Diagnosing Depression & Medical
Marijuana,


The news this week has been just full of  interesting things that relate to earlier blogs at Goodmoodbadmood.com. The first is an article on Medscape.com titled “Marijuana not Medicine: Addiction Experts Say.” The author says what anyone with a little good common sense might know. Marijuana is addictive and it has no proven use in medicine at this time. “There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” so says Stuart Gitlow MD president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The article goes on to say that Marijuana is the number one addictive illicit drug in the United States today. The word addictive pretty much says it all. But, if you need more, Paul in Ephesians 5:18 reminds us that we are not to be controlled by any substance, but instead by the Holy Spirit. 

I only bring this up because in reading comments from a recent speaking event, I had one dear soul who opined that if the “government makes marijuana legal that Christians ought to be able to use it just like vicodin.” I suppose that might be true if there were actually a research proven use for the drug that another non-addictive medicine could not
provide. Christians should not be looking for excuses to assume the destructive habits of the world.[i]

 Another news flash this week came from a CBS news story that referenced research that examined how often the diagnosis of depression is being made in our country. It also examined how often the diagnosis met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for making the diagnosis.[ii]  What it found was something that I have  suspected for years. Depression in this country is over-diagnosed and
over-treated.

The research was done at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. It looked at people who were diagnosed with depression in an outpatient setting between 2009 and 2010. The question was whether or not
they met the DSM criteria required to make the diagnosis of depression. The answer was yes for 38.4% of them! 
That meant that 61.6% of the study participants who had been labeled with depression did not meet the required DSM standard to make the diagnosis. 
 
The study went on to find that over half of all of the participants were treated with medication and that nearly 70% of
those who did not meet the criteria for the diagnosis were treated. Numbers like this sometimes confuse me! But, of all the patients in the study 6 out of 10 were misdiagnosed with depression and 4 out of 10 were treated with medicine that they probably did not need and most likely would not help them. 
 
As I wrote in “Good Mood Bad Mood” it is likely that today that we are simply treating people who are normally sad over loses that are common to all of us in life. We end up treating people with medication for diseases that they do not have and giving them side effects that complicate their lives without doing them much good. 
 
I wrote about these two subjects together because there is a common thread between Medical Marijuana and the over diagnosis and over treatment of depression. It is our society’s infatuation with the idea that we can solve most of our problems with medicine. This is fine idea  as long as we are talking about high blood pressure or diabetes. It does not work nearly so well when we take it into matters of the heart and soul. 
  
[i] Medscape news article  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/803318?nlid=31063_329&src=wnl_edit_medn_psyc&uac=16048SY&spon=12 
 
[ii]CBS News Article   http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/05/01/study-depression-may-be-overdiagnosed-and-overtreated/
 




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