Why Anti-Depressants Don’t Work & What You Can Do Instead

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.

1) Anti-Depressants Are Responsible for Many Annual Suicides

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 Europe[1]Antidepressants 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 ideation[2]Clinical 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!

2) Antidepressants May Promote a Lack of Motivation
In many instances, patients who are on anti-depressants report that they do not feel any emotions or motivation at all.

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 [3]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.

Possible Causes of Depression
One of the main problems with depression as a diagnosis is that it is often a symptom of a person’s current condition, instead of a life-long verdict. Depression is complicated and is usually the cause of many underlying factors.

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 depression[4]Depression.

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
  • Neurodegeneration
  • 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.

Antidepressant Alternatives
Before you decide to go on anti-depressants, there is a lot you ought to try first from natural supplements to lifestyle changes. Sometimes depression is just a symptom of a deeper problem, such as chronic inflammation or even mineral deficiency.

If you do not get results after a few months, then you ought to seek professional help.

1) Supplements
Some of the below supplements have helped people who suffer from depression, although the results will depend on what the cause of depression is.

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.

SAMe (or S-Adenosylmethionine) is a natural compound that can be found in almost every bodily tissue, including the brain. It’s needed to make all our body’s antioxidants, to detoxify our systems and has also been found to help those with clinical depression. In one study, SAMe helped improve depressive symptoms, cognitive function and remission rate of patients better than both antidepressants and placebo.
NAC (or N-Acetyl-Cysteine) is another natural precursor that the body needs to make Glutathione, an essential antioxidant for overall health and well-being. Glutathione is known to be depleted in patients with depression and the elderly. Several studies have shown positive effects for those with depression who are supplementing on NAC, with or without the use of antidepressants.
Saffron is possibly the world’s most expensive spice – and for good reasons! Saffron extract has been found to contain a myriad of health benefits, from neuro-protection to hormone regulation. Some studies showed that saffron extract yielded promising results, being as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression without the adverse side effects. Saffron also appears to reduce anxiety and helps improve symptoms of chronic stress.
2) Optimal Nutrition
Many people are not eating proper nutrition and this is leading to a rise in depression and many other lifestyle diseases.

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.

a. Probiotics
Probiotic bacteria are important for overall health and well-being. Many people have compromised gut health and do not eat enough probiotic foods.

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.

b. Trace Minerals, Vitamins & Green Foods
Eating lots of green vegetables that are high in fiber and magnesium are critical for good mental 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!

The fulvic acid component of Shilajit is especially fabulous as it helps these nutrients get absorbed more efficiently and takes them directly into our cells, particularly the DNA. It has also been shown that fulvic acid swaps out beneficial minerals with toxins that impair the function of our cells before moving out our system, thereby effectively detoxing free radicals and other harmful compounds from the body.
Vitamin D3 is needed for our body to maintain a healthy immune function, proper growth, bone development, sleep, hormone production, and a good mood! Depression has been linked with Vitamin D3 deficiency and is in general, becoming one of the most widespread deficiencies on the planet.
B Vitamins help us to detox, keep our nervous system healthy and give us energy. Particularly vitamin B12, B9, and B6 are crucial when looking at depression, as each of these is heavily associated with nervous system health and producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, which help us to feel happy. Take in the morning after food.

It is important to take vitamin B6 in it’s active form (P-5-P) for the best results.

c. Colorful Antioxidants
Antioxidants are very important to promote a functioning health immune system and to help protect against stress.

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.

Tumeric has very potent antioxidant properties, owing to the substance that makes it yellow known as curcumin. Be sure to take it with black pepper to enhance it’s absorption in the body.
Cacao beans are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, as well as many building blocks for feeling good such as anandamides, Tryptophan and Tryptamine.

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.

d. Healthy Fats
Last, but not least, you need to be eating the right fats for optimal brain health. Without adequate fat intake, the brain and nervous system do not function very well, and so the transmission of our feel-good chemicals may become problematic.

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain health, and yet many people do not get enough of them in their diets. Fish, omega-3 supplements, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are all excellent sources of omega-3’s.

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.

The only oil you should focus on for heating purposes is coconut oil, which appears to have the highest smoking point than any other beneficial oil.
Olive oil is the best oils for raw applications, such as salad dressings, as it has many beneficial properties for protecting the brain and has been shown to improve cognition.
3) Learning New Things
Learning new things forces the brain to make new neural connections, which improves neurogenesis and neuroplasticity – two things that are often compromised in depressed individuals.

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.

4) Exercise
As Dr. Holland mentions, exercise is very important for beating depression. It’s also a requirement for better mental health and overall well-being.

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!

5) Meditation & Controlling Stress
Meditation is a great practice for reducing stress and improving empathy.

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.

Enhance your focus, reduce stress, and get a grip on how you perceive the world through learning how to meditate!

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 exercise[5]Can 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!

6) Keeping Your Hormones In Balance
If your hormones are out of balance, then your emotions and feelings will also be.

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!

7) Fostering Healthy Relationships
Another silent killer within society is isolation and loneliness. A lot of people report feeling alone which causes stress and contributes to depression.

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.

Some people find it beneficial to use a journal to write down their emotions and reflect upon their reactions.

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.



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