I find it interesting–and actually quite disturbing–that we continue to learn surprising, new things about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs. Especially when you consider the first SSRI hit the market almost 30 years ago–in 1987. And today, shockingly, one out of every 10 Americans over the age of 12 takes some type of antidepressant.
Of course, no one just takes an SSRI for a short stretch of time to help through a rough patch. If only it were that simple!
First of all, you have to take an SSRI for at least two to three weeks before you feel any beneficial effects. (That is, if you ever do feel any beneficial effects. Remember, these drugs really work only for about one in seven patients.) Then, once you’re on one of these drugs, chances are, you’ll never get “weaned” off it. Kind of like a mental roach motel–you can check in, but you can never check out.
It makes me wonder…with so many men and women taking these drugs for extended periods, why are we still learning new findings about their dangers? I don’t know if we’ll ever get the answers I’m looking for, but I can share my concerns about the latest finding with you…
The new, disturbing study found that men and women who took just one dose of a popular antidepressant drug experienced rapid and profound changes throughout their brains.
This research came from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. Instead of just parroting more of the same old, same old, the Planck Institute pioneers a great deal of important and innovative research that really is new.
The Planck researchers said they undertook this study because it’s still not clear how antidepressants work in the brain, although they’re among the most widely studied and prescribed drugs. They also said they were surprised at the results. “We were not expecting the SSRI to have a prominent effect on such a short timescale for the resulting signal to encompass the entire brain,” said Julia Sacher, M.D., of the Planck Institute.
For the study, the researchers took MRI brain scans of healthy adult patients. Then, they gave patients a single 20 mg dose of escitalopram (Lexapro), a popular SSRI. Three hours later, the researchers took another set of brain scans. They found within just three hours, this small dose sparked a widespread decrease in connectivity in most cortical and subcortical areas of the subjects’ brains.
In the mid-20th century, doctors treated mental conditions by performing cortical lobotomies. You could say those procedures resulted in some significant “decreases in connectivity” in the brain as well.
So–why do mental health doctors keep decreasing brain connectivity to relieve depression? Do patients merely feel better because they can no longer make connections about what’s really going on?
Oddly, an SSRI prevents the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin from being taken back up into the neurons. So, one would think that more serotonin left in the synapses would increase nerve transmissions and create more connectivity between nerve cells in the brain. But clearly, it doesn’t work that way.
So, are these new antidepressant drugs just chemical lobotomies?
At this point, we still don’t have the answers. The researchers say their findings represent an “essential first step” toward clinical studies in patients with depression.
So…if expert researchers think they’re still only at the “first step” of clinical studies, why have tens of millions of these prescriptions already been given out over the past two decades?
Truthfully, how these drugs work remains a mystery. But it’s no mystery that they’re associated with increased risk of suicide and possibly mass homicides as well.
The lamestream media and politically correct chorus are always quick to blame guns. Yet, as I reported last year, virtually all mass shooters were on antidepressant drugs at the time of these terrible incidents.
People don’t kill people. Drugs do.
Plus, other recent studies demonstrate that pregnant women who take these drugs have babies who have a higher rate of birth defects and developmental disorders. And in non-pregnant women, one antidepressant appears to raise the risk of breast cancer.
Overall, antidepressants only work in one out of seven people. And, as it turns out, that one person might get results simply because he or she “believes” the drug will work.
It’s natural for moods to fluctuate over your lifetime. But trying to medicate away a sense that “something is not right” perhaps just encourages people to accept things we ought to be trying to change about our lives, and about the circumstances we are forced to live under.
If you’re feeling low, talk a walk. Get out in the sun. Do a good deed. Engage in religious observances or spiritual activities. Meditate. Talk… and listen. But whatever you do, don’t “Listen to Prozac,” as recommended by that ridiculous book of the same name. According to this new research, they have only just begun to reveal their many mysteries and tell some of their dirty secrets.
- “Serotonergic Modulation of Intrinsic Functional Connectivity,” Current Biology 6 October 2014; 24 (19): 2314–2318