The National Epidemic of Depression

Elizabeth Handy

Several brilliant articles have recently brought some true light to what the national epidemic of depression really means, two of which I’d like to discuss. In Dr. Kevin Passero, N.D’s article Depression-A National Epidemic? and Overcoming Depression Without Meds by Rich Simon at Psychotherapy Networker, we learn about the over-diagnosis of depression in the U.S., and are reminded of the inefficacy of anti-depressants—despite how quick many physicians are to prescribe them.

Listen here as I discuss my experience in working with clients who have otherwise been labeled “depressed” by a therapist or physician—or read the transcript below.


I have yet to meet somebody who is biologically depressed. It’s always situational. There’s a reason. People are not crazy because they’re depressed. They’re depressed because of a reason. It can be abandonment, it can be attachment issues, it can be childhood trauma, it can be acts of omission, neglect, it can be feeling as if they are a failure in life, it can be that their boss is harassing them or coworkers, it can be that they are doing poorly in school, it can be any number of things.

But, depression by and large is curable with good treatment. Not CBT [cognitive behavior therapy] but EMDR and Brainspotting. And a therapist that knows where to go and how it’s going to look. Very easy to cure, actually. It takes time, but it’s not a forever process—you’re not going to be in therapy for years. And when I hear therapists or doctors tell people that they are going to have to deal with this issue of depression for years and years and years, that is not appropriate and it’s untrue. It’s not the case at all.

I think it’s overdiagnosed and I think it’s treated the wrong way. And I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that they have gone to their GPs [General Practitioners] who, by the way are the ones prescribing most of the antidepressants, and they just label it after a five minute, ten minute office visit, “well, I think you’re depressed, just take this” and it is way over-diagnosed because no in-depth interview or assessment is done to figure out what’s really going on with these people.

You know, yes a client on the surface could appear depressed, but if they then have an extra half hour or even an hour to tell you, “well, I just lost my job, and I’m in fear of losing my house and my car has been repossessed and I have no way of getting to work, and my mother has cancer, and my brother is on drugs and…” you know, people come out with all this stuff and you wonder why they feel depressed? Well hello, of course they are going to feel depressed! Because their life has become unmanageable, and that is what makes them feel sad and depressed. A pill isn’t going to fix it. A pill is not the answer.

And, these doctors prescribe this stuff like candy without telling the clients about the side effects, how hard it’s going to be to get off of it, about the weight gain, about the fact that actually some of these drugs can give people just enough energy to commit suicide, which is what a lot of my veterans tell me. It gives them a whole litany of extra problems that actually, at the end of the day, exacerbate the feelings of depression and helplessness.