Depression, antidepressants and self-determination

There has been a recent trend to prescribe SSRIs for children; Prozac now comes in a chewable form for kids.

by Dr. Mark Force — 

Medical (allopathic) doctors commonly treat depression by prescribing SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs such as Prozac, Paxil or Effexor. As of 2002, approximately 10 percent of adults in this country were using prescription antidepressants. There has been a recent trend to prescribe SSRIs for children; Prozac now comes in a chewable form for kids.

Because the underlying physiology, the low serotonin level, is treated but not corrected by the medication, SSRIs can be considered management of depression, but not a cure.

A number of nutrients must be sufficiently present for the manufacture of serotonin. The most important of these are the amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B-6.

Since both tryptophan and B-6 are largely deficient in diets primarily comprised of cooked foods and both nutrients are required for producing serotonin, depression may be, at least in part, a cooked-food disease.

Supplementing B-6 and tryptophan will usually improve depression-related symptoms within a couple of weeks, and a measurable improvement in serotonin levels can be noted in three months’ time. At that point, improved diet and lifestyle factors may be enough to maintain the improvement. If there is a strong genetic predisposition toward depression, some continued support with B-6 and tryptophan may be necessary.

This is, in our opinion, the appropriate and logical method for managing and resolving the biochemical imbalance found to cause most cases of depression.

Does depression prevent someone from living their life? Is it a scourge, or is it a condition of being out of kilter with your nature? When you or your environment are not aligned or congruent with your values, beliefs or vision, is depression the result?

Joshua Shenk has written a rather remarkable book, Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness. Shenk has given us a model for examining depression in a way that is rare today. He presents the idea that Lincoln’s depression was a vigorous force that led directly to his capacities and character.

Lincoln was a very stoic and self-possessed man, disposed toward introspection and contemplation, and he felt a deep responsibility for his speech and actions. In an early speech, Lincoln wrote, “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”

The President considered his melancholy something he could deal with through reason and discipline. He looked to his moods for direction, and for the development of his character.

Shenk argues, “The ethic that he proposed for his country — continued struggle to realize an ideal, knowing that it could never be perfectly attained — was the same ethic he had used to govern himself.”

Lincoln exercised self-governance to become a remarkable human being and leader. His example may be an excellent model for us, in terms of developing our character and aligning our lives in accord with our nature.


Mark Force, D.C., is a chiropractic physician at The Elements of Health in north Scottsdale, Ariz. He practices functional and natural healthcare and is the author of Choosing Health: Dr. Force’s Functional Selfcare Workbook. 480-563-4256 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 6, December 2006/January 2007.

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