Why Isn’t My Antidepressant Working?

There hasn’t been a new type of pharmaceutical antidepressant in 30 years. That’s right 3-0. Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, and Paxil are all very similar types of SSRI’s designed to narrow in on serotonin to treat depression.

The Serotonin Theory of Depression

For the last three decades these antidepressants have been designed solely dependent on the serotonin theory.

Yes, it’s still a theory. Nope still hasn’t been proven. It’s still a theory. And the research still isn’t there after 30 years to support this theory. Yes, serotonin is an important neurotransmitter, but not the fix-all we thought it was. It turns out that all of our neurotransmitters are pretty important. We’ve also discovered that there’s different types of depression.

The controlled studies that initially put these SSRI antidepressants on the map have less than favorable results. Although these studies were reported as “statistically significant” the effect size is just barely above the placebo. Another problem is that these “statistically significant” studies were not double blind studies. This means the researcher and the participant were both aware if they were receiving/not receiving the antidepressant in the study. These studies were also funded by the pharmaceutical companies trying to approve them for mass consumption. Extremely bias results.

Not only are we still going off of a theory that hasn’t been proven, we’re still going off of studies that haven’t shown us anything significant. Also, these controlled studies were only designed to study quick acute relief. That’s what antidepressants were originally designed to do – acute quick relief. These antidepressants have not been designed or studied for long-term relief.

The Rise of Depression

Antidepressants are the second most prescribed medication in this country for people above the age of 12. More antidepressant prescriptions were filled last year than ever before, but we now have the highest depression rates in history.

If these SSRI’s actually do what they’re theorized, these rates would be dropping astronomically. We can do so much better for depression. We have the best minds and the best resources and using 30 year old shitty research on our brains.

You might be asking “if these drugs aren’t working like they should, why are they still being prescribed?”. Excellent question.

It takes a lot more effort, time, and resources to look beyond a patient’s presenting symptoms. Most physician’s don’t get reimbursed by spending a lot of time with a patient. Typically a doctor office bills their appointments in increments of 15 minutes. You can only do so much (or little) in 15 minutes.

Taking A Deeper Look

Taking a deeper look takes time and is specialized to that patient – which takes away from the bottom dollar. There’s also a lot of money to be made in selling a quick fix like antidepressants. Antidepressants are a 12 billion dollar industry. If the prescriptions stop getting filled so do the paychecks.

We now know that depression is person-specific. We also know there’s different types of depression. Depressive symptoms have been scientifically linked to many types of body systems. These systems have included: the gut, hormones, adrenals, deficiencies, diet, along with many others.

Continually covering up depressive symptoms, will only continue to increase the debilitating symptoms of depression. Depressive symptoms are the check engine light of the body. Your body is telling you something when these systems light up. This check engine light doesn’t improve because the light gets unplugged. The only way to fix it is by looking under the hood.

This information is not intended nor should it be used as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor if you’re wanting to make changes to your medications.

Work With An Experienced Therapist.