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What The Pharmaceutical Industry & Your Doctor Don’t Tell You About Depression

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Before starting off, it’s important to mention that yes, some individuals suffer more than others when it comes to depression, and people do need assistance to climb out of these dark places. There is no denying that in this article, what is being challenged is the disease-model of depression, and how it may not be helpful in helping get rid of a problem that continues to rise exponentially. Are drugs really the answer? Do they even do anything? What’s the science behind depression? It’s also important to mention that many doctors are completely unaware of this type of information, it’s not like they are ‘not telling’ you on purpose.

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Anti-depressant drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs in North America. Pharmaceutical companies are bringing in billions of dollars every single year from the sale of anti-depressant drugs alone, and they also spend billions of dollars marketing and advertising their products. Not only that, pharmaceutical companies have been found to falsify research and influence scientific literature. This is a big problem that plagues the modern day medical industry. For example, last month, an independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil (paroxetine), is not safe for teenagers, despite the fact that a large amount of literature already previously suggested otherwise. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline, found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers. You can read more about that story here.

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“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”  – (source)(source) Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal

This is a problem that’s well known in the medical community, which is why John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine published the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) entitled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. In the report, he stated that most current published research findings are false.

This was more than 10 years ago, fast forward to today where a more recent ‘cry’ to the public masses came from Dr Richard Horton, current editor-in-chief of The Lancet. He stated that half of all the published literature could be false. (source)

The examples are endless, so let’s take a look at depression.

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The Chemical Imbalance Theory Might Be Incorrect

Joseph Coyle, a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School sums it up best, “chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that.” And it’s true, depression is much more complicated than that, at least much more than the commonly accepted belief that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. This idea was posed in the late 1950’s, and sticks today, it’s the general idea that a deficiency of select neurotransmitters exists (chemical messengers) at critical points, like synapses. One of these neurotransmitters, for example, is serotonin, others include norepinephrine and dopamine.

As Scientific American reports, “much of the general public seems to have accepted the chemical imbalance hypothesis uncritically,” and that “it is very likely that depression stems from influences other than neurotransmitter abnormalities.” (source)

Harvard medical school put out a press release a few years ago stating that it’s “often said that depression results from a chemical imbalance, but that figure of speech doesn’t capture how complex the disease is.”  (source)

“Of course, there are brain events and biochemical reactions occurring when someone feels depressed, as there are all the time, but no research has ever established that a particular brain state causes, or even correlates with depression…In all cases studies yield inconsistent results, and none have been shown to be specific to depression, let alone causal…The fact that more than 50 years of intense research efforts have failed to identify depression in the brain may indicate that we simply lack the right technology, or it may suggest we have been barking up the wrong tree.” – Dr. Joanna Moncrieff,  British Psychiatrist, Author (source)

The most commonly cited evidence to support the chemical imbalance theory comes from the fact that some drugs have been shown to increase and decrease mood in human and animal models, and yes, many antidepressants increase the amounts of serotonin and other neurotransmitters at synapses, but what we fail to realize today is just because mood can be artificially manipulated with drugs, does not mean that the chemical imbalance theory is true. Just because these antidepressants do increase and decrease certain chemical levels in the brain. does not prove the chemical imbalance theory of depression.

To say that a human being has a chemical imbalance (to whatever extent) and what neurotransmitters are involved is something that’s not possible, which is why the chemical imbalance theory of depression remains a theory. It’s not like chemical levels in the brain can accurately be measured or ‘looked at’ either.

This comes despite the fact that much of the general public still accepts the chemical imbalance theory. For example, a survey conducted in 2007 of 262 undergraduates at Cleveland State University found that more than 80 percent of the participants found it “likely” that chemical imbalances cause depression. (source)

“At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models for natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness.” (source)

Keep in mind, as Harvard Medical School points out, that there are probably many chemicals involved, working both inside and outside of our nerve cells. “There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.

“The cause of mental disorders such as depression remains unknown. However, the idea that neurotransmitter imbalances cause depression is vigorously promoted by pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric profession at large.”(source)

Again, theories like the low serotonin one, came into existence because scientists have been able to observe what drugs to to the brain. It was a hypothesis that attempted to explain how drugs could be fixing something, yet whether or not depressed people actually had lower serotonin levels actually remains to be proven. You can read more about the science here.

“The serotonin theory is simply not a scientific statement. It’s a botched theory – a hypothesis that was proven incorrect.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola (source)

Not only is there no solid scientific proof to back up the chemical imbalance theory, another is the fact that many depressed people are not even helped by taking antidepressants like SSRIs. For example, a review done by the University of California in 2009 found that one third of people treated with antidepressants do not improve, and a significant portion of these people remain depressed. Scientific American points out that “if antidepressants correct a chemical imbalance that underlies depression, all or most depressed people should get better after taking them.”  (source)

That being said, there are many who do report positive benefits, but there is no way to tell if the drugs are working or of it’s just working like a placebo.

Think about this for a moment. So many of us are made to believe that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, when there is actually little scientific evidence to support that statement. Association between various brain changes and depression is large, and no studies have established a solid, cause-and-effect correlation between the brain and the disorder.

Depression has one focus, brain chemistry, despite the fact that there are multiple concerns, multiple facts, and millions of chemicals, focusing on this one chemical imbalance theory, and then dishing out drugs that actually alter brain chemistry, as Scientific American reports, “shortsighted.”

“In spite of the enormous amounts of money and time that has been spent on the quest to confirm the chemical imbalance theory, direct proof has never materialized.”  (source)

I personally believe that it is quite ironic actually, because the only imbalances we know of in the brains of people called mental patients, are the ones inflicted on them by the psychiatric drugs. How ironic, we make a false claim that they have biochemical imbalances and then we give them biochemical imbalances…

Pharmaceutical Fraud

markIt’s no secret that there is a high income partnership between drug companies and psychiatry, one that’s created a multi-billion dollar industry that’s based off of money, not science. Many experts suggest that the chemical imbalanced theory of depression has been used to market anti-depressant drugs. In fact, when we talk about scientific fraud, the latest example has to do with the antidepressant drug Paxil, as mentioned above.

An independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil (paroxetine), is not safe for teenagers, despite the fact that a large amount of literature already previously suggested this. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline, found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers.

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine”    Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal (source)

The chemical balance theory alone transformed the pharmaceutical companies. Prior to the chemical imbalance theory, these drugs were never heard of, and this type of money was not coming in, and the financial ties between medicine and pharmaceutical companies wasn’t as strong.

American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated financial ties between the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. They found that, of the 170 DSM panel members 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members on the panels on ‘mood disorders’ and ‘schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders’ had financial ties to drug companies. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas, where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders. In the next edition of the manual, it’s the same thing. (source)

“The DSM appears to be more a political document than a scientific one. Each diagnostic criteria in the DSM is not based on medical science. No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.”  – Lisa Cosgrove, PhD, Professor of Counseling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry,” Dr. Irwin Savodnik, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles (source)

The financial ties and examples of scientific fraud between publications and corporations is one of the biggest problems that plagues the medical industry today, and it’s a serious one.

To view the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), click here: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

It’s not illogical to assume, given all the examples of scientific fraud, and the lack of science behind why people are depressed, that the chemical imbalance theory has been used to market the heavy sale of these drugs.

We are perhaps seeing the same thing with ADHD, and you can learn more about that in this article:

4 Facts About ADHD That Teachers & Doctors Never Tell Parents

Below Dr. Peter Rost, MD, a former vice president of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world (Pfizer), shares the truth about the ties between the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

How Your Thoughts/Feelings & Emotions Can Change Your Biology

Again, as the literature (mentioned in the above paragraphs) points out, depression is not all cut and dry. Should we really be taking medications that change the chemical flows in our brains, despite the fact that we know very little about the chemical flows and neurotransmitters that are set to cause depression in the first place? Think of children, antidepressant drugs are being dished out at critical points in brain development. Despite the fact that many of these drugs have some harmful side effects, and are given to patients based on a theory that has no grounds in science, it seems a bit odd.

It’s also odd that the fact that our thoughts, feelings, emotions and how we perceive our environment can literally change our brain and the chemical flows within them.

One great example is neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to adapt and change. It’s the idea that the brain is malleable, that it’s function and structure can change with simple changes in our thinking or perception of the environment around us. It’s a response to sensing and perceiving the world, even to thinking and imagining. Human thoughts and learning actually turn on specific nerve cells which allow those cells to make new connections between each other.

Our brain shapes and re-shapes itself given how we perceive the environment alone. Neuroplasticity suggests the way we think alters chemical flows, which makes one wonder, is depression caused by a chemical imbalance or does a chemical imbalance exist because of the way we are thinking and perceiving things?

As your mind changes, your brain changes.

