View Full Version : Antidepressant drugs - risky in stressful environments?

Little bit
09-26-2016, 06:43 PM
Having taken Lexapro myself in 2007, I was surprised to learn at one point that doctors don't really know how antidepressants work. There were theories, but they didn't really know if, or how, they work, and many suggested it was just placebo effect. I participated on a few threads at 23andme which illustrated how differently people react to antidepressants, some having very bad reactions, while others had very good reactions, all to the same drug or class of drugs. As for myself, I had a tough time getting on antidepressants because of side effects, some very unexpected (back pain, who knew?), but once on, I felt it alleviated my depression. I could only stay on for around 3 months, however, because at that point, the side effects started to negatively affect my mood (sleep issues, digestion problems, restlessness, and inability to tolerate alcohol made life less fun.) Going off was a breeze which was surprising given the horror stories I found online, with about a week of tapering off. No problem and no significant relapses other than normal seasonal/situational blues. But I still wondered, why did it work for me and not others? This new study suggests a possible reason why:

Antidepressant Effects Thwarted by Stressful Environments
SSRIs may even be harmful for those whose depression emerges from stressful situations

Since the simplistic serotonin imbalance theory of depression has fallen out of favor, other neurological theories have taken its place in the attempt to find a medical intervention for depression. One current theory involves an immune response in the brain. In previous studies, SSRIs were found to decrease inflammatory responses in the brain, which was theorized to be part of the mechanism of their antidepressant effect.

However, attempts to replicate these studies were inconsistent. Some researchers found pro-inflammatory responses in the brain, while others found anti-inflammatory responses. Because of this, it is unclear whether pro- or anti-inflammatory responses are associated with antidepressant effects.

Given these contradictory results, researchers have hypothesized that the degree of inflammatory response caused by SSRI use is dependent on another factor, the environment. “The increase in serotonin levels induced by SSRIs enhances neural plasticity, rendering individuals more susceptible to environmental conditions,” write the researchers, led by Silvia Alboni at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

However, these results confirm the growing body of literature that indicates that antidepressant drugs may only be effective for individuals who are living relatively unstressed lives. This finding calls into question the effectiveness of these medications for those who need appropriate treatment most—those who have particularly taxing occupations, who live in poverty, who are homeless, who are facing an abusive partner, or who deal with racism on a daily basis, for instance. Indeed, if antidepressants increase susceptibility to stress, as this study indicates, then these drugs may even be less effective than no treatment for most people with depression.


Although my life wasn't without stress at the time, I wasn't facing anything very serious like abuse, poverty, or homelessness so perhaps that's why it worked for me? Actually, looking back, I had it pretty good and I'm wondering if the drug allowed me to finally see that? Have you taken an SSRI, and what do you think? Could this also explain why young people are more susceptible to having a negative experience/suicide risk?

Little bit
09-29-2016, 11:19 AM
If antidepressants look to risky for you, and you don't have a history of addictive or compulsive behavior, looks like alcohol works just as good as fast acting depressants like Katamine:

Alcohol shown to act in same way as rapid antidepressants

"There's definitely a danger in self-medicating with alcohol," Raab-Graham said. "There's a very fine line between it being helpful and harmful, and at some point during repeated use self-medication turns into addiction." In their study using an animal model, Raab-Graham and her colleagues found that a single dose of an intoxicating level of alcohol, which has been shown to block NMDA receptors (proteins associated with learning and memory), worked in conjunction with the autism-related protein FMRP to transform an acid called GABA from an inhibitor to a stimulator of neural activity. In addition, the research team found that these biochemical changes resulted in non-depressive behavior lasting at least 24 hours.

This study demonstrated that alcohol followed the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants in the animals, while producing behavioral effects comparable to those observed in people. In recent years, single doses of rapid antidepressants such as Ketamine have proven capable of relieving depressive symptoms within hours and lasting for up to two weeks, even in individuals who are resistant to traditional antidepressants.

I drink a glass of red wine every day while I make dinner which I say is my 'treat' but maybe it's my self-medication. For red wine drinkers, you might get the bonus from resveratrol:
Resveratrol can help to reduce inflammation, study finds

But, on the very same page, was this:
Moderate alcohol use linked to heart chamber damage, atrial fibrillation in new study

Oh well, I was never going to live forever anyway and I'd rather be as happy as I can in the time I've got. To be honest, the only family member of mine who died of a heart rhythm problem was my paternal grandma, who died at 66 and she was a teetotaler. Never even touched the stuff. Everyone else lived into their 80's and drank, sometimes a lot.