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I attended an insightful evening at SAHMRI on depression. I don’t want to sound all melancholic at the start of this blog. However, quantitatively speaking, Australia is the unhappiest country in the world (per capita). We also have the highest prescription rate/use of antidepressants in the world (per capita).

Now I am really sounding melancholic.

Why do we have high rates of depression?

I was really saddened that Australia, a wonderful, optimistic, culturally diverse nation is so depressed. Are we trying to put a band-aid on by taking an antidepressant with the notion that quote un-quote “she’ll be right mate”? Are we ill-informed by our health & medical team? Or does one think or feel that a pill is the only way to remission? Or are we literally still stuck in time?

Maybe my past tense reference was justified…

Here’s the problem…

Depression is so much more complex than the first hypothesis from the 50s, which brought us the discovery of the first antidepressant, Fluoxetine (Prozac). The problem is that all that has changed in the last forty years is that we now have ten or more antidepressants rather than just one. The reason I am so passionate about the right co-care and management is because of the side effects of these medicines. For example, the growth factors in antidepressants can contribute to obesity, another morbidity that inundates our health care system.

So what can we do to help treat depression?

Recent advances have shown that our genes can be switched off by our environment, sedentary lifestyles and psychologically stressful events.  This includes our BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) genes, which are the fertilisers for our brain. They help protect and grow our neurons.  However, positively, we can also switch this gene on by exercising and meditating. Therefore our actions and choices can potentially lead to melancholy or greater health.

I guess this is more of a personal release than an education problem solving blog. Please pardon the lack of clarity/direction. But it many ways I feel this is the current position we are in.

It all starts with the little things:

  • Move more…
  • Find space, breathe, form boundaries and find silence/solitude…
  • Hug more…
  • Connect more (interpersonally)…
  • Connect with nature…
  • Nourish your body… (remember where amino acids are derived from… FOOD. And what do amino acids make? Neurotransmitters!)
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