By LISA BROWN
Not only are Canadians among the highest antidepressant users in the world, but it’s the time of year when Canadians are at a risk of being affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to take any medications, what activities can you do and what foods can you eat to supress symptoms of depression?
And even then, what psychological tools can you develop to efficiently cope with difficult circumstances? Your choices should be based on the effectiveness, ethics, safeness and science of the products you choose.
Clinical and major depression are the most prevalent mood disorders according to Canada Public Health. Mood disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the general Canadian population.
A McMaster University study, published in a Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics journal in September, indicates 33 per cent of 378,000 antidepressant users are at a higher risk of premature death ranging from accidents caused by poor cognitive functioning to heart attacks and strokes.
Additionally, the study concluded 14 per cent (over 50,000) of these users are likely to have a higher risk of cardiovascular health complications.
As an informed consumer, you should take into consideration the number of participants, their ages, their family history, acute or chronic use of an antidepressant as well as any other mitigating factors while considering the study.
Study co-author and Toronto physician Benoit Mulsant wonders what future psychiatrists will think if more studies aren’t conducted to determine long-term use of antidepressant medications within the body, according to a Medical News Today article.
“I prescribe antidepressants even though I do not know if they are more harmful than helpful in the long-term,” said Mulsant. Some people who have major depression need and see antidepressant drugs as their only option or last resort.
A close family friend of mine who was born into a vegan family has never taken any medication in her life – not even Advil or Tylenol. Because of personal and professional matters, she became majorly depressed and after two years was prescribed antidepressant medication.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “One-in-five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.”
Renowned actor and comedian Jim Carrey battled a mood disorder for many years throughout his career. He described his experience with depression as being in a limbo state.
“I was on Prozac for a long time…It may have helped me out of a jam for a little bit, but people stay on it forever,” said Carrey in a 2004 CBS news segment. “I had to get off at a certain point because I realized ‘You know, everything’s just OK.’”
Over the years Carrey has become more spiritual and wholehearted. In recent news while promoting his new Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, he says he no longer suffers from depression. He says like all emotions, sadness doesn’t stick around for him any longer. The documentary captures Carrey behind the scenes of the 1999 film Man on the Moon about actor and comedian Andy Kaufman. He was completely immersed in character throughout the whole duration of filmmaking.
That’s one side of the argument.
If you’re considering taking supplements as an alternative, you should research that, too.
There are about 27,000 natural health products for sale in the Canadian market, which is a $1.4-billion industry according to the 2015 investigative news broadcast Vitamins and Supplements: Magic Pills on CBC’s The Fifth Estate. “Amid the hype, what’s often lost is the science,” said The Fifth Estate host Gillian Findlay.
Health Canada “approves more than 90 per cent of applications to sell new natural health products” in 10 days or less with what it refers to as “weak evidence” to prove that it’s safe and it truly works.
Health Canada refused an interview with The Fifth Estate.
I’ve taken 1,000mg of vitamin C when I’ve been sick because I was told by a close friend that vitamin C helps nurse you back to health, however, that amount is equivalent to eating seven to eight cantaloupes.
Botany Professor Steven Newmaster, who specializes in plant diversity, conducted a study with his research team at the University of Guelph in 2012 to study a random selection of 44 herbal supplements from Canada and the U.S. The DNA in the supplements was compared to the DNA in a data bank, which contains preserved plants from their natural environments. The study concluded that 60 per cent didn’t contain ingredients listed on its packaging. Also one out of three were substitutions or placebos.
St. John’s wort, saffron, 5-HTP and SAMe are all-natural herbs recommended by two medical directors in an article on doctoroz.com to help depression. All can be consumed orally with pill supplements. As researched by The Fifth Estate, the U.S. has unregulated laws for the distribution of herbs, minerals and vitamins. Ultimately the choice is up to the consumer, but we’re not doctors, nutritionists or scientists.
I’ve been taking cod liver oil pills once a day for a few years now. It contains omega 3-fatty acids and vitamin D, which are both believed to alleviate depression to some degree in some adults. A New Zealand study from 2015 concluded that 83 per cent of fish oil pills didn’t meet industry standards for consumption because four out of seven tablets were oxidized. Oxidized lipids in cod liver supplements can cause inflammation leading to health problems such as cardiovascular disease.
At the end of the day, who do you trust?