Antidepressants are an $11.3 billion dollar industry, but when it comes to easing your depression, is Big Pharma making its billions at the risk of your health? British researchers from the University of Southampton reviewed 22 studies and two previous reviews and determined a tenable link between antidepressants and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Apparently, antidepressants can affect the body’s ability to metabolize glucose, and if your body cannot control its blood sugar levels, health conditions such as type 2 diabetes are imminent.
Published in the October 2013 edition of Diabetes Care, the study found that factors such as the type of antidepressants, the duration of use and the dose directly correlated with risk. One study, for instance, indicated that type 2 diabetes risk doubled when antidepressant drugs were combined, particularly tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It should be noted, however, that results were mixed. While many studies confirmed that antidepressants cause type 2 diabetes by worsening glucose control, a few others showed an improvement in blood sugar regulation.
Some theorize that the risk may be a complication of the weight gain that frequently accompanies antidepressant use (obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes) but when factors such as weight, lifestyle and exercise were removed, the increased risk for diabetes remained.
Side Effects from Antidepressant Drugs
Antidepressant drugs are designed to balance the levels of natural chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, thereby alleviating symptoms of depression, such as feelings of despondency, reduced sex drive and an increased disinterest in life. Unfortunately, the cost can sometimes be greater than the benefit. Side effects from antidepressant drugs include…
- Weight gain
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
Add an increased risk of type 2 diabetes to the list and you may want to think twice about medicating mild to moderate depression. Lead researcher Dr. Katherine Barnard, a health psychologist at the University of Southampton urges doctors and patients to exercise caution when taking antidepressants:
“There is something about antidepressants that appears to be an independent risk factor. With 46 million prescriptions a year, this potential increased risk is worrying. Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking antidepressants is necessary until further research is conducted.”
Natural Cures for Depression
One in ten Americans takes an antidepressant, and that number increases to one in four once you reach your forties and fifties. Depression is a very real condition that often requires therapy and prescription medication for severe, life-threatening cases. If, however, you suffer from mild to moderate depression, consider some of the following natural cures for depression.
Omega-3: Omega-3s from fish oil (not flax oil) have been shown to help improve the symptoms of depression and also reduce your risk of heart disease!
St John’s Wort: Numerous studies attest to its efficacy in treating mild to moderate depression.
SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine: Works quicker than St. John’s Wort and may increase levels of neurotransmitters.
B Vitamins: Folic acid and vitamin B6 have demonstrated potency in calming depression and increasing the effectiveness of prescription antidepressants.
Always check with your physician before taking any herbal supplement, and never quit antidepressants cold turkey. If your depression is severe, follow your doctor’s prescription for mental wellbeing.