If your doctor gives you a drug, one of three things is going to happen:
1 – You are going to get better.
2 – You are going to get worse.
3 – You will stay the same.
That’s just reality.
Not every drug works for everyone.
Since most drugs are tried with white males, it might affect women and other racial groups differently.
Sometimes the difference can be significant.
But what if you feel better, but it wasn’t the drug? What if you had been given a placebo?
Placebos are what most people refer to as a sugar pill. Basically, benign chemicals that look like real medicine.
When drug companies test their medications, they break up the group into two parts…one gets a placebo and the other gets the medicine.
Then the drug manufacturer hopes they see improvement in the group that gets the drug.
In order to get approved, you have to prove that a drug works better than giving nothing.
We assume that when our doctor prescribes a drug, it’s going to do what we think it’s going to do.
If we were depressed, and we took a pill and we now feel better, we assume it was the pill.
But what would have been the outcome if you took nothing?
Statistically about the same.
An in-depth analysis of all the studies came to this startling conclusion in BCM:
“SSRIs versus placebo seem to have statistically significant effects on depressive symptoms, but the clinical significance of these effects seems questionable and all trials were at high risk of bias. Furthermore, SSRIs versus placebo significantly increase the risk of both serious and non-serious adverse events.
Our results show that the harmful effects of SSRIs versus placebo for major depressive disorder seem to outweigh any potentially small beneficial effects.”
There needs to be a distinction between “major” depression and “not major” or “minor” depression.
While there seems to be temporary relief that comes from antidepressants with minor depression, there is no evidence this works better than a placebo.
No one is quite sure that minor depression will correct itself.
Since human beings are gifted with language and relationships, we can usually get perspective and solve our mental issues without medication.
The major depression is what seems to be a disease of the brain and often requires hospitalization and long-term care.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of the “Body Keeps the Score” and a leader in the treatment of trauma and depression, laments the overuse of antidepressant medication in people with minor depression.
He noted we spent over $1.2 billion on just the drug Abilify (even though it was shown to be no more effective than Prozac which is much cheaper).
What he often rails against is that effective treatments that don’t require drugs such as talking with a therapist, using yoga or exercise are considered “alternative.”
But diet, exercise, and talking have always been known as the best treatments to get over minor and even major depression.
It is not that Dr. van der Kolk is against all medications:
“I think medications are necessary if therapists have exhausted other techniques of calming people’s bodies down. It is down the line. I think psychiatrists have increasingly become subject to pharmacological approaches.
I think that if therapists know Yoga or if they know how to use exercise to help people get back in their bodies to get a sense of safety, they help people to learn the resources to cope without taking it away from them. That’s the first approach.”
It is possibly the time to start looking at other ways of coping with depression without asking for a pill, which probably gives you better results without side effects.