Nearly half all antidepressant prescriptions aren’t for depression. Instead, antidepressants have become a common prescription for a number of other health issues, like insomnia and pain relief. While this may shocking and new, this prescription jumble has been officially documented as far back as 2006.
We’re breaking down the recent study on why staggering statistics behind antidepressant medication use for a wide range of health issues, and more importantly, why this is not only problematic but dangerous.
Prescription Confusion: Why Are ADHD, Insomnia and Pain Meds Prescribed to Depressed Patients?
According to a pharmacoepidemiology study published in the latest issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), compiling the electronic records of 101,759 anti-depressant prescriptions instituted between 2006 and 2015 in Quebec, Canada, a mere 55 percent of those were prescribed specifically to treat depression. The other 45 percent? The remainder of prescriptions were attributed to treatments for anxiety, insomnia, pain, migraines and ADD/ADHD.
Sure, insomnia and anxiety are often side-effects and off-shoots of depression. But the severity of this issue cannot be understated. Antidepressants operate on a highly complex and delicate system that affect a slew of biological processes. By tampering and manipulating the body’s healing process with prescription confusion, there can be grave consequences.
This trend of primary care physicians prescribing antidepressants for non-depressed related issues, on top of confusing the body, can inflict unnecessarily intense antidepressant side effects on those who aren’t depressed. More dangerously, this informal trend of treating off-label conditions with antidepressants isn’t grounded in science – it’s merely a word of mouth.
The Scary Side-Effects of Depression Drugs
Antidepressants are far from benign drugs. In truth, the main reason for people stopping the course of their depression medication treatments, are the negative side effects of antidepressants, including, not lot limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Sedation (dangerous when interfering with driving and operating machinery)
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Gastrointestinal disturbances (including constipation and diarrhea)
- Erectile dysfunction and loss of libido
- Agitation and increased irritability
- Anxiety and panic attacks
Natural Alternatives to Depression Prescriptions
The over-use and hyper-dependence on prescription drugs has led many to wonder, why take drugs at all? No one is more medicated than those who claim to feel depressed – with many turning to drugs before even attempting other routes of treatment. In fact, prescribing prescription drugs have dangerously become the robotic solution to people suffering from generic, everyday life stressors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “at least a quarter of all people suffering from depression may be that way because of normal and expected emotions.”
This is by no means a denial of the realness, validity, and weight of depression as a disease. But rather, an important reminder to reflect on your mental state and health. Ask yourself whether you are truly suffering from depression or are merely having a natural human reaction to life’s stressors and troubles.
Treating depression, and other related issues like anxiety and ADHD, naturally requires a holistic plan of action. To combat them from all angles, it’s all hands on deck!
- Exercise. Vigorous exercise alleviates depression, anxiety, and insomnia by boosting your metabolism, improving circulation and enhancing oxygen circulation throughout the body – especially, the brain!
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These fatty compounds are critical to the functional optimization and structural makeup of neuronal membranes. Without sufficient Omega-3’s the communication between your nervous system (including your brain) is compromised. This is directly linked to the onset, intensity, and duration of depression.
- B Complex Vitamins. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are effective and natural mood-boosters. In fact, according to a study by Harvard University, “patients on antidepressants supplemented with these B complex vitamins improved a great deal more than those on antidepressants who did not supplement with them.”
- Rhodiola Rosea. While it is traditionally used by athletes to boost stamina and energy, this natural herbal remedy has been used to tackle both anxiety and depression – with little to no side-effects.
- St. John’s Wort. Upwards of 20 clinical trials suggest that St. John’s Wort, a natural plant that grows in the wild, is as effective as antidepressants for treating mild to moderate depression, with few documented side-effects. While these findings are impressive, it’s important to consult your doctor or naturopath prior to use.
- Light Therapy. While most commonly used to aid a strand of depression known as seasonal affective disorder, light therapy can treat more than winter depression. By sitting near a brightly lit box that mimics outdoor light, the brain is able to naturally produce chemicals related to mood stabilization and consistent sleep patterns.
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