Antidepressants have been the subject of a wave of negative media coverage after a broad analysis of research studies revealed no dependable connection between depression and serotonin. It has caused many individuals to doubt the efficacy of psychiatric drugs that lower serotonin levels. And that is regrettable and perhaps sad. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can be very successful even though they are not a magic bullet for treating depression.
Research Findings Are Not Complete Accounts of Events
It is widely acknowledged in psychopharmacological development that serotonin is not the sole neurotransmitter impacted by depression. Depression is a condition that a variety of psycho-neurochemical processes can cause. Because noradrenaline, dopamine, glutamate, and other chemicals have a role in the symptoms of depression, SSNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), NRIs (norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), NDRIs (norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors), and SNRIs.
It’s crucial to remember that the umbrella review that garnered so much attention examined the depression-serotonin relationship, which it questions rather than the efficacy of antidepressants. Without a doubt, further study is necessary to comprehend the mechanism underlying how antidepressants function. Sadly, many have been misled by research findings about serotonin that only provide a partial picture of a complex problem. Serotonin is only one component of significant depression, which can also be influenced by other neurotransmitters, nutritional and hormonal deficiencies, metabolic issues, and other medical conditions (like Parkinson’s disease). One aspect of this condition is highlighted by concentrating only on serotonin. It is not reasonable to criticize treatment and develop mistrust in medical care in those who are already feeling vulnerable due to suffering from depression because we do not fully comprehend the complicated brain chemistry.
Medications for Specific Symptoms May Have Beneficial Effects
Even though we don’t always fully comprehend how a particular medical procedure or therapy operates, we consistently employ it when it does. We take the Hippocratic Oath, which is an ethical pledge to “Do No Harm,” as physicians. We are fortunate to live in a time when a wide range of psychiatric drugs is available, each of which can treat a particular depression symptom, such as mood, sleep, hunger, or focus issues. It would be careless and malpractice to not provide antidepressants in the right situation. Yes, it might require some trial and error. Still, as demonstrated by the Star-D study (sequenced treatment alternatives to relieve depression) and the most extensive investigation into antidepressant use, positive outcomes are possible, even if an antidepressant isn’t entirely effective initially. It can be done by boosting the dose, supplementing with an antidepressant from a different class, or switching antidepressants.
The basic message is that since no reliable evidence links serotonin to depression, no one should discontinue taking antidepressants that are successfully treating their depression. A too simplified understanding of the illness fails to consider the complexity of the neurochemicals in our brains and the accessible psychiatric drugs.
The Best Treatment Is Integrated
Serotonin is not the only treatment for depression, and neither is using medicine the only strategy. Traumatic events and biological, psychological, and social factors can contribute to depression. The best way to manage it is with a comprehensive plan that includes medication (when needed), psychotherapy, and mind-body techniques like mindfulness and exercise that help control mood and enhance wellbeing. Depression treatment has the potential to be very successful. Nobody should give up hope if they are depressed or have a loved one who is. Everyone can be helped. Do not be misled by anyone or anything that disparages the extraordinary advances in psychopharmacology.