Do antidepressants really help depression?

It’s a hard pill to swallow.

The Prozac generation responds to a controversial new study by University College of London which debates the effectiveness of antidepressants, suggesting that there is no evidence that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, and denying the decades-old notion that a serotonin deficiency is the reason for the disorder of sanity grab one estimated 21 million Americans.

“It’s always difficult to prove a negative result, but I think we can say with certainty that after much research over several decades, there is no convincing evidence that depression is caused by abnormalities in serotonin, particularly by lower levels or reduced activity of serotonin,” the study’s lead author, Joanna Moncrieff, professor of psychiatry at UCL, said in a press release.

Matt Heuther, diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety and OCD 11 years ago, thought he couldn’t do anything about the brain’s biochemical imbalance.
Courtesy of Matt Heuther

The study calls into question the effectiveness of antidepressants, which millions of Americans have come to rely on.

“Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe that their depression has a biochemical cause, but this new research suggests that this belief is not based on evidence,” Moncrieff said.

The findings came as no shock to Maggs Baker, a 37-year-old who has taken and stopped drugs like Prozac and Lexapro since she was 20.

“When I read the study, I said, ‘That doesn’t surprise me.’ That’s another thing big pharma has been pushing us for so long,” the single mother and Austin business owner told the Post. “All these years I’ve been on a pill because my doctors don’t kept telling me that my brain just needed a boost because of my ‘chemical imbalance’. I believed them and ended up staying depressed for a decade longer than necessary,” said Baker, who weaned herself off them in March with holistic therapy.

“I just wanted to get off that hamster wheel — feel bad, get more meds from the doctor, but because I’d been on antidepressants for so long, I thought that was just the answer,” Baker said. .

Karissa Karmali outdoors near her home in Ontario Canada.
Karissa Karmali, 32, from Ontario, Canada, thinks there were times when the medication helped her, but thinks there were also years when she didn’t need it and wasted his energy on them.
Courtesy of Karisa Karmali

Matt Huether, 35, a psychiatrist from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety and OCD 11 years ago, can relate.

“I thought these diagnoses were a life sentence because I believed they were a symptom of a biochemical imbalance in the brain that I couldn’t do anything about,” Huether said. He was prescribed many antidepressants, but they did not work for him.

“The drugs for me gave me unusual suicidal thoughts that I hadn’t had before I started taking them,” he said. “I began to work through my counseling issues and found the help I needed, discovering my innate resilience to overcome my negative emotions. I discovered they were linked to troubling circumstances, not because of a broken brain.

Karissa Karmali, 32, from Ontario, Canada, thinks there were times when the medication helped her, but thinks there were also years when she didn’t need it and wasted his energy on them.

“I took stress-related leave because I couldn’t cope with the drug trials,” she said. “I’m a month on this drug which [finally] works – it’s a brand new drug. Fast forward to a month ago, I started a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It’s an enhancer drug, but it took seven years to figure it out.

Karissa weightlifting.
Karmali found exercise to be a refuge from her anxiety and depression. She was started on a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). “It’s an enhancer drug, but it took seven years to figure it out.”
Courtesy of Karissa Karmali

Some researchers, meanwhile, say that due to the complexities of depression, ruling out serotonin imbalances may not be the answer, and certainly not a reason for someone to stop taking prescribed medications. . And despite the study, psychologists say antidepressants have been shown to help patients.

“We still have strong clinical trials showing that SSRIs can be effective,” said Thea Gallagher, psychologist and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. “The study should help people who are only taking an SSRI, just medication, to also know that there are things you can do cognitively and emotionally to understand the things that impact your I don’t think it’s just about running to get rid of your SSRI, but about realizing the multiple factors and ways we can take to improve our mental health.

Neha Harvey in San Francisco.
Neha Harve said she felt like a better version of herself after being prescribed antidepressants to deal with her anxiety and depression.
Courtesy of Neha Harvey

Neha Harve, who works in tech PR in San Francisco, feels like a better version of herself after being prescribed antidepressants to deal with her anxiety and depression in 2017 after moving out of her home in India in the United States and feeling lonely.

“Looking back, I don’t think the therapy would have been enough,” Harvey, 27, said. She had difficulty concentrating, responding to emails and meeting deadlines while in college. She also lacked motivation.

“It took me about a month to get used to my SSRI, but honestly I felt so much better. It really made a difference in every aspect. I was much happier, which is not something I observed but people around me also saw.

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