Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, study suggests

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Commonly prescribed anti-depressants appear to be doing patients more harm than good, say researchers who have published a paper examining the impact of the medications on the entire body.

Commonly prescribed anti-depressants appear to be doing patients more harm than good, say researchers who have published a paper examining the impact of the medications on the entire body.

"We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs," says Paul Andrews, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University and lead author of the article, published recently in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology.

"It's important because millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they're safe and effective."

Andrews and his colleagues examined previous patient studies into the effects of anti-depressants and determined that the benefits of most anti-depressants, even taken at their best, compare poorly to the risks, which include premature death in elderly patients.

Anti-depressants are designed to relieve the symptoms of depression by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, where it regulates mood. The vast majority of serotonin that the body produces, though, is used for other purposes, including digestion, forming blood clots at wound sites, reproduction and development.

What the researchers found is that anti-depressants have negative health effects on all processes normally regulated by serotonin.

The findings include these elevated risks:

  • developmental problems in infants
  • problems with sexual stimulation and function and sperm development in adults
  • digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating
  • abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly

The authors reviewed three recent studies showing that elderly anti-depressant users are more likely to die than non-users, even after taking other important variables into account. The higher death rates indicate that the overall effect of these drugs on the body is more harmful than beneficial.

"Serotonin is an ancient chemical. It's intimately regulating many different processes, and when you interfere with these things you can expect, from an evolutionary perspective, that it's going to cause some harm," Andrews says.

Millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants every year, and while the conclusions may seem surprising, Andrews says much of the evidence has long been apparent and available.

"The thing that's been missing in the debates about anti-depressants is an overall assessment of all these negative effects relative to their potential beneficial effects," he says. "Most of this evidence has been out there for years and nobody has been looking at this basic issue."

In previous research, Andrews and his colleagues had questioned the effectiveness of anti-depressants even for their prescribed function, finding that patients were more likely to suffer relapse after going off their medications as their brains worked to re-establish equilibrium.

With even the intended function of anti-depressants in question, Andrews says it is important to look critically at their continuing use.

"It could change the way we think about such major pharmaceutical drugs," he says. "You've got a minimal benefit, a laundry list of negative effects -- some small, some rare and some not so rare. The issue is: does the list of negative effects outweigh the minimal benefit?"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul W. Andrews, J. Anderson Thomson, Ananda Amstadter, Michael C. Neale. Primum Non Nocere: An Evolutionary Analysis of Whether Antidepressants Do More Harm than Good. Frontiers in Psychology, 2012; 3 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00117

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424120450.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, April 24). Anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424120450.htm
McMaster University. "Anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424120450.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins