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Do Antidepressants Do More Harm than Good?

In half of depression cases, medication may delay recovery. Other treatment options are often far more effective.

About 50 percent of patients who stop taking their antidepressant drugs wind up experiencing a symptom relapse within 6-18 months. Practitioners often point to this as a justification to encourage continual medication.

Antidepressants vs. Placebos

In large scale studies, antidepressants were no more effective than placebos. It’s very easy to meet with a family doctor for a few minutes and come away with a prescription for a depression or anxiety medication. Amen Clinics is not anti-medication, but we are opposed to the indiscriminate prescription of antidepressants – there are more effective alternatives.

What Research Says

Numerous studies in the U.S. and Europe have indicated that antidepressants, rather than preventing, can cause repeated bouts of depression. Non-medicated depressed patients tend to experience a higher reduction in symptoms after six months when compared to medicated patients. Those who weren’t given medication were much less likely to relapse too, even after several years.

Why Would Non-Medicated Patients Experience a More Solid Recovery?

Dr. Amen, and a growing group of concerned psychiatrists, point to the possibility that antidepressants may interfere with the brain’s own ability to restore itself. While on the medication, certain neuro-circuits adapt to the presence of the synthetic chemical. Stopping the medication, like any drug cessation, causes withdrawal. In many cases, that leaves the brain much more susceptible to another downward slump.

So, begins a long-term cycle of medication, stopping medication, and feeling depressed again. This is only the tip of the iceberg in the over-prescription issue. Not only are too many prescriptions written, there are many cases where the wrong drug is prescribed. There are seven types of anxiety and depression and SSRIs are appropriate for only one.

When practitioners don’t understand the sub-types of anxiety and depression, they can wrongly prescribe medications. SSRIs make symptoms worse for many of the anxiety and depression types. The results are devastating for patients who thought they did the right thing by getting help.

One can only speculate on why the mental health industry continues to over-prescribe. Perhaps it seems more convenient and less time-consuming than acquiring a more accurate diagnosis and developing a complete treatment strategy.

What are the Alternatives to Over-Prescription?

Successful treatment begins with requiring much more than the typical ten-minute conversation with a practitioner. The Amen Clinics Method utilizes a “4 Circles Approach” intake assessment that is comprehensive and intensive. The process inquires about biological, psychological, social, and spiritual life history.

In a Full Evaluation, the intake and clinical history are paired with SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) neuroimaging to literally look at the patient’s brain. Brain SPECT scans reveal areas of excessively high or low activity, as well as regions that are and are not working well.

When Medication is Needed

When medication is deemed an appropriate choice, it’s very carefully matched to the specific anxiety/depression type. For instance, natural products that increase serotonin levels are not appropriate for everyone. So even a holistic approach needs to be grounded on a solid diagnosis.

We Can Help

Our Full Evaluation is designed to address your unique needs and develop targeted treatment options. For more information on scheduling an appointment with Amen Clinics, call 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.

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COMMENTS

  1. Vicki says:

    I am very interested in this theory as I have been on this roller coaster of antidepressants for almost 30 years. Last year I ended up in the hospital and received 14 ECT treatments.

    The question is how can and ordinary, middle income person afford your clinic/program? None are close so there is the expense of travel plus the charges incurred. Any suggestions?
    Thank you,
    Vicki

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Vicki, we can have a Care Coordinator reach out to you via email to discuss options for treatment further. Thank you for reaching out to us.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Very compelling information. My adult son is severely compromised and unable to sustain meaningful employment. He lives with me and has constant suicidal ideations. He begs for help yet declines tradional treatment options because medications have done more harm than good. Your program would be a possible beacon of hope but is cost prohibitive. Are there any other options at all. We are desperate.

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Elizabeth, thank you for reaching out to us. We’d be happy to have a Care Coordinator reach out to you to discuss your son’s symptoms in more detail and offer treatment options for you.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi integrative drs can do a gut neurotransmitter test for about $150 to see what supplements would be best for him. I did that and also read Dr Amens book about ADD-Change your Brain and that helped me tweak supplements. I finally went to the Amen clinic for a partial SPECT scan to save money and find specific arcs that would suit me so now I know what specific prescriptions are best for me if I can’t afford my supplements.

