I really did not want to write this article because I thought it was a boring topic but then I found out how many people receive SSRIs instead of Benzodiazepines (benzo from now on) because of two primary (and totally wrong) key reasons:
- SSRIs suppose to also treat anxiety
- Benzos are addictive whereas SSRIs are not
Well…. let me put my 2 cents into this argument because I feel like writing when I am angry. And boy am I angry! So let’s get two factors straight immediately. Anxiety is a break down of adrenaline release system caused by a perceived danger by the dopamine pathways of the brain. Anxiety is a fear of death. SSRIs on the other hand are created for depression. Depression is the wanting to commit suicide–thus the opposite of anxiety. It works the serotonergic pathways and not dopaminergic and so the two drugs have nothing in common. With this out-of-the-way, I can focus on addiction.
What is addiction? A new study, by Nielsen, a doctoral student working on his dissertation, ran an analysis at the Nordic Cochrane Centre. A meta analysis looking at data, which showed that the symptoms of coming off of the two types of drugs were nearly identical. But what is called “addiction” for benzos, is called “SSRI discontinuation syndrome.” A wonderful name; isn’t it? I know I am cheeky but it is intended. After all, what is a syndrome? A syndrome can even be fatal as in “serotonin syndrome” and so calling the withdrawal from SSRIs a “syndrome” makes it actually worse than addiction. But let’s continue to how addiction is defined by Dr. Lars Vedel Kessing, a clinical professor I am glad and proud to never ever have taken a class from!
His definition of addiction to benzos is as follows:
- First, you lose control and the desire to take the drug becomes compulsive. In some sense you could say the drug takes control of you, say Kessing.
- Next is the onset of tolerance.The dosage must be increased all the time to get the desired effect and you keep taking more and more of the drug.
- Directly related to this is the third symptom; a strong urge to privately obtain more of the drug so it can be taken without the physicians knowledge.
- Lastly, there will be a detrimental effect to the individual who will no longer be able to function socially of physically.
The interesting thing is that none of this is true. It may be true for an alcohol addict or an illegal street drug addict but certainly is not true for an ill person taking benzo for health!
I know first hand that it is all wrong since at age 19 I came down with severe anxiety–which later turned into part of the reason for my migraines, which you can read about in my book. I am now over 40 years later, still taking the same benzo and not only did I not increase my dose, I actually decreased it. I am a lot more personable now than I have ever been in my life. I have never ever had any strong urge to get more of my drugs; in fact my goal has been to get less and less over time. And lastly, there are no detrimental effects to me that stop me from functioning in the society. If anything it made me better at being able to function in the society.
Now could I just stop my benzo? Probably not. So is it addictive? Sure it is. Any drug that alters brain chemistry is addictive. So let’s visit SSRIs. I have written much before about SSRIs so if you want to find out how they commit their crime, visit some of my write-ups in this blog. Here is one that even has a drawing in it to help you understand how it works. I now know many people who take SSRIs. Luckily I am not one of them and never ever intend to be one.
I find that I am not able to find a single person for whom SSRIs actually work. But I do find that once they start it, they cannot come off of it. It may take years for them to come off of it and then they may have flashbacks for years! So here they were put on a drug that did not work–and I tell you in a moment why they did not work–and now the doctors have created a nightmare of people continuing to take a drug that doesn’t work simply because they cannot come off of it! So is SSRI addictive? You bet it is! Major it is! And it doesn’t work.
As I said I explain why it doesn’t work. Originally when SSRIs were first created, the application was for one purpose: Clinical depression. Not sure what happened to this term since it can no longer be found. I find people who receive SSRI for seasonal and situational (someone dies) depression which then is impossible to get off of and they are stuck for life or suffer withdrawals. It was not meant for their condition. Here is a short list of what SSRIs are now prescribed for (these are from Wikipedia):
- 1.1 Depression
- 1.2 Generalized anxiety disorder
- 1.3 Obsessive compulsive disorder
- 1.4 Eating disorders
- 1.5 Stroke recovery
- 1.6 Premature ejaculation
Also prescribed for PTSD, chronic pain, and depersonalization disorder plus ADD, ADHD, and similar. The list of damages it causes I will ignore since it is too long but I do want to talk about 2 major problems. One is that it is supposed to be prescribed for clinical depression and that is not even listed. Secondly, those who take this medication often commit suicide. There is a bit of a confusion in there… it is counter intuitive to give a drug to a depressed who is suicidal that will end up helping them to commit suicide. So why are they promoted? What is the point? Do they even work? They don’t actually. Why not? A couple of possible reasons and one certain reason.
Possible reason popped up recently in the New York Times about the possibility of a pathogenic origin since many of the symptom of the depressed appear similar to some illnesses caused by pathogens and the depressed apparently have the marker of inflammation in the body! Thus there may be something physiological that is not in the brain! So why treat the brain?
Another trail of thought in the same paper is that it may have an evolutionary benefit in solving some big problems that requires withdrawal from normal behavior to complete. They call this rumination. They may sound far-fetched to you but way better than SSRI! Robin Williams’ death was a classic example of depression going out the window and there are other reasons. The for sure reasons are many but one of them is that a very few people diagnosed with depression actually get any benefit from SSRIs because their brains do not need extra serotonin. SSRIs force neurons to make serotonin 24/7 regardless if the person needs it or not. Too much serotonin can cause other troubles: serotonin syndrome (can be fatal), IBS and digestive troubles among other things.
Thus for those of whom SSRIs don’t work, they actually cause harm and addiction! It is clear that we know nothing about depression and it is also clear that SSRIs are handed out like candy for an illness we know nothing about. I just about had it with doctors wanting to replace my benzo that works just fine with SSRIs. I placed a permanent ban on my medical record on any form of serotonin and SSRI. I am the happiest person alive with an anxiety problem that is not “being anxious” or nervous. I have never ever had a depressed minute in my life. Have I been upset on some days? Sure. Depressed? Never.
I suggest the medical community review their practices in SSRIs and depression in general because the state of matter today is: they are wrong!
Comments are welcomed as always!