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How many of us have heard the voice speed through the list of possible side effects in commercials? Everyone. The truth? These aren’t side effects. They are negative effects of the prescription or over-the-counter medications in the commercial. 

SingleCare1 reported that about 66% of Americans take one or more prescription drugs. They say 47% of adults and young adults (20-59) have reportedly used prescription drugs in the last 30 days. The average number of medications taken is four per person. 

Several prescriptions have listed a potential side effect as depression. The unfortunate thing is that these prescription medications are harming people. In fact, for a lot of these people, it’s making their mental health conditions worse. A study2 from 2018 found that 1/3 of Americans are taking medication that increases the risk of depression. Almost a quarter are taking ones that increase the risk of suicide, with an increase of 6.2% from 2005/2006 to 2013/2014. The more prescriptions you take with the potential side effects, the higher your risk. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. How many of us have seen the commercials for prescription or over-the-counter drugs on TV? How many have something like psychosis or some other mental illness as a side effect? What about anxiety or weight gain? We are an overmedicated population that is treating the symptoms and not the cause. The results are all around us. So, we’re seeing increases in chronic illness. Our population isn’t getting healthier despite medical advances. They are getting sicker, more medicated, and more depressed. 

Depression and suicide risk are potential side effects of over 200 common drugs. CBS reported on this3 in 2018. 

ARE YOU ON ANY OF THESE DRUGS? HERE ARE A FEW TO LOOK FOR: 

  • Birth Control or Estrogens 
  • Statins – for heart 
  • Opioids – for pain 
  • Beta blockers – for blood pressure 
  • Anticonvulsants – for seizures 
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors – for acid reflux 
  • Sedatives – for calming or sleep 
  • Corticosteroids – for reducing pain and inflammation 

That’s just to name a few. These are drugs you or someone you love may be taking. What happens if you come to the doctor and share that you’re feeling depressed? It generally involves antidepressant drugs. Another prescription medication. Common among these antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). As the name implies, these drugs impact your serotonin levels. They are changing your biochemistry, which has numerous other possible side effects. The Mayo Clinic article4 about SSRIs goes into a few. These include things like nervousness and agitation. Insomnia, drowsiness, sexual problems, and impact on appetite are listed as well. 

Nervousness and agitation—which could lead to a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. How do medical providers handle this? By prescribing more medications. 

Drowsiness and sexual problems also have prescribed medications that mask the symptoms. None of these take care of the cause, though.

Are you seeing how we can easily get to an average of four medications? These medications may be things like antipsychotics, stimulants, and benzodiazepines like Xanax. It could be something as simple as sleeping pills or something for constipation. That doesn’t even address what Mayo Clinic4 considers the more serious side effects; things like suicidal thoughts. They try to handwave this while admitting the FDA requires they give the warning. Other serious side effects are things like drug interactions and serotonin syndrome. This happens when you have too much serotonin. 

Why? 

Your body works like a Swiss watch. Every system impacts every other. If you’re taking prescription meds, you’re taking them for one specific aspect of your body. That’s not the only part of your body they impact, though. When you take meds for those common side effects, those meds, too, have side effects. 

It can be easy for those numbers to ramp up quickly, and it can result in far more side effects. 

It can be easy to look at some situations and think there’s no alternative. Situations like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Even panic attacks. Being on antipsychotic medications, psychiatric medications, or amphetamines can be a slippery slope. It can be easy to look at the circumstances and see no other option but side effects. And when those side effects include depressive disorders, it can be downright disheartening. This isn’t the end, nor the truth. Your body is made for wellness and is constantly trying to return to that state. This is the most common way of treatment for young people, adolescents, and adults. Common doesn’t mean normal. It’s not the only way. 

Is this how you, a family member, or a friend that is taking prescription medications feel? You are not alone. Remember, over half of Americans are regularly taking a prescription drug and over 1/3 of Americans are on a drug that increases their risk of depression. You don’t have to look far to find another person who should be looking for the insert for their medications. 

What Now? 

Medications come with risks. If you have to take medications for the rest of your life, that isn’t health. It’s time for a new way of looking at health and medicine. One that looks at the cause to bring people back to homeostasis. Not one that masks their symptoms while leaving them sicker. Your medications shouldn’t be depressing you. Or making you anxious, giving you withdrawal symptoms, or mood swings. Take control of your health and contact a Wellness Way clinic, today! 

 Resources:

  1. Prescription Drug Statistics 2022: SingleCare 
  2. Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States: JAMA Network 
  3. Many Americans taking common meds that may cause depression, study finds: CBS News 

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

2 Comments

  • Michelle says:

    What if you are on an antidepressant and every time you try to go off you get worse?

    • The Wellness Way says:

      Hi Michelle, Thank you for your question. One of our doctors would like to speak with you about your question. We sent you an e-mail for more information.

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