  3. Jane Wright says:

    I have emailed you several times requesting information on the procedure and cost of admitting my grandson to your clinic. He has, beginning at age 8, had several head injuries. He has been diagnosed recently (at the age of 37) as bi-polar. He was prescribed invega (the shot that supposedly last a month) and is not taking seroquel and lamictal. Nothing seems to relieve his depression and anxiety. The seroquel does help him sleep, but he says he feels ‘weighed down’ when he wakes up. He has no insurance and is unable to work (since about April 2018) I am able to help his to some extent, but I have already spent fully half of my savings. I’m willing to spend the other half if he can get some real help. He is going to apply for disability if he can get up enough energy to drive to the nearest town with a social security office. Can you please respond?

    • Amen Clinics says:

      Hello Jane, thank you for reaching out and letting us know. We will have a Care Coordinator reach out to you right away via email. Our direct line is 888-288-9834.

  4. Arnetha Booth says:

    I am feeling neglected and rejected in the cycle of care treatment (variety of meds to function). I want to wake up and live my best quality of life now.
    I attended a talk seminar a couple of months ago with Dr Amen.
    I need to know the best method of discontinuing cymbalta welbutrin gabapentin respiratdone and armodofinal as a way of functioning.

  5. Elizabeth Smith says:

    I never felt deep depression until I started on lexapro for anxiety/unrelenting panic. I believe it saved my life at the time…but long term, the depression and lack of feelings set in. I understand why people commit suicide while on these drugs or while coming off them.
    Luckily, I knew enough about these meds to direct myself. Unfortunately, many of the people who prescribe these drugs don’t know enough about mental health and the follow up is poor. Thank you Amen Clinics. You are a beacon in the night.

  6. Barb says:

    If I didn’t take my medications I wouldn’t have got through 45 yrs in a clinical / management role as a nurse with only one period of time off work for 8 weeks. The stresses etc that really tipped me over the edge resulted from both work and home pressures.
    But 21 mths ago I went over the edge when my daughter committed suicide. I am a lot better now, but have mood swings downwards that sometimes scare me. I have professional support. But it’s so hard.
    I now don’t work through choice, but I know there would have been much difficulty trying to work for the first yr after my daughters death. It’s very paralysing.

  7. Carolyn says:

    Hi,
    I’ve had severe depression for 25 years and am now on disability because no meds work for me any more or the side effects are unbearable. I want to come to the clinic but since you dont take insurance im unable to. Do you give people like myself any help?? What I receive from disability is next to nothing so im unable to pay anything but i do have medicare.

    Thanks,
    Carolyn

    • brad says:

      why do you not take medicare and supplemental INs. like Blue Cross / Shield? Why NOT?! Then why not enable other mental health providers to have access to copy your info and non profit it to the middle and lower classes? Help us out here!
      You live well enough Dr. Amen now enable all to have access to your methods

  8. Eva Bell says:

    I have suffered from Depression for a number of years now. I have taken a number of drugs and have no relief. I also had electro convulsive therapy and nothing seems to work. On top of that of that I have Gran Mal seizures which are controlled. Do I have any options or is my life essentially over.

  9. Rosalie says:

    I find life for many very sad. Medicine alone is never the answer. Unfortunately tracking down good help is very difficult to find. So easy yet so difficult to find many that suffer are given advise that does not fit them, medication that works for a while then does not. Therapy that quits when their hour is up. Promises that do not last and suffering that never goes away. What is needed. Good diagnostic evaliluations. Good resources with treatment centers that will work. Jobs that make an individual feel worthwhile Test that give answers to good treatment and follow up. Should not be so hard to find the help that so many are looking for. Promises to help with failure to do so. The world has become a very greedy world. We need resources for those crying out for help not bandaids that do not cure the problem and hope for the help that is so desperately needed.

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