The articles on the website do feature articles on classified subcategories of depression such as bipolarity, major depression, minor depression, and psychotic depression and information about drug treatments and side effects that are legitimately accepted by the medical community.
A website should review CAM and conventional medicine in the same terms
Look for slanted advice [Image: Display picture of editorial on Depression website URL: http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Depression/dep_editorial.htm]
Speakers Notes: The website does not claim that alternative treatments should be used to replace conventional medicine. One editorial written by Dr. Matthews (and it is clearly marked as an editorial opinion, not as fact) reads: “There has been tremendous progress made in the past years in understanding how the brain works. One of the outcomes of this research is that we now understand that depression may be due to the decreased activity of the serotenergic pathways in the brain. (This is called monoamine hypothesis.) Antidepressants work on these receptor sites. The problem is that they also work on other receptor sites leading to substantial side effects. What all these means is that we have an arsenal of therapies that can be used as Complementary therapies to make the antidepressants more effective. In case of mild depression, these therapies may be used as a stand-alone treatment. If you are suffering from severe depression, you should contact your psychiatrist and get immediate treatment” (Matthews, 2010, Editorial)
Common sense example [Image: A large number 5]
In your mind, rate the websites according to the 3 Cs
Use a 1-5 scale
Speakers Notes: Overall, the Holistic Health website seems to be of average credibility, or a 5 on a scale of 1-10. On one hand, it is not a .gov or .edu website or published by a professional organization like the AMA. It also contains some grammatical errors and has an obvious bias in favor of alternative treatments. On the other hand, it is not designed to sell a particular product. It offers similar information about traditional drug treatments that are available at .gov sources.
For example, the types of side effects listed for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants like Prozac include anxiety, rather than a list of extreme and rare side effects. Dr. Matthews notes “we have an arsenal of therapies that can be used as Complementary therapies to make the antidepressants more effective. In case of mild depression, these therapies may be used as a stand-alone treatment. If you are suffering from severe depression, you should contact your psychiatrist and get immediate treatment” this is similar to the warning labels found on the medication itself (SSRI, 2010, Depression).
Read with caution!
Are the techniques accepted by more conventional authorities
Example: Yoga vs. Ayurvedic medicine
Speakers Notes: While this may not be the most legitimate source on the web, it does provide a list of genuinely complementary (or beneficial) natural remedies for depression, including exercise, diet therapy, yoga, and lifestyle changes. It also offers information on less commonly known and accepted treatments such as magnet therapy, ayurvedic therapy, herbal therapies, and even bibliotherapy (reading self-help books).
Room for improvement
Websites should have links to legitimate sources to substantiate claims
Criticism should be balanced
Speakers Notes: To increase this websites credibility, providing links regarding to sites that give information about the efficacy of various alternative treatments would be required. Additionally, it tends to present holistic remedies, including questionable treatments like homeopathy fairly uncritically. Yet it does present legitimate but critical objections to antidepressants and conventional medical treatments for depression.
Benedetti, Jo-Ann. (2010). Evaluating Health Web Sites. From snake oil to penicillin:
Evaluating consumer health information on the Internet. NN/LM (National Networks of Libraries of Medicine. Retrieved January 8, 2011 at http://nnlm.gov/outreach/consumer/evalsite.html
Matthews, J. (2010). Editorial. Depression. Holistic Health. Retrieved January 8, 2011 at http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Depression/dep_editorial.htm
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). (2010). Depression. Holistic Health. Retrieved January 8, 2011 at http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Depression/dep_antidepressant-SSRI.htm.