“With the help of a number of local and world-renowned experts in the field, producer Mary O’Connell explores what we know – and what we think we know – about depression and the medications we use so often to treat it. The patient and interested listener (the entire series runs for three hours) will be rewarded with some really fascinating but often not well-publicized facts about the social, commercial and political factors that are conspiring to make psychotropic medications “a $20billion per year industry worldwide” and have led the World Health Organization to predict that depression will be the second leading caused of global disability by 2020.” Three Parts, 1 hour each.
Depression. It has been called the mean reds. The blue devils. The black dog. And through history, treatments for depression have varied wildly. In the Middle Ages, depressives were caged in asylums. In Victorian England, wealthier patients were sent to seaside resorts for a change of air. In the 1930’s, procedures like lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy were used. Psychiatry’s tools were crude and limited. No wonder then, when the Age of the Antidepressant arrived, it was considered psychiatry’s triumph. Prozac came onto the market in 1988, followed quickly by many similar drugs. But, since then, the number of people afflicted with depression has soared. In this 3 part program, IDEAS producer Mary O’Connell explores the short and troubling history of the antidepressant.
Over the years, the descriptions have varied: melancholia, the Black Dog, down in the dumps. The term most used today is “depression”. The World Health Organization says depression is set to become second only to heart disease as the world’s leading disability by the year 2020. An alarming conclusion when you consider the history. One hundred years ago depression was thought to be extremely rare, with 1% of the population suffering. Today it’s often called the common cold of mental illness. But just how effective are antidepressants in treating depression?
Unpublished clinical trials have come to light and they reveal that the antidepressant was never the triumphant treatment many psychiatrists hoped it would be. And we’re also learning that the theory that antidepressants restore serotonin in the brain could be false. However, despite this news about serotonin and sadness, the number of depressed people continues to grow. Now some researchers wonder whether the modern antidepressant has increased rates of depression instead of lowering them. In episode two of Rethinking Depression, IDEAS producer Mary O’Connell examines the debate around antidepressants.
The World Health Organization says depression is set to become second only to heart disease as the world’s leading disability by the year 2020. More recent research over the past decade tells us that antidepressants do not work very well, if at all, for mild or moderate depression. And in severe depression, antidepressants only work in a small number of cases.
So how can those who suffer from depression receive effective treatment and even possibly recover? In the third hour of Rethinking Depression, IDEAS producer Mary O’Connell brings us the stories of the depressed who are on the path to wellness and the methods that can be used to get them there.
The Medicated Me
It’s just after dawn, and I’m sitting on someone’s sofa in someone’s apartment somewhere in New York City. An attractive young woman I used to know is sleeping 15 feet away. Books I read, photos I took, CDs I reviewed as a music critic — all sit like props from a play I half remember. The sunlight looks toxic, radioactive. The murmur of distant traffic sounds alien, hostile, a predator’s low growl. Everything is exactly as it was yesterday yet feels totally different — in a bad way and down to a subatomic level. I feel like a character in some lame sci-fi novel who wakes up in a parallel universe or as a head in a jar. I’d skimmed over this sensation in nightmares and during extreme jet lag but never felt it descend as a full-blown totality, never felt it suck me down into it. I’d compare it with a bad trip if not for one terrifying irony now sinking in. This is my brain off drugs.
Six months ago, after 10 emotionally uneventful years on antidepressants — years that somehow included getting married, losing my job, and watching two skyscrapers implode from 20 blocks away — I began tinkering with my prescription, casting about for just the right med while the sturdy old Effexor trickled out of my system, a few milligrams less each week, a long goodbye to my silent partner of a decade.
Now, having decided to go off everything, putting my years-long chemistry experiment on pause, I am drug-free at last. For the first time in a decade, I am experiencing life in all its rich tones and vivid hues, and I’m about to throw myself in front of the 6 train.
The DSM-V reviewed as if it was a dystopian novel…
“Great dystopia isn’t so much fantasy as a kind of estrangement or dislocation from the present; the ability to stand outside time and see the situation in its full hideousness. The dystopian novel doesn’t necessarily have to be a novel.”
A new dystopian novel in the classic mode takes the form of a dictionary of madness
“As you read, you slowly grow aware that the book’s real object of fascination isn’t the various sicknesses described in its pages, but the sickness inherent in their arrangement.
Who, after all, would want to compile an exhaustive list of mental illnesses? The opening passages of DSM-5 give us a long history of the purported previous editions of the book and the endless revisions and fine-tunings that have gone into the work. This mad project is clearly something that its authors are fixated on to a somewhat unreasonable extent. In a retrospectively predictable ironic twist, this precise tendency is outlined in the book itself. The entry for obsessive-compulsive disorder with poor insight describes this taxonomical obsession in deadpan tones: “repetitive behavior, the goal of which is […] to prevent some dreaded event or situation.” Our narrator seems to believe that by compiling an exhaustive list of everything that might go askew in the human mind, this wrong state might somehow be overcome or averted. References to compulsive behavior throughout the book repeatedly refer to the “fear of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination.” The tragic clincher comes when we’re told, “the individual does not recognize that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.” This mad project is so overwhelming that its originator can’t even tell that they’ve subsumed themselves within its matrix. We’re dealing with a truly unreliable narrator here, not one that misleads us about the course of events (the narrator is compulsive, they do have poor insight), but one whose entire conceptual framework is radically off-kilter. As such, the entire story is a portrait of the narrator’s own particular madness. With this realization, DSM-5 starts to enter the realm of the properly dystopian.”
—Read the entire review by Sam Kriss in The New Inquiry—epitomizing perhaps, the function of artful perspective
“Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.” – TED Talks
Irritated today by a radio interview I heard about the stupid Rihanna/Brown thing.
