From Dr. Mercola:
Vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements not only have a significant amount of evidence supporting their use for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems typically treated with drugs, they also have an admirable safety record.
The same cannot be said for antidepressants, the side effects of which run the gamut from sexual dysfunction to lack of emotions or “emotional flatness,” sleep disturbances, brain damage, and even to suicide and homicide.
Antidepressants have also been shown to increase your chances of worsening depression, turning what is often a temporary condition into a lifelong struggle. One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression1 and 11 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 is on antidepressant medication.2
Considering the prevalence of depression and the risks associated with antidepressants, we really need to reevaluate how we approach this problem. Depression is undoubtedly a serious issue that should not be dismissed, but I urge you to consider your options before taking the drug route.
Antidepressants Are Not Science-Based Medicine
If you believe in following the recommendations of science-based medicine, you wouldn’t take an antidepressant. Studies have repeatedly shown that these drugs work no better than a placebo. As noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect:3
“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed, their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory.
But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect …
Analyzing the data we had found, we were not surprised to find a substantial placebo effect on depression. What surprised us was how small the drug effect was. Seventy-five percent of the improvement in the drug group also occurred when people were give dummy pills with no active ingredient in them.
The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”
FDA Data and Unpublished Trials Show Antidepressants Don’t Work
That 2014 paper is well worth reading if you still doubt the claim that antidepressants’ effectiveness is on par with placebo. The author, Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist who has performed a number of analyses on antidepressants.
In 2002, his team filed a Freedom of Information Act to request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking for the trial data provided by drug companies as part of the drug approval process. There were several benefits to using this data:
• FDA requires drug companies to provide data on all clinical trials they’ve sponsored, including unpublished trials. As it turned out, nearly half of all clinical trials on antidepressants had never been published.
Only 43 percent