Do Antidepressants Cure Depression?
Although the human experience can be filled with much wonder, deep learning and insight, great achievement, intense love, joy and happiness, and a sense of belonging, the human condition is also filled with loneliness, hardship, setback, failure, disappointment, sadness, loss, challenge, adversity and stress. Change, challenge, adversity and stress is a core foundation of the natural universe and is experienced by all living things. This stress in many respects is and should be considered positive. Stress and adversity provide challenge, sharpen skills, build strength and the opportunities to improve.
Most of us experience various degrees of depression at different points in our lives. Unfortunately, in recent years, too many in our medical and therapist communities have embraced offering prescription mood altering drugs, anti-depressants, tranquillizers and sleeping pills to their patients, instead of first and primarily recommending natural solutions to combat depression, as if these pills are a solution or cure to the underlying conditions causing depression. "Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups . . . ." Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry. "Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions," they added. About 6 percent of people were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996 -- 13 million people. This rose to more than 10 percent or 27 million people by 2005, these researchers found.
In the United States, a pill dependent culture is being created with the encouragement by many school officials, and many in the drug, medical and therapist communities to provide mood altering and anti-depressant drugs to boys and young men with high energy levels. Might these boys and young men be better served by being encouraged to funnel that energy into playing sports, play chess or study the sciences!
Studies have indicated that antidepressants do not cure depression or provide a remedy for the underlying conditions that cause depression, except in the most severe cases. Very recent research of efficacy trials submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that antidepressants are only "marginally efficacious" compared with placebo and "document profound publication bias that inflates their apparent efficacy."
Very recent studies have also found that Antidepressant medications offer significant benefit in the treatment of the severest depressive symptoms, but may have little or no therapeutic benefit in patients with mild to moderate depression — a population which accounts for most cases.
A purpose of this page is not to be critical of those taking antidepressants and antipsychotic medications, but to provide insight into natural alternatives to those that don't need them and to perhaps lessen the need/dosage for those that do.
Antidepressant's Harmful Side Effects
Most of these antidepressant, tranqualizers and mood altering pills:
1. DO NOT address the underlying reasons for the depression.
2. DUMB DOWN and depress the nervious system in many instances causing the patients senses to be less aware of reality. (How effective can one be in dealing with reality when dumbed down to it?)
3. HAVE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS including nausea, increased weight gain (due to disruption to their natural Metabolism), artherosclerosis, loss of sexual drive, insomnia, dry mouth, fatigue, agitation and anxiety. See Mayo Clinic on Antidepressant Side Effects. A new study indicates the use of antidepressants among mothers during the year before delivery increases the risk of Autism in their offspring 2-fold. There is a 3-fold increase in Autism in children with mothers taking antidepressants during the first trimester.
4. CAN CREATE DEPENDENCY and DO NOT help people be real and deal with life's challenges and stress.
Tips on Natural Treatment for Depression
I'm of the opinion, the above drugs should only be used as a very last resort to treat depression, anxiety, or insomnia which is severe and chronic, i.e. when the person's day to day functioning is badly affected and where the problem is not responsive to any other forms of treatment. Many times, however, prescription drugs are the first line of treatment and this often becomes an obstacle in the road to health, wellbeing and balance. When one becomes depressed the natural ways to fight depression should be considered. Here are a few good tips to Naturally fight depression:
1. Set Short and Long Term Goals
Define your purposes in life. Then set short and long term goals and a plan to accomplish these purposes.
2, Socialize and Build Meaningful Relationships
When you are depressed, you usually isolate yourself and avoid company. Mixing with people is not always what you feel like doing, but loneliness is one of the major causes of depression. Get out there and join the world! You may hate it at first, but do it anyway! It will ultimately help to uplift your spirits and you will not feel so alone. If you don't have a social circle, join one! Volunteer organizations, mothers' groups, churches, chess or sports clubs, hobbies and crafts are all good ideas. Take on a responsbility involving Leadership. Be creative! Try out different alternatives until you find something that you like. Don't give up!
3. Loneliness is a Natural State, but extended Loneliness causes Depression
There is a basic human need to connect and when that need is not met we can become lonely. Each of us are alone at a certain level. Through all phases of life we will experience loneliness. Loneliness is part of the human condition. Being lonely isn't bad for you, but staying lonely is.
