Mental illness is a phrase that relates to any number of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior. These conditions can range from depression and anxiety to obsessive compulsiveness and autism. Today, what is most alarming, is the significant increase in people suffering from mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety. Yet, the most troubling is the increase among our youth. A recent article in Dynamic Chiropractic (May 2017) titled “Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt.1)” challenged society’s current approach to treating this trend.
Current remedies involve a doctor’s prescription intended to correct the chemical imbalance associated with a particular mental illness. The author of this article, Dr. Timothy Perenich, cited research that revealed this treatment to be ineffective. In other words, this research questions the chemical imbalance theory most doctors rely on. However, if this theory was true, “the drugs given to correct the imbalance should demonstrate clear efficacy.” (p.28) The author continued by stating, “In fact, evidence shows not only are these drugs largely ineffective, but they’re also dangerous.”
Unlike other diseases such as cancer and diabetes, many mental illnesses have no clear causes. Furthermore, they cannot be identified by common tests like an MRI or blood test. A diagnosis is actually an opinion. Dr. Perenich highlighted a direct correlation between the increase in diagnosed mental illnesses and the drugs available to treat them. The question we need to ask ourselves is who benefits? It definitely is not the patient looking for help.
Dr. Perenich is a Doctor of Chiropractic. His article challenges us to think about mental illness differently. That, perhaps, more can be done to treat a person suffering from depression or anxiety rather than with drugs. This is especially true with our youth. The side effects alone are enough to encourage a parent to look elsewhere for help. Some drugs can double the risk of suicide. Even the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded in 2010 that the most commonly prescribes drugs are not an effective treatment for depression.
So, what does this doctor suggest? Looking at the patient as a whole, in addition to taking all factors into consideration to find the hidden source of the depression symptom. Recent studies are showing that inflammation is linked to depression. This is associated with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and celiac. The field of chiropractic relies on a holistic approach. Looking at ALL factors that may contribute to a symptom like depression. Chiropractic care does not utilize any prescription medications to remedy a condition. Rather, a chiropractor relies on natural healing through herbs and nutrients, spinal adjustments, rehabilitation, and medical massage.
The current approach our society is taking is not working. Seems like looking through a different lens may be all it takes to find a solution.