Missing the Obvious When It Bites You on the Nose
The last time I saw my NP she had me fill out a depression/anxiety scale. I don’t have depression or anxiety so when I finished I had a zero score. When she came in and saw the scale she re-asked some of the questions with clarifications, I still had a zero score. She looked at me flabbergasted and said “you’re the first person I’ve seen in weeks that doesn’t have significant depression or anxiety, the first one in months with a zero score.” What’s really sad is that even though she’s in family medicine most of her patients are children. I think it’s also telling that she didn’t ask me why I thought it was that I didn’t have either depression or anxiety.
On a similar note I recently had a baby and every two weeks someone called me to screen for post partum depression and every baby’s visit to the doctor I got screened. Understandable, PPD is terrible and wasn’t talked about for far too long, post partum psychosis can have tragic outcomes. So I understand the screening. But thank God I don’t have PPD. It has been quite difficult to convince nurses and doctors that I’m not lying, I’m simply not depressed.
I can’t help but wonder how many people with very low levels of depression have been talked into thinking their problem is worse than it is by doctors and nurses (who I think do have the best of intentions) and that it must be medicated. Maybe worse I wonder how many people whose depression or anxiety is normal and even healthy have been zombified through medication.
When one of the nurses was asking me further questions about PPD she asked if I had any anxiety at all? I said yeah when the doctor called me and said my baby had a hole in her heart and she didn’t know how bad it was or not so we needed to see a pediatric cardiologist I had some anxiety and distress. But I know that such things are common and generally not a big deal so while I read up on her condition so I would be prepared we also gave it to God and have an army of people praying for her so we will just wait and hope it’s no big deal. (It’s likely not, PFO and VSD that seem to be resolving.) The nurse’s response was that “well if the anxiety gets out of control make sure and call us so we can get you some medicine”. I’m sorry but if the news that your baby has a whole in her heart of unknown size or location doesn’t give you at least momentary anxiety then there’s probably something wrong with you. Short lived anxiety is a completely reasonable and normal response to that news and drugging yourself numb to that cannot be beneficial. The same is true with depression. If your pet dies that is a legitimate reason to be depressed for a time or a season, mourning is a healthy coping mechanism. Drugging someone numb so they don’t experience normal and vital emotions is the opposite of “do no harm”.
Poking Big Pharma with the stick of Scripture, History, Augustine, Esolen, and Chesterton. It’s a good morning!
Love this: "It is one thing, like Rush’s critics, to be mocked by your contemporaries; it is quite another, like Rush himself, to be mocked by generation after generation after generation to come."
You would think modern day physicians would study their history and have a healthy dose of fear of being wrong. But it seems to be the opposite. We think our scientific methods are immune from fallibility. And we seem to have forgotten a slip in logic now, as it has in the past, will be forever remembered and lauded as what not to do.
Enjoyed reading this. Good day sir.
Interesting article and thoughts. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for the last year, and I did end up taking a low dose of Wellbutrin. While it got me out of the dark place I was in, I have felt it start waning in effectiveness. We talked about adding in another medication, and I ultimately decided I didn’t feel good about it. I started acupuncture instead, along with meditation/prayer and trying to follow the principals in the book “the power of positive thinking” (which is very biblical and prayed based) and so far, I’ve seen far good results. I am hoping to wean off the Wellbutrin soon.
I have three young boys and my greatest desire is to get them through childhood with a positive and happy outlook. When I see the numbers for children struggling with mental health it’s sobering. I mentioned to my mom yesterday that it’s no coincidence that Gen Z has such high rates of religious disaffiliation and mental health conditions. Yet so many of them like to blame mental health on religion and religious beliefs. It’s so sad. This generation needs God more than ever.
You might find interesting the book "The Moral Basis of a Backward Society" by Banfield. The author lived in and studied a small, poor Italian village in southern Italy. He concluded their ethic was: maximize the short term gain to you and your immediate family, and assume everyone else will do likewise. This mindset killed community involvement and altruism and he contends left its adherents miserable, sick and poor. He wrote the book in the mid 60s when volunteering and patriotism were still quite common in the US. He contrasts the US and even northern Italy with this sad region in the south of Italy.
I hope we can recover from whatever has caused our descent to our present state.
i was given Zoloft for Post-P depression, another friend with the same was told to exercise daily and do more self care. But it took 3+ tries to get off-because of withdrawal side effects. (15 years!) .
My older sister takes anti-psychotic medication to stay in reality, so I am not wholesale anti-mind-altering drugs.
But I wouldn’t give you two shakes for anti-depressants. Interestingly, the mental health memoir, Lost Connections, comes to a “secular version” of the need for real community for mental health (and isn’t that what the social media experiment has taught us all??)
The author also concluded that these drug are VERY short-term in whatever benefits they offer & and they also make you fat.
I got sucked in to the pharma complex as soon as I went to college. I’ve constantly been told there’s something terribly wrong with me. Through the grace of God, I’ve landed with a psychiatrist who prescribed me a course on CS Lewis, and I was received into the Catholic Church this Easter. At my last appointment, he mentioned a lot of patients recently are in general complaining their medication they’ve been on for years isn’t working. He’s telling them to go to church or wherever they go for spiritual fulfillment.
I wish someone could’ve helped me in a real way over 20 years ago. I’m convinced I may have actual problems now because of all the various medications that mostly made it all worse, destroyed relationships, and then I was always told it was my fault Prozac was making me more depressed.
Before there was this phenomenal push for antidepressants, people were being conditioned by television and movies (and the companies paying for advertising on them) to consume, consume, consume. Well, people did and then discovered that their appetites could never be satisfied, no matter how much food they could manage to stuff their faces with or how much junk they could fill their homes with. Naturally, depression sets in because of the God-shaped void that can’t be satisfied with earthly things. To my way of thinking, depression (how appropriate the very word is!) must be tackled by reversing the trends that created the “hole” in the first place and following biblical advice: ditch the worldly things that clutter up your life and seek what God desires first. It sounds easy, but of course it’s not. There will be tremendous pushback from family and friends, and outsiders will ridicule you. It’s a lonely place to be, but we know who has our back and makes our path level.
I really appreciate this: 'Be charitable with skeptics, too. The critic who correctly attacked Rushites for killing thousands was found guilty of libel and fined the largest judgment in Pennsylvania history. Now that we know he was right all along...'
What's missing today is humility. Firm belief in one's ideology leads to hubris. So few people have the habit of thinking "What if I'm wrong...?"
When my decades-long relationship broke up a few years ago, my doctor, whom I had always considered on the more reasonable and enlightened end of the spectrum, insisted on giving me a prescription for an antidepressant, despite my objection. Of course I never filled it. Afterward, talking to friends, I was shocked to learn that something like a third of the population is on some sort of medication like that. So much for resilience.
This is such a tough topic. I'm a psychiatric nurse practitioner (and Christian) and feel like I have an existential crisis about prescribing of psychiatric medication every couple months. While part of me leans your direction and thinks all psych meds shouldn't be prescribed, I occasionally come across cases of extreme debilitation, even those doing all the recommended non-pharma interventions, even strong Christians who came to me as a last resort. These cases make the choice more difficult. The meds in these cases almost never let the person coast through life with a pseudo-rest, more they seem to enable to person to get out of bed or engage with their children. Even as I write this, I feel like arguing with myself. Anyways, I'm happy I found another Christian provider wrestling with these topics.