Antidepressants are medications used to relieve clinical depression, social anxiety disorder, seasonal affective disorder, mild chronic depression and similar other conditions. Developed around the 1950s the use of these medications has become much pronounced over the last 20 years. While they ae commonly prescribed medications, their long-term health effects always remain debated. But there is a depressing news about these antidepressants-taking these medications increases the risk of death by 33%, according to a new study.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common type of antidepressants that work by blocking the reabsorption of the happiness neurotransmitter serotonin. Depression is the lack of happiness or the existence of melancholy. People with depression have reduced level of the happiness hormone, serotonin and when its reuptake is prevented, the drug enables the individual to make maximum use of what he/she has. Long-term effects of these drugs are controversial and this prompted a group of researchers to probe whether the link between antidepressant use and mortality risk is substantial.
The research analyzed 16 studies comprising of 3,75,000 participants looking for any information on cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular risk and the antidepressant class. The research team analyzed the effect of antidepressants on two different populations-general and cardiovascular patients. Results showed that using antidepressants increased risk of death from any cause by 33% and the risk of death due to cardiovascular events by 14%. Whereas, in cardiovascular patients using antidepressants, the use was associated with a nonsignificant decrease in mortality and cardiovascular events. The anticlotting nature of these medications may help in blood flow to the heart when blood vessels are blocked and this might be the reason for the decrease in mortality in cardiovascular patients. It also gels with the long-term hypothesis that antidepressants work favorable to cardiovascular disease patients due to their anticoagulant properties but are harmful to those who are healthy.
A small note on serotonin: Serotonin is produced by nerve cells in the brain and is used by nerves to communicate with one another. When a nerve releases serotonin into the space surrounding it, the neurotransmitter either swims across the space attaching itself to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or attaching itself to the nerves that release it, to be taken up again by the nerve, recycled and released again. This process is called reuptake. Medications like SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin and change the level of serotonin in the brain.
Overall Body Damage
By blocking serotonin transporter or the norepinephrine transporter, antidepressants prevent cells in organs from taking up these chemicals the way they normally do. As a result, these drugs impair the functioning of many processes in the body. For example, serotonin plays a vital role in growth, reproduction, digestion, immune function and other processes in almost every organ in the body. Disturbing serotonin functioning can affect all these processes in a major way and even lead to greater risk of death in various ways. Serotonin, the happiness hormone, is also triggered by the food choices that we make. Eat your way to happiness with the help of the food list at www.firsteatright.com.
Most antidepressants are prescribed by general physicians without the diagnosis from a psychiatric. Healthcare professionals must weigh the pros and cons before prescribing these medications. Antidepressants work great on patients with depression, improve their quality of life and prevent them from suicidal thoughts. All along, these can also come up with medical complications and side effects. It is up to the physician to take an informed decision and suggest the best remedy to his/her patient.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.