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Are anti-depressants as dangerous and useless as some statistics show?

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Showing 1-25 of 542 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 19, 2009 8:26:44 AM PDT
Statistics show that psychotropic and anti-depressant drugs represent serious health risks and cause as many as 36,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

These drugs include SSRI like Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac.

Statistics also show that most of the prescriptions for these drugs are written by internists (general practitioners), not psychiatrists.

Commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs like Seroquel and Zyprexa can also produces very serious and life-threatening conditions.

Furthermore, many of these drugs are prescribed for off-label uses.

Clinical trials have shown that 5-HTP, an inexpensive and safe amino acid (the precursor for serotonin) produces equal or better results and more quickly than any of the SSRIs with none of the dangerous side effects.

Dr. Michael Murray's superb book, "5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia", provides much interesting information on this most important subject. Dr. Murray is a highly respected Naturopathic physician, author and educator.

Dr. Murray is also the author of the best-selling and highly acclaimed "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" (2nd Ed., 1997).

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 9:17:17 AM PDT
S. Robinson says:
Well, all I have is my own experience. I've been on several SSRI anti-depressants over the years and after awhile, found they didn't help me all that much. When I tried to get off of them is when the trouble began. I followed my doctor's advice by tapering the doses as prescribed, but this didn't work at all. I lost several days of work in one instance because I couldn't concentrate. The swirling, disorienting sensation in my head was very disturbing and I experienced "popping" sounds that were like electric static every time I moved my eyes. I had to get back on the meds and try a more gradual tapering. It took me several weeks to wean myself off completely and I had to resort to opening the capsules and dividing the dosages in ever smaller portions that way.
As I later confronted a life threatening physical illness, another type of SSRI was prescribed and I thought I'd give it another try. I didn't find that to be any more effective and had to go through the same tapering methods I described above.
Also, I travel a lot and I didn't like dealing with the anxiety of worrying about what would happen should I lose the meds. I realized that the effects of withdrawal weren't worth whatever small benefit I might be getting from them, besides the expense since my medical coverage keeps shrinking.
I know a lot of people swear by these meds and maybe they are effective for some people. But I've concluded that for myself, dealing with depression and anxiety is hard personal work and that altering my brain chemistry through medication is simply not for me.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 2:30:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 19, 2009 2:42:57 PM PDT
Glit says:
I've dealt with depression pretty much my entire life. I only found anti-depressants to be helpful during a crisis sort of time where things were much much worse, in addition to that I was prescribed several different anit-depressants by my old GP when I had had a headache for a month. Turned out I had a problem with my neck from an auto accident which he was perfectly happy to ignore and treat me with antidepressants including Amitryptaline, effexor, and something else I forget what it's been 10 years ago. Not only did it not help, I had severe mood swings, nightmares involving a very vivid shade of blue green each time, weird sleep disturbances like yelling and getting up off the bed and falling over, felt tired all the time, cried alot, and had some suicidal thoughts.. The experience was quite awful, not only because it didn't help with the headaches, the doctor said and I quote, "Don't you think this has more to do with your emotional state than any possible injury." Basically telling me I was depressed when actually I was at one of the happiest most stable points in my life... and he wouldn't listen. I think this is a danger of GP's getting into prescribing drugs to help an emotional condition when they don't deal with the patient on more than a surface emotional level.

Later on things went south, I was having a really rough time, and I went to a psychologist who referred me to a psychiatrist and was prescribed paxil for a time. It really did help me to open up and figure out how to deal with my emotions. I was also in group therapy, individual therapy, and part of a battered woman's group. I really do think the paxil allowed me to examine myself emotionally and open up more than I would have without it, BUT I don't think anti-depressants are something people should take for the rest of thier lives. People will often claim that there is nothing wrong, and deny they have any problems and maintain their depression is entirely chemical when that just isn't the truth. People would rather take a pill than actually heal.. and well I don't think that's a helpful way to treat mental illness. There are ways of managing depression, getting to the root of the negativity, and learning to cope.

