Serious Health Effects of Depression Medication
The number of people taking antidepressants has skyrocketed 400 percent from 2005 to 2008. They are the most widely used drugs in the United States, with a whopping 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 taking them under a doctor’s supervision. But, because antidepressants are relatively new medications and their massive prevalence is a recent phenomenon, little is known about both the short- and long-term effects of these drugs.
An estimated one-in-ten people report suffering from depression, and let’s be clear — depression is not a situational sadness, it is a lasting and pervasive mood disorder. However, many experts question its classification as a true disease, stating that there is no clear evidence that the “chemical imbalance” many doctors blame for the symptoms of depression actually exists at all. This aside, many people rely on prescription drugs to treat their depression, sometimes not fully understanding the risks involved with their medication.
There are several different, widely used medications prescribed for the treatment of depression. The most common antidepressants are known as SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They work by limiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. This reportedly assists in the management of depression because it’s suspected that low levels of serotonin (the feel-good brain chemical) is associated with depressive symptoms. By preventing reuptake, more of the chemical is circulating in the brain. These drugs include Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Lexapro.
Short term effects of antidepressants
As with all modern medications, there is a laundry list of potential side effects with antidepressants. These are the effects you that are rattled off on commercials—the effects that lead you to wonder if the potential benefits justify the potential risks.
- Dry mouth
- Lack of sex drive
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
These effects of antidepressants are often most noticeable when you first begin taking the prescription. As the body adjusts to the chemicals within the drug, the effects will reportedly become less noticeable.
Long term effects of antidepressants
The long term effects of antidepressants are largely unknown. This is because most of these drugs haven’t been in circulation for very long, and of those that have—few unbiased (not funded by the drug manufacturers) studies have been conducted. However, research has found the following to be possible long-term effects of antidepressant use:
Increased stroke risk: A study published in the journal Neurology indicated that patients taking SSRI drugs have a 50 percent greater chance of suffering an intracranial hemorrhage and a 40 percent greater risk of suffering an intracerebral hemorrhage when compared with people not taking antidepressants.
The FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Events Reporting System reported that antidepressant use by pregnant women suffering from depression was responsible for more than 4,000 critical birth defects and heart defects, almost 3,000 spontaneous abortions, and 3,000 premature births. In all, antidepressants are said to increase the risk of miscarriage by 68 percent.
Thicker arteries: Potentially the cause of the increased stroke risk and additional risk of heart disease, scientists have found that taking SSRI drugs can increase the thickness of your arteries. Even when other standard heart disease risk factors were taken into consideration, scientists found that those who use antidepressants generally have thicker arteries, boosting the risk of related arterial diseases.
Birth defects and miscarriages: The FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Events Reporting System reported that antidepressant use by pregnant women suffering from depression was responsible for more than 4,000 critical birth defects and heart defects, almost 3,000 spontaneous abortions, and 3,000 premature births. In all, antidepressants are said to increase the risk of miscarriage by 68 percent.
Suicide: Tragically ironic, many studies have linked the use of antidepressants with an increased risk of suicide, suicide attempts and even worse depression symptoms.
Sudden cardiac death: Women who take antidepressants are twice as likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those not on the medications. Antidepressants have also been linked to increased risk of autism in children, higher rates of breast cancer, and even bone density depletion. There are risks to taking any prescription drug. But people often accept those risks as par for the course — believing a doctor’s advice is the best advice there is.
While antidepressants may provide much needed help to millions of people, they could also be harming us in yet-unknown ways. What we do know, however, is that some types of therapy has been proven even more effective than antidepressants, and that both a proper diet and regular exercise can go a long way in regulating mood and improving mental status without drugs.
Your friends at Socially Fit
Article written by Elizabeth Renter for www.voxxi.com