“Crazy” is in this year.

Over the past 80 years, there has been a constant rise in the prevalence of anxiety and depression and no one really knows what is causing it. Let that permeate your mind and sink in. This year, I have treated about 1,000 patients in primary care/urgent care settings and 30% of them have a history of anxiety or depression. That data is staggering. My school requires me to input data into a server that organizes information for us to see trends and learn about common themes in healthcare. When I adjusted the settings to display the ratio of patients:mental health issues, I felt a surge of intense questioning. The Association of Anxiety and Depression claims that the prevalence of these disorders is significantly lower. Why?

Perhaps people who are feeling depressed or anxious are more likely to seek medical care, thus skewing the data? Regardless, why are we seeing this dramatic increase and why is this not considered a massive public health crisis? Most of my adult life has been dedicated to questioning things and annoying most of the people around me with my theories…BUT THIS IS A BIG DEAL, Y’ALL.

My database has tangible evidence that suggests about 1/3 people deal with anxiety/depression. I believe that number is even higher because of the lack of accurate reporting. A lot of people do not have the self-awareness to even recognize something is off with the mind and psyche, so who is to say 1/2 of people are actually on this mental health train?

I want to play a guessing game with you. Think back to the last time you saw a medical provider. Perhaps it was your annual physical or an episodic meeting. Did your provider ask you about your mood/stress/energy? As a future provider, I recognize that time is of the essence and you can not perform a full blown psychoanalysis on every patient. With that being said, I value the importance of a handful of screening questions. I try to ask my patients, “how is your energy level during the day/how are you handling your stress/what do you do to for self-care?” It takes about 2-3 minutes and opens the door for a emotional connection.

 

When time permits, I love to teach patients about stress management through alternative methods: belly breathing, guided meditation, and yoga. All this is hunky dory, but back to the point…

What is causing the constant rise in anxiety and depression?

Unsolicited advice/theories I developed that probably hold 7% scientific value:

  • technology
    • after a weekend in the woods, my mind and body are in such a calm state. Being off the grid and “disconnected” is therapeutic for my adrenal glands and neurotransmitters
    • social media (I REALLY spend too much time on that crap) is a forum for “look how amazing I am” and drives feelings of inadequacy
  • food
    • our culture sucks at eating, let’s be honest
    • the era of processed food, sugar, add added hormones is essentially destroying our brain’s ability to regulate emotion and stress hormones…no big deal
    • hypoglycemia can mimic feelings of anxiety and that tends to be an issue when we eat such a high sugar diet–leading to fast metabolism of food and a massive blood sugar crash (you should probably apologize to your pancreas)
  • birth control
    • who doesn’t love good old oral contraceptives…ok, ok, too far, I get it.
    • the estrogen component in most OCP is detrimental to the mind
    • my anxiety was drastically reduced when I changed to a very LOW dose of estrogen
    • all the smart brain docs tell me that estrogen negatively impacts serotonin and norepinephrine
  • lack of community
    • although we are the most “social” generation via social media, we are actually the loneliest
    • in the 1930s-1950s, farming was a critical aspect of society and most people lived on land with many family members and spent very little time alone
    • some people believe that a large social circle will buffer the impact of anxiety/depression, thus serving as protective
    • when is the last time you drove to someone’s house to talk to them instead of text them? Exactly.

My commitment to the medical community is to discover trends and determine how I can make a tiny positive impact in the world. Maybe that is through developing more screening guidelines or writing a self-care novela as a free gift with purchase. “Thanks for getting a Pap today, enjoy your free guide on how to take care of your mind and body.” All jokes aside, I have a lot of questions and a lot of energy to figure them out (thanks to the shit ton of green tea I guzzle). I want to solve this dilemma and save the world. All in a day’s work.

Why do you think we are seeing the consistent rise in anxiety and depression? Comment below!

Love and Light.

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Sources: (http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/03/for-80-years-young-americans-have-been-getting-more-anxious-and-depressed.html)

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19 thoughts on ““Crazy” is in this year.

  1. The number one reason is selfishness. People are selfish and they are not even aware of it. It’s living life just for one’s self – my house, my car, my life, my business etc. We’re all here for each other but everyone seems to be busy with their own lives that they don’t even pause to think about the effect of what they’re doing on the world around them.

