Looming Mental Health Collapse – U.S: 5% Of World Pop, 2/3rds Of All Psych Meds, 1 in 10 on Anti-Depressants

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  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 02:42am


    Wendy S. Delmater

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    gluten intolerance & depression

I have long suspected our American diet is making us sick. Here is another nail in its coffin. OUr diet is high in gluten, and, well, read on.

I had a low level of chronic depression all my life, which was kicked into a major depressive episode when my ex left us, 24 years ago. Prozac and then Zoloft saved my ability to function for about 7 years. Then I went on a low carb diet, and the Zoloft was actually making me sick I had to stop taking it. I was suddenly well and have continued to be well since.

Recent studies indicate that what I was suffering from was depression brought on by gluten intolerance.

A few articles, srating with this one:

“In my experience, the most common causes behind depression are gluten intolerance, poor nutrition, adrenal exhaustion, and hormonal imbalance. At HealthNOW Medical Center, we thoroughly test each patient to find the root cause of their depression and, invariably, there is a real solution – one that gets rid of the depression while improving the person’s health, and without the need for dangerous drugs that do nothing more than attempt to relieve the symptoms.”

How does gluten intolerance cause depression?

According to Dr. Petersen, the nervous system is more commonly affected by gluten intolerance than any part of the body other than the digestive system. In a gluten intolerant person, the body reacts to the gluten protein as if it were a toxin: the immune system attacks the affected area of the body in an attempt to get rid of the protein or reduce its effect. However, the protein to which those with gluten intolerance are reacting is very similar to other proteins found in the body, including those in the brain. When the body confuses these proteins, the immune system attacks the brain and nervous system. This results in inflammation and irritation that, in turn, causes depression and anxiety.

Here's an article from Psychology Today:

Is Gluten Making You Depressed?

Celiac disease, commonly thought of as only a GI disorder, can cause profound psychological symptoms. One of which is depression.

In celiac disease the body's immune system mistakenly attacks a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. In its attack on gluten, the immune system damages the small intestine, producing intestinal symptoms such as abdominal cramps and swelling, pain, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Once damaged the small intestine may not absorb essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins as well as it should.

The health consequences of celiac disease, however, extend beyond gastrointestinal issues. . .

And then this one which was a finding about neurotransmitters when dealing with celiac disease (more scholarly):


Many cases of coeliac disease, a gastrointestinal autoimmune disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, can remain in a subclinical stage or undiagnosed. In a significant proportion of cases (10–15%) gluten intolerance can be associated with central or peripheral nervous system and psychiatric disorders.

And yet, I have 5-gallon pails of red hard wheat *sigh*.  I guess, since I only have a gluten sensitivity, I can make sour dough bread as long as I limit my portions.

  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 04:03am

    John Lemieux

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    TV Ontario’s (Canada) The

 TV Ontario's (Canada) The Agenda hosted a week long series recently called Mental Health Matters.

The main guest on the first program was Iain McGilchrist. He is a British Phychiatist and the author of The Master and His Emmissary. In the video he discusses what he believes to be the origins of our current mental health crises. He says that the our left brain dominant, and increasingly mechanistic modern Western societies lack the social cohesion that is necessary for our mental health.

And that autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia are more common now because of disorders of the domination of left brain hemiphere over the right. It seems that our dominant left hemiphere is creating a world that is making us ill. And that the modern Wesern society is very bad for our mental health. 

This link will also take you to the site of The Agena with Steve Paiken where you can find a whole series of videos about mental health issues and medications. BTW The Agenda is a great program that deals with a wide range of important topics. And the guests are most often extemely bright, interesting and well informed. Many fans of TVO including myself wish that Steve Paiken would run for the leadership of this country. 


A couple of things that stood out in Poet's list: almost every person here is a male. And also that many had only been taking medication for a short period of time before they committed the offence. I thought that these medications take several weeks to have an effect. And I also thought that with Paxil that the difficulty is that people have a hard time and sometimes become very unstable when they attempt to stop taking it.

I do know that sometimes anti -depressants cause unstable behavior. But I think that what is happening here has a lot more to do with a combination of many other factors than it does with anti-depressant medications. And I agree with Denise that alchohol is a huge contributor to violent behaviour in many situations. 

I think that this is a very important topic and something that deserves much more attention. I have know many young men that have become mentally ill and have taken their own lives. The last one was my neighbour who was only 18 years old (he used his father's gun to kill himself). He was a kind, intellegent and very decent person and he had great parents and a many people that cared about him. Several weeks later another neighbours son did the same thing.

