A Bit of History:
Around 1980 the first serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication came on the market and very quickly after that pharmaceutical companies around the world popped in with five others. They were each developed following a theoretical concept that serotonin affected the connectivity of the brain cell synapses. Was there any proof that a connectivity issue with the brain synapses caused depression or anxiety? No. Is there any proof of that even today? No. Nearly 35 years have passed and SSRI's are one of the most heavily prescribed and studied medications in the world. We still haven't got an answer to how they work, or if this theory on which they are based has any legitimacy. Millions of people have used these "wonder drugs" and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, hate the side effects and question which is worse to endure the depression or the medication(s). Even worse, the psychiatric profession, in general, seems to subscribe to the belief that there is no going back and once someone begins a prescription psychotropic drug that the patient must remain on it forever.
A New Study: SSRI's Work Quickly
A study reported this week in Cell Press reveals that a SINGLE dose of a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor medication alters the entire connectivity structure of the brain. It alters the whole brain, not just certain places. Previously, it was believed it took weeks to make these changes and they only happened in localized places. It now has been shown that it takes place in hours. (1)
Is it good news that these medications will work that fast? It might be if there was a direct link between connectivity and anxiety/depression. Given the speed with which these medications alter the brain, one would think that taking one when you felt a little anxious or blue would be like an aspirin, and fix you right up. But, I think it is safe to say that these medications don't work that fast, leading us once again to question just how DO they work? The only thing that seems to work quickly is in the side effect department. More disturbing is what does it mean to have your brain reconnected by a drug in hours time? What does it mean to a young, teenager's brain to be altered when it still hasn't developed completely? There is small doubt that giving psychotropic drugs to teenagers for garden variety, run-of-the-mill dramas and difficulties in life is not appropriate. It's not much more appropriate for adults. We are awash in advertising and a brain-washed social attitude that we don't need to feel anything we don't want, and we get nervous around people who are anything but upbeat and on-their-game. Don't get me wrong! There are serious mental disorders that need pharmaceutical intervention. The trouble is that only a small fraction of the millions of prescriptions being written are for these severe situations. Most of the prescriptions are being written as "feel good" pills to shore up lives that are ungrounded, hectic, and too fast paced (literally crazy) to cope. Rather than altering the "connectivity of the human brain," how about altering the crazy society and/or how you engage with it?
NatureWords for Your Health
(1) Cell Press. "Single dose of antidepressant changes the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2014.