Healthy Beginnings

Anthony Bourdain, and the great sadness of suicide

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide was shocking to many. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The recent apparent suicide of Anthony Bourdain rocked our family and many patients, tearing us up frequently. How could a stalwart, veteran of the world stage, examiner of distant places and foods of the planet — the epitome of strength, vision and political insightfulness — do such a thing?

One could postulate numerous causes — parasitism from bad food, horrible stress from a seemingly endless shooting cycle, depletion of his adrenal hormones, or perhaps dependency on anti-depressant medication that may have been failing him.

His history of drug use would already speak to a depletion of the brain chemical, dopamine, which is our feel-good neurotransmitter. Kate Spade was apparently on anti-depressant medication. And, what happened to Robin Williams?

These are all unknowable questions that haunt us along with the suicides of thousands of others.

In terms of medication, the 2015 study, “Antidepressants versus placebo in major depression: an overview,” published in the journal World Psychiatry, makes the following conclusion: antidepressant medication is not better than placebos to relieve depression.

Further, below is the abstract from the 2014 article, “Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect, in the German journal Zeitschrift Fur Psychologie:

“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed, their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory. But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect. Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease it, and some have no effect at all on serotonin. Nevertheless, they all show the same therapeutic benefit. Even the small statistical difference between antidepressants and placebos may be an enhanced placebo effect, due to the fact that most patients and doctors in clinical trials successfully break blind. The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”

At Gerber Medical Clinic, we see many patients with depression who have been treatment failures on drugs or who had intolerable side effects.

Having said that, many patients are happy and satisfied with their antidepressant medications. However, taking medication never addresses the underlying problems, which can be many.

Some include: psychological damage from childhood abuse and guilt; grief and loss of loved ones and relationships; lack of meaning in life; damaged thinking due to poor diet (sugar, carbs, soda); and a genetic need for vitamin supplementation — especially B vitamins, magnesium, vitamins C and D and the amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine — which form our feel-good brain chemicals.

Infections such as Lyme and Babesia, and chromic viruses such as Epstein bar virus, Coxsackie virus and others, weaken the system and promote adrenal exhaustion, which gives rise to overwhelming depression, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia.

Low thyroid functioning is rampant even in the face of normal lab values and causes depression. Addressing these issues is critical for the depressed patient.

Michael Gerber, MD, HMD, is a Practitioner of Homeopathic Medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. Visit or call 775-826-1900 to learn more.