The field of mental health has come a long way from the asylums of the 19th century, through the idea of drug cures for chemical imbalances of the 20th century.  As astrologers we know that certain chart patterns are prone to depression (Saturn), deep core sadness (Chiron), anxiety (Uranus) and oppositional behaviors (Mars) (these planetary correlations are illustrative, but simplistic and don’t tell the whole story).  As human beings we know that grief after the death of a loved one is an important part of the human experience and doesn’t need to be medicated.  I was very happy to see this article suggesting that some mental disorders are adaptive techniques rather than disorders at all:

In a compelling new paper, biological anthropologists call on the scientific community to rethink mental illness. With a thorough review of the evidence, they show good reasons to think of depression or PTSD as responses to adversity rather than chemical imbalances. …

[T]he study authors note that despite widespread and increasing use of antidepressants, rates of anxiety and depression do not seem to be improving. From 1990-2010 the global prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders held at 4.4% and 4%. At the same time, evidence has continued to show that antidepressants perform no better than placebo.

Taken together, the authors posit that anxiety, depression and PTSD may be adaptive responses to adversity. “Defense systems are adaptations that reliably activate in fitness‐threatening situations in order to minimize fitness loss,” they write. It’s not hard to see how that could be true for anxiety; worry helps us avoid danger. But how can that be true for depression? They argue that the “psychic pain” of depression helps us “focus attention on adverse events… so as to mitigate the current adversity and avoid future such adversities.”

We know that people with Saturn prominent in their chart will tend to have a higher than normal degree of adversity, but over time that adversity will grow into great personal strength.  Those with heavy Chironic wounds can, if they do the inner work, successfully release the energy patterns of those wounds and be effective helpers and healers of others.  Emotions usually occur for a reason – a reaction to an event in our life that requires a modification in order to heal and move on from a situation, perhaps, or even just a pattern of behavior.  There is also considerable evidence now of the role that diet plays in mental health.  Pharmaceuticals can be beneficial in the short term if they provide enough balance to facilitate the processing of the damage, but they can also block the individual from real change and evolution.

I’m very happy to see that the world of psychiatric research continues to grow and evolve to hopefully provide real support for those in crisis.

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