Data is beginning to suggest that anti-depressants are one of the silent killers within Western societies, which begs the question: do we really need them? In the below video, Dr. Julie Holland explains how these drugs work and why it might be better to look for alternatives to solve the problem.
Dr. Julie Holland – Big Think – Antidepressants Make it Harder to Empathize, Harder to Climax, and Harder to Cry
The Truth About Anti-Depressants
While many people have benefited from the use of anti-depressants, research in the last decade has found some rather alarming data in regards to the side effects of these drugs.
A handful of scientists and doctors are starting to think that antidepressants are not something that should be prescribed casually to correct this condition, as doing so can bear severe consequences. A lack of empathy, an inability to climax and difficulty expressing emotions is only the beginning of what happens when we start to interfere with our neurology in such a radical way.
Below are other ways in which anti-depressants can affect our brain health.
As mentioned in the above video, as well as in numerous research papers, anti-depressants are linked to increasing levels of suicide throughout the US and EuropeAntidepressants and suicide risk in depression.
It was previously thought that they prevented suicides; however, it is now being reported in case-studies, all over the world that they may be causing more suicides than they prevent.
As Prof. Peter Gotzsche distresses above, the previous estimates of anti-depressant-related suicides are far too conservative. According to his research, there are actually 10-15 times more deaths related to taking these drugs than what has been previously reported.
Other research also draws a direct correlation between anti-depressants and suicidal thoughts on a genetic level. Out of 131 patients who were on anti-depressants, one study revealed that these drugs switched on genes that were directly linked with depression and suicidal ideationClinical and genetic correlates of suicidal ideation during antidepressant treatment in a depressed outpatient sample.
Many people want to take anti-depressants to avoid having these negative thoughts and feelings, yet it would seem that in many cases, these drugs are having the opposite effect. This defeats the purpose of what these drugs were intended for in the first place!
The drugs seem to emotionally flat-line a person, which will do away with both negative and positive emotions. However, without experiencing our feelings naturally, life can seem very dull.
Furthermore, these patients also report a sense of apathy, indifference or lack of motivation. This in itself can prevent people from socializing, yielding trust in others, developing healthy relationships or pushing forward to accomplishing goals, which may ultimately lead to a lack of fulfilment in one’s life SSRI-Induced Indifference.
While not feeling anything at all technically does away with the emotional side of depression, it does not solve the underlying problem that caused the depression in the first place.
If you have been diagnosed with depression, it may be related to another condition, such as chronic inflammation or a lifestyle disease. Those who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, strokes, bipolar disorders, etc, are more likely to suffer from depressionDepression.
In healthier individuals, severe stresses are the number one cause of depression, such as trauma, losing your spouse, long periods of isolation or having a very stressful job, etc.
Any kind of intense stress in the long term contributes to a weakened immune system, less bodily antioxidants, less available nutrients, energy depletion, and even neurotransmitter imbalances.
Other problems associated with the onset of depression include:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Imbalanced neurotransmitter profiles
- Impaired neurogenesis and neuroplasticity
- Mineral deficiency
- Problems with insulin and blood sugar levels
If you are depressed and suffer from any of the above problems too, then there is a lot you can implement that may help you.
If you do not get results after a few months, then you ought to seek professional help.
5HTP and L-Tryptophan are both precursors to Serotonin, which means that we need them to make serotonin naturally in the body. If you struggle to make serotonin because you lack either of these precursors, then supplementing with them may provide some relief.
Make sure you are eating a large portion of leafy green vegetables every day, a healthy mix of fruits and nuts, a good dose of probiotic foods, as well as drinking enough water! It is also important to include a healthy ratio of fats and protein in your diets.
Without a healthy probiotic balance in our guts, we do not absorb nutrients properly from our food. The bacteria in the gut also naturally produce vital neurotransmitters in the right proportions, such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, all of which are ideal for somebody who is feeling depressed.
Here are some great probiotic supplements and foods you can add to your diet for better absorption and overall health.
