Antidepressants: Worse Than Depression?

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In the wake of the death of Grunge music icon and one of the all time favorite songwriters, Chris Cornell, I couldn’t help but carry out a research further on the effect of antidepressant drugs on the human mind. Even a person like Cornell with so much hope to provide and so much to offer through his art, could give in to the demons of the unknown to fall into the bottomless pit, was just appalling for me.

This isn’t, however, a recent discovery that the drugs prescribed to cure depression actually have adverse effects on the human body. According to reports, users have witnessed a wide range of side-effects including increasing suicidal tendencies. A victim revealed rather shocking details in an interview with BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire program, of the effects of the antidepressants prescribed by her GP during her college days. “I was getting seizure-like symptoms, where my muscles were jolting around of their own accord.” She adds “Within two weeks I’d tried to take my own life twice. I felt disorientated and sick and had digestive problems and infections, it was really extreme. I don’t even know how to begin. All I can remember is being on the bedroom floor in a kind of semi-conscious state having seizure after massive seizure.”

In 2004, the FDA gave antidepressant drugs a black box warning (a label reserved for the most serious hazards) having found an increased suicidal ideation with their use, from prior studies. Another huge psychological effect of these drugs is “amotivational syndrome”, a syndrome characterized by apathy, dis-inhibited behavior, demotivation and a personality change. All psychoactive drugs, including antidepressants, are known to greatly hamper the emotional responses of a person to a great extent. Another piece of information that is looked upon about these drugs is that there is a great probability of additional medications being prescribed later on to control the previous hazardous effects. Sexual side effects are the most common long-term side effects caused by SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reputake Inhibitors) which include decreased sexual desire, delayed ejaculation in men and the inability to have an orgasm in women.

untitled-design-21Despite of being fully aware of the various consequences, doctors all the over the world continue to prescribe antidepressant medication to patients. Ignorance has played a major hand in the increase of prescriptions over the past decades. According to a detailed paper on antidepressants by The Scientific American, reports of the BMJ study have been analyzed which include information of the clinical trial reports of Paxil (paroxetine) of 2001. Getting hands on the information from only 32 trials out of the 70, it was clear that some of the most useful information was in individual patients’ listings which remained hidden. Suicide attempts were passed off as “emotional liability” and “worsening depression” in the reports. It stays a mystery of what could’ve been revealed, had the remaining reports been brought under study. The fact that SSRIs cause harm to adolescents was left out from every single report available to the public. The list of misfires in the SSRI’s column continues with it being associated with movement disorders such as Akathisia, Parkinson’s disease and Dystonia. From 2005 to 2012, there has been a 54% increase in the number of children below the age of 15 prescribed antidepressants in the UK. In Netherlands, out of the 12,000 patients under study, 72-79% of the people who relapsed received antidepressant therapy during their initial episode of depression.

According to Joanna Moncrieff, “My view is that we really don’t have good enough evidence that antidepressants are effective and we have increasing evidence that they can be harmful. So, we need to go into reverse and stop this increasing trend of prescribing them”. However, cases of success with antidepressant therapy in the past and the lack of awareness keep this hamster wheel spinning. What has to be highlighted here is that the odds of success are extremely low following which antidepressant therapy isn’t worth putting a human life at stake. It has taken a while for the people to understand the inside of depression and it is high time that a wave of knowledge of its cure reaches them. The greed of pharmaceutical industries and ignorance of the masses should never hamper the minimal progress achieved in such sensitive cases.


About the Author:

Manhar Manchanda (Dept. of Economics, PU Campus)

Manhar Manchanda
(Dept. of Economics, PU Campus)

17 Years Old. Currently pursuing BA Honours in the Economics Department, PU. A Movie buff, a Beatles/Nirvana fan, love to play the guitar and write songs.

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