Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in America; about 10% of the population take them. The number jumps to 25% for women between the ages of 50 and 64. When compared to placebo, they are not very effective in controlling depression. A study published in PLOS (February 26, 2008) concluded, “Drug–placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients.”
Considering the side effects of these drugs, it may be wise to come up with a natural approach. The side effects of antidepressants are many and varied. The British Medical Journal (2015 Dec 14;5(12)) recently published research that found that taking the drugs can lead to bipolar disorder. To quote the authors’ conclusion, “In people with unipolar depression, antidepressant treatment is associated with an increased risk of subsequent mania/bipolar disorder.”
These drugs are especially dangerous to a developing fetus. Pregnant women taking the drugs have an increased risk of giving birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Research published in JAMA Pediatrics (2016 Feb 1;170(2):117-24) concluded “Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression.” Another study, appearing in Molecular Psychiatry (2015 Jun;20(6):727-34), found a link between ADHD and maternal use of antidepressants.
In my opinion, the increased use of antidepressants over recent years is due to a halfhearted approach and lack of knowledge concerning basic nutritional issues. Doctors of traditional western medicine are trained to treat patients as if they have a chemical imbalance or chemical deficiency. It is easy for the doctor to run lab work and then tell the patient everything is normal. At that point, the doctor can assume it must be all in the patient’s head and they need an antidepressant. I hear this at least once a week. Antidepressants can come with major side effects and can increase the rate of suicidal thoughts. In the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Sciences published a landmark report highlighting the lack of adequate nutrition education in medical schools; the writers recommended a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition instruction. It appears that even two and a half decades later, a vast majority of medical schools still fail to meet the minimum recommended 25 hours of instruction. So let’s talk nutrition. Your brain is 60% fat, and functions best with a high GOOD fat and GOOD protein diet. In the majority of patients with mood issues, I find hypoglycemic problems, B vitamin deficiencies, and an increased need for EFA’s. Low thyroid and adrenal function is common as well. I have never seen what a Prozac deficiency looks like, but I can show you all of what I mentioned above. It’s better think twice today, before getting talked into going on an antidepressant. Do you have a functional medicine doctor in your life?