Some drugs can be worse than the illnesses they treat.
I've always felt very strongly that antidepressants belong in this group. These drugs have a long history of nasty and even deadly side effects, and it seems we're learning about new ones all the time.
The latest research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that women who take antidepressants may face a greater risk of sudden cardiac death.
Now, the researchers say we shouldn't be so quick to blame this on the drugs. They point out, somewhat rightly, that depressed women are often at greater risk for hypertension and diabetes, and are more likely to smoke. Depression alone is a risk factor for the heart, even in women who don't have heart disease.
But their numbers do show a strong link between the use of antidepressant drugs – not just the depression – and sudden cardiac death, and that alone is enough to worry me even more. And believe me when I tell you that I was already plenty worried.
Remember, in addition to this new link to sudden cardiac death in women, some antidepressants have also been connected to an increased risk of suicide in younger patients, both male and female. The link is so strong there's now a black-box warning on a number of the most popular drugs.
And let's not forget about those side effects, which include nausea, insomnia, diarrhea and sexual side effects, not to mention withdrawal symptoms when trying to get off them. Some antidepressants also contain fluorine, which research around the world has linked to brain damage and degeneration.
So let's get away from those drugs because they don't really work in the first place. In many cases, depression is caused by a drop in serotonin levels. Antidepressant drugs don't help your body make more serotonin, they just toy with how your body treats the serotonin it has, forcing it to stick around in the system longer.
In some cases, these drugs can cause serotonin levels to drop even more in the long-term. What's more, your body won't correct that deficiency on its own. It needs help, and the kind of help it needs won't come from Big Pharma.
From where I sit, there's simply no reason to fool with these drugs when there are natural, non-drug treatments that really do work. I've seen first-hand how tryptophan, B6, B12 and other vitamins can help folks in ways no antidepressant can. Even ordinary exercise has been shown to be as effective as some of the most popular antidepressant drugs.
Exercise won't improve Big Pharma's bottom line, but it may go a long way toward improving your depression symptoms. And a walk in the park or a gym membership won't come with a black box warning.