Depression has commonly been viewed as a disease or long-term mental disturbance or illness that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, a staggering number of individuals without serious depression are prescribed antidepressants for long periods of time. However, antidepressant medications were originally intended for serious, short-term cases. Despite research debunking the benefits of long-term antidepressant use, these drugs remain the go-to for a seasonal case of the blues or an “unexplained” gloomy stint when exercise, sun exposure, diet, or balance in life have taken a back seat.
Short-term research trials show that antidepressants provide no clinically significant benefits for mild to moderate depression in comparison to a placebo. However, taking the antidepressant can make matters much worse. Antidepressants cause gastric distress in up to a quarter of the people who take them. Due to all of the aforementioned-shared chemicals and the brain-gut connection, this makes perfect sense. Ultimately a healthy digestive system is key at keeping depression at bay. This means staying off antidepressants, unless an extreme case of depression is diagnosed, and even then – discussing with your practitioner an appropriate time frame to taper them out of your system to prevent too much damage, like chronic depression.
1 in 10 Americans are currently on antidepressants in the United States, according to the CDC. And 60% of these people have been taking them for more than two years and 14% for more than ten years!
The most popular type of antidepressants are the “SSRIs” or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Examples include Celexa, Lexapro, Sarafem, Paxil, Pexeva, Zoloft, and Symbyax.
Depression that persists while on antidepressants can be directly linked to the gut’s relationship to the brain. Ninety-five percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. When SSRIs are taken to make sure the serotonin is more readily available to the brain, it results in a serotonin overload in the digestive system as well. Serotonin in the digestive system is a signaling agent for matters of its own communication to the brain. These effects make the name “antidepressant” misleading when used long-term. Unfortunately, only about 15% of patients that are treated with an antidepressant stay “well” for a long period of time. The remaining 85% start having a relapsing course and it becomes much more of a chronic burden.
Proof is in the pudding, not just in the physiology.
In England, people are getting relieved of their depression with prescriptions for nothing other than EXERCISE! Since a study from 2007 surfaced with its astonishing results, some are starting to disregard pharmaceutical companies in this instance. In a ten-month span comparing gym use versus antidepressant use with the depressed, it was found that those sent to the pharmacy were actually relapsing and those sent to the gym were overcoming their depression. Now that’s empowerment! So, rather than asking your doctor if (insert newest drug here) is right for you, ask your doctor if EXERCISE might be right first.
For most suffering from depression, a medication-free remedy lies within reach. Commonly, people feel defenseless against depression and automatically seek pharmaceutical intervention, trusting that a pill will “balance” them, when in reality it does the opposite. Among other things like exercise, chiropractic care, and sunshine, keeping a healthy gut is crucial in fighting depression. Incorporating a probiotic full of friendly bacteria, would be a crucial step in promoting optimal function within the gut.