prescription pad

  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. Babies being given stomach acid meds

    Here's a quick way to tell if you've picked the right pediatrician for your new baby: Tell him the baby spits up or vomits and cries about it afterwards.

    If he smiles reassuringly and says, "that's what babies do," you may have found a keeper.

    If he reaches for his prescription pad... well, it's time to find a new doctor.

    It's crazy to think doctors are diagnosing newborns with stomach acid disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, aka GERD, in the first months of life -- crazy, but it's happening every day.

    And of course, every diagnosis has a drug, right? So according to a new editorial in the Journal of Pediatrics, some doctors are actually giving babies and even newborns stomach-acid drugs such as the proton pump inhibitors used by millions of adults.

    Forget for a moment the potential for side effects, which are bad enough to scare even adults away from these meds, because, as Dr. Eric Hassall writes, there's an even bigger problem with this growing practice: It doesn't work.

    He should know, because he's done some of the research on PPIs and children himself -- and he actually supports the use of these meds in kids older than 12 months (boooo!).

    But he draws the line on babies.

    Because babies can't actually tell us how they're feeling, studies measure their levels of crying and irritability. And repeated studies have shown that babies who get PPIs don't cry any more or any less than babies who get placebos.

    In other words, they're not crying because they have GERD. They're crying for some other reason, or maybe no reason it all.

    Dr. Hassall puts it best in his editorial: "Because of the high prevalence of spitting up, unexplained crying, or both in otherwise healthy infants, these symptoms and signs are just 'life,' not a disease, and, as such, do not warrant drug therapy."

    I wish Dr. Hassall had ended his editorial there, but he didn't.

    Like I said, he actually supports the use of these meds in older kids -- so he had to tack on one last ominous sentence: "There is plenty of time for that in later years."

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