Antidepressants Do More Bad than Good

In Featured Article, Health Warning

Someone you love seems different all of a sudden. They’re sad all the time. They may even be clinically depressed. What do you do to help this person?

Your first reaction is to run to the doctor. And his first response may be antidepressants.  After all, US doctors wrote 189 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2005 alone.

But here’s the really depressing news: antidepressants don’t work.

What’s even worse… the drug makers and the FDA have duped us into thinking that they do.

A brand new study – published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine – shows that drug makers only publish the studies that promote benefits — and none which don’t.

“As a physician, this is frightening to me,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, a Massachusetts physician who serves on the Board of Advisors of Georgetown University. “Depression is among the most common problems in medicine and soon will be the second leading cause of disability in this country.”

The fact that drug manufacturers only publish the positive results “warps our view of antidepressants, leading us to think that they work,” says Dr. Hyman. It has also “fueled the use of psychiatric meds. These are now the second leading class of drugs sold.”

Antidepressants Are Big Business

Have no doubt: depression is big business. Women have up to a 25 percent risk of suffering severe depression during their lifetime. Men have up to a 12 percent risk.

And antidepressants are where the money is. According to the federal government the use of these drugs has tripled in the last 10 years.  Spending on these drugs soared by 130 percent in 2006. By 2008, the American people were spending $12 billion on them each year.  

The New England Journal of Medicine study shows these drugs are no more effective than a placebo. In fact, they can do a great deal of harm.

“Just because antidepressants are popular doesn’t mean they’re helpful,” says Dr. Hyman. “Unfortunately, as we now see from this report, they don’t work and have significant side effects.”

Studies show that antidepressants may:

  • Cause potentially life-threatening irregular heartbeat.
  • Cause urinary retention.
  • Cause uncomfortable dry mouth.
  • Be destructive.
  • Be disabling.
  • Increase suicide risk and the risk of suicidal behaviors.
  • Result in emotional numbness.

“Eighty-six percent of people taking antidepressants have one or more side effects,” says Dr. Hyman. “These include sexual dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, loss of mental abilities, nausea, and weight gain.”

Duped by Antidepressants

Drug companies don’t have to publish all the results of their studies. They only publish those they want to.

The team of researchers that reported their findings in The New England Journal of Medicine took a serious look at all the studies done on antidepressants, both published and unpublished. They dug up some disturbing stuff …

The unpublished studies were not easy to find. Researchers tracked down all the studies used in the drug trials. They combed FDA databases, called researchers, and used the Freedom of Information Act to seize hidden data. Their findings were shocking.

They looked at all 74 studies conducted. These involved 12 drugs and over 12,000 people. They found that 37 out of 38 trials with good results were published.

But just 14 out of 36 negative studies saw the light of day.

In other words, good results were almost always published… while two-thirds of the bad ones were never released. The researchers said that the bad results that were published were done so “in a way that conveyed a positive outcome.”

They also concluded that antidepressants were only slightly more effective than a placebo.

“That means the results were twisted to imply the drugs worked when they didn’t,” says Dr. Hyman.

The knowledge that antidepressants aren’t particularly effective is nothing new. Other studies support this finding. You just have to know where to look for them.

A review published in 2001 looked at clinical trials between 1987 and 1997 and found:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants were only 12 percent more effective than placebo.
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) were only eight percent more effective than placebo.

Another review in 2002 found that in 69 percent of studies there was no difference between a placebo and antidepressants.

“That leaves us with a big problem,” says Dr. Hyman. “Millions of depressed people are being offered no effective treatments by most conventional practitioners.”

“Taking [drugs] is not the answer to our mental health epidemic,” he says. “The cure lies in rebalancing the systems in your body.”

Dr. Hyman has some advice on five drug-free tools you can use to fight depression.

5 Tools to Fight Depression without Drugs

  1. Take vitamin D. Deficiency in this essential vitamin can lead to depression. Supplement with at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day.
  2. Take omega-3 fats. Your brain is made of up this fat, and deficiency can lead to a host of problems. Supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 mg of purified fish oil a day.
  3. Take adequate B12 (1,000 micrograms, or mcg, a day), B6 (25 mg) and folic acid (800 mcg). These vitamins are critical for metabolizing homocysteine, which can play a factor in depression.
  4. Get checked for mercury. Heavy metal toxicity has been correlated with depression and other mood and neurological problems.
  5. Exercise vigorously five times a week for 30 minutes. This increases levels of BDNF, a natural antidepressant in your brain.

For more information on how you can fight depression without drugs, check out the latest edition of our in-depth health advisory publication, Natural Health Dossier. Each month we publish a full report on one specific area of health, complete with comprehensive research and cutting-edge cures. And every issue is rigorously researched… reporting on what the best doctors in the industry are currently doing.

Past issues have investigated diabetes… prostate cancer… and weight gain. And this month’s edition digs into depression and examines specific, drug-free methods you can use to improve your emotional and mental health.

To get the latest information on all these health issues and more, you can sign up for our Natural Health Dossier health advisory service here.

To your health,

Ian's signature
Ian Robinson,
Managing Editor, Natural Health Dossier “Health Watch”