Studies show that doctors in the United States wrote 213 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2010. Are there that many people in the United States who are so depressed they have to resort to drugs?
It’s hard to believe. But either it’s true, or doctors are prescribing these drugs inappropriately. That news is depressing in itself, but even more depressing is the side effects that so many of these people have to go through in order to feel better. And now, new research is uncovering a staggering new side effect — a decrease in the ability of those on the medications to feel love!
But the side effects are worth it, aren’t they? I mean, doesn’t the net effect of these drugs result in an increased quality of life?
Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. The research shows that antidepressants fall short for many people. A major government study released in 2006 showed that less than 50% of people taking antidepressant drugs become symptom-free, even after trying two different medications.
Furthermore, many of those people who initially respond to medication slip back into major depression within a short while, despite sticking with drug treatment. So if you take antidepressants, you easily could be wasting your money. Worse, you may be causing serious health and relationship problems as well.
These drugs work by interfering with how the brain maintains a balance of neurotransmitters. These chemicals are responsible for defining your mood, as well as your thought processes. As you can imagine, creating an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain can have all kinds of side effects. But one of the most common side effects of antidepressant drugs may be much more serious than we thought. I’m talking about the sexual side effects.
Sexual Dysfunction in People Taking These Drugs Is the Rule Rather Than the Exception
A significantly decreased libido (desire for sexual activity), and delayed or absent orgasm, happens in up to 70% of those taking the drugs! But what if the sexual side effects of the drugs, considered by many doctors to be little more than a nuisance, had more serious consequences? What if the drugs impaired not only sexual desire, but also the ability to experience romance?
That question was at the center of a talk at the recent annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New York. Dr. Helen E. Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers, presented findings that suggest these medications, which doctors dish out to improve mood, can also disrupt brain circuits involved in romance and attachment.
Dr. Fisher, author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study 17 people who were intensely “in love.” The fMRI is a type of specialized MRI scan. It measures the change in blood flow that occurs when certain areas of the brain are activated. She found that all of these lovers had very specific areas of the brain activated (the right ventral tegmental area and right postero-dorsal body of the caudate nucleus).
Then she studied 15 men and women who had just been rejected in love. The same phenomenon happened. Just like the in-love group, they all had activation of the same specific area of the brain. Only in their case, the activated area was the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. This is the same area that activates in obsessive/compulsive behaviors and in controlling anger. Dr. Fisher had been able to demonstrate that specific areas of the brain, involving specific brain chemicals, are responsible for whether or not we feel love or rejection.
“We know that there are real sexual problems associated with serotonin-enhancing medications,” said the doctor. “But when you cripple a person’s sexual desire and arousal, you’re also jeopardizing their ability to fall in love and to stay in love.”
But Here’s the Real Problem
Although the short-term use of these drugs (three to six months at most) can alter brain chemistry in a favorable way, longer use is different. The long-term use of the drugs is now known to deplete the brain of the neurotransmitters that it needs to function.
Long-term use can also cause a partial disappearance of the receptor sites that these vital neurotransmitters need to interact with. It also affects the cellular transporters that allow your body to recycle neurotransmitters for continuous use. And some researchers are suggesting that these effects may become permanent!
So if you find yourself depressed, instead of relying on chemicals to help you out, work on getting to the bottom of the problem. But that can be hard to do. So many of us, doctors and patients alike, have been brain washed to rely on medications to solve all our woes. Instead we should be looking at what caused them. And I can guarantee you that in no case will it ever be found that the cause for any illness was a deficiency of a particular drug.
So What Causes These “Disorders”?
The main cause is brain chemistry. We are all different. Some of us come into this world with bomb-proof brain chemistry. These lucky folks can go out and drink too much, have lousy diets, be in incredibly stressful situations … and never have a problem.
On the other end of the scale, some of us have marginal brain chemistry. Even minor deviations from a healthy diet, relatively minor stresses, and minimal amounts of sugar or alcohol can throw us into a state of imbalance. Guess what? Many people are in this latter category.
The treatment for a brain chemistry that’s out of whack is quite simple. To a large extent, it has to do with making sure they have a rock-solid diet (very low carb), get plenty of exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid things that interfere with brain chemistry such as sugar, alcohol, and drugs.
But that’s not all. You must have an optimal supplement schedule. This starts with my Super Immune QuickStart, which has a good dose of B-vitamins and amino acids. If you have depression, you may need to increase these amounts with stand-alone supplements. B-vitamins and amino acids are vital for good health.
I also recommend you take 5-HTP or l-tryptophan. Both will help with serotonin (the feel-good hormone) production. If you take 5-HTP, start off with 100 mg taken twice daily. If this doesn’t do the job within four to six weeks, double the dose to 200 mg. When I treat my patients, I almost always start off at the 200 mg dose just to be extra sure I will get good results in less time.
If you choose l-tryptophan, the typical dose is 1,000-2,000 mg twice daily. Whichever one you choose, take the first dose between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. and again at bedtime.
You also need to make sure your depression isn’t a medical condition, such as adrenal fatigue, thyroid disease, or unbalanced hormones. Both of these, and others, can cause depression. You can see my website www.secondopinionnewsletter.com for information on how to treat these conditions.
And if you’re someone who has some of the problems I’ve talked about here, then find yourself a doctor who is familiar with balancing brain chemistry naturally.
The International Review of Psychiatry reported in June 2005 that more than “67.5 million Americans – almost one-in-four of us – have taken a course of antidepressant medication.” In medicine, we call anything that reaches these numbers an epidemic. I believe we have an epidemic of drug use promoted by Big Pharma and unsuspecting doctors. In my experience, all of these drugs are almost always unnecessary.
It’s Much Easier Than You Might Think
And please don’t get the idea that balancing brain chemistry naturally is all that difficult. It can be in some cases. But for the most part, it is usually easy. If you or someone you care about is on one of these drugs for one of these so-called disorders let them know that drugs are not the answer. There are natural ways to address the causes of their symptoms. Here are some resources you can use to find the right doctor to help you out: www.acam.org, www.moodcure.com, www.holisticmedicine.org, www.aaot.us, www.bioenergytesting.com, www.iahp.in.
Once you find someone close, call their office and make sure that they are familiar with treating depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders and symptoms with amino acids, diet, and other natural approaches. If they are, ask how successful they are. If they hesitate, find someone else. But if they can tell you with some assurance that they can help, you’re on the right track.
This Thursday is Independence Day – it’s time to declare your independence from antidepressants!
Sherman, C. “Long-Term Side Effects Surface With SSRIs,” Clinical Psychiatry News, 26(5):1, 1998. C 1998 International Medical News Group.