There are a lot of theories about the cause of depression in existence today, the primary one being biochemical imbalances in the brain, at least according to mainstream medicine. However, mainstream medicine hasn’t proven whether these imbalances are the true cause or simply an effect of being depressed. What we do know is that depression appears to result in changes in the brain structure and chemistry; however, these changes are also known to be related to lifestyle, emotions, trauma, activities you do (or don’t do), and in general, how fulfilled you are in your life.
What science shows us is that your brain is constantly rewiring itself in response to how you perceive your environment. It’s an adaptive function to ensure the brain is effective at performing the task it’s most asked to perform. A tennis player’s brain will look completely different from the brain of a musician. The depressed person’s brain will look much different from that of someone who isn’t depressed. So is depression just a malfunction of evolution, or is it possible it’s an adaptation to a series of persistent thought processes and actions? And if that is true, isn’t it possible that if we change those thought processes and actions, we could then rewire the brain, restore chemical balance, and change the effect of depression?
In my experience, both personally and professionally, depression isn’t a random ‘biochemical imbalance’ as so many people believe. I expect people who want to fight for that belief, to fight me in the comments. You’re free to do so and I embrace your criticism. I will, however, say to you that the same person who told you that depression is a biochemical imbalance in the brain is the same person who doesn’t really know what causes the biochemical imbalance, nor do they know how to cure it. So I ask for your consideration if you’re going to read this.
With that explained, let’s move on to the 10 things you MUST DO to overcome depression:
Determine your values and what is truly most important to you.
The biggest challenge with everyone, not just people who have depression, is that they have no idea what their true values are, and as a result they often attempt to live according to values that are not their own. This is actually the ‘root psychological cause’ of depression, as whenever you attempt to live according to values that are not your own, you subordinate and minimize your true wants and desires, repressing who you really are in a futile attempt to try to be someone you’re not. This attempt cannot go on forever and quite often the ‘depression’ effect is a biological attempt to get you to stop doing what isn’t for your authentic person.
Whenever you suppress your natural values in an attempt to live someone else’s, you’ll breed the internal ABCD’s of negativity towards yourself: Anger and aggression towards yourself. Feelings of betrayal and blame towards yourself. Self-criticism and unsolvable challenges. Inner despair, despondency, and depression. These ‘symptoms’ are not afflictions that need medication for life. They are feedback to let you know when and where you are ignoring your true values and attempting to do something that you think is important to you, but truly isn’t.
People who live according to their values, both in thought and in action, are less capable of experiencing depression or negativity, as they are solely focused on fulfilling their wants and desires for life. They don’t suffer from ‘compare and despair’ syndrome, as they compare themselves and their accomplishments to no one but themselves. By focusing on your own life and what’s truly most important to you, you increase your chances for achievement, fulfillment, and mental stability, as you are the only one who has to live with you 100% of the time. Why spend your time thinking about the lives of others when you have yours to live, right now?
Write down all your fantasies and crush them.
We will define a fantasy as an expectation or imagination that is only positive, not negative. Whenever you have this fantasy of more positives than negatives, you run the risk of experiencing depression as a feedback to help you create a more realistic expectation and imagination, or at least break your imagination down into small enough tasks that it becomes achievable.
Fantasies can emerge in a number of ways. Some examples could be: I could have a fantasy that my ex-girlfriend shouldn’t have broken up with me. I could have a fantasy that I should have more money than I do right now. I could have a fantasy that my parents should have stayed together. I could have a fantasy that my mom shouldn’t have died. I could have a fantasy that my girlfriend should be nicer and kinder to me. I could have a fantasy that says my boss shouldn’t be so critical of me. These are all examples of fantasies.
Fantasies are also not attached to time. You can have a fantasy about your past, perhaps about something you think should or shouldn’t have happened. You can have a fantasy about your future, perhaps about something you desire to happen or not happen. And you can have a fantasy about your present in the same way. Technically, you can have a number of primary fantasies or expectations:
- An unrealistic expectation that the world should be more peaceful / positive / happy than warful, negative, sad.
- An unrealistic expectation that people should be nice without mean, kind without cruel, happy without sad, healthy without disease, more positive than negative.
- An unrealistic expectation that You or I should be positive without negative, happy without sad, kind without cruel.
- An unrealistic expectation upon You or I to live outside our core values. (Ie: I should have a relationship even though I place no value on having one.)