But although these cases are very tragic and mental illness is certainly on the rise,  we are not seeing an increase in gun and other types of violence here in Canada.



  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 05:31am



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    Gluten and Brain Inflammation

This post is an addendum to Wendy's excellent post above about gluten being one of the dietary triggers of diverse symptoms throughout the entire body including depression and anxiety.  

And it does my heart good to hear so many people here at PP who are interested in really being healthy!

If anyone is interested in learning about the mechanism by which gluten is thought to trigger immune system inflammation, Scientific American carried an article in August 2011, with a wonderful explanation of this new line of research written for lay people with great pictures.  The author is Alessio Fasano, who has written quite a bit about the mechanism by which gluten can activate the immune system producing dysfunction in body parts far removed from the intestines.  (Full blown autoimmune reaction to gluten is called "Celiac Disease" and some articles on this topic use that term.)  But many lower grade versions of gluten triggered auto-immune inflammation exist too.  High blood pressure, osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic fatigue, for example, will sometimes improve with a 6 week trial of a gluten free diet. Other food antigens can trigger a similar process.

Here is the Fasano article:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=celiac-disease-insights  (Unfortunately, you have to pay to get it…..   I would be happy to email a pdf version of this article if you want to PM me and send me your email.)

There are many other molecules besides gluten that can set off auto-immune inflammation, too, but gluten is the biggest offender.   This process seems to happen when 3 factors come together:  1.  a triggering molecule in the intestines (such as a food like gluten) 2. a "leaky gut" that permits large (undigested) molecules to leak across the intestinal barrier where they MEET THE WHITE BLOOD CELLS of the immune system which live just under the intestinal barrier, and 3) a genetic pattern in the antigen recognition portions of the white blood cells that mistakenly recognizes the molecule as "some kind of invader."   Multiple immune mechanisms are then set off that can inflame distant body parts, like the brain.  Neurotransmitter balances are altered affecting thinking and mood.

[Disclaimer–I am a traditionally trained doctor who is specialized in emergency medicine.  I became interested in what it takes to become truly healthy just about 4 years ago when I began reading and attending courses in what is being called "functional medicine" and "science based naturopathy."  FM is focused on promoting healthy physiology, not on diseases.  FM rarely uses western drugs, often uses some herbs, probiotics, vitamins and minerals, diet, exercise, fresh air, yoga, meditation. But, I am not an expert at this point.  I am also not an academic.]

By the way, the podcast by Mark Sisson a few weeks ago was a wonderful implementation of many of the major principles at the core of functional medicine. 

  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 06:37am


    Mark Cochrane

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    Knock on effects for everything downstream….

Nice to see this thread!

Aaron, that was a really great post. We will do just about anything to maintain our illusions and almost nothing that requires really changing our lives (guilty as charged in my case).

Very nice too to see input from several medically trained members. I imagine that it is an ethical quagmire trying to determine who needs/should have potentially helpful medications. What gets me is that there does not seem to be any incentive to ever wean anyone off of these meds once they have begun taking them.

Poet, as an academic, let me just say that lists of horrible actions by people taking these meds does not show causality by and of itself no matter how long and grisly. It certainly shows that medications are not a panacea though. Presumably these people are on medications because they are having psychological problems to begin with, the question is whether the meds are in any way reducing the liklihood that they do harm to themselves or others? The meds might help, do nothing, or even make matters worse. Note, I lost my best friend to suicide after having taken such medications.

That said, what goes in must come out and our industrial scale use of antidepressants is literally leaking out into the rest of the outside world. From us to our sewage treatment systems to the water in streams and everything that drinks from them and the fish that reside within them.

Average concentrations of antidepressants in water, sediment, and fish neural tissue from Boulder Creek just below the point where wastewater from a sewage treatment plant is discharged (USGS Site ID 400305105103901). Since concentration units differed for each sample type, the concentrations were normalized to the highest single antidepressant concentration in each sample type (highest concentration was set to equal one). The graph shows that fish selectively absorb some antidepressants more than others.
(Larger Version)



  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 09:25am

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Go Suck a Lemon.

Here is a question that exercises my mind.

Pretend that we don't know what causes scurvy and we asked Big Pharma to come up with a solution.

Would they sell us very expensive symptomatic relief or would they be honest and tell us to go suck a lemon?

  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 01:48pm


    Wendy S. Delmater

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    goodbye, lemonade

Arthur, you know the answer to that one. We'd be paying impossibly high  fees for deisgner scurvy drugs.

And our Congress would, under pressure from lobbyists, make lemons illegal.

What to do about the situation is a big, awful die-lemma.