Loneliness has repercussions on health and wellbeing and can cause sleep dysfunction and higher blood pressure.
Loneliness comes down to quality not quantity of friendships. It's not the number of relationships that impacts loneliness, but the quality of those relationships that determine whether you feel socially isolated.
In a quality way . . . . . Connect!
4. Have a Nutritious Diet
Eat healthy. New studies confirm a significant link between better quality diets and improved mental health, especially relating to depression and anxiety. Eat natural foods pack with nutrients captured from sun's energy like Vegetables and Fruits and Whole Grains. Some foods help to fight depression and anxiety. A carbohydrate rich diet helps the body produce serotonin - the 'feelgood' chemical. Special serotonin foods are oats, pasta, whole wheat, bananas and other carbohydrate rich foods. A cup of Milk before bedtime makes for a good night sleep and provides Brain Nutrition. Make sure you are getting your Vitamin D, Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and iron - a deficiency in any of these can lead to depression and anxiety-type symptoms and insomnia. Good hydration helps keep the body and the mind in balance.
Vitamine D Sources: The Sun, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, milk, eggs, liver, and cheese. See also Vitamin D Synthesis from the Sun and Food Sources
Vitamin B12 Sources: Mollusks, clams, liver, beef, yogurt, milk, eggs, chicken.
Vitamin B6 Sources: Potato, banana, garbanzo beans, chicken, oatmeal, beef spinach, salmon, wheat bran, peanut butter.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Researches have found a diet high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in fish play a key role in mental health. See also Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Niacin Sources: Chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, whole wheat bread, yeast, pasta, peanuts, lentils, and lima beans.
Folate Sources: Beef, liver, peas, pasta, spinach, asparagus, rice, broccoli, egg noodles, avocado, peanuts, wheat germ, tomato juice, orange juice, whole wheat bread, eggs, cantaloupe, papaya, and banana.
Iron Sources:Chicken livers, oysters, beef, Turkey, chicken, halibut, tuna, shrimp, pasta, oatmeal, soybeans, lentils, beans, molasses, spinach, peas, grits, raisins, whole wheat bread.
Magnesium Sources: Halibut, almonds, cashews, spinach, oatmeal, potato, peanuts, peas, yogurt, rice, lentils, avocado, beans, banana, milk, whole wheat bread, and raisins.
A traditional or whole diet characterized by vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and high-quality meat and fish may help prevent mental illness — specifically, depression and anxiety. Conversely, a Western diet high in refined or processed foods and saturated fats may increase the risk of depression, new research suggests.
5. Help Others
Step back, focus away from your concerns and needs for a moment and look around. Everyone has stress, challenges and is faced with adversity. Reach out to help others in need. There is an emotional aspect to gratitude which creates a desire to give to others. Giving to others connects you to others and your community.
6. Exercise and Get Outdoors
Regular sustained (at least an hour) of brisk aerobic exercise three times a week will help you realize Aerobic Health Benefits. Daily exercise is better if you are trying to beat depression. Cycling, Hiking, walking, Swimming, Running, dance, aerobics, etc. This aerobic exercise should be at a level to increase your heart rate. Exercise enhances and increases blood flow to each cell and to the vital organs bringing more oxygen and more nutrients to both and improves cell performance and organ function. Exercise strengthens metabolism, extends our life’s ‘battery’ and builds cell, organ and metabolic efficiency. Learning a sport builds confidence. Exercise makes us happy.
Keeping a Log encourages an Exercise Routine!
Being Outdoors and exploring nature is also a great way to relax, feel good, break from your routine, get Vitamin D and earn a good night sleep. Being in a hike in nature may be one of the best ways to brighten the spirit. Vitamin D deficiency is considered to be a contributing factor causing depression.
7. Simplify Your Life But Have Adventure, Challenge and Variety
If your depression is caused in part by having a complex life that causes worry, it's a good ideal to simplify your life. Extreme worry destroys health, damages the immune system and weakens the cardiovascular and nervous system. A simple life, and that does not mean a dull or boring life, is a life of lower worries and better worry management.
Take on a challenge. Challenge helps focus the mind. Add adventure to your routine. Routines get boring. I've found that one of the most ultimately relaxing experiences I've had is rock climbing. The intense but complete focus on the simple but important task of optimum hand and foot placement during times of some risk and danger unclutters the mind of all worry and distraction. I've experience real peace and clarity after rock climbing. This is not a recommendation for everyone to rock climb, as rock climbing is not meant for everyone. However, it is a good example of how taking on a challenge that requires some intense focus (it could be playing chess) has a way of clearing the mind of static.