I can’t stand them, and am disappointed by how so many people are talking about them as though they matter…
But what really got my goat was the discussion NOT mentioning that Chris Brown is mentally ill.
The ‘expert’ went on about his “unfortunate lack of contrition”…
It sounded inane…like observing the lack of contrition of a schizophrenic.
And in the same vein…battered women are ILL TOO!
Why is this not more commonly observed?
Sane women, when punched in the face the first time…LEAVE.
CALL THE COPS.
SHOOT A GUN.
Do something, and seek recourse…take umbrage.
Insane women, seek that masochistic thrill over and over and over.
It’s been studied and reported on so many times in my life.
I am surprised that this whole episode is being discussed as though it were the 1950s or 1550s and not 2012, when we KNOW that..both parties to (chronic) Domestic Abuse are basically insane.
[And here, of course I am not looking to ‘blame the victim’, by any means…but observe a scientific reality]
I am not surprised, and am saddened that I am even babbling over this in this post.
I do not expect them, these “stars” to behave normally, nor do I expect people we may know, who are not celebrities, to behave normally .
Women who find themselves in a series of abusive relationships NEED HELP.
It is not easy, actually, to find the men who WILL actually punch you in the face, kick you when you’re down, and bruise you so it isn’t publicly visible…jesus.
You have to hunt for them.
This is the same reason I get infuriated when Honour Killing is quickly labelled, without thought, ‘Domestic Abuse’.
Honour Killing is Socially Sanctioned. It is a COMMUNITY CONSPIRACY.
Domestic Abuse, on the other hand involves the insanity of one, and more than usually, two.
We can not analyze behaviours to seek normal reactions of (victim) escape, (perpetrator) contrition, etc.
The expert on the radio actually compared Brown with Michael Virk–the dude who abused DOGS (and is now apparently very contrite and making public service appearances).
Hurting a DOG is obviously different from hurting a human life partner. (and I never like placing animals as lesser than humans, but in domestic abuse situations, I must–you don’t have sex with your dog, you don’t have children with your dog, you don’t have the complexities of an adult human relationship with a dog)
I hate when the media fails to spread knowledge, but merely perpetuates further ignorance.
I don’t have high expectations of the likes of Oprah, but this was CBC Radio.
I think in almost all circumstances both partners ought to be held on mental health legislation, for professional intervention and addressing underlying causal conditions.
I really enjoyed this film. Having been recently ruminating once more on the sociological pathology of Honour Killings and the necessity to control the chastity of young females in most patriarchical societies, this film made me wonder whether it was indeed the birth of the Austrian-‘Jewish’ school of psychoanalysis which led to the advent of the liberation of female sexuality in Western society. This may be obvious to some, but I find the potential of this quite intriguing. Especially in light of my introduction to Otto Gross from this movie. He actually deserves a separate post on his own (soon). I think psychoanalysis may be owed a great debt by the Western Society generally, a society which today is quite distinct from its Victorian Era incarnation, having had so many taboos and inter-related psychic truths brought out of closets into the public to be acknowledged and dealt with. The writing in this film is quite erudite, making one almost want to take notes at times. Such as the questioning of WHY humans, while such sexual animals, have this overwhelming need to repress this sexuality at the same time. This of course, is what the foundation of psychoanalysis was all about–the search for an understanding of this unfortunate duality…which inevitably leads to emotional baggage in a great number of humanoids. This film is recommended for neurotic uber-ruminators. Perhaps as a elementary introduction to the history of psychoanalysis. Also do read The Interpretation of Murder.
Keira Knightley in ‘A Dangerous Method’ — Oscar-Worthy or Laughable?
After moving into my new tiny abode in a 1920s apartment buildingin Downtown Toronto last summer, I discovered a table in the basement laundry room where people were leaving one or two books to exchange. The first book I picked up and flipped to the first paragraph left me awestruck. I proceeded upstairs and did not put it down for the next several hours, perhaps days (i’m a slow reader). It begins in reality—-the historical reality, of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud arriving in New York City in 1909 for the first time, by ship. This actually happened. But after this trip, they had a incredible cleavage in their professional and personal relationship. This novel weaves an intriguing, spellbinding tale of what occurred during their time in America and evokes fascinating aspects of psycho-analytical thought in the process. Not to ruin the surprise (oops)…but after the whole tale is told, the author –who happens to be Mr. Amy Chua (another favorite thinker of mine, World on Fire etc), reveals that the dialogue between these psychoanalytic titans throughout this fictional tale was in fact faithful to their actual correspondence at the time, via mail etc., all documented in history.
I had until then never read such a wickedly captivating tale. Although a fictional murder mystery, it leaves you not only entertained and thrilled, but educated as well. I really enjoyed this read, although I’ve noticed online that it has not been received as enthusiastically as I myself would recommend it.
“A puritan society should ban us,” Freud observes about America. “It will ban you,” Jung replies, “as soon as it figures out what we are saying.”
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
October 8, 2011
BUENOS AIRES — Victoria Montenegro recalls a childhood filled with chilling dinnertime discussions. Lt. Col. Hernán Tetzlaff, the head of the family, would recount military operations he had taken part in where “subversives” had been tortured or killed. The discussions often ended with his “slamming his gun on the table,” she said.
It took an incessant search by a human rights group, a DNA match and almost a decade of overcoming denial for Ms. Montenegro, 35, to realize that Colonel Tetzlaff was, in fact, not her father — nor the hero he portrayed himself to be.
Instead, he was the man responsible for murdering her real parents and illegally taking her as his own child, she said. Continue reading