Today on Mad in America is a post that details for the layperson a published scholarly article that reviews the literature on SSRI antidepressants. These are issues that exist with this widely prescribed class of drugs that every MD should be telling their patients. I’ve excerpted a piece of the beginning of the article and then each of the HEADINGS of the critique. You need to go read the details at Mad in America. The list included in that post is, sadly, only a very partial list of the problems associated with antidepressants. So no, these are not safe medications. Many of us were prescribed them without being given a choice since we were told they were safe.
Antidepressant medication is the most commonly prescribed treatment for people with depression. They are also commonly prescribed for other conditions, including bipolar depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain syndromes, substance abuse and anxiety and eating disorders. According to a 2011 report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every ten people (11%) over the age of 12 in the US is on antidepressant medications. Between 2005 and 2008, antidepressants were the third most common type of prescription drug taken by people of all ages, and they were the most frequently used medication by people between the ages of 18 and 44. In other words, millions of people are prescribed antidepressants and are affected by them each year.
The conventional wisdom is that antidepressant medications are effective and safe. However, the scientific literature shows that the conventional wisdom is flawed. While all prescription medications have side effects, antidepressant medications appear to do more harm than good as treatments for depression. We reviewed this evidence in a recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (freely available here).
The widespread use of antidepressants is a serious public health problem, and it raises a number of ethical and legal issues for prescribers (physicians, nurse practitioners).
Antidepressants are only moderately effective during treatment and relapse is common
The risk of relapse is increased after antidepressant medication has been discontinued
Antidepressants may increase the risks of breast cancer, but may protect against brain cancers
Antidepressants may cause cognitive decline
Antidepressants are associated with impaired gastrointestinal functioning
Antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction and have adverse effects on sperm quality
Antidepressant use is associated with developmental problems (babies born to mom’s on antidepressants)
Antidepressant use is associated with an increased risk of abnormal bleeding and stroke
Antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of death in older people
Antidepressants have many negative effects on older people (read the details of the above list here)
Other “pesky” problems I’ve seen among people on these meds? Well, there are lots of them. The most damning, of course, is that some significant minority of folks get severe withdrawal syndromes. In some cases withdrawal syndromes can last for several years causing extreme disability. Earlier today I also mentioned that SSRI antidepressants impair the capacity to drive safely. Sadly the list could go on and on. Contrary to what we’ve been told these are not harmless drugs. NO NO NO. They are not.
There are many alternatives to using these medications. If you’re unfamiliar with the many sorts of ways to support your life, mind and body and spirit please visit the drop-down menu navigation system at the top of this blog. Get some ideas that might work for you.
I posted the below video on Beyond Meds a while back and thought I would share it again. It’s one of the authors of the paper and this featured article speaking: Paul W. Andrews