Antidepressants Rarely Outperform Sugar Pills

Antidepressants Rarely Outperform Sugar Pills by Dr Joseph Mercola

Thanks to ruthless marketing by Big Pharma, between 85% and 90% of the public believe low serotonin levels cause depression. But do the data support it?


  • The serotonin hypothesis posits that low serotonin levels in your brain are responsible for symptoms of depression. However, there’s little to no evidence for this. A number of studies have debunked the serotonin hypothesis, which is the basis upon which drug makers market SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Lexapro and Zoloft
  • According to recent research, “The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations”
  • The primary effect of SSRIs is to superimpose an abnormal drug state over your symptoms, much like recreational drugs and alcohol would. The small benefits seen in some drug trials are due to emotional numbing
  • This numbing effect comes at a steep price, as it also prevents you from experiencing emotional highs and does little to counteract the loss of energy, interest and motivation that are so characteristic of depression
  • Researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently published the most comprehensive analysis of antidepressant clinical trial data submitted to the FDA, including unpublished trials. The evidence showed antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 15% of patients, and almost exclusively in those with the most severe depression

As of 2018, 13.2% — approximately 1 in 8 — of American adults over the age of 18 were on antidepressant medication, with more than twice as many women taking them (17.7%) than men (8.4%).1 Curiously, though, only 7.2% had actually been diagnosed with a major depressive episode — a statistical discrepancy that hints at massive antidepressant overprescribing. As noted by Newsweek:2

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