By February 24, 2015 27 Comments Read More →

Research: Antidepressants Don’t Work and May Make Depression Worse

Flickr-antibiotics-Iqbal Osman1Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Waking Times

[Editor’s Note: This article is about recent research on the chemical causes of depression and the use of SSRI antidepressants to address these causes. There are many other types of antidepressants available, and antidepressants, including SSRI’s, do help many people through depression. This research, and this article, simply highlight another perspective and another side of this important story, and should not be intended as medical advice for anyone.]

At present, over 10% of people over the age of 12 in the United States take some type of antidepressant, and depression is the number one cause of medical disability in both the United States and Canada. Fighting depression is big business, and financial analysts are forecasting notable growth in the antidepressant market in coming years, while yearly sales in the US top $5 billion.

Apparently, the accepted cure for depression is pharmaceutical antidepressants, typically selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, SSRI’s.

For the last fifty-plus years, the medical community has based depression treatment on the scientific reasoning that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, or more specifically, “that depression is related to low levels of serotonin in the gaps between cells in the brain.” Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being and happiness, and SSRI antidepressants are prescribed to “keep the neurotransmitter’s levels high by blocking its re-absorption into the cells that release it.”[1] This regulates the amount of serotonin available, and theoretically at least, cures the chemical root-cause of depression.

But, what if this theory is completely wrong, and the millions of people who are addicted to antidepressants are actually making their problem worse by taking SSRI’s?

A recently released scientific study published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews claims that the entire theory behind the usage of SSRI’s is completely backwards, even going as far as to suggest that SSRI’s actually make overcoming depression more difficult, especially in the first weeks of taking antidepressants.

‘”Those serotonin-boosting medications actually make it harder for patients to recover, especially in the short term, says lead author Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster.’ [1]

This new research gives us an explanation as to why so many people do not improve once they begin taking SSRI’s, offering evidence that taking SSRI’s may actually make it more difficult for people to heal depression, as the medication interferes with the brain’s natural processes of recovery.

“When depressed patients on SSRI medication do show improvement, it appears that their brains are actually overcoming the effects of anti-depressant medications, rather than being assisted directly by them. Instead of helping, the medications appear to be interfering with the brain’s own mechanisms of recovery.”

Because there is no way to measure exactly how the brain is releasing or using serotonin, there is no way to entirely prove that the presiding theory of depression is correct, so this new study examined measured evidence about already metabolized serotonin levels in studies involving animals.

“The best available evidence appears to show that there is more serotonin being released and used during depressive episodes, not less, the authors say. The paper suggests that serotonin helps the brain adapt to depression by re-allocating its resources, giving more to conscious thought and less to areas such as growth, development, reproduction, immune function, and the stress response.” [1]


The potential side-effects of taking antidepressants are quite terrible and most SSRI’s even come with a warning about the increased risk of suicide while on these drugs. Once taking SSRI’s it is very difficult to quit, and most patients are advised to take these medications for very for years at a time. The expense of dependency on pharmaceuticals is outrageous, and an entire economy has been built around the prescription of SSRI’s.

The mental health industry is founded on prescribing mood-enhancing drugs rather than uncovering and confronting the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and environmental root causes of depression, anxiety and attention deficit ‘disorders.’

As independent research continues to chip away at the validity of prescription-based healthcare, the industry continues to grow, making it obvious that individuals will need to become more personally responsible for their mental health in order to survive so many of these modern day ‘chemical imbalances.’ Last year a renowned pediatrician and leading neuroscientist made headlines by proclaiming that ADHD is not a real disease, but a blanket term used to explain away a host of obvious social and dietary problems. More and more people are speaking up in favor of finding new ways to address mental health problems.

‘”It’s time we rethink what we are doing,” Andrews says. “We are taking people who are suffering from the most common forms of depression, and instead of helping them, it appears we are putting an obstacle in their path to recovery.”‘ [1]

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for and an avid student of Yoga and life.


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  • Stefan Bombay

    many times they ask to change ur freedom to take drug and put your destiny in they’re hands with drugs and effects. the responsibility is always yours not the doctor’s behavior. the process makes a patient more dependent. because of losing in life. problem isn’t people won’t have confidence / faith / trust in pills but there are to many outcomes.

