Anti- Depressants – Not the Band Aid Solution

It happens to us all. We lose interest and motivation, we feel sad and at times disconnected.

We can experience depressing moments but is it truly depression? And more importantly, do we need to automatically reach for anti-depressant medication?

A recent study has revealed that the benefit of anti-depressant medication – specifically the Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Selective Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) is limited to those with severe depression.

The study goes on to conclude that “the benefit of medications…may be minimal or nonexistent in patients with mild or moderate symptoms”.

Bearing in mind that these results were based on an extensive review of patients between 1980 – 2009, the findings indicate that popping that pill will not always provide relief from the blues.

Anti-depressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline available in our brain synapse. More specifically, they prevent the rate at which these neurotransmitters are broken down.

These “feel good” neurotransmitters are responsible for our sense of wellbeing. So it stands to reason then that anti-depressants will effectively boost our supply of these key neurotransmitters.

This study has highlighted that this is not always the case. Furthermore, it concludes that “prescribers, policymakers and patients could all benefit from being made aware of these important findings.”


E-meds Comment

At last! Some recognition that anti-depressants are not necessarily the cure-all. So what can be done to improve those cases of mild to moderate depression?

Mood is influenced by diet, nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle and stress. We can proactively make changes to these factors thereby improving our emotional health.

Neurotransmitters are built from proteins (amino acids) and nutrients in our body. These days our diets are very carbohydrate based and we often reach for sugary snacks to fill that void.

By doing so, we are limiting the amount of available protein to build these essential neurotransmitters.

Increasing protein in your diet will also stabilise blood sugar levels – another cause of fluctuating moods.

You can also improve your neurotransmitter health with nutrients such as B vitamins, Zinc, Vitamin C, Magnesium, EFA’s.

St John’s Wort is widely acknowledged as the herb to treat mild to moderate depression.

Numerous studies cite its effectiveness, the most recent being a trial in 2010.

An honest assessment of your lifestyle is necessary to manage mood disorders.

What steps can you take to minimise stress and clean up your lifestyle choices? Are you reaching for alcohol to relax and avoid situations? Are you making time for yourself? Can you increase your daily exercise even the incidental type?

Anti-depressants can seem like the easy answer. After all, it only requires taking a pill and the onus of responsibility lies elsewhere.

But the results are in, anti-depressants will not necessarily provide the relief you are seeking.


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