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Vicki Batts

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(NaturalNews) According to the World Health Organization, the United States in among the world's most depressed countries.

Using the metric of quality years of life that are lost because of disability or death, our country came in at third place in terms of unipolar depressive disorders; only India and China fared worse. These three countries are also the ones that have been affected the most by bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that approximately one out of every five American adults experiences mental illness of some type every year, but only 41 percent of these people receive mental healthcare. Even those who do get treatment do not always find their symptoms improving – and in the case of those taking antidepressants, their symptoms could even get worse.

The WHO estimates that 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, and it is considered the leading cause of disability on the planet.

Why are Americans depressed?

It is not hard to imagine why so many Americans are depressed. Spend some time in any city, and you'll find people walking around like zombies, their eyes glued to smartphone screens as they navigate a maze of concrete on their way to work, where they will sit at their desks in front of computers for eight hours or more, possibly without a window nearby. People are increasingly moving to cities, and many of them spend their spare time on pursuits like posting pictures of the calorie-laden dessert they are about to eat at a restaurant to their social media accounts, instead of spending time connecting with nature and enjoying fresh, clean air.

Lack of exercise and poor diet

The nation's shocking level of obesity – with more than 70 percent of Americans being either overweight or obese, according to the CDC – is a pretty good indication that most people aren't exercising nearly enough (or even at all), which means they are depriving themselves of those feel-good endorphins that the body releases while working out.

The prevalence of processed foods and the poor American diet can also shoulder some of the blame. A study out of University College London discovered that individuals who eat processed meat, refined grains and fried food on a regular basis have a 58 percent higher chance of having clinical depression. Meanwhile, those who consume diets that are rich in whole foods, lean protein, fruits and vegetables noted a 26 percent lower likelihood of depression.

Making matters worse, is the fact that those who are depressed and seek treatment are often prescribed medications that do little to help the issue – and in many cases, the meds only serve to exacerbate their problems. In a highly comprehensive study of 14 of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, researchers found that only one of them worked better than the placebo in alleviating depression.

For people who are struggling with serious depression, taking medications that are touted as being helpful for their condition and not ending up feeling any better can only compound their distress. Ironically, those who find that antidepressants simply do not work for them could actually consider themselves fortunate, because others have found themselves dealing with a host of unpleasant side effects. Antidepressants have even been shown to increase a person's risk of aggressive behavior and suicide, particularly in young people, not to mention the fact that their use has been linked to a disheartening number of mass killings.

As long as doctors keep prescribing Americans harmful and ineffective antidepressants, instead of providing tried-and-true (but less profitable) solutions, the U.S. will continue to keep company at the top of the depression leaderboard with countries that have a notoriously poor quality of life like India and China.

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