- An unrealistic expectation that other people should live within my or your values. (Ie: Everyone should think like me because the world would be a better place.)
These are some of the primary expectations that lead to depressed thinking, feeling, and depressed ‘brain structure’ and chemistry over time, as the brain is adapting to your thinking process. You’ll notice that these expectations are primarily an expectation for positivity. This is why most people never solve their depression. They spent the healing processes attempting to get out of the depression, never understanding that depression is a by-product of elated fantasies. In fact, the most depressed people are the people seeking happiness all the time. The more you search for what isn’t possible, the more impossibility you will see.
Depression exists to balance manic elations.
The way to heal these fantasies is to ask, “If my expectation, imagination, or fantasy were true, what would be the drawbacks?” And write down as many as it takes for you to break the fantasy and realize that if it happened, it would have just as many downsides as upsides. Likewise, it’s important to write down a list of benefits to the fantasy not coming true (and things continuing as they are). By balancing the fantasy back into a more realistic goal that includes pleasure and pain, challenge and support, difficulty and ease, you will be able to tell if the goal is actually possible. You’ll also be able to tell if it’s something you truly want, and if it is, you’ll be able to embrace the challenge that comes with it. Also, by learning how to appreciate the way things are, you ease your physiology out of a stress response to your life, into a relaxation response, allowing you to operate with greater ease throughout your day.
The general rule is: a fantasy with no downsides equals a reality with no benefits. Whenever you find yourself in a reality with no benefits to you, you’ll feel unfulfilled with your life, you run the risk of creating fantasies and disassociating from your self-awareness, you’ll experience low-dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain as a result, and will imbalance your brain chemistry. As I said before, these ‘chemical imbalances’ may be resulting from a trauma that you imagine ‘shouldn’t have happened,’ thirty years ago, that you haven’t cleared. This is 30 years of stress response in the background of your thinking process. This is why many people who get depression say ‘it just happened one day.’ The reality is, no it didn’t. It’s been a longterm buildup of emotional repression that finally exploded.
If you argue with reality as it happened, you’ll lose.
Now, some people like to argue that their fantasy would have no drawbacks. People ‘should be healthy without sick’ or ‘happy without sad’ or ‘nice with mean’ or whatever delusion they’re stuck on. The truth is, people should be sad when they feel their values are being challenged. People should be mean when their values are being challenged and people should be sick according to the lifestyle choices they make, their genetic makeup, and a variety of other factors. To assume otherwise is delusional and leads us into depression faster than anything else. This is just default human behavior. If I write something that directly challenges your values, you’ll have a different response to me than if I wrote something that supports your values.
As an example, I had a new client call me on the phone a few years ago. She was in the middle of a suicide attempt and found my phone number on a newspaper, upon which she was placing her drugs. I asked her why she called. She was crying, upset, and obviously emotionally traumatized. I asked her why she wanted to kill herself. As with many cases of this type, for years, she has been overwhelmed with grief and other emotions that were running her with stress and anxiety. I asked her when it all started. She spoke of her ‘soulmate’ who cheated on her with her best friend, married her, and took custody of the two children they had.
This person had a high level of fantasy she was placing upon her husband or ‘soulmate’ at the time. As a result, she couldn’t embrace the reality of what happened, thus creating a perfect scenario for longterm emotional stress and depression, resulting from the gap between her reality and her fantasy. Her fantasy about him was so strong that it was more powerful than the pain of what he did, in her perception.
I asked her to describe how her ‘soulmate’ in fact wasn’t a soul mate. This line of questioning isn’t something she had thought about before, but after just 15 minutes, I had her soulmate turned into a normal human being with emotional challenges just like her. Once she got to that point, she was able to start appreciating that there were major benefits to being away from him. Within 15 minutes this person went from suicidal to loving her life as it is, simply by clearing the illusion that she ‘lost’ a ‘soulmate’ and he should still be with her. And as a result of our short session, she decided to go back to school and start empowering herself instead of living under the depression of fantasies.
Start planning and acting on goals that inspire you (and say no to those that don’t)
Unless we intentionally do things with our life that inspire us, our time, money, energy, and focus will be taken up by things that don’t. Besides dealing with traumatic experiences, the second most depressing experience is living a life in which you’re not being fulfilled by what you’re doing every day. If you’re not waking up thinking ‘I can’t wait to get started on today,’ you’re not really waking up.
