The use of psychiatric drugs for treating depression recently came under scrutiny, when results of past drug trials were found to be misinterpreted and not fully disclosed to the public.
A study done in the year 2002, testing over 340 people showed that antidepressants were hardly more effective than sugar pills. In that test, a third of the participants were given the herb St. John’s Wort; another third, “placebos” (sugar pills with no active ingredient); and a third, the actual drug. None of the participants in any of the groups knew which pill they were getting. A new look revealed that what made the person feel better was the participant’s belief that they might be getting treated for their depression.
The funding for these studies was paid largely by the drug companies who, by the way, stood to profit from the marketing of the drugs. Thus in some cases only positive results were published, with ineffective or harmful findings left un-published. Thus, this puts in question their premise for using psychiatric drugs to treat depression.
Because pharmaceutical company lobbyists have managed to legalize the advertising of drugs, many public now believe there is irrefutable science behind them, when there is not.
Though serious depression must be addressed in realistic and effective ways, not all medical professionals resort to medication, but rely on true medical testing to help the patient. One study of institutionalized patients found that the largest percentage of them had underlying physical illnesses; and when treated, the psychiatric symptoms ended. There are natural ways, without the side effects of drugs, to significantly raise mood and relieve depression. In one study of 3000 people it was found that exercise effectively relieved depressive symptoms. Added benefits of exercise are to lose weight and strengthen muscles, versus the use of medications which cause weight gain, diabetes, psychosis, mania, suicidal thoughts and more. These side effects, in themselves, can worsen depression.
The theory that anyone with emotional ups and downs has a brain-based disorder which requires drugs, has no scientific proof. There are no medical tests to evidence psychiatric disorders. Thus the common practice of giving psychiatric medication to raise the “feel-good” chemical “serotonin” for treating depression, is not a proven method. Studies have been done, in fact, demonstrating that increasing serotonin did not relieve depression, and that lowering it did not increase depression. But the liberal prescribing of these drugs has resulted in accumulated clinical evidence of them actually worsening depression and leading to suicidal behavior.
Because of these adverse effects, the FDA has demanded warning labels on packaging. Unfortunately, not all public read the fine-print, and psychiatric and primary care physicians do not always inform patients. Consequently many people have subjected themselves, their children, or their elderly parents to irreversible physical problems due to the side effects of these drugs.
When one takes an aspirin for a headache it is not meant to cure the actual cause of the headache. But pharmaceutical company advertising implies that any depressed person needs meds to live “normally”. This is simply not true. In recent years, the emotional outbursts of young children (formerly called “tantrums”) are labelled “bipolar disorder” or depression whereas fifty years ago, parents knew that this was a matter of honing their parental skills not looking for the “quick fix” of a pill.
Scientists are researching another problem associated with women taking psychiatric drugs for depression. The incidence of sudden cardiac death rises with the use of antidepressants. Such risks should lead doctors to find other ways to treat depression in women. In fact there is much medical evidence that women become depressed before menstruation, and while undergoing menopause. Hormonal deficiencies and imbalances can cause emotional ups and downs, dulled thought processes, lowered energy, weight gain and more. Thyroid hormone deficiencies have been closely associated with depression in women. The replacement of deficient hormones with bio-identical ones (those exactly like our body makes) has cured depression without medications and their associated health risks.
Once prescribed, medications are difficult to stop. Instead, one can request a searching physical exam, complete hormone testing, and improve exercise, nutrition, and other life factors. This may prevent the seeming necessity to treat depression with psychiatric drugs. The outcome of such a program has the added benefit of one’s depression not returning, because the underlying causes were found and treated.