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​It’s a cruel irony that the traditional mood-disorder medications which are supposed to heal people can actually end up harming them, or inducing them to harm themselves. In a growing trend, more people are choosing to opt out of the antidepressant cycle as the cons seem to outweigh the pros.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a medical professional and cannot provide medical advice. And I’m certainly not advising that anyone should take or stop taking a medication without consulting a qualified doctor first.

But I can do what every informed citizen can and should do: read the data and decide for yourself whether the traditional-medicine regime really has your best interests in mind. After all, the corporate giants that produce today’s most popular antidepressants are, first and foremost, in the business of making money.

Tragically, the doctors we trust the most are sometimes part of the problem. Dr. Allen Frances, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University, observed in his experience that “Most people are put on these drugs in primary care, after a very brief visit and without clear symptoms of clinical depression.”

Dr. Frances added that “Usually there’s improvement, and often it’s based on the passage of time or placebo effect.” This can hook people into thinking that their medications are working and that they should keep on taking them, perhaps with no known endpoint.

Plus, doctors don’t always make sure that their patients read the fine print when it comes to contraindications and side effects. It’s not at all unusual for patients’ quality of life to decline after starting a traditional antidepressant regimen.

Courtesy: Psychiatric Times

Some people who take prescription antidepressants report emotional flatness, suggesting that the medication is eliminating not just the sad feelings but the happy ones too. And one source suggested that up to 65% of patients given antidepressants experienced “jitteriness,” defined as a worsening of anxiety, agitation, and irritability.

But it doesn’t end there as the health risks can run much deeper than emotional flatness or jitteriness. Alarmingly, research published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that patients who used antidepressants had a 14% greater risk of strokes and heart attacks and a 33% higher risk of death.

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As patients age, the risks only tend to increase. There are studies linking traditional antidepressant use among older adults with falls, fractures, and dementia. Yet, despite all of this, these antidepressants are grossly overprescribed. One study actually found that no psychiatric diagnosis was reported in 73% of health-care visits in which antidepressants were prescribed.

Potentially dangerous as they may be, it’s hard to find credible and convincing research proving that traditional antidepressants even work at all. Shockingly, one study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry revealed that “antidepressants are largely ineffective and potentially harmful.”

That study also exposed what could only be described as a glaring conflict of interest when Big Pharma funds its own so-called research: “The estimated efficacy of pharmaceutical products is significantly higher when the research was funded by the industry compared to non-industry funding.”

Courtesy: Science Direct

Making matters worse is the difficulty of getting off of prescription antidepressants once they’ve got you hooked on them. The withdrawal symptoms, much like what you might encounter with illicit hard-core drugs, can include nausea, nightmares, and anxiety.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Addictive Behaviors concluded that 61% of antidepressant users reported withdrawal effects, with 44% of that subgroup describing the effects as severe. That study also found addiction to antidepressants startlingly prevalent, with 40% of participants reporting addiction and 39% of this subgroup describing their addiction as severe.

The further we look into these apparent mood-disorder solutions, the worse it seems to get. One systematic meta-analysis encompassing a total of 87,650 patients found that “A significant increase in the odds of suicide attempts… was observed for patients receiving SSRIs [traditional antidepressants] compared with placebo.”

In other words, people were more likely to attempt suicide when they were taking traditional antidepressants. It’s truly disturbing to consider that a widely prescribed treatment for depression could cost some people their lives.

The answer to this problem, ultimately, is to promote awareness and support the discovery of alternative treatments. Society is going to have to start looking outside of costly, overprescribed, and potentially addictive medications if the issue of depressive disorders is going to be addressed safely, transparently, and without corporate interests creating their usual havoc.

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