  • Stefan Bombay

    the problem as patient is, u have to listen to the doctor. when u cannot agree and get a new medical opinion u recognize the pattern off feeding drugs and economic benefits for the economy, if u calculate the cost for treatment .u wont financial benefit, it wil not be possible to let the people pay without a ”good” job or low income to ensure safe healt care and it’s cost , it’s more like an experiment we are force to participate on non scientific grounds due the negative effects , they are a perception off sickness to the doctor and by and second opionion u will give them more to argu against u inorde for you. pills therapy forced cannot be help.= problem

  • Bobir Mukhammedov

    In this monetary system we really must be aware of what we really are intaking either they are drugs or food just anything consumable

  • zabelisa

    Everybody I know on anti-depressants is depressed… so tell me how does it help? Just because people are not killing themselves (which they wouldn’t even do anyway) doesn’t mean it helps. Serotonin does not enhance happiness or anything resembling that, it makes people more compulsive and forces them to act in impulsive manner instead of taking a break from their life and charging their battery so to speak. Talking works way better than any SSRI in the long term or long term. i can only see it helping in an extreme grief situation or a real self-harm threat (which is rarely the case). People go crazy on that crap and struggle even more… that is the reality that I have seen. Think microbiome and watch the applications of fecal transplant take off in 20 years.

  • Bob B Ooger

    My with is bipolar and such. She was on 3 types of medications + sleep aids when we meet. For almost a year, she’s been on two + a single sleep med.

    They “upped” the dosage on the newer med that was supposed to help her… took us a while to notice THAT it was causing her memory issues (forgetting her cell phone) and being “bitchy”.

    It came to a head last November when it caused various attitude problems and turned into a fight that shouldn’t happened. Cops we’re called – she ran away, acting like a child and without her phone. They asked me “Does she take abusive drugs, like illegal or prescription?” When the light bulb went off in my head *Her medication changed! DUH!*

    When we found her the next day and okay. We discussed it, and went to half-doze for 2 weeks, then took her off it all together.

    Now she only takes Prozac and is doing very well with a single simple drug.

  • Lisa Chan

    This article is foolish, potentially dangerous and not even grammatically correct.

  • Dr. vikhram

    Guys please. People with depression are already suffering a lot. Please don’t hurt them more than they already are, by telling ill stories about ssri.
    SSRI like escitalopram have saved millions of suicide and sufferings. I’m a psychiatrist and I’ve seen it help people than hurt people..
    Throwing mud at something is easy but do you realize the fate of the poor people you are hurting.

    • Pete

      At last a comment in good context.

  • Good article, however, it is serotonin, not seratonin.

  • nik

    if anti-depressants worked then depression would be cured but they don’t. anit-depressants may feel like they’re helping but they are not and definitely not in the long run. my brother and i both have depression and so does our father, they tried putting us on all kids of different antidepressants. i could always tell i was on a drug and who wants to feel like that all time? i just wanna feel normal. that was making me more depressed knowing people didn’t think i could help myself and that a fucking pill is gonna fix me. the truth is that no drug is going to fix your brain, you have to fix it on your own. the best thing is exercise, that is the real cure and the real disease is laziness, dependency, ignorance and lack of knowledge. exercise and educate yourself. be productive and be positive. stay independent.

    • Anonymous

      Totally agree. I don’t see how these dumb ass pills can help anything. They’re like a band aid – a temporary solution, they only mask the problem instead of dealing with it. I’ll never take them and I’ve suffered severe depression, anxiety and body dymorphic disorder since I was little. I don’t need these pills, they’re nothing but garbage and I refuse to take them. A pill isn’t going to give me the face and body I want, or make me a millionaire or bring my father back from the dead. It won’t even take away all the hate I have for myself, sure it might numb it down but it’s not fixing anything. Maybe there are people out there that it helps, or maybe they aren’t really depressed or the drugs are giving them a good feeling so they think it’s helping them in the long term. But for those of us who have very severe, long term depression, you either learn to live with it or go to therapy (which made mine even worse), or you just figure it out. If it’s here to stay no pill on earth will correct it. Short term, yes. Long term, absolutely not.