Apart from neuroplasticity, there are many placebo studies showing the effectiveness of how we think. You can read more about that in this article:

The Placebo Effect: Transforming Biology With Belief

The wonderful and brilliant scientists over at the Institute of HeartMath have done some amazing work in shedding light on the science of the heart. This is also important and relevant to mention here when it comes to thinking about depression. You can find out more about that in this article we published last year:

What Science Is Telling Us About The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

I often wonder why so many people suffer from depression, and notice how drugs are the most common answer rather than going within and addressing the real problem. Perhaps, also, it’s time for us to take a look at the environment human beings choose to surround themselves with on a daily basis, because it doesn’t seem to be resonating with the majority. Our planet needs change on multiple levels, and perhaps this is one contributing factor as to why so many people don’t feel well?

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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3 Powerful Tools to Help Overcome the Emotional Toll of the Pandemic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Reflect On:

    If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try these suggestions before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies.

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Every news cycle paralyzes us with fear of a new variant. Some feel grief over who or what they have lost or continue to have feelings of social disconnectedness. Despite what we have all been through, we need to start moving forward with our lives and truly live again. We must recognize that we have more control over our physical and mental health than advertised. The truth is that there are many helpful things that we can do.

PTSD is a stress-related disorder that may develop after exposure to a traumatic event or ordeal in which death or severe physical harm was a threat or occurred. Those with PTSD may experience agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, social isolation, flashbacks, fear, anxiety, depression, attention difficulty, loneliness, insomnia, or nightmares.

Trauma can lead to feelings of powerlessness, but powerlessness can also keep us trapped in a PTSD cycle. The psychological imprint of trauma rewires the brain. There’s an old saying in neuroscience: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Our brain neurons begin firing in the amygdala, the emotional part of our brains, during a traumatic event. People can get stuck in an emotional loop, and the rational voice in their heads does not weigh in. This looping can cause a person to respond disproportionately to stress – freezing, panicking, or acting out in anger. Some dissociate or enter a trance-like state. Maladaptive coping skills can sometimes develop. Cutting, burning, overeating, drinking, drugs, overspending, etc., is all an attempt to dampen our painful emotional feelings. So, to avoid getting stuck in a PTSD cycle, we must act and take our power back.

Time to seek out the most effective help so that we can feel calm and in control again. What can we do?

1. Boost Your Immune System

If you fear getting sick, it’s time to live a healthier lifestyle and boost your immune system. Sadly, we are taught (with the help of pharmaceutical dollars) that health comes from a needle or a pill. Our “experts” recommend masks, hand-washing, social distancing, and mRNA vaccines. Still, they seldom suggest a healthy diet, supplements, and other natural remedies to help improve our health and support the body to fight off illness and disease. Click here for my article that includes 16 Tips on Boosting Immunity.

2. Embrace Spirituality

Over the last 20 years, I have been honored to have worked with many great therapists, healers, spiritual leaders, and trauma survivors to witness the power of Spirituality in healing. Spirituality is an inner belief system providing an individual with meaning and purpose in life. Whether it involves a higher power, nature, religious rituals, meditation, mindfulness, or prayer, the premise is to stay connected to the core of who we are. That place of stillness within us holding the memory of wholeness, peace, inner strength, and balance – despite what has happened. A spiritual philosophy or practice can provide us with a bigger context for our experiences and clarify our purpose. Spiritual methods also connect us with a sense of community and support. Finding our tribe is essential in the face of trauma and loss. The spiritual journey often allows us to go inside ourselves and listen to our inner guidance and “knowingness.” The inner voice may know, for instance, that the virus will not hurt us, or what we are being told by the media is untrue. Spirituality also helps us shift our perspective from “why me” to “what can I do about it. It brings us a sense of power and control.

3. Guided Imagery & Bilateral Stimulation

Both tools are essential for the trauma therapy toolbox. They are noninvasive and helpful for overcoming the effects of trauma. Guided imagery can help us alter the negative or stressful pictures and thoughts in our minds and help us create new, more peaceful ones—a form of instilling positive affirmations. Before you read on, I thought you might like to download my 10-minute exercise. This science-based, comprehensive video will help you to cultivate a sense of inner peace and give you a way to help overcome the effects of this pandemic – GET IT HERE

Is There Science Behind This?

Science, yes. Magic, no. This method requires regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that both guided imagery and bilateral stimulation are widely practiced and well-established practices. However, I recommend that if you are still struggling after repeated listening, you find a qualified trauma therapist to continue the work you have already started.

