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This is Your Brain on Antidepressants and Probiotics

antidepressants and your brain
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If you watch any television, with the exception of a TV show called “Know The Cause,” you’re going to be exposed to many, many pharmaceutical drug ads.  I’ve noticed in the past several years that ads pitching antidepressant drugs try to upsell viewers on taking more antidepressants.  The ads represent “add-on antidepressants.” After reading the article (1), I finally understand why this “upsell” is so heavily promoted.  You likely need more prescriptive antidepressants, because they don’t seem to work!  But the probiotics worked!  “At 8 weeks, patients in the probiotic group achieved numerically greater improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms compared with placebo.”

Then comes the medical “Dr to Dr” research information about major depressive disorders (MDD). “About 60% of patients with MDD do not fully respond to first-line treatments, and about one-third continue to have symptoms even with further treatment.” Does this excerpt say that antidepressants are about 7% effective for people with MDD?  No wonder so many TV ads upsell antidepressants!

To add insult to injury, the article also states, “probiotics may be effective in reducing depressive symptoms when administered alongside antidepressants.”  If antidepressants are so ineffective, I’d share the results of this study with my prescribing Dr and ask for an 8-week trial of probiotics! (please, never stop taking antidepressants without your Drs approval) Finally, despite the great results achieved while on probiotics, the final sentence shows how medical researcher are trained to think. “The authors noted that they were unable to determine whether the observed effects were specific to the interaction with SSRIs or generalizable to other treatments.”  In other words, they are excited that the probiotics worked so well, but wondered if the antidepressant was finally working and the great results observed had nothing to do with the probiotics!  Or, perhaps another “generalized” treatment just happened to be the reason those taking the probiotics did so well. Can’t these brilliant medical researchers just write one more paper, but this time, delete the antidepressants and use only probiotics for MDD patients? Imagine the joy the pharmaceutical industry would express when they observed those results!


Research and References

1. MedPage Today: Including Probiotics in Major Depression Treatment Shows Promise | MedPage Today


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