Start paying attention to what is actually important to you. This isn’t what you think should be important to you, or what others think should be important to you, it’s what is actually important to you. To determine this (and also to help determine your values), ask yourself how you truly love to spend your time? What do you truly love to talk about? What are the things you plan for, that are truly meaningful to you? Ask yourself, “What are the things that are still important to me, when I’m away from all my friends, families, and responsibilities?” Use these answers to guide your life. Say yes to opportunities that inspire you and align with your unique values. Say no to those that you feel would be a sacrifice to what’s important to you. This isn’t to say you should never engage in new activities, but the most successful people I’ve ever met only really do what inspires them. If you can see a new activity as helping you achieve what’s already inspiring to you, you’ll have a greater level of engagement in anything new instead of reluctantly doing things you don’t love.
Meditate (or do something that gets you present)
If you’re not present in your life, you’re less capable of being self-aware and making decisions that are good for you. Meditation is one way of getting you there, but it can also get in the way. Meditation is not an escape from your problems, but rather a reminder of what you really feel like — what you really think like, beyond all the illusions and judgments, infatuations and resentments.
For some people, meditation comes in the form of yoga. For others, it comes in the form of making a model airplane. Whatever form of meditation you do, it’s important to keep doing it. It can help solidify a place in your life where you can practice being you. It’s easy to get caught up in everything going on, but getting caught up isn’t equal to empowering your life. Use your meditative time to help you solve the lingering challenges that are piling up. The more challenges you solve during your day, the less carried over challenges you’ll have tomorrow, which can help you be more inspired to keep going.
I recommend during your meditations to ask yourself what is getting in the way of you being fully alive and present in your life. Write down what comes up and start brainstorming how to solve these challenges. Ask your friends for advice. Use your resources to discover the solutions. The more ‘in time’ you are with your present reality, the more you are capable of doing in it. When you are constantly dreaming about how your reality was or should be, you’re less capable of taking action in your life and the more you’ll withdraw from it, leading you to emotional depression over time.
Stabilize your wins and your downs
The majority of adult depressions, in my experience, don’t make sense to the person experiencing it. They often say, “I was out the night before. It was the best night ever. I went to bed and woke up with depression.” This is a very much misunderstood function of intention. If you say you just had the best day ever, you have set up a belief system that makes every day from now on, terrible. Many people aren’t willing to admit that the beliefs they make up are so tuned in this way, but they are.
For example, I was finished my clinic work day, driving home with my friend, and we had just completed a series of incredible transformations with clients. We were riding so high in our elations that we literally said, at the same time, today was the best day ever. In that exact moment of supreme elation, our phones rang with an automatic voice saying that the clinic security alarm was going off. We were literally being robbed at that same instant we celebrated our gain.
The law of balance doesn’t discriminate.
If you don’t balance yourself, the world will, or your body and mind will, to ensure you aren’t looking back on wins but instead focusing on continuing to serve the world for now and the future. I often take clients, who have recently had this ‘elating’ and next morning ‘depressed for two weeks’ phenomenon, through a series of questions that helps them identify the downsides in the ‘up’ experience, which, when done, the client can no longer identify with the depressed feelings. It’s gone, simply, because the elation has been balanced.
Of course, not everyone is wired to experience this form of depression, but with pre-existing memories, especially childhood traumas that haven’t been emotionally balanced, a person becomes highly susceptible to experiencing elations and depressions because their nervous system is still wounded by the earlier traumas. When this occurs, the person is often stuck in a fight or flight mode, with their defenses up, literally, in a state of anxiety in the background for years. The nervous system was never designed to hold on to an emotional pain for so long and eventually, when that pain is escaped by an elating experience, withdrawing from that elation can slam a person back into their pre-existing trauma, psychologically and physiologically.
Imagine running a nervousness in your body for 30 years, behind the scenes, covering it up with eating ice cream or some other addiction. When you get slammed back into those traumatic feelings, you’ll really experience them, to the extent that you are stuck in bed for two weeks. This is what depression really is and it’s why it’s very important to balance our emotions in our traumatic past. By doing this, you shut off your fight or flight response and become more able to function normally, without triggers, and without the super-highs and inevitable lows.
With these 5 tips, you’ll be better equipped to handle depression than 99% of people in the world who have it. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. However, the rewards are worth a lifetime. If you’d love to learn more about these tools and specifically how to heal past traumas, visit this link and connect with me: https://coaching.stephangardner.com/optin.
