Happiness Doesn't Come from a Pill


So, I recently dropped my high-schooler off for a Youth Group weekend retreat when my Nurse “radar” kicked in. My gaze locked on a red bag stuffed full with paperwork and medication bottles in zip-lock baggies. I was shocked by the amount of medications necessary for about 75 teen-agers.

I left wondering why do so many people – parents –  believe there is health and happiness in a pill bottle?

Most of my shock … and dismay … stemmed from the fact that there were so many pill bottles, not just the expected inhalers, Epi-pens and occasional antibiotic that I would expect for this age group. My guess is that many of the pill bottles contained prescriptions for depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, etc.

Seeing this still makes me sad … and mad. Sad for the unknown health trajectory for these medicated kids … and MAD that people just blindly pop pills because their doctor told them to. In my discussions with clients, very few ever know the side-effects of the medications they’re taking – often for years.

No doubt some of those medications were very necessary to a small number of those kids and thankfully they had access to them. [I’m not anti-medicine or anti-pharmaceutical!]

So What’s the Solution?

The real solution starts with the gut … not the brain. Embryologically the gut and the brain are formed from the same tissue. So the gut is often referred to as the “second brain”, because it too has lots of neural pathways and connections … and a direct connection to the brain via the vagus nerve. Whatever the gut is experiencing, the brain is sensing too.

So if your gut is unhealthy and inflamed by irritating foods or chronic infection, your brain is too! Thus your poor gut health can lead to a variety of emotional and behavioral imbalances in your brain. [Recent research also suggests that liver dysfunction can lead to depression.]

Before you accept your doctor’s advice and reach for the prescription pill for emotional or behavioral issues for your child (or yourself), consider:

  • The long-term effects of these types of meds are often unknown. Europeans often ban these types of meds for kids.
  • Side effects of increased aggression and suicidal thoughts are very real for children and teen-agers with these meds. B vitamins – often known as the “B happy” vitamins – are depleted by these meds.
  • Placebos, i.e. sugar pills, often work at least as well anti-depressants in cases of mild to moderate depression according to an analysis of six studies.

Medication is merely a band-aid for the symptoms. It doesn’t resolve the underlying problem … an unhealthy gut (or liver). The pills merely mask the symptoms.

Do you want your child to simply be “happy” … or do you want them to be Well? Happiness doesn’t come from a pill, it comes from within. Their (and your) mindset and daily health habits are the foundation of Wellness.

See you next week for Part 2 of this topic. I’ll share more about gut health and what you can do to help your child (and yourself!).