Grief to become just another form of depression? another disorder for the DSM5 (and alternative ways of thinking about that pain)

As we watch the hullabaloo around the creation of the next DSM, one of the moves towards increasing pathology in normal people is to label grief a depression, hence opening the floodgates that more people will be treated with antidepressants.

The fact is this has already been happening for a long time. Many people are introduced to antidepressants after the loss of a loved one or after a divorce etc. Still, to further legitimize the mass drugging of normal pain and heartbreak that all human beings will face at one time or another as we live our lives is a bad direction to move in. The DSM5 wants to do that. It is in fact expanding most of the diagnostic criteria so that more and more people can be diagnosed as mentally ill across the board. Ultimately a diagnostic code is almost always translated into drug treatment and therein lies the danger.

The most recent article was in the New York Times a day ago by Benedict Carey:

Grief Could Join List of Disorders

When does a broken heart become a diagnosis?

In a bitter skirmish over the definition of depression, a new report contends that a proposed change to the diagnosis would characterize grieving as a disorder and greatly increase the number of people treated for it. (read more)

I’m using this opportunity to share a bunch of pieces from Beyond Meds that helps us understand and celebrate the darker times of our lives. That we might use them to heal and grow.

I will start this piece from Nicole Urdang:

You can’t heal what you don’t feel — an excerpt:

There are many ways people try to avoid unpleasant feelings, and addictions top the list. Engaging in obsessive-compulsive or addictive behavior pushes unpleasant thoughts and feelings out of conscious awareness. Sometimes, that can seem like paradise; unfortunately, the long-term negative effects outweigh the short-term gains of numbness and forgetting, as once the drug or activity is over, all those painful feelings come back. Let’s face it, if addictions really worked, we would all be addicts. Who doesn’t want a bit of relief from life’s stresses? The problem is they are a short-term fix. It takes great courage to move through dark emotions but ignoring them, or sweeping them under the cognitive rug, just makes them less accessible for healing. read more

And by Al Galves, a piece that was very popular on this blog:

The Value of Depression an excerpt:

The biggest problem with the conventional wisdom about mental illness is that it encourages people to ignore the meaning of the symptoms that are used to diagnose them. That is a problem because it deprives people of vital information that can help them live more the way they want to live.

The conventional wisdom about mental illness is that it is caused by genetic factors, chemical imbalances and brain abnormalities. If you believe that, you have no interest in exploring the meaning of the symptoms or listening to what they may have to tell you. Rather, you are encouraged to get rid of the symptoms as quickly as possible and pay no further attention to them.

But what if those symptoms had important information for people, information they need in order to lead healthy, fulfilling lives? read more

And this is a post about a book that I really enjoyed:

Healing the dark emotions — an excerpt:

Fear, grief and despair are uncomfortable and are seen as signs of personal failure. In our culture we call them “negative” and think of them as “bad.” I prefer to call these emotions “dark,” because I like the image of a rich, fertile soil from which something unexpected can bloom. Also we keep them “in the dark” and tend not to speak about them. We privatize them and don’t see the ways in which they are connected to the world. But the dark emotions are inevitable. They are part of the universal human experience and are certainly worthy of our attention. They bring us important information about ourselves and the world and can be vehicles of profound transformation. read more

If you’re interested in looking at the book see here: Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair

So we can look at our normal human experiences in a couple of ways. We can embrace them and learn from them as all human beings have done from the beginning of time, or we can try to halt pain and grief with drugs and quite often stop or greatly slow a natural healing and growing process. Life ain’t always easy. Drugs won’t change that…and the sad fact is in the long run they can complicate things much more than they would have been otherwise.

For a meticulously documented book that looks at the studies done on pharmacological treatments for mental health issues read Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. It  more often than not, makes a lot more sense to trust your body and mind to heal in time…as nature intended with a variety of holistic lifestyle changes that support your body/mind and spirit. I’ve seen all too often in my life and in the lives of clients and friends that drugs can come to harm us rather than help us in the long-term even if in the short-term some relief is found with drugs. This is part of what makes it so very tricky.

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