Stephan Gardner is a Self-Management Consultant known as a Mental Architect. A master facilitator of personal evolution, he helps professionals create the shifts in their lives necessary for fulfillment, achievement and excellence. Stephan is the Creator of The Visionary Method, a self-awareness and purpose-planning tool designed to help solve the questions of life, business and creativity through a deep clarification of values and destiny. Stephan serves business professionals, creative artists and entrepreneurs from around the globe, helping them live inspired and masterful lives.
Stephan has attracted work with Katrina Campins, Dr John Demartini, Dr Nima Rahmany, Gregory Gallagher & Kinobody, Nikki Jumper, Emily Gowor, Melissa Ramos, Kevin O’Leary, Sanjay Burman, Kai, Sovereign Wealth Management, Mercantile Exchange, The University of Toronto, Collective Evolution, Business News Network and many more.
How To Clear Seriously Blocked Sinuses Naturally In 1 Minute
- The Facts:
Three simple steps you can take to clear blocked sinuses that seem to work for many people.
- Reflect On:
Are you healthy? What natural things do you do when "flu season" comes around to give your immune system a boost?
Having clogged sinuses isn’t fun. You can’t breath, you can’t smell, your head hurts, and your voice sounds funny. Finding relief when you have clogged sinuses is usually like finding a million dollars on the ground — it’s amazing!
The causes for nasal congestion can range greatly, and you don’t have to be sick to be congested. Many people will experience congestion from allergies, temperatures, dust, smoking, spicy food, and air particles.
Recently I was at Contact in the Desert in California and I found myself having clogged sinuses from the blowing sand and dry air. Within two days, I couldn’t breathe at all out of one side of my nose and my sinuses got blocked up, causing my face and head to hurt. I needed a solution.
After trying to blow my nose over and over again, I turned to the internet for relief. Sure enough, Google came through.
I found a video by Dr. Adam that quickly and easily explained how to clear sinuses in about one minute using just your fingers — and no, they don’t have to go in your nose. Sure enough, I had relief from the pain the blockage was causing, and I could breathe!
Some might be wondering why I didn’t take sinus or cold medication to get relief. The answer is simple: I don’t like taking medication for anything unless I absolutely have to. I know many of you are on the same page and like to do things naturally. Many cold medications just mask symptoms and come with negative side effects that are worth avoiding if possible.
How to Clear Your Sinuses Fast!
You simply need to sit down and get your hands ready for the following steps. The video below offers a visual demonstration, so I recommend checking that out too.
1. While sitting with your head and body on about a 45 degree angle, turn your head sideways and rub your sternocleidomastoid muscle downward four or five times. You can find the muscle right beneath your ear running down your neck to your collarbone. See image. Do this on both sides of your neck to help relax your neck.
2. Take your index fingers, locate the hard, bony part of the upper sides of your nose, and move downward toward the soft part on the side of your nose where the bone ends. Begin massaging this area in a circular motion with as much pressure as you can for about 20 seconds. Once completed, rub the muscles from the side of your nose down and toward your cheekbones to relax them.
3. Take your index fingers and run them under the inside orbit bone above your eyes until you find a notch in the bone called the super orbital notch. It is usually just above the centre of the eye. Massage that notch in a circular motion with as much pressure as you can handle for about 20 seconds. Once done, massage your forward with both hands starting in the centre of your forehead and pulling outwards towards your temples.
That’s it! Once you have gone through this process you should notice a lot of relief in your sinuses and should be able to blow your nose quite easily. You may have to repeat this process again, but play with it and see what works for you.
Below is a video from Dr. Adam explaining the entire process. I have also included another helpful method that worked well for me as well.
This method is simpler but may not be as effective for everyone. As always, do what works best for you.
1. Push your tongue flat into the roof of your mouth, with decent pressure, for one second.
2. Then, take your thumb and press the area right between your eyebrows above your nose for one second.
3. Alternate between steps one and two over and over again for about 20-30 seconds. Note: You are not pressing the points at the same time, simply alternating between them.
Repeat this process as necessary to help clear your sinuses.
If you’ve had blocked sinuses, you probably don’t want it to happen often, so prevention is the key! Here are a few ways you can avoid blocked sinuses.
Eat a well-balanced diet – Eating healthy foods promotes good health. What you put into your body to digest is what determines your health. If you want your immune system working well, take care with quality food and keep your gut performing well.
Get regular exercise – Regular exercise also helps improve overall health and the immune system.