  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 02:32pm

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Ivan Illich and “Limits to Medicine”

:Thank you for mentioning Ivan Illich's  observations about medicine.  I would like to  pursue  this  very important topic of how institutionalized  (collectivized) medicine is wrong and how to develop a better health system.   I was so surprised to live in Japan some years and see a much better approach where  "do no harm" was followed so much more than in the US.  Much progress for an improved life can result (and  much better economy) by focusing  on this area.  Is anyone out there interested  in a review of medical procedures or at least discuss Ivan Illich's observations about how improved  diet and sanitation (and not modern pill medicine) is basically responsible for improved  health  of modern societies?

With a real collapse (either slow motion, or quick) we have the opportunity to build a much healthier and much less costly way of maintaining health and dealing with disease and  other medical needs.  I am interested in reviewing the factors, and eventually preparing a plan / guideline suitable for a small island (my situation) or new  small  community (a shared goal of many).  My perspective is: what are the REAL medical needs and how are they best addressed. There are a lot of good idease for specific areas bantered  about here.   I would like  to review all of  them from the perspective of how to live in the new paradigm that will follow……………



  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 05:50pm


    Aaron M

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    Causual relations


While I tend to agree with you that there's nothing in the empiricals that show a causual relationship between violent activity and these drugs, what we can say for certain is that they are *not* acting effectively as anti-psychotics.

I wish I was able to establish this in a more official capacity, but here's my thinking on why we're seeing this:
1. These drugs are shown to produce results in patients with severe, chronic depression.
2. Most people who are prescribed SSRI's and other anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications are not experiencing abnormal amounts of depression. They are depressed because of external influences, not internal imbalances.
3. Drugs designed to correct those imbalances have unpredictable effects on patients who are not experiencing neurochemical abnormalities. These effects are well known to include heightened levels of violent ideation and increased aggression, disorientation and a host of other problems.

So why are they still being prescribed?
Because they're the lemon, to borrow Arthur's analogy.

In any case, this is an opinion piece, as I have no solid academic studies to show the effects, but the impetus for these observations are readily available at the end of any commercial, from your medical provider and from a gamut of scholarly articles that show a clearly detrimental relationship between the interaction of psychotropics and a healthy brain. 

What I think we're seeing is this self-developing cycle of isolation, depression, sensory deprivation, social deprivation, heightened depression which leads to increased isolation. This is a cycle that can be broken without medication, and indeed, would be through the course of normal interaction. 

With plenty of opportunity for both isolation and violent ideation, it's easy for young men especially to sit in the basement, playing obscene amounts of violent games and have a PCP tell them that they're just depressed and there's a drug that should help.

Terrible idea! If they're depressed, get them out!
Plant something. Go climbing. Hike. Find a waterfall. Play a sport.
Get active. Interact with people. 
Sadness is a part of life, and a necessary one at that, and beating it is well worth the effort.



  • Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 10:15pm



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    Medical ruminations – post peak


1) I would like to  pursue  this  very important topic of how institutionalized  (collectivized) medicine is wrong and how to develop a better health system.

2) Is anyone out there interested  in a review of medical procedures or at least discuss Ivan Illich's observations about how improved  diet and sanitation (and not modern pill medicine) is basically responsible for improved  health  of modern societies?

3)  My perspective is: what are the REAL medical needs and how are they best addressed. There are a lot of good idease for specific areas bantered  about here.   I would like  to review all of  them from the perspective of how to live in the new paradigm that will follow……………



Hi Marvin,

You raise some interesting questions [I've numbered above] and I think discussing health issues and future changes is important. I liked the article a couple of weeks ago about keeping fit, and how important a part of resilience that is. Let me give you my thoughts on your questions:

1) I have worked in private and socialised medical systems. I am aware of the USA system to a degree and your culture [if that is the right word] of emphasing individual responsibility as a primary good. You may be aware the UK culture is another extreme with the NHS [national health service] and socialised care free at the point of need [paid from general taxation]. I could write a 10,000 word essay and leave many gaps in comparing the 2 systems! However, health is a 'group' dynamic – ie your behaviour affects my health, and vice versa. So much of good health is a social phenomenon. I would like to ask you, why do you think collectivized medicine is wrong? [I am genuinely interested]

2) I agree with Illich regarding health in a society [body health that is – since 'health' also encompasses mental, social and spiritual dimensions] being primarily a function of clean water, good sanitiation, quality food and shelter. I don't think you will find many doctors arguing otherwise. One of my first assignments as a medical student was to research John Snow and a cholera outbreak in London in 1854. Using good epidemiology he proved it was a certain Well causing the outbreak, and the need for clean water. This started legislation that exists in the UK today. We doctors today mostly fiddle at the edges. The health gains we provide are marginal to a society, although can be impressive and important to an individual. But most health care gains are from the 4 above factors. There is a huge body of evidence to support this, and we neglect these at our cost. From a peakprosperity perspective this is what developing resilience is all about, I think – ensuring we can feed, shelter, have sanitation and clean water post 'whatever' comes our way.

