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The cultural effects of happy pills? Antidepressants from a different angle – Episode 008

The cultural effects of happy pills? Antidepressants from a different angle – Episode 008

Modern people are depressed. Especially in America. And especially women. Or at least that’s the conclusion we come to looking at the levels of persons taking medication for depression. Specifically a kind of anti-depression medication called SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

Today we asked the question: what are the cultural effects of so many people taking happy pills? Depression is no laughing matter. But maybe millions of Americans on a psychotropic medication isn’t something to take lightly either.

Beyond side effects, are there social consequences for widespread use of antidepressants?

This show isn’t so much about the side effects or the effectiveness of SSRIs, but about asking the bigger question of what changing brain chemistry on a societal level might mean for us. SSRIs are still relatively new, only coming to market in the 1980s. Are the long term social effects of these treatments already making an appearance?

Topics in the podcast include:

  • Picking morel mushrooms in the Alaskan wilderness
  • Dr. Rumsey’s interaction with a bear in the wild, and what that taught him about danger
  • The rush of danger and the effects of extreme situations on the brain
  • How roughly 10% of the U.S. population is on an SSRI, with women, on average, more likely to be on a SSRI – with some saying up to 25% are being medicated, mostly on anti-depressants, but some with other anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications
  • How the human brain contains its own pharmacy of different chemicals that influence human mood and behavior
  • The way SSRIs work in basic form
  • How depression’s origin may not be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, but how SSRI’s do change brain chemistry
  • How SSRIs flatten the emotional highs and lows of life and the effect that might have on everyday situations
  • How SSRIs have reportedly been in the system of many mass-shooters
  • The fact that appearance of anti-depressants on the market may have meant an increase in clinical diagnosis of children having mental problems, including one author who believes a large spike in bi-polar disorder can be blamed on SSRI drugs
  • How we make the assumption that anti-depressants aren’t going to influence the next generation – when new evidence says that that the children of pregnant women on SSRI’s may face increased risk of disease
  • How SSRIs may be changing the normal patterns of human behavior, and women in particular may be blunting their normal mood range, affecting the normal evolutionary process, including male and female relations
  • How anti-depressants having an influence on male and female relations may have a larger effect than we know
  • A discussion of why women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, including the possibility that doctors may be sexist, to the possibility that more women go to the doctor than men, as men are socialized to ignore their problems
  • The rise in off-label use of anti-depressants for a number of chronic conditions
  • New science is coming out that is linking depressive symptoms to brain inflammation caused by chronic nerve pain, offering a different explanation of depression outside of brain chemistry
  • How mood changes often come after physical trauma, like whiplash accidents, and concussions
  • Positive mood changes are a common in patients after upper cervical chiropractic corrections
  • How this inflammation and depression link may suggest looking at food and nutrition and adopting an anti-inflammatory protocol
  • The fact that SSRI research may not show much efficacy over a placebo

Related resources:

Moody Bitches: The truth about the drugs you’re taking, the sleep you’re missing, the sex you’re not having, and what’s really making you crazy (Amazon)

America’s Use of Psychotropic Medications on the Rise – summary of original report from 2011 which first reported growth of SSRIs from 2000 to 2010

Dr. David Healy – psychiatrist, psyschopharmacologist, scientist, author

SSRI Stories: Antidepressant nightmares

NPR: When it comes to depression, serotonin isn’t the whole story

NPR: A new study raises old questions about depression and autism

New York Times Sunday Review: Medicating Women’s Feelings by Dr. Julie Holland

Severe depression linked with inflammation in the brain

Study links brain inflammation triggered by chronic pain to anxiety and depression – rodent based study

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Circumcision: is it worth it? – Episode 005

Circumcision: is it worth it? – Episode 005

Most of us would agree that avoiding unnecessary surgical procedures is good practice–especially when it comes to infants and children. But in the United States, and a few other countries, the surgical procedure of circumcising newborn baby boys is a common practice. Does circumcision promote the health & well-being of baby boys? Or is it just pediatric cosmetic… Continue Reading