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The Demons Within

Today, so many are still shell shocked by the passing of yet another wonderfully gifted individual. Within the past few years we have seen too many gifted artists whose lives ended because of one form of an addiction or another. But, going back to the days of Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway many today feel that their lives were cut short due to circumstances that may have been beyond their control. Now, we are seeing more frequently the effects that long term addictions whether it is pain killers, alcohol, or drugs are doing not only to the entertainment industry but people of all age groups. Most concerning now is the steady use of assorted drugs and access to alcohol of our nations youth. But, it has taken the tragic death of Robin Williams to bring to the forefront of debate that any addiction brings with it bouts of depression some times so sever that in their way of thinking the only escape is through death.

With any addiction comes personal demons that over take so many conscious and even unconscious thoughts. These demons take people down that dark road of hopelessness. We may never know what Robin Williams was thinking when he ended his life. One can only conclude that in desperation to find that inner peace that has eluded him was to end his life. Now, the world morns the loss of another wonderfully gifted individual. With to many suffering from addiction that has ended their lives from Whitney Houston, to Philip Hoffman to Heath Ledgar and now Robin Williams questions have to be asked. Why did nobody really care about their addiction and depression until it had already killed them?

A big part of the blame is our own easy access to illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals. We should point out that the United States is the largest consumer of illegal drugs. And, believe it or not our pharmaceutical industry is heavily involved in the ever increasing number of people now addicted to one drug or another. About 7 in 10 Americans have been found to be on at least one prescription pill, with more than half on two different drugs. Predominantly, these prescriptions are for chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart problems. Today, though antidepressants have become the most widely prescribed medication. It seems that more and more individuals turn to antidepressants to alleviate their symptoms of depression. And, in today's economy, well more and more people are becoming more depressed. The hard reality is that the consumption of prescription drugs in the US is escalating and leading the way are antidepressant drugs.

With all the available number of antidepressants and the increasing number of prescriptions that are filled each year there is also a greater number of attempted suicides and a greater number of individuals who actually do commit suicide. For years, antidepressant drugs have been connected with an increased suicide risk and believe it or not aggressive behavior. Today, researchers may have just recently uncovered the reason why antidepressants increase the number of attempted suicides and those who actually do commit suicide. A new study has just found that antidepressants are actually decreasing the amount of serotonin in individual brains. Instead of increasing it as they are meant to serotonin does in fact decrease those levels.

Just what is serotonin? It is a feel good brain chemical that's thought to be lacking in depression patients, and depression drugs are meant to function by increasing serotonin levels. However, according to Columbia University's Dr. Rene Hen, in about half of the population the more antidepressants try to increase serotonin production, the less serotonin is actually produce. So, for half of the population, these drugs actually does make their depression much worse.

This is a conundrum for the makers of antidepressants and the doctors prescribing them. But then again for the pharmaceutical industry it is all about money. The effects of lowered serotonin levels aren't pretty, particularly on those people with already low levels. According to researchers, lower serotonin function and impulsive/aggressive traits are associated with suicidal acts, including completed suicide. Autopsies of suicide victims have also found lowered levels of serotonin in the frontal cortex region of the brain, compared to those who died of other causes.

After years of antidepressants being associated with increased suicide risks and aggressive behavior, we are finally beginning to know why. Another question arises did antidepressant drug contribute to the aggressive behavior when Eric Harris went on to shoot his classmates at Columbine? Just think of all the tragic school shootings that have occurred antidepressant drugs just may have been the deciding factor why individuals commit these horrific acts of violence. The dangers of antidepressant drugs, which by the way are the most widely prescribed drug in the United States now shows there is a clear sign that doctors and these drug companies who call themselves experts on health have really no idea what their drug are doing to the people who take them. This has to be a wake up call to anyone taking any pharmaceutical drug that your are simply a guinea pig of the chemical driven money oriented companies no matter what drug you are taking. It should be pointed out that over 170 million prescriptions last year alone were for antidepressant drugs.

There has always been those whose addictions even though they may have been under control for some time we have seen within the past few years more relapse into their addiction or depression. In Robin Williams case financial concerns for him seemed so overwhelming the demons within took control of his actions. For those who now say he took a more selfish destiny we should always remember trying to put yourself in his shoes. The demons within of past addiction and now depression finally took control of his final act. A very sad and tragic loss of a great humanitarian.