I recently came across the May 2014 issue of The Costco Connection, which is published by Costco Wholesale. This is the first time I’ve seen a copy of this magazine, and I would describe it as a catalog/lifestyle periodical. There are lots of ads for Costco’s own products, and the articles are wide ranging, topical, and easy to read.
This particular issue was drawn to my attention because on page 57, there’s an article titled Blues Clues. The subtitle is: “Physical pain is one of the unexpected signs of depression.” The author is Jodi Helmer, a freelance journalist.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
“Debilitating back pain led Kristin Bower to make an appointment with her doctor. She assumed he would prescribe pain meds, and send her home to rest. Instead, Bower left the office with a diagnosis of depression.”
The author goes on to cite the NIMH estimate of 15 million American adults who “suffer from depression”. She also draws attention to an unnamed study that reportedly found that “…up to 76 percent of those with depression experienced physical and emotional symptoms.”.
We then have a quote from Ken Duckworth, MD, Medical Director of NAMI:
“The biology of the brain impacts the biology of the body.”
which is fairly non-contentious, and:
“There is a biological connection between pain and mood. The neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine regulate both, which, according to Duckworth, is the reason ‘it’s common to experience depression as a psychological and physical illness.'”
This sounds awfully like the old chemical imbalance theory of depression, which the eminent psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD, assures us was never promoted by any well-informed psychiatrist.
The author discusses the link between depression (the “illness”) and pain, and is clearly promoting the notion that the latter is often a manifestation, or symptom, of the former. This contention is supported by another quote from Dr. Duckworth, in which he reportedly noted that pain can be “…a somatic expression of distress”.
The general theme is further reinforced by Jonathan W. Stewart, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, who is quoted as saying:
“The brain is terrific at rationalizing the pain…A mental health clinician can help decipher whether there is a connection.”
Then the article gets to the point:
“If pain and depression are linked, a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can be an effective form of treatment. The drugs help increase the production of serotonin and norepinephrine, easing both depression and pain.”
This passage, which is also an endorsement of the chemical imbalance theory, is not attributed to Dr. Stewart, but is sandwiched between two of his quotes, and the impression is given that it is his message.
The article concludes by harking back to Kristin Bower, the lady with the back pain.
“For Bower, a combination of antidepressant medication and regular appointments with her doctor help keep her depression and pain in check. When she starts to notice twinges in her back or an uptick in migraine headaches, she recognizes that her depression is about to flare, too.”
I think it’s fairly obvious that what’s going on here is old-fashioned psychiatric “disease-mongering.” For decades, psychiatrists have been spreading their message that people who are depressed have chemical imbalances in their brains that can be treated with psychiatric drugs. The “symptoms” of this so-called illness are feelings of depression, loss of interest in activities, insomnia (or, amazingly, hypersomnia), feelings of guilt, etc… And now, through a cozy little article in the Costco Connection, they’re adding physical pain to the “symptom” list. In a sidebar to the article, there is a list of the “top somatic complaints associated with depression”:
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Back pain
- Upset stomach, diarrhea
- Acid reflux
- Chest pain
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see how this might increase the numbers of people asking their GP’s to screen them for depression.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kristin Bower, who is introduced to the reader simply as a 44-year-old corporate recruiter who went to her doctor with back pain and came away – surprise, surprise – with a “diagnosis” of depression, is also, according to her Twitter page, a “… mental health advocate/speaker/blogger…” She is also, according to sidebar information on her blog Adventures of a Survivor! A Community Correspondent for Partners For Mental Health, and a volunteer for the Canadian Mental Health Association. It is also clear from her blogs that she has carried a “diagnosis” of depression for quite some time. On her blog posts she describes depression as an illness and as “…a disability for which there is no cure.”
Partners for Mental Health, according to its own website, is a Canadian charitable organization that is “…supercharging a ground-breaking social movement that will transform the way we think about, act towards and support mental health in Canada.” One of their stated goals is: “More funding for programs and services,” and they strive for a “new norm” where there is “acknowledgement and understanding that there is no health without mental health.” Lundbeck, the maker of Celexa and other psychiatric products, is one of their two founding sponsors.
As mentioned earlier, Ken Duckworth, MD, is the Medical Direct of NAMI, teaches at Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Public Health., and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Jonathan Stewart, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University. He has received research support from Pfizer, Alkermes, Forest Pharmaceuticals, and Shire Pharmaceuticals.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So, what appears on the surface to be a nice, personalized healthcare advice article, turns out, with a little research, to be another part of the widespread and well-orchestrated media blitz that psychiatry has launched to drown its opposition, promote its products, and continue the expansion of its turf.
Psychiatry is morally and intellectually bankrupt. It has no logical or scientifically-founded response to its critics. So instead, with the help of its loyal supporting organizations and pharma money, and a major PR/marketing firm, it has launched this tawdry, deceptive PR campaign. They are flooding the media with their false and destructive message, and then they wonder why they are not given the respect afforded to real doctors. I can’t even imagine a real medical specialty engaging in something so shabby.