In medical research, when things are done in a scientific sense, we compile studies. We look at studies that have a scientific outcome and combine those on the same topic and combine them into a meta-analysis. So basically 10 separate studies of 100 people could be combined on paper into a large study of 1000 people. This can really help weed out biases of the smaller studies, good or bad. When the studies that were rejected were combined with the studies that were submitted to the FDA, it’s been shown overwhelmingly that anti-depressants are actually less effective than the placebo for the vast majority of patients suffering from mild to moderate depression. There is a slight statistical advantage for patients suffering from the most severe depression, however.
There has been decades of research showing that cognitive behavioral therapy has a very high efficacy rate – in the 60%, 70%, even 80% in some studies – without side effects and with lasting benefits. Because people are given the perception that the drugs are effective they use those instead and they tend not to get the corrective effect and may get some benefit because they have expectations for an outcome, which is what the placebo does, but there’s not really a resolution of the issue or a state of greater growth.
What advice do you have for men on how we can live better and healthier lives?
It does take being somewhat of an advocate and being involved with your own care. It’s smart to have a team approach as well. This ideally would include practitioners of Naturopathic, Integrative, or Functional medicine. They can do the best of conventional care while also giving good guidance in lifestyle and preventive care.
There certainly are huge benefits to what we’ve got from conventional medicine. We’ve gotten very good systems of screenings. Things like colonoscopies are huge lifesavers. There are great treatments for acute conditions.
At the same time, it’s nice to partner with someone who can guide you through more detailed movements toward health; for example, guidance on nutrition and managing your body weight.
That said, if you’re smoking, that’s the first priority. The second would be getting a healthier weight circumference, which is one of the strongest predictors of premature death of cardiovascular disease and cancer. You want to be at least below 36 inches for men of typical height or 34 inches or less for men that are below average.
Dr. Christianson, a 2011 Phoenix Magazine Top Doc recipient and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease founded Integrative Health in 1997. He resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.photo by: U.S. Army Materiel Command
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