Do anti-depressants make the heart stop?

July 21, 2009 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION


Sudden cardiac death or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) has gained worldwide attention because of Michael Jackson’s passing last month. To review some SCA statistics from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition:

As I’ve posted before, there are many things that can interfere with the heart’s electric system, leading to a full stop and death. A recent study by researchers at Columbia University indicates that depression – and the use of anti-depressants  – can also cause SCA. And it’s not about overdose on anti-depressants, but regular use at normally prescribed dosage.

The study followed up 63,469 women who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease or any other life-threatening disorders. The participants were monitored for depressive symptoms and anti-depressant use for eight years. The study results confirmed what previous studies have reported: Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with cardiac events, and especially strongest with fatal events.

However, what is new is the fact that the use of antidepressants to manage the depressive symptoms does not actually lower the risk for cardiac events but rather increases the risk of SCA. According to the present study

“61% of subjects were using selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), while 39% used other, nonspecified antidepressants.”

It is not clear how these medications exactly can affect heart function but researchers believe it has something to be with triggering arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythms. A previous study has linked antidepressant use to increased high blood pressure.

The authors warn that more study is needed to confirm the antidepressant use – SCA link.

“It is unclear whether SSRI agents might cause [sudden cardiac arrest]. While cardiac events are well documented with . . . tricyclic antidepressants, evidence for a link with SSRIs is mixed… Moreover, it is quite possible that antidepressant use merely indicates that depression is of sufficient severity to merit treatment.”

There have been high profile deaths due to SCA mainly because of the widespread use of prescription drugs among celebrities as a means of coping with their stressful, high-flying lifestyles. Among these prescription drugs are sleeping pills, anti-depressants, and pain killers.


24 Tips To Help You Overcome The Side Effects Of Anti-Depressant Medication

April 16, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Jean Morgan

Antidepressants are a wonderful answer to people who have major depression. New drugs have been developed that are safer and more effective. But even with the newer medications, you will probably experience some side effects when starting to take them. There are a few things that you can do to lessen the effects of the medication until your body can become adjusted.

Nausea is one of the most common side effects and the most common reason why people stop taking antidepressants. The following tips can help you lesson the nausea:

• Drink plenty of fluids such as unsweetened fruit juice, cool water or ginger ale that has lost it’s carbonation. Do not drink ice water or hot beverages for nausea. Hot or cold liquids slow down the digestion system and may cause the nausea to last longer.
• Take your antidepressant with food.
• Try taking it with an anti acid or bismuth such as Pepto-Bismol.
• If available take a slow release form of the medication.
• Talk with your doctor about a dosage change if the nausea persists.

Increased appetite and weight gain are common side effects. You may gain weight because of lack of physical activity, increased appetite or fluid retention. These tips can help you kept the weight gain under control.

• Eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
• Cut back on sweets and fast foods.
• Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise can release endorphins which is a natural mood enhancer.
• Seek the advice of a nutritionist or dietician.
• Talk to your doctor about switching medication.

Fatigue and drowsiness are common, especially during the beginning phase until your body gets adjusted. Follow these tips to lessen the drowsiness.

• Take a brief nap during the day.
• Get some mild exercise during the day.
• Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until the drowsiness passes.
• Take the medication one to two hours before bedtime.

Dry mouth can also be a side effect of antidepressants. Some antidepressants block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which disrupts the functioning of the digestive tract and reduces saliva secretions. Here are a few things you can do to help with this:

• Sip water regularly or suck on ice chips
• Chew sugar less gum or suck on sugarless hard candy.
• Breathe through your nose and not your mouth.
• Brush your teeth twice a day.
• Avoid mouthwash with an alcohol base. This can dry your mucus membranes out even more.
• Talk to your doctor about saliva substitutes.

Constipation is also associated with antidepressants because they block the action of the acetylcholine which in turn slows down the digestive tract. Strategies to cope with constipation are:

• Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
• Eat high fiber foods such as vegetables and fruits, brans and whole grains.
• Get regular exercise.
• Take fiber supplements or stool softeners if other methods do not work.

