antidepressant drugs

  1. Antidepressants fail another trial

    There's no two ways about it: When it comes to beating depression, that last thing you want is your doctor's first choice.

    Tell him you're down in the dumps, and he'll reach for his prescription pad -- but the dirty secret about the depression meds used by some 30 million Americans every year is that they just don't work.

    Too many people have already figured that out the hard way -- and now, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry confirms it's not just them.

    It's the drugs.

    In this one, researchers put sertraline -- aka Zoloft -- up against both a placebo and a form of psychotherapy. Sixteen weeks later, and there was no statistical difference between any of the three groups.

    Some of the patients on Zoloft were even switched to another med, Effexor -- and still got no relief.

    This shouldn't surprise anyone, since studies have shown for years how even the most popular antidepressant drugs can't beat a placebo.

    But it did.

    "I was surprised by the results," confessed lead researcher Jacques P. Barber, dean of the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in New York, according to Reuters. "They weren't what I'd expected."

    I'm not sure what Dr. Barber was expecting, since I tell you all the time about research in which antidepressants fall way short. A study just last month even found that not only do SSRIs get roughly the same response rate as the placebo, but they actually make the depression worse a full fifth of the time.

    That's not the only risk that comes from SSRIs -- and it's not even close to the worst risk. These drugs have been linked to everything from personality changes to sexual dysfunction to death, including death by suicide.

    But you don't have to put your life on the line for a treatment that doesn't work -- because there are real answers out there...answers that can change your life for the better if you're willing to look.

    In many cases, depression is a result of nutritional and hormonal imbalances -- something no antidepressant drug in the world can fix. A skilled naturopathic physician, however, can help you find the real source of your depression and correct it without meds.

    To find a doctor skilled in natural medicine, you may contact the American College for the Advancement in Medicine at www.acam.org, 949-309-3520, or 1-800-532-3688.

    For short-term relief while you look for that solution, you still don't have to turn to antidepressants. St. John's wort has matched or even beaten drugs in some studies, and the amino acid SAMe works so well it's often the first choice in Europe.

    You'll find both of them in any vitamin shop.

  2. How depression breaks your heart

    The proverbial broken heart can actually do the job for real: Depressed people have double the risk of heart attack and a much higher risk of heart problems overall than non-depressed people.

    A fluke? No way -- the link has been made way too often, in too many studies.

    And now, the latest research shows how the mental strain of depression can take a physical toll on the body -- specifically in ways that can dramatically boost your heart risk.

    Researchers gave stress tests to 866 people, about 5 percent of whom were depressed -- and these people had a much harder time recovering afterwards.

    In fact, it seems like the stress didn't end with the test: Depressed people had heart rates that kept galloping and blood pressure levels that stayed high well after everyone else returned to normal.

    That's a sure sign of stress on the body -- and researchers say these delays in recovery show that the body's stress response simply isn't working right.

    And you already know what too much stress can do to even the healthiest of hearts.

    That's not the only reason for the link between depression and heart disease. As the researchers behind the new study point out, depressed people tend to have lousy habits -- they let themselves go, and eventually it takes a toll on the body.

    But there's also a third option out there -- one the new study didn't look at: meds.

    Antidepressant drugs can do a number on the body from top to bottom, and the older tricyclic meds that were used to treat depression in the decades before SSRIs came along in particular have been linked to serious heart problems.

    In one study, researchers found that tricyclic antidepressants increased heart risk by more than a third. Another recent study found that both tricyclics and SSRIs increase the risk of stroke in women.

    SSRIs have even been linked to sudden cardiac death in women.

    And if you already have heart disease, SSRIs might make the condition worse or even hasten your death: A Duke University study from 2006 found that heart patients who took the antidepressants had a 55 percent higher risk of death.

    SSRIs have also been linked to everything from personality changes and sexual side effects to headaches, nausea, diarrhea and even suicide -- and they don't even work very well to boot, with many failing to beat placebos in studies.

    Clearly depression can't be ignored. But just as clearly, it can't be treated with meds, either.

    That's enough on depression -- keep reading for the best way to stay happy.

  3. Fats beat sadness

    Looks like the old maxim "fat and happy" isn't too far off -- but it's not fat in your body that'll lift your mood. It's fat in your diet.
  4. Depressed people likely to smoke

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    A new study finds that more than 40 percent of all depressed people smoke... and that number's even higher for some groups.
  5. You can't predict the blues

    Some researchers have believed in something called a depression gene. Those who have it, they say, are more likely to battle depression than those who don't.

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