Entire industries in modern medicine—psychiatry, the drug industry, even many therapeutic arms of psychology—are predicated on the idea that chronic, crippling stress, anxiety and a number of other forms of so-called mental illness are incredibly tough nuts to crack, requiring years of strong medication that, at best, can only control symptoms.
In fact, psychiatrists in America have lately abandoned any attempts at talking cures and are now just the people who dole out the drugs.
Several years ago, The New York Times interviewed one prominent psychiatrist who confessed that his current patient load had swollen to 1,200 because he could treat them in 15-minute meetings that mostly consist of adjusting their prescriptions.
Small wonder that psychiatric drugs represent the most profitable sector of the drugs industry and one which, indeed, one of the most profitable sectors of any industry.
About one in five Americans is on some form of psychotropic drug—one that changes your mental state—spending some $11 billion on antidepressants and $16 billion on antipsychotics alone, many now inappropriately given for stress and anxiety.
To give you some idea of the enormous profits to be made by medicating for stress, in the US, Xanax, the number-one drug for anxiety, generates more revenue than Tide, the country’s leading laundry detergent.
Poor track record
But all this medicating isn’t doing much good. Studies have demonstrated that antidepressants are no better than a placebo and more than half the prescriptions for antipsychotics are for uses with uncertain scientific evidence, according to Stanford and the University of Chicago.
At the moment, the batting average of success with treatments for stress and anxiety stands at a paltry 12 per cent. There’s also the problem of dependence: drugs for anxiety have a notorious history of causing addiction in short order.
And new evidence now shows that, far from ‘fixing’ an ailing brain, these psychotropic drugs are actually causing permanent damage to it.
But all this medicating is also completely unnecessary. The answer to most stress and anxiety may be no more complicated than simply popping a vitamin pill.
A vitamin pill for every mental ill
Pioneering Canadian psychiatrist Abram Hoffer first championed the use of a nutritional approach to mental illness after noticing that the symptoms of certain B-vitamin deficiencies were similar to those of schizophrenia.
As he wrote at the time, “If vitamin B-3 were removed from our food, we would all become psychotic within one year.”
Hoffer and many others went on to treat symptoms of extreme anxiety and stress with B vitamins to enormous effect. People who had suffered years of crippling phobias or been on suicide watch and run through the entire coterie of pharmaceutical options got better overnight.
And now, new evidence offers a clue as to why they should be effective: a large portion of the population has a mutation in the gene that processes B vitamins, so requiring increasing doses to get an adequate supply.
This and other evidence suggests that B vitamins are the go-to supplement for many forms of so-called mental illness. My magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You has revealed a huge body of evidence showing that B12 can be a simple cure for depression; one GP in the North of England has a casebook full of patients with debilitating depression cured by B12 shots.
New case studies of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and even psychosis have reversed symptoms with multivitamin supplements that include very high doses of B vitamins.
Besides mental illnesses, even neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis appear to have a vitamin B12 deficiency as a major underlying component. The late Dr Patrick Kingsley successfully treated thousands of patients with MS, and a major plank of his treatment program was injections of high-dose B12.
A mental deficiency
All this suggests a heretical thought. Many instances of so-called mental illness, severe stress and anxiety or nervous-system disorders may not be mental at all, but the simple result of deficiencies of the essential micronutrients that maintain calm, equilibrium and mood.
That’s hardly revelatory, given that B vitamins are exactly what gets refined out in the processing of refined foods. Mental illness is not an illness; it should more properly be called ‘mental deficiency’.
If so, that could mean one simple thing about most of us these days. We’re not stressed or even crazy. We’re just starving.