Also I'd like to say that going off of paxil sucks... I was weaned off very very slowly and probably managed to do so only because I had the support of my psychiatrist and group.. another reason these drugs shouldn't be prescribed initially by a GP.

I really do not think that behavioral and mood altering medications should be dispensed without some sort of contact with a mental health professional. There is such a stigma carried with mental illness, however, that a lot of people would simply refuse and continue to suffer in silence. That really has to change as a society. For some people the medications really do help, but then they're stuck taking a med for the rest of thier lives instead of figuring out how to deal with thier emotions. My mother is one of those people.. paxil has helped her a lot.. she's a lot more stable than she used to be and not so .. well .. mean and insecure and paranoid now.. but I know she has some deep seeded issues.. but I guess it's her choice to keep ignoring them and keep upping her doses... and boy when she forgets to take her little pink pills you don't wanna be around.. It's the new valium I guess.

I don't think they're useless.. I think they're being misused... and yeah they're dangerous in some aspects... A lot more dangerous than going to actually talk to someone. It isn't just the docs that are guilty in this though, we live in a society that wants a pill to cure everything.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 2:40:45 PM PDT
Mommy of 2 says:
Most depression is a SYMPTOM of a bigger problem...often gluten intolerance. Anti depressants often contain gluten, providing a HUGE explanation for why such treatment often proves unsuccessful. Your brain is not hard wired incorrectly; you're simply poisoning yourself & your body is calling out for help.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 3:44:28 PM PDT
My story is that Prozac literally saved my life. I am not suggesting that SSRIs are for everyone, only that they should not be considered evil. For every story of negative effects, there is someone who would not be here without it. By the way, it was a last resort for me. I dislike medication in general but I had tried all the "natural" methods and none of those worked for me.

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 1:34:14 AM PDT
Shakespeare says:
I believe anti-depressants have been overly prescribed and given for unhappiness and stress that occur as part of life and can't be cured with medication. In the case of a true depression anti-depressants may be key in recovery. Cognitive therapy in conjunction with drug therapy is best. Wellbutrin gave me my life back long ago and after going off when feeling better several times only to end up in that deep dark pit of despair and paralysis, I stayed on and did well. A few years ago, I was diagnosed bipolar and my psychiatrist now has me on my anti-mania meds and off the anti-depressant I looked her up to get. That threw me but she determined I was not depressed and we could prevent it without being on the drug in a state of un-depression. The drugs are powerful and have risks but they are weighed with the risk of suicide and dysfunction. Chose one with fewer side effects and if it works for you, use it while treated by a professional. I take Depakote which can cause serious liver damage. I have my liver monitored. My life was not worth living and although there are many of these drugs available and finding one that works can be a trial itself if you suffer from certain ailments that need treatement the danger may be worth facing. As wonderful as the all natural way sounds, I can't imagine putting together such a regimen while depressed or manic and in the extremes of either state, a dangerous anti-depressant or psycotrophic drug might better serve. It's complicated and mental illness is difficult to diagnose and treat. All drugs can be seen in this way. Some are more risky than others but there are times when that risk is one to take. Drug therapy, cognitive therapy, lifestyle therapy each have a role and if a natural treatment is ultimately desirable Murrphy may be the man. For serious mental illness that sort of approach may never be feasible. Don't discount the drugs. I can function today and that's incredible. I needed first an anti-depressant and then an anti-mania medication to do that and I have a smart, thoughtful psychiatrist and I trust her. Statistics may be correct overall if the drugs are being prescribed incorrectly, over-prescribed. That would make them useless but if they were entirely useless or so dangerous they are without benefit, they couldn't make it to the marketplace and make big bucks for the pharmaceutical companies.