3) What about medicine 'post peak'? I have a few concerns: I think governments in extremis will 'cut' all too often the wrong things – reduce public health surveillance and spending on 'prevention', as its not sexy or obviously important until it's gone! 'Prevention is better than cure'. I think vaccination is critical, and without it our infant and child mortality rates will accelerate hugely. I dread a collapse where children can't get vaccinated and we see measles, German measles, Whooping cough, all making a come back. We have forgotten the death and morbidity such diseases wrought on our children until only a few decades ago. As an aside, I hope Bill Gates [et al] succeed very soon in eradicating Polio as they are so close to doing so. Antibiotics will also be a great loss and women will fear once again child birth. 1 in 25 women used to died when giving birth and still do in some cultures today. Puerperal sepsis [infection when having a baby or miscarriage] was also common before modern hygiene was understood. So if I had a 'wish list' the 2 items I'd want to be available post peak collapse would be vaccinations and antibiotics. These don't store for long, and production would need to be still continuing. Next, I'd go for pain medications – aspirin/morphine – aspirin [originally from Willow tree bark]. Mainly because I'm a wimp.

I am starting to locate and look at old medical equipment from 50-100 yrs ago and learn about them. An example [forgive the medical grossness] is catheters – tubes for draining your bladder. I often catheterise men with 'acute retention of urine'. This is one of the most distressing conditions where your bladder fills up but you can't pass urine. You bladder keeps filling up – and the pain keeps getting worse. Next time you want a pee, hold it for as long as you can. Currently we can get rubber/synthetic catheters to pass, but what happens when they are no longer available, say? Well, before rubber they used metal tubes [curved]. Now that has got to hurt, BUT it would work in an emergency.

I also think that with modern medicine many people are kept alive who would have died years ago. An example would be insulin dependent diabetics, women who's pelvises are too small and would have died in childbirth. I think with the loss of modern medicine, within a few years the population would have been 'culled' significantly, and a more Darwinian element of 'survival of the fittest' would reassert itself. We talk about sustainability, but how much of our medicine is 'sustainable'?

Arrrgh. This is all sounding so negative. I do think there could be many positives. Obesity would be for the few, not the many. Our Western diets are determined by profit making corporations and our health suffers as we succumb to advertising. Will Macdonalds* be there post peak? [* please substitute your fast food outlet of choice here]. We will be so much more active physically though necessity, and that will be fantastic from all sort of health points of view.

This is too long, sorry. But hope the banter is interesting!



  • Wed, Feb 27, 2013 - 12:23am

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Medicine after a collapse

Thank you AndyG
Regarding: "why do you think collectivized medicine is wrong" I dont mean nationalized medicine.  I have much experience  in Japan and am convinced that their nationalized health care is much better than the US private monopoly systems.  I was surprised to  see  much more competition  in Japan despite their national health plan.  (for example, service is  not split up  into pieces  carried out by separate financial entities all owned by the same doctor or doctor's group to jack up bills, but lab tests etc sent out to a low cost provider from a hotly contested  market)  As a result I pay the same or  less cash out of pocket for service in Japan (outside the national insurance plan as a  cash paying outsider) than I do as copay with insurance in the US.   There is much more competition and also  less focus  on unnecessary but lucrative damaging invasive procedures  than in the US.  

No, "collectivized" in my sense means "instititionalized" in the sense discussed by Ivan Illich. Private independent care givers  giving up their independence to a "collective" that creates monopolies, hides prices (until after the service is done or started), raises prices, sets fees  and promotes/pushes questionable practices that do not  overall  improve health  for the people, but do create vast wealth  gathering for the  collective.  Surgury to remove prostate based on prostate antigen blood test results, blood vessel stent heart operations, drugs  to lower cholesterol  or blood pressure  instead  of at least trying diet, etc.

I would like to see an overall summary of what medical service/biological problems are encountered by a population and the spectrum  of resources for addressing those.  An overview.  I am sure that this info is in several places and I would like to consider what would a brand new formed community develop as an ideal.   I  dont have time at the  moment  to clarify………….

best wishes

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