The medication that might not be helping

We would all like to think that doctors and researchers get it right when concocting and developing new drugs. Making drugs and selling them to the public is no easy feat, and every drug maker goes through rigorous trials and changes before they ever come into contact with people.

Alas, even the best of us get it wrong, as a new research paper has identified.

The research published on the 17th December in Trends in Cognitive Sciences has uncovered a paradoxical effect that certain antidepressants have on users.

The paper found that patients taking these drugs may actually have symptoms worsen before they start to feel better. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most prescribed class of antidepressant drugs. They work by increasing levels of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in your brain that is thought to create the feelings of happiness and wellbeing within the mind.

The paper found that while this boost in serotonin occurs within minutes to hours after an SSRI is taken, patients usually have to take the medication for about two weeks before experiencing any relief of symptoms.

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The danger lies during this delay, as the drug may actually aggravate depression and in some cases even increase the risk for suicide.

You or someone you know may have experienced this when starting a round of SSRIs. If you have, this research ultimately proves why you are starting to feel worse then before even though you are on a new medication. What’s important to take away from this new research that the bad feelings are not permanent, and that things will get better.

This research also shows the serious negative effects that these ‘beneficial’ medications can have on different people.

It’s hard to say what medication will work for you, and rarely are medications a ‘one size fits all’ problem solver. Some people don’t respond to antidepressants at all, so it becomes difficult to say how best to treat depression.

All we can say with certainty is that continued research such as this paper helps to better build our understanding of serotonin based drugs. This in turn may help resolve some of the paradoxes observed with SSRIs.


Have you or anyone you know experienced problems with SSRI’s? Let us know in the comments below