Dying to feel better

Would you take a drug that increases your risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture, causes sexual dysfunction in up to 73% of people who take it, and nearly doubles the chances of your child developing an autism spectrum disorder or developmental delay if you take it while you’re pregnant?

Would you take it if it didn’t work any better than a placebo (‘sugar pill’ with no active ingredients)?

Would you take it if it could cause you to become violent, even homicidal?

And taking all of that into account, would you take it if it increased the risk of you suffering a premature death by one third?

Well, if you’re currently taking an antidepressant drug – and 10% of Australian adults currently are – that’s exactly what you’re doing.

According to new research published by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, people who take antidepressants are 33% more likely to die than those not taking the drugs, and 14% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, if they haven’t previously had one.

The authors of the study point out that

“ADs [antidepressants] disrupt multiple adaptive processes regulated by evolutionarily ancient biochemicals.”

These biochemicals – neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine – have wide-ranging effects on organs including the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, lungs and liver, which the Canadian researchers believe are responsible for the increased risk of cardiovascular events and death.

These so-called ‘side effects’ are in reality simply ‘effects’ of the drug – unavoidable consequences of disturbing the body’s finely-tuned self-regulation mechanisms in a foolish attempt to tweak the biochemistry of the brain, despite the fact that no ‘biochemical imbalance’ has ever been detected in the brain of anyone suffering from depression (or any other so-called ‘mental health’ condition for that matter).

In fact, according to Elliot Valenstein, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan and author of Blaming the Brain, research clearly demonstrates that people with normal serotonin levels are just as likely to feel depressed as people with abnormal serotonin levels, and people with abnormally high serotonin levels are just as likely as those with abnormally low serotonin levels. Valenstein concluded,

“There is no convincing evidence that depressed people have a serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency.”

The hard reality is that neither doctors nor researchers really have any idea what antidepressants do to the brains and bodies of the people who take them, which is particularly worrying given that so many people end up taking antidepressants for decades, because they can be hellishly difficult to withdraw from.

As lead researcher Paul Andrews pointed out,

“We shouldn’t be taking antidepressant drugs without understanding precisely how they interact with the body.”

But don’t antidepressants save lives by decreasing the risk of suicide? No, says David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University. While the drugs may reduce suicide risk in some people, overall, randomised clinical trials show that depressed people who take antidepressants have 2.4 times the odds of committing suicidal acts as those taking placebo.

In fact, when healthy (non-depressed) volunteers took these drugs in clinical trials, their risk of harms related to suicidality and violence doubled. For every 16 non-depressed people who took these drugs, one was harmed by them in this way.

Co-author of the study, Marta Maslej, agrees that it’s time to question the assumption that antidepressants save lives:

“Our findings are important because they undermine this assumption. I think people would be much less willing to take these drugs if they were aware how little is known about their impact outside of the brain, and that what we do know points to an increased risk of death.”

I couldn’t agree more. But sadly, not a single client that I’ve seen, in over 20 years of clinical practice, has ever received this kind of informed consent from the doctor who prescribed their antidepressants. Many doctors hand out prescriptions for antidepressants as if they’re lollipops; one of my clients even told me that her doctor put her on antidepressants when she was going through a stressful time at work “to help her cope’, despite that fact that she had no symptoms or signs of depression!

The bottom line is that depression is not a ‘mental illness’, it has no biochemical basis, and taking drugs doesn’t fix it. People who become depressed have particular patterns of thinking about themselves, the world and the future that lead them to feel helpless and hopeless. Drugs can’t alter these patterns of thinking; all they do is impose a ‘chemical straitjacket’ that makes people less aware of their thoughts… and of course those self-defeating thoughts roar back with a vengeance when the person stops taking the drug.

Important note: if you are currently taking antidepressants, you should not abruptly stop taking them, as a ‘discontinuation/withdrawal syndrome’ may occur, including symptoms such as dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, sweating, nausea, insomnia, tremor, confusion, nightmares, and vertigo, as well as a worsening of the original depression symptoms. Gradual tapering under the supervision of a knowledgeable doctor is required, and only after you’ve prepared for withdrawal by implementing the advice given in Bringing your black dog to heel.

If you would like help with planning your withdrawal from antidepressants, apply for a Roadmap to Optimal Health Consultation today. I have many years of experience with assisting clients with this process.

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  • Peter Natoli

    Reply Reply September 26, 2017

    after 11 years of fighting a particular church for a race hate crime committed in my early teenage life, they got the better of me and had me thrown into a mental lock up for the full legally allowable 6 months here in NSW . When I got out I was forced to be injected in the hips for a few months with antipsychotics Resperdahl Consta and Clopixal. Eight years later I am having trouble standing after sitting or lying and experience pain in my hip joints.

    Would this pain be caused by those drugs administered criminally by the NSW Government eight years ago or is it just my age of 64 and the damage caused in football and athletic pursuits in my early teenage life?

    It’s interesting to note that you can choose the medication systems of treatment you are given these days in NSW. Crimes like those committed against me by the race hate religionists in NSW hopefully will never be committed again.

    • Robyn Chuter

      Reply Reply September 26, 2017

      I can’t check on this for you right now as I’m overseas and don’t have access to my library, experiencing now, but would highly recommend that you read Dr Peter Breggin’s book Your Drug May Be Your Problem as it may have the answer to your question.

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