In this health video you will learn whether depression is thought to be a mental illness.
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Raena Morgan: What is depression? Dr. Gary Kohls: Well the psychiatric definition I guess is it has a time limit. It's usually disabling. It's affecting the patient severely. It's a low mood or sadness. There's very little difference between sadness and depression except by psychiatric definition. I'm not even sure what the criteria are to make it a mental illness. It probably has something to do with duration and depth and disability. Raena Morgan: Are there tests that you can take? DR. GARY KOHLS: No there's no blood test, biopsy. In fact for any of the so-called mental illnesses in the diagnostic and statistical manual there are no blood tests, biopsies, x-rays that make the diagnosis. It's just a series of behaviors and then if you have enough of them, then you qualify for a mental illness diagnosis. But basically it's sadness, which is a normal human emotion to crisis events or losses, etc. Raena Morgan: Right. I mean if your car breaks down and your rent goes up and you lose your job, all in the same day, that would make you depressed, would it not? DR. Gary Kohls: Sure. But is it a mental illness is the question. And that's where they have to then say, if it's a really deep sadness or if it lasts for a long time, then it's a mental illness. That's absurd, I think. To say that crisis events or feeling overwhelmed with economic stresses or job loss or family dysfunction or just any number of millions of things can cause a person to be in despair. And when you're also not sleeping well -- oftentimes depression is related to being nervous about stuff, nervousness and depression or nervousness and sadness are normal human emotions too -- all these crisis events. But to make them into a mental illness I think is a real weak argument that leads them to drug use. Raena Morgan: So that wouldn't necessarily suggest a chemical imbalance? DR. Gary Kohls: Right. The chemical imbalance is pure theory, unproven theory. They've been trying to prove that. The psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry has promulgated that theory, hypothesis, to explain, plausibly, why, in a simplistic fashion, why someone has a mental illness. Oh! you have a brain chemical imbalance. There's no proof of that. There are at least 60 different brain chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain and they all come from food. So we may well have deficiencies of neurotransmitters, but drugs don't do anything, doesn't cure deficiencies or depletions. It's food that would be the treatment for deficiencies or depletions. If there are actually 60 different brain chemicals, how can there be an imbalance there -- a measurable imbalance? It's impossible. Maybe if there were only two brain chemicals then you could maybe say well, one is too much and maybe that would be an imbalance. But the treatment, again, would be nutrition and fluid. Drugs do not -- if anything they may cause imbalances. We know that they can cause depletions. When you're on a drug for awhile, a serotonin reuptake pump inhibitor for example like Prozac and Paxil, we know that they cause deficiencies of serotonin. The treatment isn't more of a drug that's causing deficiencies, the treatment is stopping the drug, or cutting that down and then replenishing the nutrient that's missing. Raena Morgan: So the cure is more harmful than the condition? DR. Gary Kohls: It probably is, yeah. People who are on these drugs, even totally normal people when they've experimented. There's a famous experiment that David Healey did in Scotland where he took 10 totally normal people, gave them Zoloft. Within a couple of weeks, two of them were suicidal. Twenty percent of them became suicidal. They were totally normal. Never had a suicidal thought in their life. And Zoloft made 20% of them suicidal. They didn't act on it, but they were suicidal. So we know that they cause diseases, they cause mental ill health. And it's probably because they're depleting neurotransmitters or altering the brain in some way that we don't