A Look At The Research

Guided imagery is a behavioral technique using a series of verbal suggestions to guide oneself or others in visualizing an image in the mind to bring a desired response in the way of a reduction in stress, anxiety, or pain. A growing list of empirical literature supports the use of these techniques in various physical and emotional conditions. Guided imagery resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active-duty military population. Positive affirmations can positively affect the brain’s circuitry. There is MRI evidence suggesting that specific neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks.

Numerous research articles have established that bilateral stimulation is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some therapists practice Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a combination of psychotherapy and bilateral stimulation. EMDR is very effective for treating a wide range of mental health issues due to emotional and physical trauma. During bilateral stimulation, patients tend to “process” the memory in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. And, often results in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing events and long-held negative thoughts about the self.

“Bilateral Stimulation induces a fundamental change in brain circuitry, similar to what happens in REM sleep. It allows the person undergoing treatment to process and incorporate traumatic memories into general association networks in the brain. This therapy helps the individual integrate and understand the memories within the larger context of their life experience.” – Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Takeaway

If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try the above suggestions and download my helpful video before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies. Also, you can discover the many mind-body practices you can do at home to help manage stress more successfully and so much more. SIGN UP HERE to receive your free download today. To purchase my book Healing Without Hurting, click here.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Boosting Your Mood and Improving Your Health With Vitamin D

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? When is the last time you checked your Vitamin D levels?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? It appears vitamin D deficiency may be to blame.

Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation. The beneficial effects of vitamin D on protective immunity are due in part to its impact on the innate immune system and has numerous effects on cells within the immune system. Vitamin D is also involved in maintaining the proper balance of several minerals in the body. And, it helps to ward off the flu and many viruses and treat them. The latest research links vitamin D deficiency to many disease states. These disease states include cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, arthritis, and just about every other degenerative disease.

 “Vitamin D reduces depression. In a randomized, double-blind study, People with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed a marked improvement in their symptoms.” – Journal of Internal Medicine

According to the Nutrition Research Journal, as many as 80% of people are deficient in vitamin D. Inadequate exposure to sunshine, poor eating habits, malabsorption, the VDR genetic mutation, and accelerated catabolism due to certain medications, dark skin pigment color, and too much sunscreen can be to blame. 

A doctor can check vitamin D levels with a simple blood test. Many mainstream doctors will suggest that you are within normal limits if your levels are 20-30ng/mL. However, for optimal health, the Endocrine Society and many functional medicine M.D.s and naturopaths will recommend levels of between 40-70 ng/mL for both children and adults. These doctors will also recommend a more aggressive replenishment program. For example, at age five, my son’s level was 24. The pediatrician recommended 500iu daily of supplementation, while our naturopath recommended 5,000iu daily for six months before retesting. Six months later, his levels were almost normal. 

“Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines” – PubMed

How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Get enough sun. Vitamin D3, “the sunshine vitamin,” is the only vitamin your body that is made, with the help of the sun. So be sure to get enough sun exposure to help the body make this essential nutrient. Hold off trying to protect ourselves from the rays of the sun at every turn by slathering sunscreen. Allow yourself to play outside, garden, and enjoy the rays in moderation.

If you must use some sunscreen, avoid chemical sunscreens made with toxic chemicals that cause thyroid dysfunction, endocrine disruption, allergies, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, skin cancer, development, brain, and metabolism problems. Shop for natural mineral-zinc-based certified products instead. When exposed to scorching climates or in the sun for extended periods, we use sunscreens by Babyganics, Badger, Babo Botanicals, and Goddess Garden products.

Eat a well-balanced diet, with foods higher in vitamin D. Although it is believed that we only get twenty percent from the foods we eat. Some foods higher in D include cod liver oil, fish, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms. 

Get checked for the VDR mutation. A blood test will determine if you have mutations in the vitamin D receptor. The consequence can be lower vitamin D levels and the inability to absorb vitamin calcium and many other minerals properly. According to a 2020 scientific report, supplementation of vitamin D can help improve VDR gene expression, so more supplementation may be necessary if you have this mutation.

