From Dr. Mercola:

Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed class of medication other than antibiotics, taken by more than 1 in 10 Americans (and 1 in 4 among women aged 50 to 64).1

Many assume that such pills are the best available treatment for symptoms of depression, but in fact the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small — and both are ineffective for most depressed patients.2

In a meta-analysis published in PLOS Medicine, only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all and that response was quite minimal.3 This lack of effectiveness must be taken into consideration along with the drugs’ side effects — of which there are many.

Antidepressants May Increase Your Risk of Bipolar Disorder

If you’re considering the use of antidepressants, it’s probably because you want to feel better. However, antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may leave you with a new set of mental challenges, specifically symptoms of mania or bipolar disorder.

SSRIs include drugs such as Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro. Researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience reviewed more than 21,000 medical records for the recently published study.4

Those prescribed antidepressants had a slightly increased risk of developing mania and bipolar disorder. The risk increased by more than 30 percent for those prescribed SSRIs or another antidepressant called Effexor.

The study was observational, which means it can’t prove that antidepressants caused the increased risk; however, the results suggest risk factors for mania should be considered when treating people with depression.

Antidepressants During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

It’s estimated that 14 percent of U.S. pregnant women use antidepressants,5 often after being assured they are safe. But a growing collection of research suggests serious caution is warranted.

Most recently, a JAMA Pediatrics study concluded that use of antidepressants, specifically SSRIs, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, even after considering maternal depression.6

After reviewing data from pregnancies in Quebec from 1998 through 2009, antidepressant use during the second or third trimester was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of autism.

The use of SSRIs was associated with double the risk of autism in the child, while the use of two or more antidepressants increased the risk more than four-fold.

SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake (movement back into the nerve endings) of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This makes more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood.

However, serotonin is involved in fetal brain development, particularly during the second and third trimesters, so manipulating it with SSRIs could be posing a problem. The drugs are also known to cross the placental barrier and reach the fetus.

The use of antidepressants among pregnant women more than doubled between 1999 and 2003, while the prevalence of autism also increased, from 0.04 percent in 1966 to about 1 percent in 2015.7

Susan Hyman, a former chairperson

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