Do antidepressants work? It depends on who you ask and what standards you use. But a new Danish study concludes we just don’t know. There’s no question antidepressants make chemical changes in the brain, but the truth is that doctors don’t know enough about those brain processes to do anything more than try certain drugs and see what they do. The Danish study says that if antidepressants do help, the effects are tiny. I know plenty of people who swear they couldn’t live without their antidepressants, but the more I study about the root causes of depression, the more I suspect the placebo effect is what’s going on. Although some studies suggest these drugs have slight positive effects for some people, others argue that the positive effects are tiny — and that they cause more deaths than can be explained. There’s nothing wrong with using any drug that helps with something wrong with us — especially short term — but I’m coming to suspect that whatever good SSRIs and similar drugs do comes from masking our underlying issues, not fixing them. Denial is popular with humans, so it will be no surprise if this eventually turns out to be true.
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