Why Antidepressants Don't Work

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The majority
of people who take antidepressants for depression never get relief.
Why? Because the cause of depression has been oversimplified, and
drugs designed to treat it aim at the wrong target, according to
a new study that appears to topple some strongly held beliefs about
depression.

One is that
stressful life events are a major cause of depression. The other
is that an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain triggers
depressive symptoms.

These beliefs
were the basis for the drugs currently used to treat depression,
and it appears they may both be incorrect.

Current antidepressants
aim to boost neurotransmitters based on the popular molecular explanation
of depression, which is that it’s the result of decreased levels
of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

The new research
found strong indications that depression actually begins further
up in the chain of events in the brain. Essentially, the medications
have been focusing on the effect, not the cause.

The researchers
also found powerful molecular evidence that quashes the long-held
dogma that stress is generally a major cause of depression. The
new research reveals that there is almost no overlap between stress-related
genes and depression-related genes.

The researchers
revealed that antidepressants are not treating depression; they
are treating stress.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

Two major
findings were revealed at the Neuroscience 2009 conference last
month … findings that found more reasons why antidepressants
do not work for more than half of the people who take them.

The research,
from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, found:

  1. Chronic
    stress does not cause the same molecular changes that depression
    does, but most antidepressants are based on the hypothesis that
    stress causes depression. The hypothesis appears to be incorrect,
    which means the drugs are virtually worthless.
  2. An imbalance
    in neurotransmitters in your brain may not trigger depressive
    symptoms as has long been thought. Instead, the biochemical events
    that lead to depression appear to start in the development and
    functioning of neurons. This means antidepressants focus on the
    effect of depression, and completely miss the cause …
    yet another reason why they are so ineffective for most people.

Unfortunately,
the lead researcher is hoping the research will “open up new
routes to develop new antidepressants,” when in reality a drug
solution is not the answer to helping those with depression.

Why Antidepressants
Will Not Solve Your Depression

Every year
230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making
them one of the most-prescribed drugs in the United States. Despite
all of these prescription drugs being taken, more than one in 20
Americans are depressed, according to the most recent statistics
from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC).

Of them, 80
percent say they have some level of functional impairment, and 27
percent say it is extremely difficult to do everyday tasks like
work, getting things done at home or getting along with others because
of their condition.

So why are
so many people feeling so low, even though antidepressants –
the supposed “cure” for depression – are so widely
available?

Unfortunately,
the conventional medical paradigm’s “answer” for
depression does not work any better than sugar pills. Some studies
have even found that sugar
pills may produce better results
than antidepressants.

Even meta-analysis
of published clinical trials indicates that 75 percent of the response
to antidepressants can be duplicated
by placebo
!

It wouldn’t
be so bad if antidepressants were harmless sugar pills, occasionally
showing benefit simply because the person believes they will work.
But they are far from it and instead often come with many serious
side effects, such as:

Depression
can be a terminal illness, so taking a drug that will most likely
not relieve your symptoms and may actually increase your risk of
killing yourself certainly does not seem like a very rational choice.

How to Detect
Depression in Yourself or a Loved One

Depression,
or more accurately, unrepaired emotional short-circuiting, can absolutely
devastate your health. In my estimation, it can cause far more profound
negative health consequences than all the denatured food and toxins
you expose yourself to.

Unfortunately,
about two-thirds of people with depression go undiagnosed, which
can be a major health risk. It is also a sad testimony to the clinical
astuteness of most physicians.

The diagnostic
clues provided in this past article
are telling indicators that
you or someone you love might be suffering from this illness, so
please review
them now
.

Depression
is much more than just feeling blue once in a while. One set of
diagnostic criteria commonly used to assess depression is known
as "SIGECAPS,” which stands for sleep, interest, guilt,
energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor and suicide.

If four or
more of these items are a concern, it indicates major depression.
However, other criteria, such as watching for symptoms other than
just mood change and obtaining supporting information from family
members, is important.

Further, if
you have been feeling down for two weeks or more, and have lost
interest in activities you once enjoyed, I’d encourage you
to consider the following treatment options for healing depression,
and not use potentially dangerous drugs as your first option.

If Antidepressants
Don’t Work, What Will?

There are
five major strategies that are very important for anyone facing
depression. These steps have nothing but positive “side effects”
and generally are very inexpensive to implement.

1. Embrace
Techniques to Help Manage Your Emotions

Depression
is a very serious condition; however it is not a “disease.”
Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of
balance.

This is so
important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression
as an “illness,” you think you need to take a drug to
fix it. In reality, all you need to do is return the balance to
your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing negative
emotions.

My favorite
method of emotional relief is Meridian
Tapping Technique (MTT)
, a form of psychological acupressure
that you can learn how to do yourself.

However, if
you have depression or serious stress it would be best to consult
with a mental health professional who is also an MTT practitioner

to guide you.

There are
other stress-management methods out there as well, such as meditation,
journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, or simply sharing your feelings
with a close friend. Ideally, pick the method that feels best for
you, or combine several methods and rotate them.

2. Exercise
Regularly

Regular exercise
is one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression.
It works so well because it helps to normalize insulin resistance
while boosting “feel good” hormones in your brain.

As Dr.
James S. Gordon, MD
, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body
medicine to heal depression, said:

“What
we’re finding in the research on physical exercise is, the
physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping
people who are depressed … physical exercise changes the
level of serotonin in your brain.

It changes,
increases their levels of “feel good” hormones, the
endorphins. And also – and these are amazing studies –
it can increase the number of cells in your brain, in the region
of the brain, called the hippocampus.

These studies
have been first done on animals, and it’s very important
because sometimes in depression, there are fewer of those cells
in the hippocampus, but you can actually change your brain with
exercise. So it’s got to be part of everybody’s treatment,
everybody’s plan.”

Yes, regular,
appropriately intense exercise is a must for most people suffering
from depression, and it can go a long way to improving your mood.

If you’re
not sure how to use exercise like a drug, including the correct
variety, intensity, and frequency, please review
my Exercise page
for more in-depth recommendations and guidelines
on how to incorporate it into your life.

3. Eat
a Healthy Diet

Another factor
that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact
on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole
foods as described in my nutrition
plan
will best support your mental health.

Avoiding sugar
and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which
is another powerful tool in addressing depression.

4. Support
Optimal Brain Functioning with Omega-3 Fats

I also strongly
recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality,
animal-based omega-3 fat
, like krill oil. This may be the single
most important nutrient to battle depression
.

5. Get
plenty of sunshine

Have you ever
noticed how great it can feel to spend time outdoors on a sunny
day? Well, it turns out that getting safe sun exposure, which allows
your body to produce vitamin D, is great for your mood.

One study
even found people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11
times more prone to be depressed
than those who received healthy
doses.

So you can
add optimizing
your vitamin D levels
, either by sunlight exposure, a safe tanning
bed or taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement, to your list
of depression fighters.

Remember,
if left untreated depression can have a devastating impact on just
about every aspect of your life. So please do use the five natural
treatments I suggest above, but ideally do so with the guidance
of a knowledgeable natural health care practitioner who can support
you on your road to recovery.

November
12, 2009

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