The tragic depression trigger hiding in plain sight

Depression rates in the U.S. are skyrocketing. And what makes this situation even more tragic is that some of these cases could be prevented entirely — simply by avoiding big pharma’s “wonder drugs.”

In fact, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 37 percent of adults in the U.S. currently take a prescription drug known to cause depression.

I’ll tell you more about that new study and its tragic implications in a moment. But first, let’s step back and talk about why the mainstream’s approach to this crushing condition causes more harm than good…

When withdrawal acts as a safeguard

As I’ve often reported, depression shuts down the body and mind. In fact, before modern medicine began to describe depression as a “chemical disorder of the brain,” doctors talked about depression in physiologic terms.

We called it “conservation-withdrawal,” in which the body and mind adapted and responded to unpleasant circumstances. So — this terminology always made sense to me.

Despite our best intentions and hopes in life, sometimes bad — and sad — things happen.

And the human body and mind naturally react by conserving and withdrawing physical and emotional energy. Again, the “conservation-withdrawal” complex.

The French say, il faut retirer pour mieux sauter, which roughly translates to, “You have to step back to get a better jump.” In my view, mental and physical hibernation are necessary to gain perspective, conserve energy in tough times, and to help get you through what it is that ails you — and to avoid anything harmful in the meantime.

Because sometimes, reality is just sad. You can’t get around it. You just have to keep going and plow through the rough patches.

But in our modern era of oversaturation, stimulation, and constant expectation to stay active and busy, we’re expected to be tirelessly engaged. And a quick chemical fix with an antidepressant drug is supposed to provide the answer and help you “bounce back.”

However, psychologically numbing your brain with chemical medications won’t get to the bottom of why you’re sad. And you won’t benefit from the profound experience of dealing with a reality that’s sometimes harsh and unpleasant.

And you may also come out of your depression “withdrawal” too soon, which can have potentially devastating consequences…

The link between prescription drugs and suicide

As I’ve explained before, people with depression may think about self-harm (called suicidal ideation). But they rarely have the energy to carry out plans because of conservation-withdrawal.

Then along comes a “miracle” antidepressant drug that seems to work because the depressed person suddenly has the energy to get out of bed.

But antidepressant drugs can also give the depressed person the energy to act out their suicidal ideation. The drugs can even cause some people to act out their harmful depressive ideation by committing mass homicides.

It’s a terrible irony that antidepressant drugs increase the risk of suicide, the condition’s only fatal outcome.

The primary goal of all medical treatments for depression should be to prevent suicide, not to cause it.

And while we’re on the topic of potentially dangerous drugs, I want to share this new study with you that found a growing number of Americans take prescription drugs known to cause depression…

More than 1 in 3 adults take drugs linked to depression

For this new study, researchers found that 37 percent of American adults take at least one prescription drug that can increase the risk of depression — including hormonal contraceptives, blood pressure medications, painkillers, and those ridiculous proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for “heartburn.”

The researchers found that if you take at least three of these medications, you are three times more likely to be depressed than those who don’t take any.

That may sound like a lot of prescriptions, but it’s more common than you might think.

In fact, the number of people taking at least three medications with depression listed as their possible side effects increased from 7 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2014. (I’ve reported before about the other serious issues caused by taking multiple drugs at one time, also known as polypharmacy.)

Apparently, when it comes to drugs of all kinds, less is more for your mental (and overall) health.

Clean living still matters…

I don’t yet know whether prescription drugs figured into the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade. But my understanding is that they both had a history of substance abuse.

Substance abuse is essentially another form of self-harm or self-destructive behavior. And despite our modern era of endless forgiveness and redemption for societal “heroes,” there is a lot to be said for not getting started with substance abuse to begin with.

I know it’s no longer popular to just work hard, stay off the drugs, and “keep your nose clean.” Instead, popular culture seems to celebrate or glorify overcoming addictive behaviors.

But in my view, clean living still counts for a lot ¾ including your physical and mental health.

And remember, no one authentically feels rosy and cheerful all the time. As Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going…”

And most importantly, if you or a loved one struggle with suicidal thoughts, please don’t wait. Help is available now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.


“Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States,” JAMA. 2018;319(22):2289-2298