The Risk of Using Antidepressants

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If depression is potentially adaptive, should antidepressants be prescribed as the first line of treatment? We have conducted an evolutionary analysis of the effects of antidepressant medications (published in Frontiers in Psychology) in order to better understand whether this type of treatment is effective or actually harmful. Nearly all commonly prescribed antidepressant medications perturb serotonin – an ancient chemical found in plants, fungi and animals that regulates many major body processes, such as mood, attention, digestive functioning, the clotting process, neuronal growth and death, and reproductive functioning. We have found that antidepressant medications have adverse health effects on each of these adaptive processes, degrading the overall functioning of the body. Antidepressant use is associated with an increased risk of:

  • Death in the elderly
  • Development problems in infants
  • Problems with sexual stimulation and function, and sperm development in adults
  • Digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating
  • Abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly

We have also found that the discontinuation of antidepressant medication leads to a higher risk of relapse compared to not taking antidepressants at all. Antidepressants attempt to reduce depressive symptoms by altering the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. However, the brain actually pushes back against antidepressant medications; after ceasing antidepressant therapy, this pressure causes an overshoot of symptoms, corresponding to a greater risk of relapse. By perturbing the important neurotransmitters in the brain that affect all major processes, people can become stuck in a cycle where they have to continue taking the drugs to prevent this surge of symptoms.

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