in place of antidepressants

A new article by Dr. Christiane Northup in looks at “The Limits of Antidepressants: (and) Exploring the Alternatives.” She starts out by reciting recent research that showed that the benefits of antidepressants have been greatly overstated. For instance, in January 2010, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant. The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.'”

The article goes on to talk about the benefits of fish oil, 5-HTP, exercise, and being honest with your feelings.

Once I got to reading this article, it becomes somewhat clear that ‘people taking antidepressants’ really refers to ‘people with mild to moderate depression,’ which she refers to as ‘the typical patient.’ Really, couldn’t we follow her suggested alternatives without leaving psychotropic medication? There’s often an assumption that if only we followed a certain regimen, we wouldn’t need to be taking any meds. Well, in many cases, I’m guessing that people have tried those other options before being prescribed antidepressants. We are not a bunch of lazy people who decided to pop some ‘happy pills’ in lieu of taking care of our bodies. From my experience, the antidepressants are what helped me start taking care of my body, because without it, I sometimes didn’t even bother taking showers or just waking up.

I realize the article wasn’t meant for those ‘severe’ cases, but it still tends to lump everyone in as if we can all just “get over it,” as Northup says.

Man, if I could just ‘get over it’ by simply taking fish oil and being honest with my feelings (again, I doubt not every depressive lies to him/herself), I think I would have taken that option a long time ago.


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