The Depressing News About Antidepressants

“Indeed, when you go through mood swings, you now have to justify why you are not on some medication.” ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I had scheduled this article some weeks ago to talk about some of the downsides of antidepressants. Now, with events in Oregon this past week, antidepressants are once again on the radar.

While nobody has come out and said the Oregon shooter was on them, this quote was telling: “Two officials said that after the shooting, the gunman’s family told investigators that he suffered from mental health issues and had sought treatment.”

Treatment? You probably know the standard treatment is antidepressants. Odd how these are rarely mentioned when such cases happen. But often you find out later that the killer was taking them.

One of the known, but rarely talked about side effects of these drugs is aggressiveness. Dr. Healy at the north Wales department of psychological medicine pointed this out over 10 years ago. He said,

“I think there is very clear evidence for all of the SSRI group of drugs that in addition to making people suicidal, they can make people homicidal or seriously aggressive.”

Admittedly, this side effect happens in a small percentage of users. But when you consider that just in the U.S. over 11% of the population over 12 takes them, that’s still a lot of people. The best estimate is over 30 million people. If the 1.1% aggressive reaction percentage is right, then that’s still well over 300,000 people just in the U.S. who experience this.

Not too comforting…

But there are more reasons to be cautious about these drugs.

First of all, it’s not just aggression towards others that’s at risk. There are also many cases of suicide related to the drugs.

In other countries there are more warnings about SSRI drugs. Included among these are warnings they can cause:

  • Heart problems
  • Birth defects
  • Anxiety
  • Mania or psychosis
  • Hallucinations or delusional thinking
  • Involuntary movements
  • Sexual dysfunction

How did these drugs get approved? It’s most likely because the FDA allows companies to present their own research. And because of the high profits these drugs make, the companies cherry-pick the results of those studies. The dangers only come to light years later when third parties get access to the original studies.

Of course depression is real. And some of it has a biochemical basis. But there are alternatives to medications. Many of them are equally or more effective. Here’s the short list:

  • Exercise
  • Eliminating processed foods from your diet (95% of serotonin is in the gut)
  • Eat enough protein
  • Take fish oil
  • Take 5 HTP
  • Get enough sleep

And there are also ways to get professional help that don’t involve side effects. Acupuncture and massage are both very helpful.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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