“Something so simple. Vitamin D supplementation could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an elegant solution to many of our health problems today.” – Carol L. Wagner, MD – Medical University of South Carolina

Supplementation 101. Supplementation is often critical if you cannot properly metabolize or absorb enough vitamin D or not get enough sunshine. In areas with long winters and specific populations of people with darker skin color, supplementation may be even more critical. There are many supplements on the market. However, many tablet forms are not as bioavailable and harder to absorb. Therefore, it has been recommended that liquid forms are better. In addition, liquid D is often suspended in olive oil, which helps the vitamins to absorb more easily since it is fat soluble. One of my favorite brands is by Seeking Health. It does not contain any impurities or allergy-inducing ingredients. 

Final Thoughts

Boosting the immune system naturally works on your body’s innate wisdom. It supports the body to operate like a well-oiled machine, protects it from unwanted pathogens and disease, and helps ensure a healthy body and mind.

To receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety, and more without medication SIGN UP HERE or purchase my book Healing without Hurting.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Awareness

Most Diabetic, Heart Disease & Alzheimer’s Deaths Categorized As “Covid” Deaths (UK)

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to professor of evidence based medicine at Oxford Dr. Carl Heneghan , who is also an emergency GP, most diabetic, heart disease & alzheimer's deaths were categorized as COVID deaths in the United Kingdom.

  • Reflect On:

    How many deaths have actually been a result of COVID? Why is this pandemic surrounded with so much controversy? Why does mainstream media fail at having appropriate conversations about 'controversial' evidence/opinions?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

 Dr. Carl Heneghan has an interesting view on the pandemic, not only is he a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, he also works Saturday shifts as an emergency GP. This allows him to see healthcare from both the academic perspective as well as the healthcare experience, more specifically, it allows him to see COVID from both perspectives.

What Happened: In a recent article he wrote for The Spectator, he writes the following,

It’s hard to imagine, let alone measures, the side effects of lockdowns. The risk with the government’s ‘fear’ messaging is that people become so worried about burdening the NHS that they avoid seeking medical help. Or by the time they do so, it can be too late. The big rise in at-home deaths (still ongoing) points to that. You will be familiar with the Covid death toll, updated in the papers every day. But did you know that since the pandemic, we’ve had 28,200 more deaths among diabetics that we’d normally expect? That’s not the kind of figure they show on a graph at No. 10 press conference. For people with heart disease, it’s 17,100. For dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s 22,800. Most were categorised as Covid deaths: people can die with multiple conditions, so they can fall into more than one of these categories. It’s a complicated picture. But that’s the problem in assessing lockdown. you need to do a balance of risks.

Evidence-based medicine might sound like a tautology — what kind of medicine isn’t based on evidence? I’m afraid that you’d be surprised. Massive decisions are often taken on misleading, low-quality evidence. We see this all the time. In the last pandemic, the swine flu outbreak of 2009, I did some work asking why the government spent £500 million on Tamiflu: then hailed as a wonder drug. In fact, it proved to have a very limited effect. The debate then had many of the same cast of characters as today: Jonathan Van-Tam, Neil Ferguson and others. The big difference this time is the influence of social media, whose viciousness is something to behold. It’s easy to see why academics would self-censor and stay away from the debate, especially if it means challenging a consensus.

This is something that’s been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, a report published during the first wave in the British Medical Journal  titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″ has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom, as a result of the new coronavirus, may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May.

According to the data, COVID-19, at the time of publication, only accounted for 10,000 of the 30,000 excess deaths that have been recorded in senior care facilities during the height of the pandemic. The article quotes British Health officials stating that these unexplained deaths may have occurred because quarantine measures have prevented seniors from accessing the health care that they need.

Fast forward to more recent research regarding lockdowns, and these concerns have grown. Professor Anna-Mia Ekström and Professor Stefan Swartling Peterson have gone through the data from UNICEF and UNAIDS, and came to the conclusion that at least as many people have died as a result of the restrictions to fight COVID as have died of COVID. You can read more about that here.

These are just a few of many examples. You can read more about the hypothesized “catastrophic” impacts of lockdown, here.

When it comes to what he mentions about academics shying away from debate, especially if their research goes against the grain, we’ve a seen a lot of that too. Here’s a great example you can read about from Sweden regarding zero deaths of school children during the first wave despite no masks mandates or lockdown measures. Jonas F Ludvigsson, a paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute is quitting his work on COVID-19 because of harassment from people who dislike what he has discovered.

Why This Is Important: Heneghan’s words are something that many people have been concerned about when it comes to the deaths that are attributed to COVID-19. How many of them are actually a result of COVID? The truth seems to be that we don’t really know. But one thing we do know is that total death toll caused by COVID doesn’t seem to be quite accurate.

