What if anti-depressant drugs don’t work? Prescriptions for anti-depressants in the UK have gone up 43% to 23 million a year. An article in The Independent yesterday explained that ‘Research repeatedly appears to show that anti-depressants are little more than placebos, with very little therapeutic benefit but serious side-effects’ including sexual dysfunction, which in some cases carries on even when they stop taking the pills. Professor Irving Kirsch, associate director of the programme in placebo studies at Harvard Medical School and author of The Emperor's New Drugs:
Exploding the Antidepressant Myth carried out a meta-analysis of 38 clinical studies, based on over 3,00 depressed patients, which showed that only 25% of the benefits of anti-depressants was related to the drugs, while 50% was the effect of the placebo. It comes down to expectancy and conditioning explains Kirsch ‘if you expect to feel better, you will, even if you're getting negative side effects, because side effects convince people that they've been given a potent drug. Not all are in agreement, Ian Anderson, Professor at psychiatry at the University of Manchester thinks people are getting ahead of themselves to suggest that anti-depressants are rubbish and that they have they are most useful for those who don’t take to talking therapies.
So the world of psychology is divided! But what can't be argued is the research that shows 50% of the benefits coming from anti-depressants come from the placebo effect. People on anti-depressants have reported side-effects such as feeling sick, sleepiness, weight gain, indigestion, confusion and in some cases when they come off them feeling worse then they did to begin with! So whats the alternative? There are a many natural things you can do to battle your depression. My best selling book The Feel Good Factor provides lots of psychological techniques and insights to get your mood back in balance and gives you the power to improve your wellbeing, mood and motivation, with only one side-effect – HAPPINESS!
Here’s just one of my many practical suggestions from The Feel Good Factor that you can use to help banish the blues. Balance your hormones Having blood sugar problems is one of the ways you can end up with hormonal imbalances. But there other ways. Many people who feel low have an underactive thyroid. If you feel like your get up and go has got up and gone, this may be your problem. It’s certainly worth getting your thyroxine levels checked. A simple way to do this yourself is to test your body temperature which should be at least 36.5°C. If you test your temperature on rising and it’s consistently below this there’s a good chance you have an underactive thyroid. Sometimes the problem isn’t just a lack of thyroxine, but that the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroxine producing cells. That’s why it is also vital to be tested for what’s called ‘ anti-thyroid antibodies’.
If you test positive there’s a very good chance you have an unidentfied food allergy. Jennifer had suffered with severe depression since she was 16 and was finding it very hard to cope, and had gained 42lbs. Her tests revealed that she had very high levels of anti-thyroid antibodies, as well as several food allergies. Three months after starting her allergen-free diet Jennifer said she was ‘thrilled’. Her low mood had lifted, she’d lost weight and went back to full-time work, something she had feared would never happen. There are other hormone imbalances too, such as a lack of progesterone or DHEA that can leave you feel low and lacking in motivation. I talk about these in the book. Learn to feel good with The Feel Good Factor