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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Alternative treatments for depression need serious consideration

By Whitni Webb

October 22, 2007 | When something just isn't working, it's always a good bet to check out the alternatives. Depression medication is one of those things that just don't seem to work for some people.

As far as depression medication goes, nearly 30 percent of those taking it find it ineffective. There are large quantities of side effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to thoughts of suicide in minors. And even if the medication is effective, it will take up to several weeks to see any results. The medication can also be extremely expensive.

There has to be a better way, right?

As a sufferer of depression who is currently on conventional medication, I found it strange that the only requirement I needed to get drugs was to make a doctor's appointment, talk to him for half an hour and that was it. I had medication to last me six months.

Although I didn't see a change (nor did those around me) in my depression for almost two months, when it did kick in, I began to feel better. The side effects were horrible, ranging from nausea to serious migraines, and if I hadn't had insurance the medication would have been costly. I was also not asked to have check-ups with my doctor, another thing I found strange. If there is such a large possibility of suicide in those my age, wouldn't they want to make sure I was OK? And when did it become acceptable to give mentally affecting drugs and not follow the patient's progress?

Perhaps it became acceptable to treat everyone with a magic little pill as soon as it became acceptable to be dependent on a pill. Peter R. Breggin, a Bethesda, Md., psychiatrist and critic of psychopharmacology, says the attention to Prozac is only a reflection of the usual American response to life's problems. "People love to take pills when they're feeling hopeless," he says. "If a pill is declared to be magical by the medical profession and by Time and Newsweek, the placebo effect is enormous." And the fact that half of patients taking Prozac, over 11 million people worldwide, were not given a prescription by a psychologist but by their physician is a scary concept, and only supports Breggin's theory.

But according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 40 percent of those with major depression are not seeking conventional treatment. They are instead using various therapies like chiropractic, massage and acupressure, medicinal herbs and teas, vitamins, and in a small amount yoga, Tai Chi, Chinese medicine and Native American healing. These therapies can be cheaper, seem to be effective, and have almost no side effects. Even doctors are suggesting them as alternatives to medication. Another plus to these are the fact that many of them such as acupressure require regular visits with those giving the therapies so that the patient can converse on whether the treatment is really working.

So why are we pushing to medicate those with depression, instead of looking at the alternatives? And why are we making it so easy to get drugs which that produce negative results and could even lead to suicide?

It seems that we live in a day where the quick and easy solution is always judged as the best. Making appointments for massages and therapies and actually keeping them is a hassle. Besides, the treatments, although effective, aren't yet judged as scientific. Why not just take a little pill every day. That would only take about 10 seconds of our time. And it's no longer considered taboo. However, neglecting the benefits of these alternatives could prove detrimental to our society, and even fatal to some.


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