That being said, we do know that people with comorbidities are more susceptible to illness and death from COVID, and that’s something to keep in mind. For people with underlying health conditions, covid, just like flu or pneumonia, can be fatal.

Ontario (Canada) Public Health has a page on their website titled “How Ontario is responding to COVID-19.” On it, they clearly state that deaths are being marked as COVID deaths and are being included in the COVID death count regardless of whether or not COVID actually contributed to or caused the death. They state the following:

Any case marked as “Fatal” is included in the deaths data. Deaths are included whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death…”

This statement from Ontario Public Health echoes statements made multiple times by Canadian public health agencies and personnel. According to Ontario Ministry Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller:

As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection.

In late June 2020, Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Public Health tweeted that:

“Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”

It’s not just in Canada where we’ve seen these types of statements being made, it’s all over the world. There are multiple examples from the United States that we’ve covered since the start of the pandemic.

For example, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health stated the following during the first wave of the pandemic:

If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death, despite if you died of a clear alternative cause it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who is listed as a COVID death that doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.

Also during the first wave, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had to announce a change to how it tallies coronavirus deaths due to complaints that it inflated the numbers.

As you can see, we’ve struggled to find an accurate way to go about tallying COVID deaths since the start, creating more fear and hysteria around total numbers that are plastered constantly in front of citizens by news stations. That being said, a lot of people who are dying of COVID do have co-morbidities as well. But as the professor says, “it’s a complicated picture” and hard to figure out, and probably something we will never figure out.

There’s been a lot of “fear mongering” by governments and mainstream media, and some believe that lockdowns and masks are simply being used as a psychological tool to keep that fear constant, which in turn makes it easier to control people and make them comply.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of experts in the field who are pointing to the fact that yes, COVID is dangerous, but it does not at all warrant the measures that are being taken, especially when the virus has a 99.95 percent survival rate for people over the age of 70. There are better ways to protect the vulnerable without creating even more chaos that lockdown measures have created, and are creating throughout this pandemic.

That said, it’s also important to note that some calls for lockdown measures are focused on stopping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Why do some places with very restrictions see no hospital capacity issues? Why do some places with a lot of restrictions see hospital capacity issues? Why do we also see the opposite for both in some areas? These questions appear to be unanswered still. That being said. Hospitals have always been overwhelmed. This is not a new phenomenon.

The main issue here is not who is right or wrong, it’s the censorship of data, science, and opinions of experts in the field. The censorship that has occurred during this pandemic has been unprecedented.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. COVID-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. –  Dr. Kamran Abbasi, recent executive editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (source)

This censorship alone has been an excellent catalyst for people to question what we are constantly hearing from mainstream media, government, and political scientists. Any type of information that calls into question the recommendations or the information we are receiving from our government seems to be subjected to this type of censorship. Mainstream media has done a great job at not acknowledging many aspects of this pandemic, like clinically proven treatments other than a vaccine, and therefore the masses are completely unaware of it.

Is this what we would call ethical? When trying to explain this to a friend or family member, the fact that they are not aware of these other pieces of information, because they may be avid mainstream news watchers, has them in disbelief and perhaps even sometimes labelling such assertions as a “conspiracy theory.” This Brings me to my next point.

The Takeaway: As I’ve said in a number of articles before, society is failing to have conversations about “controversial” topics and viewpoints. This is in large part due to the fact that mainstream media does such a poor job at covering these viewpoints let alone acknowledging them. The fact that big media has such a stranglehold over the minds of many is also very concerning, because we are living in a time where independent research may be more useful. There seems to be massive conflicts of interest within mainstream media, and the fact that healthy conversation and debate is being shut down by mainstream media contributes to the fact that we can’t even have normal conversations about controversial topics in our everyday lives.

Why does this happen? Why can’t we see the perspective of another? To be honest, I still sometimes struggle with this. When it comes to COVID, things clearly aren’t as black and white as they’re being made out to be, and as I’ve said many times before when things aren’t clear, and when government mandates oppose the will of so many people, it reaches a point where they become authoritarian and overreaching.

In such circumstances I believe governments should simply be making recommendations and explaining why certain actions might be important, and then leave it to the people to decide for themselves what measures they’d like to take, if any. What do you think? One thing is for certain, COVID has been a catalyst for more and more people to question the world we live in, and why we live the way that we do.

To help make sense of what’s happening in our society today, we have released a course on overcoming bias and improving critical thinking. It’s an 8 module course and you can learn more about it here.

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