Are Antidepressants Really Helping?

girl sits in a depression on the floor near the wall monochrome

Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, which makes them one of the most prescribed drugs in the US. The psychiatric industry alone is worth $330 billion even when they do little to cure. Even with all these prescriptions, more than one in 20 americans are depressed, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Of those depressed, 80% say they have some level of functional impairment, and 27% say their condition makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, activities, and/or getting along with others. The use of antidepressants doubled in just 10 years, from 13.3 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005.

But even with all these statistics, researchers have found that antidepressant drugs are no more effective than sugar pills. Sugar pills are probably more effective because they don’t give off any of the nasty side effects. Both sugar pills and antidepressants work using the placebo effect, which means you take them with the mindset that they will help but actually they don’t do much.

Antidepressants come with so many side effects, some of which can be fatal. About 750,000 people attempt suicide every year in the US and about 30,000 succeed. Why would you take a drug that doesn’t do much to help your condition and increases your risk of killing yourself? About ? of people with depression go undiagnosed or don’t get help. Untreated depression is the number 1 cause of suicide. Depression is much more than just feeling sad more than others. One way to check if you or someone you know is depressed, use the “SIGECAPS” method, which stands for sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor, and suicide. If 4 or more of these items are a concern, it suggests major depression. Also consider relevant information from family and friends as well as the mood changes. If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. Some red flags that a person is at high-risk for self harm include: acquiring a weapon, hoarding medication, no plan for the future, putting affairs in order, making or changing a will, giving away personal belongings, mending grievances, checking on insurance policies, and/or withdrawing from people. If you need help yourself or help with someone else, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

In the January 2010 issue of JAMA, it concludes that there is little evidence that SSRI’s (a popular group of antidepressants which includes Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft) have any benefit to those with even mild depression, they don’t do much more than a placebo, they give worse side effects than it’s worth. Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shared 2 major findings: Antidepressant drugs weren’t originally made for depression. They used certain drugs to change the behavior of stressed animals, and concluded that they would be “good antidepressants.” But the molecular changes of stress and depression are not the same which makes them ineffective. Another reason they’re ineffective is because the imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain may not trigger the same way it was once believed to. Antidepressants focus on the effect of depression and ignore the cause which means someone can’t get better until the cause is handled. A drug is not the answer. In 2008, a meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine concluded that the difference between antidepressant and placebo pills is very small and that only the severely depressed patients showed any reaction to the antidepressants, even at that it was very small. An interview with Robert Whitaker explained that research suggests that the use of antidepressant can cause a relapse in the long run, turning depression into a chronic condition. Also, antidepressants seem to be changing those with unipolar depression to bipolar depression which means they fluctuate between mania and depression. Many antidepressants may actually make depression worse, when you feel worse your mood will too.

Depression can cause many health problems, even more than the food and toxins you’re exposed to daily. Psychiatric drugs kill 42,000 people a year which is 12,000 more people than successfully commit suicide due to depression.

Antidepressants are also causing a large list of side effects which are just getting worse: diabetes, problems with your immune system, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior, stillbirths, brittle bones, stroke, even death and the list continues. The link between antidepressants and suicide is so large that they are mandated to have suicide warnings.

There are 5 main ways that can help if you are struggling with depression and give nothing but positive effects.

  1. Clear your mind and emotions. View depression as your body and life out of balance, not a disease. Some of your emotions you may not even be aware of. The BEST technique can help balance your mind and body. The BEST technique can help bring your problems and emotion through and get rid of them, leaving you feel more energized and happier.
  2. Get regular exercise, this normalizes your insulin levels while boosting your endorphins making you feel good.
  3. Improve your nutrition. Avoiding sugar and grains will normalize your insulin and leptin levels which impacts depression. Sugar causes chronic inflammation which can wreak havoc on your brain.
  4. Take in more Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as krill oil. This is the most important nutrient for brain functioning which prevents depression. DHA is one of these fatty acids and your brain is dependant on it, which means low DHA can cause depression.
  5. Go outside and soak up some sun. Getting safe sun exposure allows your body to produce vitamin D which is great for your mood. One study found that people with low vitamin D levels were 11 times more likely to get depression. You can increase your vitamin D exposure by going out in the sun or taking vitamin D3 supplements.

So think twice before you fill that prescription. Consult a doctor if you are feeling depressed and make sure if you know someone depressed, watch the signs of suicide and help them if needed. There are many natural ways to help which can be better in treating depression than most antidepressants.