SSRIs 'miss' up to 13 symptoms of depression
What do you call an antidepressant that leaves you sad? If you're in the drug industry, you call that "effective."
After all, you didn't kill yourself (not yet, anyway) -- and that's what passes for success these days.
A new analysis of data from the STAR*D trial finds that people who take SSRI antidepressants cope with at least three, often five, and up to 13 lingering symptoms of depression -- even while the drug is supposedly working.
The most common symptoms included insomnia (79 percent of patients), sadness (71 percent), concentration problems (70 percent), low energy (63 percent), and an even more severe form of insomnia (60 percent).
But the researchers behind this one are glass-half-full kinda guys -- they say the good news here is that the drugs worked "overall," and that suicidal thoughts were rare.
"Some people fear that antidepressant medication increases thoughts of suicide," study author Dr. Shawn McClintock said in a news release. "This provided counterevidence of that."
Call me Oscar the Grouch if you will, but I can't help but focus on the rest of the data in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology -- like the 75 percent of volunteers who had FIVE or more lingering symptoms of depression even after taking these meds... or the two-thirds of patients who took SSRIs and didn't go into remission.
That level of "success" is right in line with placebos, which often get a 30 percent response rate or more in depression trials.
Heck, at least half of all depressed people respond to nothing more than a little time -- it's a condition that usually goes away on its own, no drugs, therapy, or herbal remedies necessary.
If you do want to pop a pill, stick to something that really is proven to work and won't leave you sad and tired -- like St. John's wort. In a 2005 study, this ancient herbal remedy had a 50 percent remission rate in just six weeks, while paroxetine (aka Paxil) had the usual drug/placebo response: just 35 percent.
If time and St. John's wort won't do the trick, don't head for the pharmacy -- head for the butcher.
Many people -- especially vegans -- suffer depression and other mood-related issues when they're not getting enough of the vitamin B12 found in meats.
I don't know about you, but just the smell of steak on the grill is enough to lift my mood.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
You can sign up for his "Daily Dose" at DouglassReport.com.