    • Stephanie

      I agree… As somebody who has been suffering since childhood from severe depression, anxiety & body dymorphic disorder… And a former pharmacy technician… This article is correct. Those pills are nothing but garbage, at least for long term depression. Let me put it this way – a pill isn’t going to give me the face & body I want, it’s not going to make me a millionaire & it certainly won’t bring my father back from the dead. Short term depression might be helped, but the long term isn’t going to be fixed by pills. All these pills do is mask the problem and make you feel alright when you’re on them. When you stop taking them it’s a thousand times worse. I have never taken them myself and I never intend to because I’ve seen the crazy shit that happens to people who take them. I may hate myself more than any of you could ever imagine, but I’m not suicidal or stupid. In my case, therapy made it even worse but most people should certainly seek therapy before asking for pills. Or, there’s such a thing as sucking it up and dealing with it. This article was spot on and I hope more people realize that these pills aren’t good for them and should only be taken as a temporary solution.

  • Kevin

    It’s true! Antidepressants don’t work. Nor do antibiotics, hypertension medication, blood transfusions, chemotherapy ..

    This “report” makes some pretty bold statements – without citing any evidence. The truth is: ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATION WORKS IN ABOUT 78% OF HEALTHCARE CONSUMERS WHO TAKE THEM. The source: Multiple studies by the National Institute of Health, the FDA. and NAMI. Do antidepressants work all the time? No … and they work best in conjunction with “talk therapy”. They work by restoring lowered levels of neurotransmitters. Side effects? Yes. But even aspirin has side effects. “Studies” like these do more harm than any antidepressant ever could. Maybe we should go back to the “good old days”: Human sacrifice (of the depressed person) works 100% of the time. LOL

  • carol

    I have gone on antidepressants three times for a year and a half or less. I am 58. The first time they were prescribed to me, I started crying. The doc asked why, I said, “because someone is finally helping me”. What I found in addition to the increase in serotonin, and a general just felt better, the bigger problem was the obsessions and the anti-depressant broke that continous loop. The well worn rut of my mind. The second time, was when one of my children was hospitalized for a serious mental condition and I could not stop crying. The anti-depressant then helped me get throught the trauma and help her. Indeed, since I had dealt with my own issues already and somewhat healed myself through volunteer work and hiking from PTS, I was glad that I did not have to go into counseling with her and say, “can you fix me and then fix my daughter”. The last time I had to use them was because I had just become obsessed with a nasty boss emotionally abusing me at a time I was teaching at a University, a job I loved. I believe like a well worn muscle, the SRRI helped to reprogram my mind. For success, therapy needs to be combined with the SSRI. I followed my doctors directions to not discontinue the SSRI for 6-8 months or it would have a rebound effect. When I went off I weaned off,cutting it in half, then quarters. In many ways the SSRI’s helped me to deal with real world situations as I came to acceptance. The depression has not returned for a decade now. I do have consistent anxiety, my doc says anxiety is the flip of depression. Prayer helps me. I talk to God all the time.

  • Shannon Black

    The writer states, “The mental health industry is founded on prescribing mood-enhancing drugs rather than uncovering and confronting the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and environmental root causes of depression, anxiety and attention deficit ‘disorders.’”

    To be fair, professional counselors are trained with the foundational knowledge that the quality of the collaborative relationship developed during counseling sessions (which is characterized by unconditional positive regard on the part of the therapist) is the largest predictor of client-reported success in counseling. Though we are trained to be knowledgable about psychopharmaceutical medications which may be prescribed by psychiatrists or medical doctors, we are not trained via a medical model in which the doctor is the “expert” and the “patient” has a disorder. We are trained from a wellness perspective, and are educated to enable the client to find their own solutions and explore their issues via whatever route they feel able, based on goals they set themselves. Please do not disparage the entire mental health field. Society already stigmatizes mental health and discouraging people who may really benefit from seeing a counselor causes further damage.

    • John Heelan

      Depression is a MOOD DISORDER ! …………. not a set of issues with solutions.
      If you have had success with your clients then it is probably because they had ordinary everyday depression that all of us get. They feel better after your intervention because there depression was not an IlLLNESS ……….. it was just a severe everyday depression.

