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Drugged up and unhappy: America's mental health crisis

Author: Jordan G Estabrook

A recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry has made its way through the news. It used over 361 peer-reviewed studies and the systematic umbrella review method to determine there was no association between markers of serotonin activity and depression.

In other words, it claimed no connection to a chemical imbalance in the brain and depression as justification for anti-depressants.

Given how complicated each human being is, it’s no surprise that the serotonin theory of depression was far too simplistic to account for a wide variety of depression among individuals. In 2020, we had 77 million Americans taking psychotropic drugs. Yet, Americans are more unhappy than ever. And it all can’t just be a chemical imbalance.

On social media, there’s always something to complain about. People feel unfilled and unhappy. They turn to hard drugs, sex, alcohol, working too much, or heck, switching your gender if you’re in the gen z to millennial crowd.

Why are so many of us on drugs yet so deeply unfilled, searching for meaning?

We lack meaningful relationships

We’re a society drowning in social media. Even when we’re in public, we’d rather be on our phones than looking at our surroundings or talking to anyone we don’t know.

Our attention span is short. How on earth are we supposed to stand for two seconds doing absolutely nothing? No, no. We’ve conditioned ourselves to pull out our phones more than we need. We’ve traded the real world for a manufactured one. Even when people decide to get together, there’s a good chance they end up back on their phone.

Teenagers especially now lack the much-needed social skills to thrive in today’s world and to achieve any level of self-fulfillment. They are technologically connected to everything and everyone but know nothing and nobody.

Why should we be surprised if we feel empty and alone? Our behaviors predict the outcome.

As we deconstruct gender roles and religious institutions, we lose our role in community

People are often surprised at the effects of social media on transgenderism in young kids and teenagers. Abigail Shrier, American journalist and author of the best-selling book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, has called it a social contagion. Those who fall victim to it tend to be lonely and depressed. Deep down inside, they long for community.

Society has already told them that gender roles are sexist and limiting. They’re told to sexually gratify themselves however they please. Women have lost their role as gentle, yet strong women. And men have lost their role as strong, yet gentle men. Deep down, we all yearn for identity and belonging.

But these young people find online communities that affirm their feelings of not belonging and sadness. They affirm the idea of transitioning sexes or identifying differently on a social and physical level. In the search for a role, they found one in a dangerous place: gender ideology.

We are already finding that gender transition does not yield the desired results that they often hope will ease their pain. It’s been found that puberty blockers have shown signs and symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri, including headache, papilledema, blurred or loss of vision, diplopia, pain behind the eye or pain with eye movement, tinnitus, dizziness and nausea according to the FDA. If anything, gender transition, including puberty blockers and surgery, will only increase the social anxiety and emotional pain they feel. It will only band-aid the problem, and it’s a pretty bad band-aid anyway.

When it comes to religion, we’ve decided that we don’t need it. It’s bigoted. It’s rigid. It’s done nothing for society except to inflict oppression. Enter relativism, where nothing is right or wrong and morals are as malleable and changing as a two-year-old. Relativism as a part of our postmodern age has caused deeper confusion to the purpose of life and what morals we can depend on.

Religious bodies also created communities within societies. So, by ridding ourselves of religious institutions in America, we rid ourselves of the support and commonality of a morally driven community.

We put garbage in our body

America puts garbage in our food. We all know this. We have access to what we need to eat well yet choose not to. We choose immediate convenience over long term health.

We also tell people that obesity is healthy. It’s not. I’m not even going to include a study to prove it (though there are plenty of them).

I’ve talked to many people who lost weight not to look better, but to feel better. When you’re obese, you’re unable to enjoy the same activities or move your body the way it was meant to.

Exercising and eating in a balanced way can bring happiness. You’re fulfilling a part of your body’s purpose.

So what do we do with the meds?

What are we to do? Throw out all the medication?

Not exactly. Far too many people are on antidepressants unnecessarily. Medication can’t replace relationships, a firm role in society, religion and caring for the body.

People must work to eliminate other issues that could be causing depression as mentioned above. Jim Carrey is an actor and certainly no conservative, but he brings up a valid point:

“I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.”

Depression is legitimate. It is part of being in a broken, sinful world. Depression, to a certain extent, is normal. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be on an antidepressant. In our western world, we have removed so many important parts of society that we’ve lost meaning and purpose. It shouldn’t surprise us that depression and anxiety run wild. We should look at these things first before running to medication.

This doesn’t mean that some people shouldn’t be on them. If you’re schizophrenic or bipolar, medication is a very good thing. There are so many people who have done everything under the sun, therapy, exercise, community and more, but something is off. That has to be a personal choice, but a choice you can make confidently, knowing everything else was tried.

People are far too dynamic, complicated and unique to slap an antidepressant on it without a second thought. Americans owe it to themselves and those around them to consider all the variables playing into their depression and anxiety. They’re too complex not to.

Society over time has become void of the meaning it once had in relationships, religion and community. What results is a mental health crisis, and it’s not from a chemical imbalance. It’s from a societal, moral, and spiritual imbalance.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of Resident Skeptics.

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