Are Antidepressants Making Your Depression Worse?
Written by: Drew Canole
According to WHO, more than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression.
The World Health Organization has listed depression as the second leading cause of disability in problems related to illness. Dr Mehmet Oz, MD says that about 11 million people are taking medication to help with their illness and the numbers are rising.
For the past several decades we’ve been told that depression is caused largely by low serotonin levels in the brain, thus leading to the creation of SSRI medications.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are one of the most commonly used prescriptions medications to treat depression. Common SSRIs include: Prozac, Celexa, Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Viibryd and Brintellix.
A lot of people have benefited from the use of SSRIs, saying they significantly decrease symptoms of depression. There’s no question that they have been a miracle medication to help quick-start some people’s road to recovery, but are they right for everyone?
All medications come with side effects that may or may not affect a given individual. Some of the more scary side effects of SSRIs include enhanced suicidal tendencies, sexual dysfunction, heart disease and gastrointestinal issues (it should be noted that most of the body’s serotonin is synthesized and stored in the intestine – roughly 90%).
David Healy, a leading professor of psychiatry, recently stated that the belief that depression is caused by low serotonin levels is actually a myth. A myth that has benefited the marketing of SSRIs tremendously.
According to Professor David Taylor, Director of Pharmacy and Pathology, “Researchers and psychiatrists alike know that SSRIs are effective in a number of disorders but no one is sure exactly how they work….”
SSRIs first hit the US in 1998 in the form of Prozac, a drug that by 2005 became one of the most prescribed medications in the country. It was marketed to be a safer treatment for depression than tranquilizers, which were one of the more common methods used for depression at the time. They quickly grew in popularity because of their fewer side-effects, safeness in the case of overdose, as well as the belief that they helped restore the brain to normal serotonin levels.
But Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine said that using the argument that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and that it can be ‘balanced’ again by pharmaceutical medications is like saying that fevers are caused by having too little aspirin. The logic just isn’t quite sound.
If Not Low Serotonin Levels, Then What?
Healy’s theory is that real chronic depression should be classified as an infectious disease instead of an emotional disorder. His belief is shared by Dr. Turhan Canli of Stony Brook University in New York, who thinks depression may be caused by some sort of infection, be in bacterial, parasitic, viral or otherwise. Canli was given a chance to write about this in the journal Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
If this was true, it would be easier to sort through those who have actual depression versus those who are merely going through a hard time in life. Some experts claim that a whooping 69% of people diagnosed and given medication for depression don’t actually need or qualify for it.
Are Drugs Making Your Depression Worse?
Many mental health professionals agree that there is a possibility depression is not caused only by low serotonin levels. The majority of psychiatrists, including the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, believe that SSRIs can be helpful when combined with psychological treatment.
However, a great deal of patients with a mental disorder rely solely on medication as a treatment for their illness. Thus, what in most cases should be used as a short-term treatment becomes the only treatment and may be taken for years and years without ever seeking more help for the underlying issue.
A lot of people, including Dr. Joseph Mercola, are concerned that the use of pharmaceutical drugs can permanently alter brain functions in ways we can’t understand yet. Not only that but he believes that although for some people they may work short-term, many people relapse because they don’t work at addressing the actual cause of the depression.
In an interview, Robert Whitaker stated that a lot of research is suggesting that people who use antidepressants and feel better have a high chance of relapsing in the long run. This happens to some people over and over and over again until they become chronically depressed.
This may be because although the drugs bring temporary relief of symptoms they are unnatural to take for long periods of time and make your body feel unwell. When we mess with something as delicate, intricate and complex as the brain, we simply can’t always predict what the outcome is going to be.
“When your body doesn’t feel good, your mood crashes along with it.”
So What Now?
We are by no means suggesting that anyone stop taking their medications. We are not medical professionals and doing so could be extremely unwise. We DO believe that EVERYONE should be aware of the facts about pharmaceuticals and make informed, well-researched decisions when it comes to using them.
You are the captain of your health. Don’t just take a doctor’s word for it. Don’t take my word for it! Find out what is right for you by following your intuition and best judgement. Demand the facts and weigh the risks.
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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