Are antidepressants treating the wrong problem?

September 15, 2012
Volume 2    |   Issue 72
I’ve never been a fan of antidepressants. To me, depression is like pain – it’s a symptom that something is wrong. While there are some cases of pain where treating the symptom is your best option, that’s rarely the case with depression. In almost every case of depression, it’s far better to treat the cause than the symptom.

This is especially true if the treatment (antidepressants) causes severe side effects, such as increased suicidal tendencies. That’s reason enough to be against these drugs. But a new study suggests all those billions of antidepressants Americans take are treating the wrong problem.

You see, most antidepressants work by increasing the neurotransmitters in your brain. The thinking is that a low-level of neurotransmitters causes the depression. Few have asked why the neurotransmitters are low. And even fewer have asked what happens when you artificially ramp up neurotransmitters without addressing the underlying cause. The results are terrible, even deadly side effects.

Fortunately, some researchers finally looked for an underlying cause of depression. (Please note that I’m talking about depression that has a physical cause. Some types of depression have emotional and/or spiritual causes that have a different treatment than I’m addressing here.)

In this study, the researchers start out by saying that less than “two-thirds of depressed patients achieve remission” using antidepressants. That’s because the drugs treat the wrong problem. These researchers found that the underlying physical cause of depression is inflammation.

The researchers said there are many causes of this inflammation, including “lower peptidase activities (dipeptidyl-peptidase IV, DPP IV), lower omega-3 polyunsaturated levels, and an increased gut permeability (leaky gut).” Most of their discovery came from lab studies in petri dishes and mice. Now they’re looking for more proof in humans.

While most antidepressants have specific anti-inflammatory effects, which explain why some of them do work, they typically don’t address the correct cause of inflammation. So the effect is temporary at best. It reduces inflammation while you take the drug, but it will return once you stop taking it. It isn’t a bad idea to reduce the inflammation, but there are safer ways to do so. And you’re still not addressing the cause.

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If you really want to treat depression, you have to find the underlying cause of inflammation. Of course, the most common cause is a poor diet. So cleaning up your diet is the first place to start. This is hard when you’re depressed, as you’re looking for comfort foods. But these will only make the condition worse.

You also need to make sure you’re taking a good fish oil product, such as Daily Omega, to treat one of the potential underlying causes of the inflammation. I also think it’s a good idea to take a supplement that helps reduce inflammation in general, as it will aid in the healing process. Reduloxin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can safely reduce inflammation without the side effects of antidepressants.

Your Insider for better health,

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.


Metab Brain Dis. 2009 Mar;24(1):27-53. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

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