Updated: Oct 28, 2019
Stress robs us of vitality and drains our zest for life. Just trying to make it through another day - putting one foot in front of the other, we live like zombies…with a long to-do list!
The last post, “How Fear Keeps Us Stuck and Makes Us Sick” introduced a downloadable infographic in a cause & effect format illustrating how a single anxious thought can trigger stress hormones.
The walking dead analogy is sobering when acknowledging that stress is literally killing us. The infographic illustrates how the fear response creates inflammation that is responsible for most causes of disease and death. Unrelenting stress also increases the risk of depression and suicide. From 1996 to 2005, the rate of antidepressant use rose from 5.84% to 10.12% giving rise to the catch-phrase, “Prozac Nation.” This was our first wake-up call. Our fast pace is partially responsible for the issue and is made worse by our microwave mentality looking for quick-fix pill.
Despite more than 1 in 10 Americans being treated with antidepressant medications, recent studies report that antidepressants are not therapeutically effective in more than 50% of patients. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that antidepressants work best in very severe cases and have little or no benefit over placebo (inert pills) in less serious cases of depression.
...antidepressants work best in very severe cases and have little or no benefit over placebo (inert pills) in less serious cases of depression.
Now data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) show that anxiety disorders have replaced depression as the most common mental illness in the United States. Clearly we are not better! We’ve morphed from "Prozac Nation" into “The United States of Anxiety.” Recent data reports alarming numbers in stress and anxiety disorders in children and college students. Undoubtedly more medications will be prescribed but they are costly and often ineffective. Worse still, some anti-anxiety meds create a blunting or numbing effect and can make us feel and act like zombies. The point is that there is no silver bullet and what we’ve been throwing at the problem isn’t adequate or sustainable.
The Most Effective Methods to Manage Stress
Even when drugs help, the relief masks symptoms without healing the root causes. Fortunately, the most effective treatments for stress address the root issues, are the safest and the least expensive. These treatments don’t involve drugs so they’re naturally free of drug interactions or side effects. There’s only one catch; we have to be willing to help ourselves. That takes effort and time - not just a pill.