Antidepressant Medications: Do They Work?

Are antidepressant medications working?  There seems to be a growing trend of believers who think not.  Are you on an antidepressant?  If so, did you receive a proper evaluation?  Many people are prescribed with an antidepressant by a physician who does not properly evaluate the patient to rule out bipolar disorders, hypothyroid, hormonal imbalance, sleep disorders, heavy metal toxicity, and even anemia.  In most cases, people are prescribed with these meds with no plan to discontinue taking them….ever.

It has been my professional experience that a small group of people do pretty well with this medication initially.  Then begins the “wax and wane” pattern where the benefits wear off, medication is increased, benefits wear off, medication is changed, and so on….

Having said this, I think antidepressants are far overprescribed in our country.  Besides the fact that you could have an underlying medical problem that goes undiagnosed, very few physicians educate patients on the power of exercise to treat mood problems.  The UK has long utilized exercise as a first line treatment approach for depression, but the United States lags far behind.  Out of every single patient I’ve ever seen, I don’t know a single person who has ever been educated by their physicians on the research comparing exercise and antidepressant medications.  How sad.

Thanks to Dr. Blumenthal (Duke University), we know that exercise is an excellent form of treatment for depression.  His study, called “SMILE,” compared exercise with Zoloft in treating participants diagnosed with depression.  Exercise was equally effective as Zoloft, but those in the exercise group had a much lower rate of relapse.  Exercise is free with no side effects like weight gain or loss of sex drive (both of which seem depressing, eh?).  This study was published in 1990s, yet remains underutilized by the medical community.

Antidepressants can be very helpful for some people, but the vast majority of those who use them do very little footwork to change their thoughts, lifestyle, or relationships.  I’m convinced that many times, depression is our mind’s way of drawing our attention to a necessary life change that needs to be made.  When antidepressant meds correct the problem, that needed change doesn’t happen.  Here is a very interesting article comparing the antidepressant medication trend with economic stimulus bills.  It’s both thought provoking and humorous to read since both temporary solutions seem so ineffective in the long run.

A new book entitled,  Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, was recently released on this topic.   Dr. Mercola recently interviewed the author, Robert Whitaker, on the widespread use of antidepressant medications.

Ta-ta for now, folks.  The more you know, the more equipped you are to deal with your life and help others do the same.