Recently I read an article called, “The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?” reviewing several new books discussing how the authors feel the field of psychiatry and pharmaceutical drug companies were beginning to lead to a shift from “talk therapy” to treating only with psychotropic medications. Some people these days state the pharmaceutical drug companies, and their marketing is to blame for this shift; but can we place the blame solely on advertising?
This past fall I attended a presentation by a former professor of mine, Dr. Stephen Illardi titled “We were never designed for this”, he is also the author of, “The Depression Cure“. In his presentation he explained how the modern life our society has evolved into, has morphed into a toxic environment, leading us to be more prone to developing mental illness. We spend our days working in high-stress jobs, especially in the corporate world. Being stressed, and pushed to the end of our rope has almost become a contest, or a badge of honor. We go to tell a friend, “Oh my goodness, you would not believe the day I’ve had…” as you go on to tell them what has happened. Your friend then replies, “oh, you think YOU had a bad day? Hear what happened to me!”
So what does this have to do with mental illness?
We not only wear stress as a badge of honor, we have created our society in a way that does not guard ourselves from the onset of anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. Based on Dr. Illardi’s research, he states there are 7 aspects of life we have altered, but which can be changed back to help build our guard back up against depression. By increasing physical activity, omega-3 fatty acid intake, sunlight, social connections, healthy sleep, and engaging in anti-ruminative activity. If you want to read more about how he suggests going about this, or his research behind this claim, obviously you’ll need to read his book.
But have we become our own worst enemy in this “epidemic” or are the pharmaceutical companies really to blame? Or is trying to decide who is really at fault an exercise in futility?
While I do feel it is important to understand how we have gotten to where we currently are, at this point, I feel that it’s important to include: what can we do about it, what works? So far, I have personally found to agree with what is written in the book, “The Depression Cure,” but that does not mean there is not more out there for us to learn about or try. We need to keep our eyes, and minds open to avoid getting stuck on the wrong question.
But what about you? What question do you feel we need to be focusing on… or no longer focusing on? What do you feel works, and what do we need to keep in mind when addressing the “mental illness epidemic”?
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.