    People who want to live caring see the hostility towards their effort and sometimes it’s so sharp that it induces depression, anxiety and the likes in fragile hearts

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  2. I wish there were more practitioners out there like you who examined mind, body, and spirit. Changed in food, social, and other areas of life that are unbalanced can have remarkable impacts on health both mental and physical. That’s why I like Dr. Lissa Rankin’s work you guys think the same way..it refreshing. Keep up the good work.

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  3. I’ve seen it in my own medical practice. The environment of the modern world is toxic. Everyone is stressed out from a young age with exams and then with work and paying off student debts and other bills. The majority of the population have no time for basic things like adequate sleep and preparing nutritious meals or enough time to spend with their loved ones. On top of that we live in capitalistic society which has fragmented us as individuals – we are not seen as the complex individuals we are – our value is derived purely from the skills which can make money.

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    • Such great points! It’s such a “go go go” culture. We must be the best, fastest, strongest, smartest and it’s really impacting our mental health

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  4. Admittedly this is something I really, really struggle with myself. I don’t doubt the above contribute, but for me depression is intertwined with my unfortunate life circumstances. It runs more or less comorbid with ASD in my case. My latest blog entry is largely this.

    For whatever reason though, I’ve found my own Zen in ink. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, but I imagine it could be worse.

    Just know I feel your pain. Here’s to better days ahead.

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      • It’s not for everyone, but for me getting a tattoo is almost meditative in a way. Yes, please stop by my blog any time. I’m just getting started so I need a little help getting on the map. 😉

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      • My fiancé finds a lot of healing through his tattoos. He did most of them after getting out of the Army..I think it was therapeutic for something beautiful to come as a result of pain. It’s kind of just like life…

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      • In an odd sort of way it is therapeutic. I was a bit of a late bloomer – I began my inked journey only 6 months ago. I swore it was something I would never do. Granted, I do want my first tattoo covered up (I made the mistake of getting a trendy tattoo rather than a unique one) but it got me into the world of ink. I’ll be getting my third two weeks from Saturday.

        It’s an addiction, what can I say? I guess there are worse addictions to have though…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sara
    While I was in the history of medicine program at Case, our book discussion group read The Loss of Sadness – by Allan V. Horwitz, Jerome C. Wakefield · Oxford University Press · Ebook · 312 pages · ISBN 0198042698. I recommend it as an accessible and fascinating read on this subject. In part, we have labeled what once was “simply” sadness as depression or depressive disorder. This has skewed our mental health numbers since almost any patient has experienced sadness (loss of spouse, loss of job, traumatic event, etc…) but not necessarily what a clinical professional would define as a mental health issue. The book explains this much better than me 🙂
    Shout out on the upcoming nuptials!! Best to you – XO, Lynne

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    • Oh, I can’t wait to check that out! What an interesting concept…we aren’t allowed to just simply bed sad…whoa. That really is insightful. Glad you stopped by!

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  6. Sara, I’m currently writing a piece on focus and have been pondering this problem lately as well. Thank you for the statistic, it is indeed staggering. I agree with all your possible reasons and have a few more to contribute to your list:
    – overprescribing stimulants to children (quick fix that doesn’t really solve the problem and leads to greater complications later). I think it’s also important to note that 1 in 5 college students have used such medications for studying, which leads me to my next point.
    – the mindset of instant gratification that technology may or may not be instilling in us. The average person waits no longer than 3 seconds for a webpage to load. Linked to social media and how frequently we check it as well. It is a constant distraction!

    I’m not sure how to deal with this problem on a mass scale, but I believe the most important thing you can do is practice meditation. Being able to still or free yourself from your thoughts has huge benefits as far as mental health, concentration, stress relief, and even anxiety are concerned. The question is, what will it take for people to take control of their problems and take steps towards improvement?

    I think illuminating the problem as you are is a great first step. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Great insight! I completely agree with the medication aspect. I often have middle school kids ask me for a prescription “to focus!” Ah! Also, the instant gratification bit is huge…I find that disconnecting and going off the tech grid for a day or two helps me. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m happy the conversation is flowing ✌🏼️

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  7. I have bipolar and anxiety my bipolar my friends call me the crazy one and I can joke about it. anxiety on the other hand is not so good I started a blog to help with that and my bipolar. when you have bipolar and anxiety and a 2 year old well you’r screwed lol. my anxiety keeps me from driving to walmart which is 2 blocks away and other silly stuff I can’t do

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