8. Good Sleep Patterns
When we sleep well naturally (without drugs or pills), we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our daily activities. Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis. Sleep directly impacts our overall quality of life.
An average of regularly scheduled 8 hours of deep sleep each day is essential to reaping the full benefits of deep sleep. Good quantity and quality of sleep leaves our bodies and minds rejuvenated for the next day. Full sleep enables needed muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Full sleep enables us to be prepared to concentrate, make decisions, and be engaged fully in all our activities.
Lack of regular good sleep can cause depression and feelings of being overwhelmed. See 12 Tips to Good Sleep
9. Be Thankful for What You Have
All of us have things we can be thankful of. Taking stock of your strengths, abilities, and positive situation offers a foundation upon which you can think positively about yourself. From this positive foundation you can build upon a sense of appreciation and gratitude. With a sense of gratitude and thankfulness you can place in proper perspective feelings of dysfunction, anger, regret, loss, imbalance, misfortune and other negative emotions and thoughts. Adopting a sense of gratitude and thankfulness can be an excellent coping mechanism during stressful conditions. There is a power that comes from thankfulness and positive thinking.
10. Get Over it!
You are going to run into roadblocks and carry many negative thoughts. You know what these negative thoughts are. We all experience negative thoughts. But, Knock it off! Got over it and move on!
Be accountable for yourself. Pull your own strings.
11. Develop Relaxation skills
Relaxation techniques and meditation are easy to learn and are so effective in relieving stress, anxiety, and depression.
Meditation is a form of mental discipline that encompasses a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices, each emphasizing different goals. Developing meditation skills can be a good tool to fighting depression as mediation can help develop greater focus, creativity, better self-awareness, mental clarity and can improve brain chemistry. Certain breathing rhythm and techniques create relaxation. See Breathing Technique for Optimum Health
12. Smile and Laugh
Smile! Laugh! Laugh at yourself.
13. For Men: Keep Testosterone Levels Up!
There is considerable evidence of an association with depressive symptoms and low testosterone levels in men. See Amiaz, Kanayama, Pope, Seidman “Testosterone Supplementation for Depressed Men: Current Research and Suggested Treatment Guidelines” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2007, Vol. 15, No. 6, pages 529-538. See How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
14. Quit Smoking!
Mental illness and depression are associated with both higher rates of smoking and higher levels of smoking among smokers. Further, a significant proportion of smokers have mental illness or depression.<-- back to top
Articles on Depression
Implications of Marked Weight Gain Associated With Antipsychotic Medications in Children and Adolescents , Christopher K. Varley, MD and Jon McClellan, MD, JAMA
Children and adolesents experience substantial antipsychotic medication caused weight gain and adverse metabolic effects, with more than half gaining more than 7% of their total body weight.
Smoking and Mental Illness: Results From Population Surveys in Australia and the United States , David Lawrence; Francis Mitrou; Stephen R Zubrick, BMC Public Health
Antidepressants Linked to Increased Risk for Death, Stroke in Postmenopausal Women , Pam Harrison, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Medscape
Weight Gain in Relation to Major Depression and Antidepressant Medication Use , Patten SB, Medscape Medical News
Antidepressants May Only Be Effective in Treatment of the Severest Depression , Caroline Cassels, Medscape Medical News
Whole Diet May Ward Off Depression and Anxiety , Caroline Cassels, Medscape Medical News
Unintentional Drug Poisoning (overdose) Deaths: A National Epidemic
, Bret Stetka, MD, Medscape
Broad Review of FDA Trials Suggests Antidepressants Only Marginally Better than Placebo, Deborah Brauser, Medscape
Antidepressant Use Linked with Increased Artherosclerosis Measured by Carotoid IMT, Heartwire, Medscape
Mom's Antidepressant Use Linked to Autism Risk in Children, Psychiatry, Medscape
More Evidence Confirms Diet's Link to Mental Health, Caroline Cassels, Psychiatry, Medscape
Tricyclic Antidepressants Linked to Increased Cardiovascular Risk, Megan Brooks, Medscape