• October 12, 2021



I recently read an article from the Standard Newspaper of February 20, 2021 by Dr Angi Yoder Maina titled ‘Better Ways of Treating Depression; it inspired the blog post for this week.  According to Dr Angi, the topic of how to treat depression is a huge one because the perception of the mainstream regarding depression is that it is an intrinsic biological defect.  Hence, it is popular nowdays to hear people describe depression symptoms as illnesses that cause a chemical imbalance in your brain for which the patient requires a drug prescription to rectify the chemical imbalance.


Dr Angi pointed out that there is no evidence to support that kind of mainstream thinking which says that the symptoms of depression can be diagnosed as an illness. I know this is going to sound very controversial to some people, but this message is not for everyone. This message is for people willing to look at alternative ways of looking at symptoms caused by depression. Dr Angi argued that the fact that one has symptoms of depression does not necessarily mean they have an illness that needs to be diagnosed by a doctor and they do not necessarily need medications.


In these past months, the world has experienced a pandemic, that exposed us all to a lot of mental and emotional distress and many of us have faced unforeseen adversities. People have lost jobs, lost livelihoods and loved ones. But, it is natural for people who are going through adversity to have emotional distress. Emotional distress is the natural way everyone responds to adversity. In reality, if you go through adversity and you don’t have emotional distress then you are the abnormal one and could be considered ill. Her argument though was, it does not mean that when you have emotional distress then you are ill and should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist as a sick person who needs prescription drugs. She argues there is no evidence to support that kind of mainstream thinking.


A negative consequence of this mainstream thinking is the increasing in the use of prescribed drugs to treat symptoms caused by natural emotional distress caused by human adversity. The drug prescription rates for depression has therefore increased very significantly. In some countries, an increase of over 46% has been recorded both in mental health cases and in drug use for depression; yet there is little evidence to show that these prescription drugs are improving the lives of the depressed in our societies. Many people are still having issues with mental health. Ask yourself this, how come there is not such a big change with all the prescription drugs that people are taking?


I was shocked to discover that one of the side effects of some depression medication is that users were likely to have suicidal thoughts!  If you are in doubt, google it up. What that means is, if one has compulsive behaviour (like being anxious, fearful or over-eating) and goes to see a doctor who then prescribes this type of antidepressant; then one could have several side effects from these drugs including having suicidal thoughts! In my view, suicidal thoughts are in the extreme spectrum of depression that requires urgent medical intervention. So if by suffering from some compulsive behaviours, one gets diagnosed with some illness requiring them to take these drugs and then end up having suicidal thoughts, is that making one better or worse?


I would love to end this blog post with this very important question:  ‘should the only offer to help people who are suffering from depression, caused by normal emotional distress due to natural human adversity; be prescription drugs?




Angi Yoder Maina. Better ways of treating depression. The Standard. Saturday, February 20, 2021

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