If you’re over 65, don’t tell your doctor that you’re feeling a little run down. You’ll walk out of his office with a prescription for a common drug you probably think is harmless.
But studies show these drugs don’t work any better than a placebo. Plus — they’re far more dangerous. In fact, if you’re over 65, taking one just might kill you!
And here’s what else you need to know before going to your doc for help…
One type of this common pill is much more dangerous than all the rest! If you take it, you run a much greater risk of falling or suffering a fractured bone. You also run a greater risk of having a stroke or epileptic seizure.
But doctors prescribe it the MOST… even among seniors who are most at risk.
Here’s what even scarier…
You don’t have to take one for years to run into problems. The new research found that most problems occur within the first 28 days of taking these drugs.
The good news is that you do have options. If you’re feeling a little run down, there are steps you can take to climb out of your fog. I’ll tell you about those in a moment.
But first, consider this…
Why antidepressants are commonly prescribed to seniors
If you hadn’t guessed, the common pills I’m talking about are antidepressants. Depression among older adults is very hard to treat. It can last longer and can trigger more serious symptoms. Plus, most mainstream docs don’t think outside the box when it comes to helping depressed seniors.
In this shocking study, researchers from the UK investigated the harmful effects taking an antidepressant can have on older adults. This is one of the first studies ever to zero in this growing problem.
Specifically, researchers examined data on more than 60,000 men and women over 65 to 100 years old. Each of the patients had recently been diagnosed with depression. But they had never suffered from it before.
Researchers found that 89 percent of the time, the seniors left their doctors’ offices with a new prescription for an antidepressant. (Remember, you have other options. Keep reading to learn more.)
More than ½ of the time, the doctors prescribed a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, more commonly known as an SSRI. This is a newer class of antidepressants, said to have fewer side effects than older drugs. Blockbusters like Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, and Zoloft belong to this class of drugs.
About 30 percent of the time, the doctors prescribed drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs. Today, doctors use these mainly to treat patients who don’t respond to SSRIs. But they cause a slew of side effects, ranging from dry mouth to irregular heartbeats.
MAO inhibitors and various other antidepressants made up the other 20 percent of prescriptions.
Here’s what researchers found…
Much more risk with one type of antidepressant
Researchers found that SSRIs — by far — are the riskiest of the bunch.
Seniors who took them not only increased their risk of falls, fractures, strokes, and epileptic seizures… they also ran a greater risk of dying than folks taking another type of antidepressant.
In fact, when seniors took an SSRI (instead of another antidepressant), here’s what happened:
- All-cause mortality risk increased by 32 percent
- Stroke risk increased by 15 percent
- Fall risk increased by 27 percent
- Fracture risk increased by 26 percent
- Hyponatremia (too little sodium in the blood) risk increased by 44 percent
But the other antidepressants aren’t great options either. Compared to not taking anything at all, other antidepressants increased risk all-cause mortality by 66 percent.
Plus, they increased risk of suicide or self harm by a more than 500 percent! And epilepsy or seizure risk with the other drugs soared by more than 200 percent for this group.
Many of the patients in the study had other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. So, not surprisingly, they took other drugs to treat these conditions.
Researchers believe this is why seniors are much more prone to suffer adverse events while taking these drugs. Their bodies just can’t cope with the added drug burden.
You can defeat depression without antidepressant drugs
I’ve written about depression quite a bit in recent years. It’s a growing problem, especially among nutritionally-challenged older adults.
First off, let me remind you of the safe plant extract red clover that cuts depression risk in post-menopausal women. This is important because, depression strikes almost twice as many women as men. Plus, it often strikes after menopause.
But researchers found that taking this one plant extract cuts an older woman’s risk of ever getting the blues by a whopping 75 percent!
Remember the one form of exercise that brought about a complete remission in 65 percent of the depressed seniors who tried it?
Also, think about taking some St. John’s Wort for mild to moderate symptoms. Ignore the naysayers because there’s plenty of hard data showing that it does give you a boost. Go for 300 mg of a 0.3% standardized extract three times a day.
You will want to avoid amino acid supplements and extended sun exposure while taking St. John’s Wort. These may lessen the therapeutic effect. However, here’s the good news…unlike antidepressant drugs, which can take 30 days to take effect, St. John’s Wort starts working in a few days.
You could also try the amino acid SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) at 400 to 1200 mg/per day. It’s more expensive than St. John’s Wort, but highly effective and has been used a lot in Europe to naturally correct depression.
Tryptophan and DLPA (dl-phenylalanine) are two more amino acids that can be effective in improving depression if taken between meals (but not along with the other efforts).
Given the safety issues and efficacy questions for most prescription drugs on the market, you’re much smarter to give these natural options a try first. In my opinion, they’re just as effective — and much safer — than any RX solutions.
Dr. Allan Spreen
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