With an increasing number of Americans using antidepressants, a recent study warns about an overlooked side effect condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. The symptoms include headache, insomnia, agitation, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Researchers note that because they are a mind-altering drug, antidepressants can be very difficult to quit because they produce a state of physical dependence. These drugs were never intended to be a permanent solution for depression, yet many people have been taking them for several years. The Center for Disease Control data shows that in 2017 12.7% of Americans 12 or older take a monthly dose of antidepressants. Compared to 1999 when the estimated number was 7.7%. One fourth of those have taken these medications for 10 or more years. The data also shows that women are twice as likely to take antidepressant medication than men in every age group.
According to Mireille Rizkalla, PhD, the lead author of the study, people feel safe knowing their depression is managed by medication. She states the real problem lies with patient care management as doctors don’t equip patients with a plan to eventually wean themselves off of the medication. A commonly prescribed class of antidepressants are called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which boost the brain’s production of the serotonin hormone. Rizkalla says doctors who prescribe these should also provide their patient with a discontinuation plan. She also suggests providing patients with suggestions for natural methods to promote mental health such as therapy, exercise, meditation, and proper vitamins. Other studies show that Vitamins B and D are helpful in fighting depression and anxiety as they help produce and control the chemicals that influence mood.
Magnesium is known for its ability to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which controls the physical and psychological reactions. When the body is stressed, this system contributes to what is known as the “fight or flight” response. Magnesium can help reduce the stress response and can help relieve panic attacks, stress, and anxiety.
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