Would you rather suffer from depression or from a stroke? If you're taking antidepressants, you might not have a choice. The answer could be both.
Why? Because not only do antidepressant drugs fail miserably at doing anything to treat your depression -- they could also boost your risk of having a stroke in the process.
That's according to a study recently published in the journal Stroke.
To top it off, the researchers who stumbled upon this information say you should keep taking those antidepressants anyway.
(The jury is still out on whether the researchers themselves are suffering from some sort of "denial disorder." It's either that, or they're getting paid to push the antidepressants. It's tough to say.)
Either one of those reasons could explain why they're so reluctant to blame the meds -- despite the evidence right under their noses. And the evidence is pretty clear.
When the researchers tracked 80,574 women between the ages of 54 and 79 for six years, they found that depressed women had a 29 percent boost in stroke risk when compared to women with no history of the condition.
Women who took antidepressant meds had an even greater risk, rising 39 percent when compared to non-depressed women.
Those are the facts. Everything that comes after that is just a giant guessing game. Because instead of blaming the meds for that extra risk, the researchers guessed that the women who take them must simply be more depressed.
And since depression on its own seems to boost stroke risk, they further guessed, more severe depression must cause it to shoot even higher.
But guess again, because none of that is supported by the data in the study -- or even by basic logic. After all, many of the people who take antidepressants aren't battling severe depression in the first place.
Statistics from The National Institute of Mental Health say that only 2 percent of the population suffers from severe depression, and 6.7 percent suffer from depression. Yet some 10 percent of the entire U.S. population is taking antidepressants in any given year.
In case you still want to blame the depression instead of the meds, there's more research that backs the link between antidepressants and stroke.
One study last year found that women on SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro had a 45-percent increase in the risk of stroke and a 32-percent increase in the risk of death from all causes. (You can check out the details of that study here.)
Of course, then -- like now -- researchers urged women to keep taking their meds anyway.
But if you're on these meds, talk to your doc about a safe way off -- because the bottom line is that you can beat depression without drugs. Studies have shown everything from ordinary exercise to simple talk therapy can match or beat powerful antidepressant drugs.
A little exercise can even cut your stroke risk, too -- and that's not a guess.