We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that a part of us shall remain inconsolable and never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it is completely filled, it will nevertheless remain something changed forever…

Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

The process of grieving is different for everyone, many who struggle to cope with their loss feel disconnected, unable to focus, overwhelmed, scattered in their thoughts, extreme sadness and a million other emotions as we try to make sense of death. Some people feel they are losing their mind. Unfortunately many do not understand that these emotions and feelings are normal and natural, as are feelings of depression associated with loss.

Grief  depression a mental health illness?

Most of society believe that depression is a valid illness, it is used to describe a panacea of emotional disturbances. Depression is diagnosed according to guidelines pertaining to particular characteristics displayed by the person; One set of diagnostic criteria used to assess depression is known as “SIGECAPS,” which stands for sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor and suicide.  If you have displayed any of these characteristics more than two weeks, you could be deemed to be depressed. The initial treatment,  antidepressants and the outcome, the person will recover and move forward to live a depression free life, if only it were that simple.

Antidepressants to treat grief depression?

Over the years I have met many people who after a loss, were recommended antidepressants pills and only a few weeks following their loss. I could never understand why, yes grief and depression have similar characteristics in terms of how they manifest, but surely a doctor understands that grief is the cause and depression the effect connective?

How do antidepressants work?

Having trawled through the internet and read extensively on the subject, it seems there are numerous conclusions, hypotheses and much debate around antidepressants, how they work and how much is the placebo effect. Simply put, antidepressants are psychiatric drugs, we are told are supposed to boost noradrenaline and serotonin the “happy brain chemicals” and are thought to help regulate mood by stimulating chemical changes that increase the levels of these neurotransmitter messages to the brain.

So do they work?

Again, there is much controversy around the benefits that antidepressants actually provide in treating depression. Trial research also confirms that the placebo effect must  and cannot be discarded. Professor of Medicine Lennard J. Davis points out that physicians routinely prescribe not one, but two or three SSRIs and other psychopharmacological drugs in combination—with really no studies to back them up.

Physicians who engage in what is known as “polypharmacy” are hoping that if one didn’t work, maybe two or three will.

Davis writes:

“Doctors are in essence performing uncontrolled experiments on their patients, hoping that in some scattershot way they might hit on a solution. But of course drugs have dangerous interactions and most physicians are shooting in the dark with all the dangers that attend such bad marksmanship.”

In fact, the entire serotonin hypothesis for depression should be given a serious review.

Dr Joseph Mercola also questions the validity of antidepressants in treating people as follows:

Most of you have probably heard that depression is due to a “chemical imbalance in your brain,” which these drugs are designed to correct …this is not a scientific statement… So where did it come from?

The low serotonin theory arose because they understood how the drugs acted on the brain; it was a hypothesis that tried to explain how the drug might be fixing something. However, that hypothesis didn’t hold up … Investigations were done to see whether or not depressed people actually had lower serotonin levels, and in 1983 the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) concluded that:

“There is no evidence that there is anything wrong in the serotonergic system of depressed patients.”

The serotonin theory is simply not a scientific statement. It’s a botched theory — a hypothesis that was proven incorrect.

The fact that this fallacy continues to thrive is destroying the health of millions, because if you take an SSRI drug that blocks the normal reuptake of serotonin, you end up with the very physiological problem the drug is designed to treat –- low serotonin levels. Which, ironically, is the state hypothesized to bring on depression in the first place.

I am not a medic but I do know grief and believe that there is validity in what Dr Mercola has presented.

So can noradrenaline and serotonin be stimulated naturally?

According to one study from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, of the United Kingdom, exercise increases brain serotonin function in humans. A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology revealed that there are two mechanisms by which physical activity increases brain serotonin. First, motor activity increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is “fired” within the brain, resulting in an increase in both the release and synthesis of it. Secondly, regular exercise increases the level of tryptophan in the brain (an amino acid used to manufacture serotonin). Research in biological psychiatry also concludes that exercise and diet play a huge role in stimulating “the happy chemicals” in the body.

Exercise V Antidepressants

Antidepressants come with a written description of possible side effects as follows:

  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Sedation (can interfere with driving or operating machinery)
  • Sleep disruption
  • Weight gain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance/diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of libido
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of suicide

Side effects of exercise

Improves mood and protects against mental health disorders. Serotonin, which is produced by long-term exercise, decreases depression and hostility, Dopamine improves your mood and long-term memory. It stimulates highly pleasurable feelings in the brain and could contribute to what is called “runners high.”

So why are doctors prescribing antidepressants?

  • This theory has become so indoctrinated into our culture and media that most people just accept it as fact, simply because they’ve heard it so often. Even mental health practitioners
  • We live in a culture of “a pill for an ill,” those grieving want their doctorto fix them.
  • Doctors don’t have time for patients the way they used to and recommending exercise and a better diet is to simple
  • We trust our doctors with our health both physical and mental, if they tell us to take antidepressants, well, they know best don’t they?
  • Those grieving are vulnerable and would do anything to stop the pain
  • Money, the drug industry have hit the jackpot in terms of the variety of ills that are treated with antidepressants and the sheer number of people who are grieving all over the world
  • It is estimated that the “depression industry” is worth $19 billion a year, and that I believe is the main motivator in prescribing antidepressants

What does the eight-hundred-pound gorilla do? Anything it wants to.

Dr Joseph Mercola