Are You Depressed?

Health Alert 65

If you or someone you care about is taking an antidepressant drug there are a few things you should know about. All too often a patient comes to me taking antidepressants without a thorough evaluation. And the prescribing doctor didn’t mention the side effects such as weight gain, fatigue and loss of libido.

The antidepressants Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac are among the most prescribed drugs in the US . If you have verified clinical depression the drug may be the best option. Often though in conventional medicine the drug is the first resort. This only masks the real underlying health problem.

*Why Do You Feel Sad?*

If you feel sadness or depression, the first thing you should do with your doctor is search out the cause. Strive to address the cause, not just the symptom.

Depression is difficult to diagnose accurately. Your symptoms can be a sign of a number of other conditions, including:

• Thyroid disease

• Hormonal imbalance

• Side effects of other medications

• Blood-sugar imbalances

• Obesity-related fatigue

• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

• Sleep disorders

• Anemia

• Hepatitis

• Lyme Disease

Adapted from 50 Ways to Fight Depression without Drugs

I am particularly troubled to find the number of cases of antidepressant drugs use because of the side effect of another prescription drug. Depression is, in fact, one of the most common side effects of medications. The prescribing physician rarely attributes this side effect to the drug. In most cases, he prescribes another drug to treat this side effect.

Are you depressed but not taking other prescription drugs that may cause depression? In that case, have your hormone levels checked. Your hormone levels control your mood. There are complex circumstances of modern life that disrupt these natural regulators. If you inappropriately feel sad, it’s only logical to look at how your system is regulating your mood.

In fact, studies show that prescription antidepressants are not effective for both men and women when hormone levels are low.

In a placebo-controlled study of women over sixty, women taking Prozac after correcting estrogen had improvement of their depressive symptoms. But, if they took Prozac with low estrogen, they had no more improvement than a placebo.

A study conducted at Columbia University examined middle-aged men with depression. The men also had low testosterone levels. The men first took an antidepressant alone. There was no improvement in their depression. In the second stage, the men also took testosterone. The men reported significant improvement. When they substituted a placebo for the testosterone, 75% of those subjects became depressed again.

*Natural Mood Regulators*

So what should you do if you are suffering from depression? First, make sure that you find out your hormone levels. I regularly test for the following:

Next, honestly evaluate your lifestyle. Does your diet support your physical and emotional your well being? Do you consume too many starches? Blood sugar fluctuations can have a profound effect on your mood.

Exercise also helps with your energy level and sense of well being. Refer to my recent Health Alerts 58 & 59 for my recommendations. Even very gentle exercise can help with depression.

To your good health,

Al Sears, MD

Source: NDC Health

Stahl, S.M. Estrogen as an adjunct to antidepressant therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 59 (Suppl 4): 15-24.