Review Finds Antidepressants Are No Better Than Placebos
If you’re feeling blue, it’s easy enough to ask your doc for an antidepressant. But these drugs may not be the best answer. In truth, it’s quite likely that taking an antidepressant isn’t any better than taking a placebo.
In an eye-opening analysis, the author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth has revealed that almost half of the clinical trials on antidepressants sponsored by drug companies have never been published. And they’re hidden from you for a good reason: Because most of these unpublished trials failed to show a significant benefit when the antidepressant drug was compared against a placebo.
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Just as importantly, the studies that actually get published regarding antidepressants aren’t necessarily the gold standard trials you might think they are. In fact, a group of Stanford University researchers recently dug into 185 different meta-analysis studies on the effectiveness of antidepressants.
Sadly, they discovered that almost a third of the published studies were authored by employees of the companies that make them. Additionally, more than three-quarters of the studies’ authors had some form of industry-sponsored conflict of interest. And when an author had ties to a manufacturer, the study was 22 times less likely to have a negative statement about the drug.
The Disturbing Side Effects of Antidepressant Drugs
Not only are antidepressants no better than placebo according to the review, but they can easily lead to suicidal ideation and an increased risk of violent thoughts. This is on top of other negative side effects associated with antidepressant use, which include nausea, joint and muscle pain, headaches, dizziness and diminished sexual interest. Plus, some of today’s most popular antidepressants can actually make you more likely to become depressed in the future! Thankfully, there is a natural antioxidant shown to help reduce depressive symptoms — without any dangerous side effects.
The Spice that Fights Depression
Curcumin is well-known for having antioxidant powers as well as anti-inflammatory properties. In recent years, we’ve also learned that curcumin interacts with several neurotransmitter systems that affect your mood and emotional status.
Studies find that the spice works naturally to reduce MAO activities and increases the availability of serotonin, dopamine and monoamine in several brain regions. These are the same types of activities that many antidepressant drugs try to achieve. Just as importantly, curcumin is consistently more effective than a placebo when it comes to improving symptoms of depression.
As a matter of fact, when researchers analyzed the results of six different curcumin studies, they found that curcumin showed a significantly higher reduction in depressive symptoms compared to a placebo.
Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders actually addressed the “placebo effect” head-on.
In this study, depressed patients took either 500 mg of curcumin or a placebo twice a day for eight weeks. During the first four weeks, the results were comparable.
The research team suggested that this was likely due to an immediate placebo effect — which usually only lasts two to four weeks. And their suspicions were found to be correct.
Once the patients entered the fifth week of treatment, the curcumin-treated individuals continued to experience improvements. However, those taking placebo showed no further signs of improvement — and some of them even experienced a worsening of symptoms. Studies suggest that 1000 mg. of curcumin daily is the optimal dose. And the longer you take it, the more effective it will be.
Kirsch I. Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect. Z Psychol. 2014; 222(3): 128–134.
Ebrahim S, et al. Meta-analyses with industry involvement are massively published and report no caveats for antidepressants. J Clin Epidemiol. 2016 Feb;70:155-63.
What are the real risks of antidepressants? News Article. Harvard Medical School. Mar 2014.
Kaufmann FN, et al. Curcumin in depressive disorders: An overview of potential mechanisms, preclinical and clinical findings. Eur J Pharmacol. 2016 Aug 5;784:192-8.
Al-Karawi D, et al. The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Phytother Res. 2016 Feb;30(2):175-83.
Lopresti AL, et al. Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:368-75.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”