Thriving Mental Health Market
When Prozac came out in 1988, it was supposed to make everyone happier. Eli Lilly sold us on the idea that Prozac will solve depression and a host of other mental problems. What really happened is the reverse!
Americans went from spending $38 billion on mental health in 1988, to a staggering $201 billion in 2013. Health Affairs, which reported the latter statistic, found that this is more than Americans spent on any other condition.
Even in 2001, when Eli Lilly’s Prozac patent expired, Statista reports no drop in overall cost, even with cheaper rival drugs available on the market.
Today, more people are taking SSRI drugs than ever before. It is estimated that one in four Americans will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life. If Prozac and all the other flavors of SSRI drugs were working, why are things getting worse?
Side-effects of Treating Depression with SSRI Drugs
A more-disturbing trend surfaces when you take an in-depth look at the effects that SSRI drugs have on people, especially youth.
In a New Zealand study, researchers Read et. al. surveyed 1829 adults who were taking antidepressants. They asked about the side-effects that the individuals experienced. Here’s what they found:
Eight of the 20 adverse effects studied were reported by over half the participants; most frequently Sexual Difficulties (62%) and Feeling Emotionally Numb (60%). Percentages for other effects included: Feeling Not Like Myself – 52%, Reduction In Positive Feelings – 42%, Caring Less About Others – 39%, Suicidality – 39% and Withdrawal Effects – 55%.An important point that the researchers make follows:
Total Adverse Effect scores were related to younger age, lower education and income, and type of antidepressant, but not to level of depression prior to taking antidepressants.Therefore, it seems that even if you have mild to moderate depression, you are just as likely to experience hostile and disruptive side-effects. Is the trade-off worth it?
Another important point from the New Zealand study is that, “total adverse effect scores were related to younger age…”. Looking at page 68 of the study, the side effects more prevalent in younger participants included: Not Feeling Like Myself – 52%, Agitation – 47%, Feeling Emotionally Numb – 60.4%, Suicidality – 39% and Caring Less About Others – 39%.
Thus, younger study participants were more likely to experience side-effects when taking antidepressants. Particularly, the effects seem to make them mentally less stable.
The Sabotage of Young Minds
Thus, what effect do SSRI drugs have on children and teens? Unfortunately, there’s a growing number of parents and children who fall victim to the side-effects that SSRIs commonly induce. Below is a compilation of videos that show the negative impact that antidepressants are having on families.
All of this research and anecdotal evidence make me wonder why these drugs are even legal. If a child, teen or young adult is depressed, would you be willing to risk putting them on antidepressants? Can we not think of any better solution to recommend? Something that helps them feel emotion, find themselves, learn to care about others, and find a passion for life? Not the reverse.
What’s even crazier is that research is starting to show antidepressants might not even work on children. One study from 2016 authored by Cipriani et al examined 34 eligible trails on 5260 participants and 14 antidepressant treatments. The authors concluded:
When considering the risk–benefit profile of antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder, these drugs do not seem to offer a clear advantage for children and adolescents.
The Role of Drug Companies
It may be somewhat perplexing that doctors are still prescribing antidepressants in high numbers. It seems that scientific research and the experiences of consumers illustrate there are significant ramifications to taking these drugs.
How is it that so many people and doctors are ignorant about psychiatric drugs? Peter Breggin, M.D. and author of many books answers:
The truth is because they are all getting their information from the drug companies. They [the drug companies] go through all kinds of extremes to avoid letting you know and letting your doctor know how dangerous the drugs are.Dr. Breggin has been a medical expert in dozens of lawsuits against drug companies, including over 150 lawsuits against Eli Lilly alleging the drug Prozac caused violence, suicide and psychosis. He has insider knowledge of what drug companies are doing to keep the truth about SSRI drugs out of the public eye.
Click here to listen to Dr. Breggin’s expert opinion about psychiatric drugs.
Could Food be the Cause and the Answer?
The physical, emotional and interpersonal side-effects of antidepressants show that SSRI drugs will not solve the problem of mental health. In my personal opinion, they are making things worse.
I do not wish to undermine the struggle of people who suffer from depression or any other mental ailment. I have a first-hand understanding of what it’s like to feel to utterly hopeless, you seek medical help.
Yet, there may a better solution.
Professor Julia Rucklidge from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand examined the possible link between diet and mental illness. She found many association studies and longitudinal studies that show diet has a significant impact on mental health. Watch her full presentation below, where she references countless studies.
In her talk, Rucklidge refers to the SUN Project study. This is one of the largest studies that examined the link between food and depression. It tracked over 12,000 participants during a term of six years.
All the participants were initially free of depression. After six years, researchers identified 657 cases of depression. They concluded that a “detrimental relationship” exists between intake of trans unsaturated fatty acids and depression.
Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. The process is used in the production of many processed and fast foods.
The typical Western diet is full of trans fats. These substances can be found in foods like doughnuts, baked goods, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers and margarines. As well, fried foods like French fries and chicken nuggets, as also high in trans fats.
Is it possible that the Western diet is the culprit for the growth in mental illness? And thus, is a solution for a certain share of sufferers as simple as changing one’s diet? It’s refreshing to see more research and an increasing number of medical professionals explore this topic.
Please feel free to share your experiences with depression or SSRI drugs.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.