Quit smoking – It goes without saying, but cigarettes are not good for us and the smoke can irritate sinuses.
Use a humidifier – If you find your house dry, use a humidifier to help dampen the air. You can also hop in a warm shower and breathe in the steam. It’s best to use a chlorine filter on your shower head so you aren’t breathing in toxic chemicals from chlorine.
Cut out antibiotics – Antibiotics don’t do anything for viral infections, which is usually why people get clogged sinuses when they are sick. Antibiotics wreak havoc on your health. Only take them when they are absolutely necessary!
Keep a clean home – Dust and poor air quality can also cause blocked sinuses. Vacuum and wipe down surfaces of your home regularly. Decrease clutter and areas where dust can collect and stay.
Cannabis Might Reverse Heart Failure, University of Hawaii Study Finds
- The Facts:
New research is showing that TRPV1, a cannabinoid receptor found abundantly in the heart may be key in slowing down and potentially even reversing heart failure.
- Reflect On:
With so many medical applications and the potential to treat and even cure a wide variety of diseases, why has there been such a lack of research, funding and clinical trials when it comes to medical marijuana?
Cannabis could potentially slow and even reverse heart failure via TRPV1, a cannabinoid receptor. This is according to research led by a team at the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Alexander Stokes, a JABSOM assistant professor in cell and molecular biology, said “the potential medical benefits of using cannabis-based therapies for the treatment of heart disease are promising.”
TRPV1 is showing long-term effective reversal of heart failure when the substance is administered orally. The key here is orally, this doesn’t mean that you can smoke cannabis and it will be good for your heart, in fact, it may very well have a negative effect if you do that. “TRPV1 has primarily been studied as a pain receptor,” said Stokes. “The receptors are abundant in the heart, and we are excited to show that if we inhibit its function with oral doses of drugs, we can reverse some effects of heart failure.”
The findings were published in the journal Channels.
A Big Topic Right Now
The topic of medical marijuana is a big one right now, especially in Canada where it was recently legalized. For years, there’s been a negative stigma attached to the substance, and when one dives deep into the subject it’s quite easy to see why. Cannabis, often called marijuana, has potential to treat and possibly even cure a wide range of diseases, but because of prohibition, the studies examining the medicinal aspects of the herb have been very limited. This is very unfortunate, for a number of reasons, and also very suspicious.
If we look at cancer, for example, multiple studies have clearly shown its potential to completely destroy cancer cells, many in vitro studies have clearly demonstrated this potential, without question. They’re not hard to find and have been published in abundance. Here is a video of Dr. Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist at Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, explaining how THC (the main psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant) can completely kill cancer cells. THC is simply one constituent of cannabis. It has been shown to be effective for multiple diseases as well, while other diseases are better treated with CBD, another constituent within cannabis. This begs the question, why have there been no, or at least so few, clinical trials set up as a result?
This hasn’t stopped people taking matters into their own hands though. There are numerous examples all over the internet of people claiming that cannabis oil, for example, cured their cancer. But from a scientific perspective this isn’t evidence, it’s simply anecdotal and as a result of a lack of research we cannot officially say cannabis kills cancer. We can only say that it has tremendous potential and that a lot more research is needed.
Pharma vs Cannabis
When a pharmaceutical drug shows even less than half of the potential that marijuana has shown, clinical trials are set up right away. Just imagine if the same resources that are poured into conventional cancer treatments were given to medical marijuana’s potential to treat cancer, among a wide range of other diseases. If that were to happen, we would know much more. But the lack of research continues. Is it because if scientists were to discover what strain, method of delivery and all of the other factors that require more research that are needed to treat disease, cannabis could become an effective treatment for cancer? What would happen to conventional treatments? Would people have to pay for their treatment if it was disclosed how to, for example, make cannabis oil in the right way for a specific cancer? Maybe this has something to do with it?
Big pharma would lose billions. It’s definitely something to think about.
What’s happening right now with the legalization of marijuana is that components of it are allowed to be studied. It seems that drugs will be developed to synthesize certain components of the plant, and the drugs themselves can then be patented. This is how big pharma will ultimately make money off of medical marijuana.
The Challenge With Government Control Of Cannabis
It’s great to see people with Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, cancer and more have tremendous success with medical marijuana. What’s unfortunate is that mainstream medical marijuana will be in the hands of big pharma, it already is. We will not know how it’s grown, how it’s been manipulated, and what’s been changed. It’s simply being used for profit, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about in our current infrastructure. We have a sick care industry, not a health care industry.