Magnesium is a cofactor for more than 300 chemical reactions that take place in our body and a deficiency in this trace mineral is naturally linked to depression. Magnesium also happens to be one of the world’s most significant nutritional deficiencies as modern farming techniques and food processing are decreasing the amount we should be getting from our diets.
Magnesium-L-Threonate is one of the best forms of magnesium for mental health as it has a high absorbability, crosses the blood-brain barrier and reaches the sites of the brain that need it most.
Shilajit is a fantastic trace mineral supplement that has every trace mineral the body needs for optimizing its health and more!
Particular antioxidants found in colorful foods are especially great for brain health and fighting the onset of depression, particularly if related to stress or inflammation.
Berries are also a rich source of protective antioxidants. All the compounds that give them their dark red, blue or black color as well as their flavor are good for you and your mood!
Green Tea has a lot of fantastic antioxidant compounds which are also known to reduce stress and keep a person calm.
The oil you cook with should also not be too high in omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats or trans-fatty acids. Avoid using canola, sunflower oil, or margarine as these can increase inflammation in the body.
Instead opt for healthy plant-based oils that are unsaturated fats like olive oil or are medium-chain saturated fats, like coconut oil; both of which help the nervous system function better.
A lot of people anecdotally report feeling more alive when they are learning a new skill or new information. Even reading this article can help if it covers things you previously did not know!
Art therapy or learning a new musical instruments are both new skills that can help you to feel more fulfilment in your life while enhancing neuroplasticity at the same time.
Numerous studies have reported that people who exercise tend to be less depressed on average. In trials done on rats, the rats that led stationary lifestyles tended to be more neurotic and withdrawn than ones that were given the means to exercise.
Exercise also releases endorphins, which make us feel good!
Research shows that when one meditates, new neural connections form that shrink the wiring in the stress centers of the brain and rather focus on growing the connections in all other faculties.
Many people benefit further from meditation as it controls their stress levels, even in some cases reducing blood pressure. If the cause of your depression came from a major stressful event that occurred in your life, then meditation is likely to be critical to your recovery.
Some of the research suggests that Tai Chi elicits many of the same structural responses in the brain as seen in both meditation and physical exerciseCan Taichi Reshape the Brain? A Brain Morphometry Study. Knowing this, one could practice both meditation and exercise at the same time using Tai Chi as a means to tie it all together.
If you are interested in learning Tai Chi, the best way is to find a practitioner in your area. If you can’t do that so easily, however, then here are some great instructional DVDs to get you going!
The fine balance between estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, DHEA, and cortisol (the “stress” hormone) play a big role in how one feels.
If you find yourself having radical mood swings which lead to episodes of depression, go to your local doctor and ask them to do a blood test with a hormonal panel. They will often only test either testosterone or estrogen, depending on whether you are male or female, but you should insist on looking at the whole lot.
Work from there to correct the balance of hormones. This might resolve depression if it was the cause in the first place.
Your doctor will likely prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) if you are deficient in any of the above hormones. It is a good idea to opt for bioidentical hormones when undergoing this process as opposed to synthetically derived hormones.
Here are a few natural supplements that can also help to balance your hormonal profile in conjunction with treatment.
Maca is brilliant for both men and women in terms of helping to balance the hormones and lowering stress levels.
For men or women with low testosterone, DHEA is good for helping to naturally boost testosterone without interfering with the balance of hormones.
Siberian Rhubarb and Pregnenolone are both fantastic for women with hormonal imbalances, working to correct the balance of progesterone, estrogen and more!
Some studies have revealed that feeling alone, alienated or isolated from the world can be worse for your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes!
In light of this, relationships with those close to you should be a priority for your mental health and theirs. It’s important to schedule social events and keep communication lines open between you and your friends, family, partners and loved ones.
In doing so, it can be easier to rationalize disputes you’re having with someone and to consolidate your feelings. Studies have also shown that writing down your feelings helps to offload stress, which can lighten any load you may be carrying.