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Why Medication May Not Help with Depression


Are you a sufferer of depression?  Then you may be interested to know that medication may not be the cure-all that you may have hoped.  Read on to learn more about why medication may not help with depression.Depressed Woman

Why Doesn’t Medication Help Depression?

Depression is commonly associated with low levels of serotonin.  Therefore, the most commonly prescribed medication for depression – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs – is designed to block the body’s natural reuptake of serotonin so that more serotonin is available to act on the receptors in the brain, thereby producing a mood lift.  However, the low serotonin levels associated with depression are not the cause of the condition but rather the result of extreme stress on the mind.  Medication can provide relief by temporarily controlling extreme symptoms but it cannot cure depression.

New studies carried out are showing that antidepressant medications may only be of benefit to people that are severely depressed.  In other people, they may not be any more effective than a placebo.  Patients that suffer from less severe forms of depression may gain just as much benefit from therapy, exercise, or other non-medical treatment options. 

Reviews were carried out on published and unpublished studies of the four most commonly prescribed new generation antidepressants to find out whether the patient’s response to the drug depended on their level of depression.  The drugs studied included Prozac, Effexor, Paxil, and Serzone, all of which belong to a family of medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.  In patients with moderate depression, it was found that that there were no clinically significant improvements to be found in taking medication compared to a placebo.

Researchers are cautioning people that are currently on antidepressant medications that they should not stop their regimen without speaking to their doctor.  However, before beginning a form of medication, it may be helpful to consider a non-medical therapy.

Alternatives to Medication for Depression

There are several alternatives that may work for you if you suffer from depression.  These include:

• Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this form of therapy focuses on how thoughts affect your feelings.  You will learn how to tackle negative thoughts and change lifelong patterns.
• Psychodynamic therapy – this is the modern version of the classic Freudian psychoanalysis and the focus is on understanding your personality more fully – your desires, motives, hidden conflicts, and fears. 
• Interpersonal therapy – is a short term, structured approach with the focus being on your relationships.  You will learn better coping skills for dealing with problems and strengthen your relationships as a result.
• Exercise – can be an excellent mood booster and studies have shown that exercise is as least as effective, if not more effective, than medication.  Exercising for as little as an hour three times a week can lift depression symptoms.
• Meditation – practiced regularly, meditation can relieve depression and prevent its recurrence.  It is a powerful way to relieve stress and create a state of deep relaxation.  Mindfulness meditation is particularly helpful for depression.
• Light therapy – can treat cases of mild to moderate depression and helps make the antidepressant medication more effective.
• Herbal supplements – that are helpful for depression include St John’s Wort, B vitamins, SAMe, 5-HTP, omega 3 fatty acids, and chromium picolinate.


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