These side effects of antidepressant may be bothersome. But many only last a few weeks and then diminish or disappear altogether. Side effects are the most common reason why people stop taking their antidepressant. Talk to your doctor about any side effect you may be experiencing. Never stop taking your antidepressant without your doctor’s guidance. If you stop abruptly, you may experience withdrawal like health symptoms. Just be patient, implement the above tips and you will feel better in no time!

For more information about an informative ebook and self help package for anyone suffering Panic Disorder or Depression visit Defeating Depression

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6 Alternatives to Prozac

February 20, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Beverly Terhune

Amino Acids

The building blocks of neurotransmitters; the amino acid 5-HTP is the most popular. Talking it can elevate the mood in cases of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, and relieve insomnia. This supplement also increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

B Vitamins

Many people, particularly women over 65, have B-12 deficiencies and respond dramatically to injections of this vitamin – Vitamin B-12 lozenges are also available and quite inexpensive. All B vitamins can boost mood; they work by facilitating neurotransmitter function.

Other pluses of taking a good Vitamin B complex are that they are critical for the prevention of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.


This hormone is marketed in Europe specifically for post-menopausal depression, though it may be helpful for other forms as well. DHEA has been used in conjunction with estrogen to treat hot flashes. It may also help to elevate mood and promote energy.

Essential Fatty Acids

Supplements containing essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3 fish oil or Flax Seed oil are among the best documented. The reason they are so effective? Essential fatty acids are part of every cell membrane, and if those membranes aren’t functioning, well, neither is your brain.


GABA, or Gamma-Amino butyric Acid, is an amino acid that is considered a major inhibitory neurotransmitter found in approximately 30% to 40% of all brain synapses. In clinical study, GABA supplementation has demonstrated a wide variety of health benefits that may help to provide positive support for: tiredness, fatigue and weakness.

GABA has been used for treatment of depression and can assist in elevating the mood. The amino acid, GAMA can also help treat occasional nervousness, anxiety and panic attacks.


An amino acid combination produced by humans, animals and plants. Supplements come from a synthetic version produced in a lab that has shown a lot of promise in European studies.

SAM-e affects the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Due to its sedative-like qualities, it is widely used as a natural pain reliever and muscle relaxant.

As with any vitamin or supplement, please consult your doctor before taking.

About the Author:

Author Beverly Terhune speaks from 35 years of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis and shares her experience, strength & hope on how to lead a healthy, substance-free life.

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All About Depression

December 12, 2006 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Courtenay Cameron

What is depression?

Many of us say “I’m feeling depressed” when we feel sad or miserable. But usually, these feelings pass after a while. But clinical depression is when these feelings are disabling and interfer with your life. Clinical depression can stop people from leading a normal life, it makes everything harder to do and everything may seem less worthwhile. At its most severe depression can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live.

How do I know if I am depressed?

You may be ‘clinically’ depressed if you have most of the following symptoms:

* depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, that may be noticed by others.
* Loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
* significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
* insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
* psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
* loss of energy nearly every day
* feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
* diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
* recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

What types of depression are there?

* General Depression
People who suffer from general depression still have most of the major signs and symptoms of depression as discussed above. Depression can very from mild to moderate to sever (which is sometimes called major depression).

* Seasonal affective disorder
This happens when someone becomes depressed only during the autumn and winter, and it is caused by not getting enough daylight.

* Postnatal depression
Also known as “the baby blues”. This is a depression that occurs after the birth of their baby and can appear any time between two weeks and two years after the birth.

* Manic depression
Also known as Bipolar Disorder. Some people have mood swings, with periods of depression that then change into periods of mania. Mania is a state of high excitement, and peope who are manic may plan or believe lofty schemes and ideas.

What causes depression?

