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.