Antidepressants are a highly effective form of treatment for a number of conditions and have fast become some of the most widely prescribed medications in the world.
The likes of Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Luvox (fluvoxamine) are FDA-approved drugs and work as an effective form of treatment for a number of psychiatric conditions including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As with all chemical treatments, the use of antidepressants is not risk-free, with various side effects emerging and receiving more scrutiny than before. As a result, many patients are now looking to better understand the hidden dangers of antidepressants and find natural alternatives.
Depending on the type of antidepressants, you can face a range of hidden side effects and health risks. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly prescribed forms of antidepressants that may cause the following:
- Feelings of anxiousness or agitation
- Stomach pain
- Reduced sex drive
Similarly, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can lead to the following:
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
Although a rarity, one of the most prominent hidden dangers of antidepressants is that they can possibly lead to suicidal thoughts. In most cases this has been observed as being a higher risk among younger patients, particularly those under the age of 25.
Again, this is not a common adverse effect and it can often be a fleeting experience when antidepressants are first taken by the user.
There are various natural alternatives to antidepressant drugs for anyone concerned about the dangers of treatment with synthetic chemicals. It is worth noting that while natural, these are not necessarily risk-free, particularly for anyone combining them with antidepressants.
An amino acid that provides the building blocks for serotonin, tryptophan can therefore lead to increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Not only that, is acts as precursor to melatonin, otherwise known as the sleep hormone.
Studies have shown that tryptophan is a great alternative to antidepressants (it can be just as effective when treating depression) and can be used to treat a number of other mental health conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, and memory loss.
Tryptophan can be found naturally in foods that are high in protein (e.g. meat, poultry, eggs, fish) as well as being available as a supplement. Oddly enough, supplements of tryptophan are more effective as antidepressants since protein present in foods impairs serotonin synthesis, meaning both serotonin and tryptophan levels will drop after eating protein-rich foods.
However, supplements containing this amino acid should never be taken alongside SSRI antidepressants.
SAM-e (s-adenosyl methionine) is present in every single cell in our body. It is a naturally occurring compound, and there are synthesized supplements of this compound available over-the-counter.
Various clinical trials allude that SAM-e is an effective alternative to antidepressants for treating depression, with some noting that it can be just as effective as prescription medication. SAM-e also works much faster than antidepressants, some of which can take several weeks to start taking effect.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that focuses on talking about your feelings to be able to understand why you feel and act in negative ways. As a result, you can better focus on your problems and act in a way that directly addresses them.
CBT has been observed in various studies as an effective alternative method to deal with depression, with considerable success in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.
These are some of the common alternatives to antidepressant drugs. There are of course several other natural remedies that may help. Always consult with your physician before taking any drug or supplement to make sure it will be the right option for you.
This post is a contribution by Jason Lares. You can read more of Jason’s articles on mental and physical health over at http://www.mhrc.cc. Thanks for taking the time to read this – I hope you found it helpful!