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 9:44:58 AM PDT
Popular media reports on scientific studies are often times misleading and can be very dangerous by instilling unncesary fear into the minds of the masses. The reports on SSRIs and suicide are one example. There are some serious confounds to popularized reports about these studies. You need to actually read the studies to make an informed decision about the risks and benefits of any treatment. The truth is that the population of people who are prescribed SSRIs are at higher risk than the general population for suicide because of their depression or other mental health issues and not solely from the drug. If someone is seriously depressed enough that an SSRI is impairative to their recovery then they need to be closely monitored by a PSYCHIATRIST and become educated about the potential risk so the individual can advocate for their own health. SSRIs can be a tremendously helpful tool for those whom it is intended for and if used responsibly by both the patient and the doctor. In my experience, too many people fail to use SSRIs for because of the ill informed fear that these media reports have spawned in the general public.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2009 9:52:30 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 22, 2009 10:30:33 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2009 4:37:19 PM PDT
directions says:
Show me the clinical trials about 5-HTTP. I would like to see how the methadology is used in the study. First of all you only mentioned SSRI anti-depressents. Those are one group of anti-depressents. To the pharmaceutical industry they are a big cash cow and overprescribed. There are also MAO inhibitors (they had enzyme interactions but one of them Emsam is now available in patch form which stops this) and tricyclic anti-depressents and many other options in development as well. Trans cranial magnetic stimulation is another new option that unlike ECT will not cause brain damage or permanent memory loss.
"Psychotropic drugs like Seroquel and Zyprexa can also produce very serious and life threatening conditions". First of all those are antipsychotics not anti-depressents and I live with one of those "conditions" which is the disability tardive dyskinesia which I have in advanced form (to the point of being homebound) along with being under official clinical study for the criteria "tardive psychosis", "tardive dysphrenia" and "tardive dysmentia". That is being documented along with a close to full remmission of symptoms of schizoaffective disorder from glycine, a glutamate antagonist (technically NMDA receptor modulate) a new form of antipsychotic in development that will not cause tardive dyskinesia or diabetes and promotes a fuller recovery and there are multiple Phase II FDA studies of this class of medication around the world and they will be among the future generation of antipsychotics:

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2009 8:24:15 PM PDT
Intrepid says:
The problem with antidepressants is that the illness is not 100% active 24 hours a day. Almost no one is depressed every waking moment. They also are not crying all the time or lacking in energy constantly but exhibit some of those features periodically and different proportions from person to person, at different times.

The medications tend to either sedate (useful if crying much of the time in depression) or excite (useful if no motivation and listlessly depressed). Choosing a medication that treats the predominant symptoms can be challenging in some persons.

"Treating" only with medications - without having a caring humane counselor and sometimes basic lifeskill troubleshooting - is often ineffective by itself. But done right it can be life saving and life transforming.

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 9:22:54 PM PDT
I am not a doctor, but i play one on TV. No, actually I am not a doctor. Period. And neither are you guys, so stop offering advice that can really hurt people.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2009 9:39:05 PM PDT
directions says:
Right and I would never advise someone to change or discontinue any medication without a psychiatrist's supervision. I think the only "advice that can really hurt people" is one that acts like psychiatric treatment is some kind of conspiracy and that they have some "remedy" that will help the person and take the place of what they are prescribed and actively encourage them to discontinue treatment. Otherwise people detailing what helped them doesn't mean it would automatically benefit someone else. It means its an idea worth talking over with the person's psychiatrist if they are seeing one. And if they are not whether they see a psychiatrist or not (unless they are violent or suicidal) is ultimately their decision.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2009 9:40:21 PM PDT
Intrepid says:
Jeffrey, some of us actually are MD's and the question is a legitimate one. The issue challenging because depression has a dual nature and as much variation as each affected individual. It is not as simple as antibiotic B working on microbe X with a measurable MIC.

No one is asking for treatment specifically for themselves. Some are sharing what they went through. All are discussing efficacy of treatment in broad terms. You are right if what you mean to say is that no one should base their treatment on this thread alone. They need their care individualized and coordinated by a caring humane therapist and/or physician.