A free, open and caring society, a health care industry that truly cares about health could use multiple natural substances to completely wipe out the need for any pharmaceutical drug. There are massive amounts of foods, herbs and plants that, if studied in full, could completely eliminate our dependence on the corporation.
“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.”
– Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal (source)
Important Thoughts To Consider About Cannabis
The other side of the coin is that heavy cannabis use, although not lethal, can be dangerous and potentially damaging to young brains that are not fully developed, and perhaps to those who use it on a regular basis in ways we do not yet understand.
It’s not as harmful as alcohol abuse or smoking cigarettes, but there is still a lot that we don’t know. Legalization in Canada at least have led to the idea that it’s completely safe and beneficial for everybody. This is also, most likely, not true. We need to get past the idea that it’s something healthy for everybody, and even healthy to smoke cannabis on a regular basis. But when it comes to the medicinal aspects of cannabis, for several diseases, there is a very serious discussion to be had here as it’s again, already helping many people around the world with their cancer, with their epilepsy, etc.
With many people losing trust in the medical industry, it’s easy to see why they are turning to growing their own cannabis, testing doses, and methods of delivery, etc. For some, it’s a shot in the dark but worth a try.
We are not advocating that it’s healthy to use cannabis recreationally and that it will not have any negative effects, we are simply stating that it’s a head scratcher how such a potent medical plant that clearly has multiple medical applications has been ignored and prohibited from research and professionally treating many diseases with it.
America’s Fifty-Fold Increase in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – What’s Going On?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), considered a neurobiological condition, is an often “long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions), and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Although the specific obsessions and compulsions vary widely from person to person, the common denominator is that they “create stress and interfere with daily life.”
U.S. researchers estimate that OCD affects 1%-2% of children and up to 3% of adolescents and adults. The current lifetime prevalence estimate of around 2.7% is 54 times higher than the estimated pre-1980s prevalence (for the U.S. population as a whole) of around 0.05% (1 in 2000). In a retrospective hospital-based study that looked at OCD prevalence over time, researchers who examined psychiatric discharge diagnoses from 1969 to 1990 reported that something changed in the 1980s, with a marked increase in the frequency of OCD diagnoses over the decade.
Reflecting the disorder’s growing prominence, the American Psychiatric Association’s 2013 diagnostic manual revisions eliminated OCD as a subcategory of “anxiety disorders” and gave the diagnosis its own category of “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.” OCD experts now urge busy neurologists “to be aware of OCD…and to have a high index of suspicion for this disorder.”
OCD is just one of numerous neurodevelopmental disorders that have gone from relatively rare to common since the late 1980s—over the same time frame in which the childhood vaccine schedule exploded. There are at least three reasons to suspect a potential vaccine-OCD link:
- Proper brain function depends on a well-regulated immune system.
- Vaccination’s acknowledged aim is to “perturb the immune system.”
- Immune dysregulation is a documented contributor to OCD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
As Duke University researchers have stated, “the immune system, both in the central nervous system (CNS) and in the periphery, is crucial in shaping and influencing normal brain functions, and any disruption of immune function could adversely impact the brain too.”
Not only OCD
Studies show that OCD is more severe when it is early-onset; when diagnosed before puberty, children have “a longer duration of illness [and] higher rates of comorbid tics” as well as more frequent compulsions and greater psychosocial difficulties. In addition to comorbid tics, OCD often presents alongside autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other diagnoses that are not only increasingly common in American children but often persist into adulthood. In a study of adults with OCD, three out of four (75%) had one or more other neuropsychiatric diagnoses. Researchers also believe that some types of OCD may be closely related to PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections).
Compared to girls, boys tend toward a greater neuroinflammatory response, reflecting sex differences in how the brain’s principal immune cells (the microglia) function. This may be one of the reasons why early-onset OCD is two to three times more common in boys. (In early adulthood, however, OCD symptoms appear more frequently in women.) In this respect, OCD is no different from a number of other neurodevelopmental and health conditions, including ASD, that also disproportionately affect boys.
The Yale study
In 2017, researchers from the Yale Child Study Center published a retrospective case-control study in Frontiers in Psychiatry that considered a possible association between prior vaccination and increased incidence of seven neuropsychiatric disorders, including OCD. Recall that at the start of the 1980s, children received three vaccines for seven illnesses (totaling two dozen doses by age 18), whereas fully vaccinated children now get almost six dozen doses for sixteen conditions.
