Antidepressant Nation & The Teachings of Rabbi Haim Lifshitz

In Memory of Rabbi Zeev Haim Lifshitz (1935-2010) whose Yahrzeit is Today

Antidepressants are among the most highly prescribed drugs of all time. Over 50 million Americans are taking medically prescribed mind-altering psychiatric drugs. That's approximately one in five adults. SSRIs are the third most prescribed drug in America after heart medication and pain killers. Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Luvox and Paxil are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly known as SSRIs. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety and PMS. But what's worse is that they are increasingly being prescribed for a host of other conditions including hot flashes, neuropathy, headaches, back pain, asthma, IBS, Crohn's, and eating disorders. Based on recent figures its seems that physicians -- not psychiatrists -- write over 70 percent of all prescriptions for SSRIs ! And they may very well be ignorant of the risks associated with antidepressants. It seems that the majority of antidepressants are prescribed for conditions not even associated with depression!

Side Effects of Antidepressants In 2004, the FDA warned of a 180% increase in suicidal tendencies among children taking antidepressants. Studies have linked antidepressant use with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Long term use of SSRIs may cause overproduction of serotonin in the gut, causing irregular bowel movements (diarreah & vomiting) and irritation of the gut lining, which can ultimately lead to IBS. Additionally, between 30-70% of SSRI-treated patients, including men and women, suffer from PSSD or Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD). One of the biggest problem with antidepressant drugs is that they do not deal with the underlying cause of depression.

Holistic Treatment for Depression

One of the leading psychologists in Israel who treated depression and mental illness naturally was Rabbi Zeev Haim Lifshitz (1935-2010). His father was a close student of the Hafetz Chaim, and he grew up in the shadow of the Hazon Ish. He studied personally under Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, of blessed memories. Rabbi Lifshitz studied psychology at the the University of Geneva for 6 years under the tutelage of developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.

Thousands of students and patients flocked to Rabbi Lifshitz to receive spiritual guidance as well as psychological counseling at his clinic/yeshiva. Rabbi Lifshitz encouraged his patients to engage in strenuous physical activity. For example he described a home for schizophrenic patients which under his recommendation implemented a gardening and farming program. The results were amazing. Not only did the patients begin to heal, but their gardening and farming rivaled the professionals. With his young patients who suffered from ADHD he recommended daily physical exercise in the form of sports. He also truly believed in each person finding their own individual spark. He encouraged his patients, young and old, to be individualists, to promote their own unique talents. He felt that conforming to narrow minded schools would harm many talented children, who would be perceived as a threat by teachers and educators. An individualist to the core who knew Halacha inside out, he taught Torah and gave insight into the workings of the mind to parents, teachers, and Rabbis.

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