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 5:27:39 AM PDT
It's a complex topic, with depression involving multiple layers and dimensions of our being which can't be addressed just by taking a drug or even by natural supplements in many cases. Yes, there are significant hazards to using drugs and if professionals actually understood for each person what factors are creating the depressive states then they could address those factors and never resort to drugs. Few professionals have the depth of knowledge or time to adequately address factors that lead to depression so they often just prescribe drugs to suppress the symptoms - this can appear either dangerous or life-saving depending on the short-term response. In the long run drugs will never truly resolve depression, so if true resolution is a goal then drug research is a dead end. Natural supplements are a safer way to address biochemical correlates of depression, and they're not likely to create serious side effects or withdrawal effects like psychotropic medicines do. Since they don't forcefully disrupt biochemical systems they may not be as immediately effective in relieving symptoms as drugs are in some cases. But the quick fix of drugs often has a painful price, whether it's prescribed or recreational drugs. And for those curious, I am a licensed mental health counselor and holistic health practitioner who has researched related topics for many years and developed a mind-body-spirit approach that helps people heal depression without drugs - and is very effective for most clients. I include energy healing and metaphysical and transpersonal healing methods that most people don't even know about when exploring alternatives to drugs for depression. People who think they've tried all the natural approaches before resorting to medications usually haven't.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 8:45:11 AM PDT

As I mentioned in my initial post, refer to Dr. Michael Murray's superb book, "5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia", provides much interesting information on this most important subject. Dr. Murray is a highly respected Naturopathic physician, author and educator.

Dr. Murray is also the author of the best-selling and highly acclaimed "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine" (2nd Ed., 1997).

The issue I am presenting in this forum is not the lack of efficacy of anti-depressants or anti-psychotics but rather the irresponsible and needless number of prescriptions written for these highly profitable drugs and often by unqualified prescribers (general practitioners).

The side effect of SSRIs and anti-psychotics can be very dangerous. Do some research, and you will discover the many problems they present. For one example, the link between Seroquel and diabetes.

Furthermore, the reported deaths I speak of go way beyond suicide

The drugs are simply overprescribed!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 8:55:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 21, 2009 9:18:57 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 9:10:08 AM PDT
Jeffrey Crayton,

No one is offering advice or doing any harm. We are simply discussing an extremely important issue that pervades our society.

If you find this topic on no interest, you can always work on you make-believe doctor lines.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 9:13:38 AM PDT
The Sandwich,

If you find this topic sad or depressing, may I suggest you visit a forum which discusses issues that you might find uplifting.

Or perhaps you can find a qualified practitioner to prescribe an anti-depressant!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 9:42:16 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 22, 2009 10:29:42 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 10:56:29 AM PDT

"This topic is depressing. I feel sad now. Thanks."

"I think its funny that anyone thinks they're going to find a real cure or helpful advice on the health forum website."

Well, are you depressed or amused? Perhaps, you are just annoyed, but you are certainly missing the point. This forum is not about advice or cures, it is about discussion: discussion about topics that can be of interest to many people.

This is like TV. If you don't like the program and do not wish to contribute, change the channel.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 11:21:22 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 3, 2011 8:57:24 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 11:24:24 AM PDT
curiousgirl says:
Dr. John Breeding, Ph.D. Psychologist, talks about depression, so here's another perspective on the issue.

My 2 cents.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 11:24:45 AM PDT
directions says:
Well that does sound interesting. How does 5-TTP work biochemically? I take rhodiola for the spasms from tardive dyskinesia but it also works on clinical depression. I found out about it from a presentation by the author of "The Rhodiola Revolution" Dr. Richard Brown. He mentioned Sam-e as well. St. John's Wort has shown to be of use in clinical studies in Europe. But even though they are "natural remedies" they are prescribed as medications in Europe and no one should take any treatment for depression without the supervision of a provider.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 11:30:37 AM PDT

Thanks for your 2 cents!

Dr. Breeding makes a lot of sense is on the right track.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2009 11:40:18 AM PDT

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is the precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes well-being. Incidentally, SSRI (a class of antidepressants which includes Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac) is an acronym for Selective Serotonin Reuptake inhibitor.

For an in depth understanding of 5-HTP and serotonin read Dr. Michael Murray's superb book, "5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia." Dr. Murray is a highly respected Naturopathic physician, author and educator.

Important Warning: No one should ever take 5-HTP while using any SSRI. The combination can produce an adverse reaction known serotonin syndrome, a very dangerous condition.
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Initial post:  Apr 19, 2009
Latest post:  Feb 2, 2016

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