There’s no one cause of depression; it varies from person to person and can happen for a combination of factors. Although depression there has been not enough evidence to believe that is is something inherited in the genes, some of us are more prone to depression than others. Some factors that could cause depression include:

* the way we’re made
* our experiences
* family background.
* traumatic life events
* poor coping strategies
* after a loss of some sort (loved one, job, house etc)
* life changes
* inability to adapt
* physical illness
* poor diet and lifestyle
* chemical imbalances

What can you do to help yourself?

Remember that depression can feed on itself. In other words, you get depressed and then you get more depressed about being depressed. An important thing to remember is that there are no instant solutions to problems in life. Solving problems involves time, energy and work. Here are some things you can do to try and break the hold of low moods:

* Make an effort to be more aware of how you talk and think to yourself. Listen to yourself in your head.
* Every time something negative crops up, quickly scrap that thought and think of something kinder, more encouraging things to say to yourself. For instance, when you have to do something, if you always say to yourself, ‘You’re sure to fail. You always make a mess of everything you do’ try to ‘delete’ those thoughts and replace it with something like: ‘You’re going to do the best you possibly can.
* Look for things to do that occupy your mind.
* Although you may not feel like it, it’s very therapeutic to take part in physical activities, for 20 minutes a day. This can stimulate chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which can help you to feel better.
* Try doing things that will improve the way you feel about yourself. Allow yourself treats. Pay attention to your personal appearance. Set yourself daily or weekly goals that you can achieve. Look after yourself by eating healthily.
* Try some alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, homeopathy and herbal medicine. St John’s Wort is one of the herbal remedies that have become very popular, and may help to lift your mood. But if you are already taking other medication, it may not be safe to combine them. Consult your pharmacist or GP for more information.
* It can be a great relief to meet and share experiences with other people who are going through the same thing you are. It can break down isolation and can show you how other people have coped and that is how SpeakOut and support groups can help.
* Remember to try and value and accept yourself. If you’ve spent most of your life believing that you’re unacceptable and of little value, it’s hard to change yourself for the better, because all your ideas and ways of behaving are based on that assumption.
* Question the assumptions on which you base your ideas. Is it really true that everybody in the whole world hates you, or that everything you’ve ever done has turned out badly? Is it really true that you have nothing worthwhile in your life?
* Try to remember how you came to think and feel this way.
* Writing these things down puts what you’re thinking and feeling outside of yourself, and you can see it more clearly. Books can be helpful. Try reading, not just self-help books, but well-written novels, poetry and biography.
* Talk about these things to other people and find out how they see things. Talk to friends, call at a local drop-in centre, join a self-help group. Talking to a therapist or counsellor can be very helpful.

What can you do if you think you need more help?

If you find your depression is effecting your daily functioning and has been present for a length of time now, it may be worth seeking the advice of your local doctor. Also if you have been going through a lengthy period of consecutive suicidal thoughts then it may be a good idea to seek out some reassuring aid from your local doctor if you haven’t already. 4 out of 10 appointments at G.P. surgery’s are on the concerns of a persons mental and emotional well-being, so there’s no need to feel like your the only one. Here are some of the things the doctor can offer:

* Antidepressants – These are drugs which work on chemical messengers in the brain to lift your mood. It often takes between 2-4 weeks before the drugs take effect. The usual recommendation is that you stay on them for six months.
* Psychological treatments – This is things like therapy and counselling. Many people find it helpful to talk about their difficulties to someone who is trained in listening skills. The therapist or counsellor can also help you to put your problems in perspective and to develop new coping and problem solving strategies.
* Befriending schemes – Your doctor may put you in touch with a local befriending scheme this will lead to trained volunteers visiting you regularly to give you practical advice, support and a sympathetic ear.
* Support groups – This is when you meet up and talk with other people who are feeling the same way as you and share your experiences. This can be helpful to discover what works for other people and how other people cope.

What if the depression gets worse?

