To treat clinical depression, doctors have long prescribed antidepressants. At first, these medications seem to alleviate and even cure the illness through a set of chemical reactions, but a series of examinations and studies have changed the minds of many experts about the efficacy of these drugs.
Antidepressants are almost the same in benefit as placebos, but they contribute gruesome side effects and withdrawal symptoms, according to Newsweek.
During medical trials and experiments, benign substances – usually in the form of pills called “placebos” – are used as dummy counterparts to real drugs. Doctors test a particular drug on a select group of patients by giving either the real drug or the placebo without their knowledge to determine whether the drug has the actual desired chemical effect, according to Newsweek.
An extensive study done by Irving Kirsch, a psychology researcher at the University of Connecticut, found that placebos worked just as well as the real thing 82 percent of the time in clinical trials. Even if the placebo does not have a direct chemical effect, patients wind up feeling better and uplifted.
Another study of six important clinical trials involving depressed subjects found the positive impact of antidepressants outside the placebo effect was “nonexistent to negligible,” meaning the chemical composition of antidepressants does little to treat depression.
This is concerning because – unlike placebos – antidepressants come with a multitude of side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Some are mild but some can be dangerous. According to Newsweek, mild side effects include sleeplessness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But they can also increase depression, psychosis and the risk of suicide in certain patients – as opposed to reducing it.
Several people have testified at Food and Drug Administration hearings with personal accounts of loved ones committing suicide after taking antidepressants, with no prior history of mental illness and disorder.
It is clear the effectiveness of antidepressants must be evaluated. Even the “scientific theory” that the drugs lift depression through correcting a chemical imbalance in the brain by raising serotonin levels has been refuted, according to antidepressant awareness group Baum Hedlund Law.
Opponents of antidepressants say there is no real evidence the drugs do anything to correct imbalances. While the chemical benefit of these drugs is highly questionable, the serious side effects are not. Consumers should consider other treatment options and not take a risk on these unproven drugs.
Margarita Abramova is a freshman majoring in mass communications.