AntidepressantsFacts/Article by Dr Julian Withaker
2002 - 2009
Being Depressed and How to Overcome it. A Solution.
Natural Solutions to Depression
Go to Anxiety management
Go to Tapering Off Anti-depressants
Go to Surviving a Negative Reaction to an Antidepressant
PHYSICIANS REMEMBER... "FIRST DO NO HARM"...
The Problem ~ when your feelings carry on for weeks or months and start to interfere with your life
MOST IMPORTANT READ FOR PHYSICIANS PRACTICING PSYCHIATRY AND/OR MEDICINE|
AND A WORD OF WARNING TO THOSE WHO ARE CONSIDERING THE USE OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS:
Pharmaceutical "direct-to-consumer" advertising campaigns have largely revolved around the
claim that SSRIs correct a "chemical imbalance" caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain.
Are the claims made in SSRI advertising congruent with the scientific evidence? NOT AT ALL!
In fact, modern neuroscience provides significant counterevidence to the serotonin deficiency theory...
The FACTS: Modern Neuroscience Research Fails to Confirm Serotonergic 'Chemical Imbalance' in Depression
Feeling down now and then is part of living. There are times when we
should experience sadness and despair. However, I firmly believe that
happiness is our birthright, and outright joy should occasionally burst
Unfortunately, one in eight of us will at some time experience serious
depression. In most cases, depression is associated with imbalances in
levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Depression also may
occur as a side effect of prescription drugs, including beta blockers,
steroids and tranquilizers. A diet that contains excess refined
carbohydrates, alcohol, or tobacco or that is deficient in B vitamins or
healthy fats also may contribute to depression.
The Dangers of Antidepressants
Doctors are quick to prescribe drugs for depression. The three major
classes of antidepressant drugs are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors,
tricyclic antidepressants, and the most popular, SSRIs, which increase the
amount of serotonin in the brain.
These drugs have varying rates of effectiveness and come with long
lists of side effects, including weight gain, insomnia, loss of libido,
nausea, and headaches. The SSRIs are particularly dangerous, as they may
cause anxiety, mania and significant physical and mental agitation, which
can, in some cases, trigger violent outbursts as seen in the Columbine
High School massacre.
I have found that the vast majority of patients with mild to moderate
depression can be managed with the safe and effective over-the-counter
therapies discussed below.
Natural Protocol for Depression
Boost your levels of B-complex vitamins. Depression is a major symptom
of various B-vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B1 (thiamine), B12
(cobalamin), B6 (pyridoxine) and folic acid. Vitamin B12 has a
particularly potent effect on mood. The best-absorbed forms of vitamin B12
are daily sublingual tablets, 1,000 mcg, or monthly injections.
"Sammy" elevates mood naturally
pronounced "Sammy") may well be the most powerful natural antidepressant
yet identified. Same enhances your body's normal
neurotransmitter-producing mechanisms, rather than artificially jamming up
the system as SSRIs do. Approximately 70 percent of the depressed patients
who try Same notice improvements in mood within days -- not weeks, as is
the case with most drugs and herbal therapies. Same is quite safe,
although some patients may experience mild headaches or stomach upset
during the first week or two of use, and very high doses may cause
The recommended dose is 200-400 mg twice a day, before breakfast and
before lunch, preferably on an empty stomach (at least 30 minutes before,
or two hours after eating). Purchase only an enteric-coated product, as it
has a longer shelf life and is better absorbed.
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) can be
Another effective natural antidepressant is the herb St.
John's wort. This herb has been tested in many studies and has even been
pitted against prescription antidepressants. Every time, St. John's wort
eased depression without the side effects of prescription drugs.
Look for an herbal extract that contains 0.3 percent of the active
ingredient hypericin and take 300 mg twice daily with meals. St. John's
wort may cause stomach upset and rare sun sensitivity. It may also
interact with prescription antidepressants, so if you're taking a drug for
depression, consult your physician first.
Consider a trial of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
supplement, derived from the seeds of plants native to West Africa, is a
natural precursor to the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin. Start
with 30 to 50 mg at bedtime, on an empty stomach (it can make you sleepy).
This may safely be increased to as much as 100 mg three times a day over
Exercise is perhaps the single most effective mood
We all experience an improvement in mood after a brisk
walk or more vigorous activity. Exercise increases the production of
endorphins and other neurotransmitters that create a sense of well-being.
Many researchers feel that lack of physical exercise may be one of the
major reasons for the increasing amount of depression in our society
today. I recommend that you start a regular schedule of exercise, at least
four times a week for a half-hour each time.
Try to spend some time outdoors every day
Make an effort to
spend some time day outdoors in the sun every day. In many parts of the
U.S., during the winter it is not always possible to get the amount of
sunlight you need. In that case, try daily exposure to full-spectrum
artificial light, which is made up of all the wavelengths of natural
light. I recommend putting a full-spectrum light in rooms where you spend
the most time.
Have your thyroid levels tested
Depression is a hallmark of
hormonal disorders, especially of the thyroid hormones. If your thyroid
gland, which regulates your body's metabolism (its basic rate of
activity), isn't producing enough thyroid hormone, you may feel tired and
depressed. For more on the multitude of problems caused by low thyroid and
the best type of thyroid supplementation, see Hypothyroidism.
A final note of warning
If your depression is severe, seek
medical help immediately. My suggestions on mood elevation are not meant
to take the place of medical therapy for depression. If you are currently
on Prozac or another prescription drug for depression and wish to stop
taking it, it's essential that you work with your physician to gradually
wean yourself off the drug and replace it with one of the natural agents
I've discussed here.
Make sure you're covered
- To make sure you're getting adequate B-complex vitamins and other
nutrients essential for the maintenance of mood and overall health, take
a high-potency multivitamin and mineral regimen, such as my special
Plus. It provides 50 mg vitamin B1, 75 mg B6, 400 mcg folic acid and
100 mcg B12, along with high doses of antioxidants and important
For more information on improving your mental outlook, read my
special report, Dr. Whitaker's Guide to Managing Stress, Anxiety &
Depression, available at DrWhitakerSolutions.net.
For more information on keeping a positive mental outlook, visit Mood Health Center.