Antidepressants are supposed to improve mental health, but evidence is mounting that in the long-term they worsen it. The medications produce a form of addiction through causing the brain to make less of the mood-elevating chemical serotonin. In addition, they may be contributing to the increase in bipolar disorder as well as fueling the skyrocketing suicide rate.
The use of antidepressants is on the rise, with prescriptions written for them doubling since 2005. Paradoxically, disability claims related to mental health have also escalated. The detrimental effects of these drugs on the brain make them a poor approach for remediating depression.
How Antidepressants Induce Chronic Depression
Antidepressants like the popular drug Prozac work by blocking a compound that gets rid of serotonin, an effect that increases levels of the chemical in the brain. According to doctors in a group called the Critical Psychiatry Network, the addiction develops several weeks after being on the drugs when the brain responds by producing less serotonin. This leads to long-term withdrawal symptoms when patients stop taking the medications. The effects include anxiety, sleep disturbances, vivid nightmares, memory problems and stomach upsets, all of which can linger from a few weeks to several months.
Pharmaceutical companies and some members of the medical community don’t consider the symptoms a withdrawal-addiction response. They contend that if the psychological problems persist several months after discontinuing antidepressants, patients still have the original disorder that necessitated the use of the drugs. When physicians don’t recognize withdrawal for what it is, patients are needlessly put back on the medications.
More Evidence of How Antidepressants Harm Mental Health
Several studies suggest antidepressants adversely affect mental health. A 2007 study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found patients who take the medications are more likely to have a relapse in their condition than those who don’t take them. Other research indicates people are twice as likely to have their first manic episode of bipolar disorder if they are on these drugs.
The Link Between Antidepressants and Suicide – and the Cover-Up
Most troubling of all is the link between antidepressants and suicide. Early this year in the largest review of its kind, the risk was made clear. Researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and University College London analyzed 40 clinical trials of the most common antidepressants than involved more than 18,000 people. They found the risk of suicide and aggressive behavior was double in people under the age of 18 who took the drugs.
After comparing clinical trial data to patient reports, the scientists discovered pharmaceutical companies had misclassified deaths and suicides to “favor their products.” More than half of the suicide attempts had been mislabeled as emotional instability or an exacerbation of depression. In 90 percent of clinical trial reports from drug giant Eli Lilly, suicide reports were missing.
“Antidepressants don’t work in children, that is pretty clear, in the randomized trials children say that they don’t work for them, but they increase their risk of suicide,” said lead author Professor Peter Gotzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre. “What I get out of this colossal underreporting of suicides is that SSRIs likely increase suicides in all ages.”
Drug companies appear to be protecting their profits rather than safeguarding public health. “It is absolutely horrendous that they have such disregard for human lives,” adds Gotzsche.
Natural Approach to Depression
The health risks antidepressants pose is considerable, but alternatives are available. Moreover, the medications merely treat the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of the disorder. The authors of the Cochrane Centre study concluded that exercise and psychotherapy should be advised for children and young adults before prescribing medications. In addition, the lifestyle practices of getting adequate sunlight exposure and sleep along with weight control can go far in correcting the problem.
An important part of the natural approach to remediating and preventing depression involves a nutritious diet. Eat selenium-rich foods, such as beans, nuts and seeds, as well as omega-3 fatty acid foods like salmon and flaxseeds. Avoid sugary foods and simple carbohydrates while opting for the complex carbohydrates of whole grains. Finally, to obtain the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables in the diet. The Mediterranean eating plan contains all the foods recommended for good emotional health, and research suggests it can reduce the risk of depression.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.