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See Inside August/September 2008

Depressingly Easy

We nuke prepared dishes rather than growing our own food and machine-wash ready-made clothes rather than sewing and scrubbing. Such conveniences may be contributing to rising rates of depression by depriving our brains of their hard-earned rewards

For several decades, the multibillion-dollar antidepressant industry has pointed to imbalances in the neurochemical serotonin as the cause of depression. But research has yet to find convincing evidence that serotonin imbalances represent the indisputable cause of depression, and despite the unprecedented number of pharmacological treatment options available today, depression rates are higher than ever.

If Big Pharma does not have a cure for depression, shouldn’t we pursue a fresh approach to this vexing problem? Could there be a nonpharmacological treatment strategy that would bring relief to the increasing number of people struggling with this mood disorder, for instance? What do we know about how to preserve good mental health? Is it possible to maintain a sense of control over our increasingly stressful daily lives, so that we can refocus our attention on more meaningful psychological endeavors, such as the challenging issues of problem solving and planning for our futures?

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