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Dealing With Depression
Depression affects 20-30 million Americans. Suicide is in the top ten leading causes of death for Americans, claiming almost 40,000 sons, daughters, spouses, mothers and fathers every year. Look in the mirror. That’s the face of depression. People with depression take smart phone self-portraits with a smile, they laugh, they talk about their future, and they live with an enormous burden.
Conventional medicine is poorly equipped to deal with the problem and pharmaceutical solutions commonly have the side effect of increasing the risk for the very thing they are designed to prevent, worsening conditions and harm to self and others. The cause of depression is as varied as the person experiencing it. Depression during grief is both normal and expected. Depression after prolonged, chronic pain is predictable.
In 2005, after many years of chronic knee pain, after a gradual, but clear addiction to prescription pain meds, after years of self-medicating behavior involving alcohol, after, after, after… my father swallowed the barrel of a small caliber handgun and ended his life. My mother was 15 feet away. The small dog they both cared for is still an emotional wreck. I suppose we all are.
A death like that leaves a mark.
I could go on quoting stats or describing the devastation that depression and suicide leave in their wake. Google is full of that, if you want it. Instead, I will share with you what I was not able to share with my dad due to blind innocence, timing, and geography.
We know that depression is the result of neurological dysfunction with structures and chemicals.
It takes enormous strength to bear up under the weight of depression.
Proper pituitary function requires that the hypothalamus gets quality information from all nerve sources.
Too much or too little glandular activity can cause hormone (and likely) neurotransmitter imbalances.
Pathologic manifestations (like subluxation) in the neural pathways that supply the hypothalamus, with few exceptions, cause hormone deficiency or excess.
Hormones, neurotransmitters, and the high functioning centers of neurological, endocrine, and immune function all rely on an intact and properly functioning connection through the nerve system in order to be effective. Subluxation is the loss of normal alignment and function of the spine. While the spine has many critical functions, arguably the most important is maintaining the neurological connection between the brain and the rest of the body. If you disturb nerve function, you automatically disturb the ability of the body to heal and regulate.
Let me be crystal clear on this point: chiropractic, the adjustment, and the correction of vertebral subluxation are not treatments for depression. At the same time, I have seen people, with diagnosed depression and those who showed obvious signs of depression improve during chiropractic care to correct subluxation.
The conventional treatments we do have, frankly, suck. They encourage drug seeking behavior. They are poorly supported by research, and this assumes the prescribing doctor actually has access to the entire body of research, which is often NOT the case. Treatments and dosages are arrived at by trial and error and by short-term side effect management. This often means more drugs.
In addition to short-term side effects, there are also the long term side effects to consider. The Law of Large Numbers (LLN) is a mathematical expression that essentially means that if you have a large enough sample size, you will get every possible outcome. Apply 20-30 million people to the possibility of psychotic episodes. Of the children at the various school shootings, how many of the shooters were on mind-altering medications?
Doing nothing is also a poor option.
We can do better. To do so, we are going to have to make changes that exceed the narrow scope of depression. The first two steps involve resolving the various identified causes leading to depression.
Chronic pain predictably leads to depression. Chronic pain comes from an unresolved dysfunction. It may also come from prolonged treatments designed to silence the pain without resolving the problem. Stop treating pain.
If your healthcare provider is stumped, get another opinion. The phrase, “There’s nothing we can do” isn’t the signal to pause, but to seek out another set of knowledge and ideas. The dysfunction caused by subluxation, can and will cause pain and a variety of other symptoms if left unchecked long enough. Getting checked for subluxation has zero side-effects.
Chronic dysfunction of brain structures and imbalanced chemicals both lead to depression. SSRIs and other pharmaceutical remedies are, at best, stop-gap measures. Mental illness does not exist in isolation from the rest of the body, and we have to stop acting like it does. As I mentioned above, pathological manifestations in the neural pathway disturb hormone production. The vehicle through which this happens is the neurotransmitter. Subluxations qualify as disturbing neurological manifestations.
When subluxations are corrected, the restoration of normal function begins. This is measurable and quantifiable. People improve symptomatically as normal function is restored. Subluxation correction and chiropractic may not be the solution to depression. However, if we eliminate subluxation and the dysfunction it creates, we are at least addressing the known causes of depression in a systematic, scientific, rational manner. This is why I am participating in the 2013 Subluxation Outreach Campaign.
If my dad had gotten the chiropractic care that he needed 30 years ago, the dysfunction that led to degeneration in his knees could have been addressed. If the dysfunction had been addressed, he would not have needed powerful narcotic pain relievers. Had he not taken these powerful and addictive drugs for years, his body would not have grown insensitive to them. If his body had not grown insensitive to them, he would not have had to take so many at once that it caused him to throw up. If he had not had to take so many, he wouldn’t have turned to alcohol to augment their effects. If he had not turned to alcohol to augment the narcotic effects, he wouldn’t have added alcohol to his list of addictions. If he had not been so addicted to narcotics and alcohol, taking as much as his body could handle, and still been in continuous, intense pain, which by this time was showing up all over his body, he would not have lost hope.
If he had not lost all hope, my boys could go fishing with him. He loved fishing.