If you are severely depressed then you may need more intensive aid. Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health nurse. The sort of services that you may be on offer for you include:

* Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) – These are often the most easily accessible service for people with mental health problems. They can provide support for people living in their own homes. The CMHTs include a psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurses (CPNs), social workers and support workers etc. These professionals will visit you at your own home or refer you to Day Hospitals or Day centres where you spend the day but return home afterwards.
* Crisis resolution services – These are teams of doctors and nurses who provide support during crisis situations, and will help you to stay at home if you’re in crisis, rather than go into hospital.
* Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – This is a controversial treatment, that is only offered when people who are severely depressed and have not responded to any other treatment. It involves passing an electric current through the brain, while you are under general anaesthetic. I’ve witnessed this being done several times and in my opinion it sounds worse than it really is.
* Hospital admission – If you are severely depressed and are a significant risk to yourself or others you may need the shelter and security of a ward hospital. It also gives a chance for the health professionals to monitor the effects of different treatments. Hospital can provide a safe, supportive environment if you are in a state of distress. Generally however doctors want to avoid placing people in hospital, but some patients are compulsorily detained if they are a dangerous risk to others or themselves.

If you are feeling down, need some one to listen to your problems or just need to chat one2one; then SpeakOut! is here for you. SpeakOut! is a caring community and we’re here to help a broad range of people with a broad range of issues – including but not limited to depression, eating disorders, self injury, low self esteem, suicide, drug abuse, sexuality and relationships. SpeakOut’s online community helps people get through the troubled times and celebrate the good times. You have the ability to post threads anonymously if you feel you have more discreet issues to deal with.

SpeakOut! is full of friendly and welcoming people that are here to help you – whether it is an official helper, a member, a forum moderator or an administrator. If you have a problem you feel that you need specific attention from SpeakOut! staff, you can open a help ticket in the one2one helpdesk and a SpeakOut! staff member will be there to help you, one2one to the best of their abilities.

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Antidepressants May Fight Colorectal Cancer

April 2, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

03.27.06, 12:00 AM ET

MONDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) — A pioneering study supports a theory that a widely used class of antidepressant drugs can also fight cancers, such as colorectal cancer, Canadian researchers report.

The drugs, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), include such popular medications as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. The study was based on reports that serotonin, the body chemical linked to depression, also promotes the growth of cancer cells, said Dr. Jean-Paul Collet, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal.

To test the validity of those reports, Collet and his colleagues turned to an existing database of Saskatchewan residents enrolled in a prescription drug plan. They found about a 30 percent lower incidence of colorectal cancer among people who took high doses of SSRIs, compared to those who did not take the drugs. No such reduction was found in people taking the older class of tricyclical antidepressants.

The results might apply to other cancers as well, Collet said, “but we chose colorectal cancer because the colon is rich in serotonin.” And while the results are very preliminary, he said the study had the advantage of producing results in just six months.

“Now, even knowing the limitations of our study, it is a very strong piece of information to identify how to conduct future studies to validate the results,” he said.

The results appear in the April issue of the journal Lancet Oncology.

The study drew a measured response from Dr. Henrik Toft Sorensen, professor of clinical epidemiology at Aarhus University in Denmark, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.

“It is an interesting paper, but the study needs to be replicated by other groups,” Sorensen said. “I can’t rule out that the results might be due to bias.”

Until carefully controlled studies are done, “treatment of colorectal cancer should not be changed,” he said.

Collet said: “The next step should be to study the effects of SSRIs in high-risk populations, such as persons with a family history of colorectal cancer, to see whether in this treatment we can find protection. Also, studies might be done in patients who have cancer, to see whether after surgery, we could reduce the rate of recurrence or metastasis [spread of cancer elsewhere in the body].”

Future studies would have to take into account such factors as diet, use of other drugs and the presence of diseases such as diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, which can affect the risk of colorectal cancer, the researchers wrote.

If studies do confirm the cancer-fighting effects of SSRIs, that could boost sales of the already-popular drugs. About 100 million SSRI prescriptions are written each year in the United States, and the number of prescriptions in Canada rose from 3.2 million in 1981 to 14.5 million in 2000, the report said

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health can tell you more about SSRI antidepressants.

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