The Yale researchers looked at a national sample of privately insured children and adolescents (ages 6-15) for the six-year period from January 2002 through December 2007. They found that for four diagnoses—OCD, anorexia nervosa, anxiety disorder and tic disorder—the affected children were more likely than matched controls to have received a flu shot in the preceding 12 months. In addition:
- For OCD, flu shots just three or six months prior also increased the risk.
- There was an association between OCD and hepatitis A vaccination.
- Children with OCD, anorexia or a tic disorder were more heavily vaccinated overall compared to children without these disorders.
All three vaccines marketed in the U.S. for hepatitis A—GlaxoSmithKline’s Havrix and Twinrix and Merck’s Vaqta—list anorexia as adverse reactions reported during clinical trials. The Yale authors considered the “high comorbidity rates” between OCD and anorexia significant and also highlighted that OCD and anorexia have a number of “immune-mediated mechanisms” in common.
OCD is also frequently comorbid with a variety of autoimmune diseases. A recent Swedish study reported that individuals with OCD had a 43% increased risk of any autoimmune disease (compared to those without OCD), and “significantly elevated” risks for autoimmune conditions “across all organ systems”:
- Moisture-producing glands: Sjögren’s syndrome (94% increased risk)
- Small intestine: Celiac disease (76%)
- Peripheral nervous system: Guillain-Barré syndrome (71%)
- Gastrointestinal tract: Crohn’s disease (66%)
- Thyroid: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (59%)
- Pancreas: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (56%)
- Platelets: Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (51%)
- Large intestine: Ulcerative colitis (41%)
- Central nervous system: Multiple sclerosis (41%)
- Skin: Psoriasis vulgaris (32%)
Beware the adjuvants
Given the extensive overlap between OCD and autoimmunity, the growing body of research that links vaccine adjuvants to autoimmunity is relevant for OCD. In fact, adjuvants—intended to intensify the immune response to a vaccine (immunogenicity)—present vaccine makers with a dilemma: “[I]ncreased vaccine reactogenicity [adverse reactions to vaccination] is the inevitable price for improved immunogenicity.”
Pointing to their influenza vaccination findings, the authors of the Yale study note that six European countries and China linked H1N1 influenza vaccination in 2009 to autoimmune narcolepsy, and some speculated that the H1N1 vaccine’s adjuvant—a squalene-based oil emulsion called AS03—was the culprit. Researchers caution:
A major recurring concern is the potential association between oil emulsion adjuvants and autoimmune disease induction as seen in animal and fish models. A single intradermal injection of a range of oil emulsions, including squalene emulsions, induces adjuvant arthritis in susceptible murine and rat models. […] There is a theoretical risk that any humans who share similar genetic susceptibility features to these models could similarly be prone to develop adjuvant arthritis, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis, uveitis or some other form of autoimmune disease after exposure to oil emulsion adjuvants alone or when combined with other potent innate immune activators [emphasis added].
Aluminum-based vaccine adjuvants—and especially the proprietary AAHS [amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate] adjuvant that Merck includes in its Gardasil 9, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines—are also a prominent suspect in the autoimmunity epidemic. Researchers who compared AAHS to two other types of aluminum adjuvants found that AAHS was “substantially” different from the other two in revving up the immune system. As Italian researchers have stated, “the specific mechanism of action of each single adjuvant may have different effects on the course of different diseases.”
Hear no evil, see no evil
Pharmacotherapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is a “first-line” treatment for OCD; because remission is uncommon, “long-term management is often necessary.” Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline—two of the four companies that lead the U.S. vaccine market—make some of the top-selling SSRIs prescribed for individuals with OCD; the two pharma behemoths completed a joint venture in 2019 to integrate their consumer health care businesses. From their point of view, OCD represents an attractive market.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the federal government and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program turned down citizen requests to add asthma, autism, tics and several neuropsychiatric disorders—including PANDAS—to the Program’s Vaccine Injury Table. The feds’ refusal was not terribly surprising: very few new injuries have made it onto the Table since the Program came into being in 1986, despite the large number of vaccines piled onto the childhood schedule after that year. The government’s resolute refusal to conduct needed studies and its denial of even the possibility of vaccine culpability for conditions such as OCD leaves individuals no choice but to ferret out answers on their own.
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