Surprising reason antidepressantsoften don’t work

Volume 6    |    Issue 11

There are over 254 million prescriptions written for antidepressants every year. But 80% of those prescriptions were written by primary care doctors, not psychiatrists. And most of them were not written for any specific psychiatric diagnosis. That means that as many as 80% of antidepressant prescriptions are not treating clinical depression.

As shocking as those numbers are, the news for antidepressants gets even worse. In recent years, more and more of these drugs are not working. Researchers are finding that the drugs work as well as the placebo effect, which means they're no more effective than a sugar pill.

What's more, the antidepressants that do have some effect are easily "turned off" by other drugs, making them useless. A new study recently found that a common anti-inflammatory drug shuts down the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

The study found the drug interaction was quite strong. When people took the antidepressants without anti-inflammatories, the SSRIs reduced depression in more than half of the participants. But when they took the anti-inflammatories, significantly more people continued to suffer from depression. This could be one reason why so many antidepressants don't work (though most don't work even in clinical trials). A lot of people over the age of 40 take anti-inflammatories for arthritis, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.

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The big question is whether natural anti-inflammatories will have the same effect. We just don't know. There aren't any studies on this subject yet. However, both antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs have side effects. So it's best to stay off of both — or get off if you've already started. If you're taking antidepressants, find a doctor who will help wean you off of them. (Don't just stop taking them, as withdrawal symptoms can be severe.)

Remember, 80% of those who take antidepressants don't have clinical depression. A psychiatrist will diagnose clinical depression when the person doesn't know why they're depressed. According to the Mayo Clinic, Clinical depression "isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder." If you know why you're depressed, it's likely there are better ways to treat the issue.

Consider taking a natural antidepressant, such as 5-HTP. It can work particularly well. This amino acid increases seratonin levels naturally. You also can try tryptophan, SAM-e, and St. John's wort. These nutrients often can help treat clinical depression, as well as less severe forms. Talk to an integrative physician who can help you determine which ones will work best for you. And don't take them with the SSRIs, as they could have negative interactions or side effects.

And if you need a natural anti-inflammatory, try Reduloxin. It has turmeric, rosemary, and celery seed, which I've found to be very effective at lowering systemic inflammation.

Your insider for better health,


Mark T et al., Psychiatric Svcs, 2009 Sept. 60:1167

Warner-Schmidta, Jennifer L., Kimberly E. Vanoverb, Emily Y. Chena, John J. Marshalla, and Paul Greengard. "Antidepressant effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are attenuated by anti-inflammatory drugs in mice and humans," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104836108, 2011.

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