  • Paul

    This must be the craziest story I’ve ever heard. If SSRI’s don’t work for you, there are many other classes of antidepressants, i.e. SNRIs, NDRIs, Tricyclics, MAOIs, Atypicals, ….. Some antidepressants work better for certain individuals than others. It’s not uncommon to try different depression medicines during treatment. This was such a one-sided article and is one of the reasons why these very, very helpful drugs get/have a bad name. If they were that awful as “Alex” tries to brainwash/scare the public, they wouldn’t be prescribed or even approved by the FDA. Hello? Been on most of them, and they do work effectively to treat depression. Talk therapy is necessary to help you understand why you feel this way. In terms of this disbelief or a chemical imbalance, as the name suggests with SSRIs they inhibit reuptake of serotonin back into neurons and therefore the serotonin remains active in the synapse for slightly longer, thus having a beneficial effect on mood and helping relieve the symptoms of depression. However, as with many pharmaceuticals, SSRIs treat depression by increasing serotonin activity, it doesn’t always correlate that it is a lack of serotonin that is the root cause of the condition.

    • Robyn

      I agree with you. This article is very one sided. How about you interview some patients who have been on several antidepressants. They have worked for me. I can tell a difference when I take them. Even a different dose makes a difference. For you to say they make it worse is very irresponsible. It may for some but not for others. That is actually a side effect of some of the medications and it is stated as a side effect. That’s when a different medication is needed because, for some reason, one medication may not work as well as another, for that person. Also, the pediatrician that said ADHD is not a real disease is full of crap. I have a child that bounces off the walls every morning until she takes her medication. 30 mins. later she can focus, is calm, and able to do her work at school without any problems. We tried changing her diet and that did nothing for her. So, that proves nothing. The ADHD medication is a miracle drug for her. She even tells me when it’s not working any more and that’s when I take her for a follow up with her Doctor and he knows we need to change the dose or the medication.

    • Lori

      Did you happen to see the credentials of the author of this article? Laughable. He is a layman quoting biased studies.
      Complete hogwash, and I hope there aren’t any people taking his words seriously.
      Idiots like these can discourage people with depression from getting a treatment that works and could change their lives.
      Shameful, really.

      • Pete

        Lori, spot on!

  • Yes it’s true, antidepressants are both dangerous and ineffective ways of curing depression, yet big pharma keeps encouraging us to swallow more pills.
    I was depressed for a long time and as a young person of only 25 years old it was hard for me to cope.
    Luckily I found natural ways to cure depression that are not harmful to the body and work much better.
    If you want to learn more about the dangers of antidepressants and how to cure depression naturally, you can go here
    There’s also a self-assessment test you can take to know if you’re depressed

    • Jane Lacson

      cant connect to said website. it says forbidden website

  • sebkar

    id like to know if this applies to SNRI aswell, im diagnosed with depression with the possibility of it being bipolar disorder type 2 since i’ve been going from happy to severely depressed bak and forth. during spring im feeling quite well, summer im “ecstatic” as the doctor calls it, then i usually feel a bit down during autumn, and when winter comes i sleep up to 16 hours a day and some days i feel like i can’t take it anymore. however this winter i’ve been feeling quite well since i finally got mirtazapine instead of sertraline because i changed doctor and she told me at once that it sounds more like bipolar disorder then a regular depression

    • For SAD (seasonal affective disorder), you need sunlight (or bright light therapy) and vitamin D.

    • Anonymous

      What you are explain sounds more like Bipolar type I not type II. People with Bipolar type II usually are at a normal state of

    • Everyonehasarighttotheirownopinion

      I’m not a doctor quite yet but what you’re describing sounds like Bipolar type I not type II. Those with Bipolar type II usually go through how would you say “a state of normalcy” for a period of time and then over night have an episode of a deep state of depression. They alternate back and forth. People with Bipolar type I usually have a manic episode of an extreme high, of an abnormal period of elevated mood and energy. They then overnight have an episode of deep depression. It’s basically manic depression. They alternate from mania to depression. Again if your doctor is saying it’s Bipolar type II then it’s most likely type II but I have a family member who is Bipolar type II and I noticed their behavior cycling from normalcy to extreme depression and then back. I told my family member that I though they had Bipolar type II not just clinical depression and should ask their doctor if this is possibly what they had. I was told the doctor asked a series of questions and then was diagnosed with type II. Abilify was added to the medication that they were originally taking and it has completely changed their life.

  • Bad-Clown

    How many lives ruined by the HUMAN CRIME SYNDICATE? They know their stuff is toxic, and keep peddling it. (They’ve known for more than 50 years.)
    Next step, understanding what it is you’re dealing with…

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