Confusing new studies – do antidepressants help?

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From: Jennifer Koellen


Antidepressants: Do SSRIs Really Help Depression? © Alexander Limbach/image

A new study shows that depression is not due to a deficiency of serotonin. So are antidepressants (SSRIs) redundant? It is not so easy.

Bremen – One in five suffer from depression at least once in their life. In Germany, 11.3 percent of women and 5.1 percent of men are currently affected. Up to six percent currently suffer from summer depression – especially women between 20 and 40 years old. But there is help. Psychotherapy and antidepressants have been shown to help with symptoms such as sadness, emptiness and worthlessness.

Therefore, the following news may surprise people who have successfully got their depression under control. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Because scientists from Great Britain want to have discovered that depression is not due to a lack of the happiness messenger substance serotonin in the brain. But this is exactly where the SSRI therapy comes in.

So do depressed people just think that the medication relieves their symptoms? Do antidepressants not help with depression?

Symptoms of depression: new studies confuse – do antidepressants help at all?

Psychiatrists have been prescribing SSRIs for depression since the 1990s, based on the belief that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Which means: The depressed have too little serotonin in the blood. Researchers at University College London now say: their comprehensive investigation found “no clear evidence” for what is known in specialist circles as the “serotonin hypothesis”. The scientists write in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Do depressed people take the antidepressant SSRIs, as cynical as it sounds, just for fun? Are you just imagining the effect, query placebo effect? Is the pharmaceutical lobby behind it?

Do antidepressants (SSRIs) help with symptoms of depression? Experts disagree

One thing is certain: experts and psychiatrists disagree on whether depression is due to a lack of serotonin in the brain. And further, whether SSRIs actually help those affected.

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David Nutt heads the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. He and his team investigated the release of serotonin in the brain. Nutt contradicts the statements of his colleagues. “We found a reduced capacity to secrete serotonin in people with depression.” Which means: SSRIs should help. Because SSRIs ensure that less serotonin is broken down in the brain and is therefore increasingly available to the patient as a messenger of happiness.

In contrast, scientists from Hiroshima University in Japan found in 2018 that SSRIs do not work in people who have experienced childhood trauma. The reason for this is that different circuit patterns of the brain and different regions are active for different reasons for depression. So SSRIs help one person with depression but not another. This shows how complex the serotonin system in the brain is, writes time online.

Do you have symptoms of depression? Rely on a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants

In a guest post in the current Psychology Today writes psychiatrist Gregory Scott Brown about prescribing pills designed to fix everything at once. And it can’t work. He talks about his own depression, which antidepressants probably would have helped him with. But only “to deal with the symptoms better” – and not to cure them.

This is probably the problem with antidepressants. The problems, ruminations and self-doubt don’t go away. While SSRIs help relieve the symptoms of depression:

Symptoms of depression: These are the most common signs

  • Main symptoms of depression
  • depressed, depressed mood
  • Loss of interest and happiness
  • Lack of drive and fatigue
  • secondary symptoms of depression
  • reduced concentration and attention
  • reduced self-esteem and confidence
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Exaggerated fears about the future or “gloom and doom”
  • suicidal thoughts
  • sleep disorders
  • decreased appetite
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Depression: More than just drugs for the healing process

But if you really want to cure your depression, you need to do more than rely on medication. He needs to take care of himself, do sports, see friends, change harmful thinking patterns in the long term. There are even apps for one now mental health that health insurance pays for.

In conclusion, it can be said that even experts do not agree whether depression is due to a lack of serotonin in the brain – and whether it can be well treated with SSRIs. And even if SSRIs help people get out of depression, those affected can remain symptom-free long-term only by changing harmful habits. And that means you have to work on yourself. And it’s harder than swallowing a pill.

Do you have bad thoughts, are you depressed and can you be depressed? You are not alone in this! Please contact the information line of the German Depression Aid Foundation. Tel.: 0800 / 33 44 533. You can get help here.



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