”, leading to further medications to counteract those reactions.
- The patient’s toxicity is increasing, often leading to new disease.
- The cycle continues…
Names may not be helpful
Giving a set of symptoms a name doesn’t change anything. Symptoms may belong to a number of different classifications. A diagnosis is an attempt to put a name to a set of symptoms (a condition). You haven’t been changed by getting a diagnosis, but the doctor’s reaction changes to an attempt to deal with the named condition.
Medical doctors have a major challenge: without knowing you very well, you present to them a list of symptoms. In a short period of time, they have to classify those into a diagnosis, then a treatment plan for you before moving on to the next patient. The “textbook” approach is to classify the symptoms into a named disorder, consult the “textbook” for the treatments available for that disorder, and then test that treatment on you. If your symptoms remit, they declare success and write more prescriptions.
That is, of course, over-simplified, but it is the easiest path for doctors to follow. If their training supports medications and procedures over general health improvement, they will naturally prescribe those as the best course of action. Classification of disorders also promotes subdividing the body into components, rather than looking at you as a whole being. With mental issues, this temptation is particularly strong: we are dealing just with the brain and don’t have to consider other factors.
Mental issues are environmental
In the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, researchers determined in one study that the level of depressive and anxiety disorders has remained almost the same for two decades, while antidepressant use more than tripled. They also noted that these disorders, as well as PTSD, are not hereditary, but are responses to the environment. They consider the symptoms as signals to make people aware of the need for help.
These signals are, in increasing numbers, leading people to drug solutions rather than delving into the root causes. And the standard medical community encourages that in many cases, downplaying or not even understanding the health costs. Drugs are almost universally toxic in some way, even when they achieve the desired effect. That is the real cost, which can be very high in some cases.
The American Psychological Association states for anxiety disorders, “Research generally shows that psychotherapy is more effective than medications, and that adding medications does not significantly improve outcomes from psychotherapy alone.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness lists numerous treatments which seek to replace bad thoughts, root out bad experiences and resolve them, “mentalizing” images, desensitizing mental triggers, and teaching new coping skills. These approaches do not rely upon medications. That’s because mental responses are environmentally driven, so a different mental environment will elicit different responses.
Some mental illness drugs suppress or promote certain chemicals which a healthy body should have in balance. For instance, some antidepressants counter a deficiency of serotonin or noradrenaline, when diet and exercise would remove those deficiencies. This is a bit like trying to fix a slow computer by giving it a bigger power supply — it doesn’t address the real problem. Drugs impact the whole body and attempt to change how it works. Does your body need to work differently? Perhaps — but usually better health is the best way to accomplish that. Indeed, the brain requires a balance of chemicals, oxygen, nutrition, hydration — and the body is designed to provide those.
Use the right toolkit
There is a common saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If your medical toolkit does not contain the best tool, you may still get results which appear OK — you may drive in a screw with a hammer and have it stay for a little while — but you may cause other damage in the process which is harder to fix. A carpenter uses many tools, some of which are very specialized, designed to get the best results for building the whole house. Especially today, when the standard medical community consists largely of specialists, a holistic approach may be hard to find there. The brain is a very complex and delicate instrument, requiring the use of specialized tools. Mental disorders don’t respond well to a hammer.
You are ultimately in control of your health — not anyone else. You are the carpenter maintaining your house. An informed and educated carpenter knows the right tool to use and when. The best medicine educates and empowers you, but you have to act.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Medications are life savers in emergency medicine. We are all thankful for this ability of medications to make a quick change in our bodies biochemistry so we can come out of a crisis. After that medication starts to become less necessary and more a patching of symptoms, producing at least 7 side effects for each medication taken. This is okay in crisis; not so okay with daily living. The most powerful aspect of these studies is that the environment rules the body and the mind, not the other way around. What this means is the physical, mental and emotional environment will control what symptoms, conditions and diseases you are experiencing. This is a great revelation because you do have control over a high percentage of the environment you expose yourself to. Do you put yourself in worldly, stressful environment of the media, including social media, or do you spend time separated — listening to your Father speak to your heart, your spirit? Why follow the crowd? You already know where that train is heading. Why don’t you try listening to the still quiet voice speaking to you?