Serious Side Effects and Sicker People


Ok. I’m warning you in advance — this is going to be a rant, so watch out!

Today in my email inbox, amongst some of the other junk mail, was a notification suggesting that if I, or a loved one, had ever taken a particular anti depressant medication while pregnant, I may be interested in participating in a class action law suit as this medicine has now been shown to cause birth defects.

How have we gotten to a place where we’re taking things like this, poisons, if you will, without knowing what they are and what the ramifications will be?

I don’t take this lightly and this is not meant to me a dismissive post suggesting that those who are depressed should not take meds; far from that. I recognize that there is a broad range of mental illnesses requiring many different modalities of treatment, some of which may include prescription medications.

What I have an issue with is the ease at which these meds are distributed and without trying other things first. Why are diet, exercise and perhaps psycho therapy not the natural first step to ask people to include in their regime when dealing with depression? Why are strong medications and then more medications for the first medication’s side effects step number one?

I worked with one client who shared her own experience with me; she’d been diagnosed as clinically depressed as well as having a anxiety disorder. She was put on a regime of effexor and trileptal. Then she had to add meds for the stomach distress caused by the two. She gained weight and developed acne, too. Long story short: fortunately, she found a new naturopathic MD who was able to guide her off those prescriptions, add some natural relief via Sam-e, 5 HTP, fish oil and a gluten free diet (which ultimately led her to Paleo).

Will there ever be a day when prescriptions are no longer the first course of action? Oh, right, silly me for asking such a question when there is simply too much profit to be made from the sales.


I will continue to support the Hippocrates approach:

”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

View Nell Stephenson's Primal Docs Profile

  • Robert

    I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and a strong advocate of a natural lifestyle, exercise, and a paleolithic approach based on our species' evolution. I think you are missing the boat with your rant: I counsel patients all day long about the benefits of exercise, diet, a healthy lifestyle, and psychotherapy. Most people then immediately ask why I am refusing to treat them. Most people do not want to change their lifestyle, and they are not interested in any other means of addressing their problems or symptoms other than medications. They want a pill. If I don't prescribe a medication for them, they simply go to another doctor who will, and if they don't have insurance, then they simply suffer. Medications may not be perfect, but I do see a significant percentage of my patients improve with those medications, and most do not experience such serious side effects (with the exception of new generation antipsychotic medications–I see a great deal of metabolic syndrome and do spend a significant amount of time counseling patients on the potential side effects of that and other classes of medications; although granted, the SAD is probably more responsible for metabolic syndrome than any particular medication). I appreciate your rant, but I talk to them about what constitutes a healthy diet, and then they leave me and their primary care doctors (family physicians) tells them I am wrong and do not know what I'm talking about: that grains are good for you, low fat is the way to eat, and there is nothing inherently superior about organic vegetables or grain fed meats. Those doctors tell my patients that paleo and primal eating is a fad. My plan is to continue to counsel patients on how to eat healthy, that they should exercise, and that psychotherapy is a good alternative to medications. But for that huge majority who ignore that advice, I will continue to prescribe antidepressants and mood stabilizers as indicated by their severity of symptoms. I personally subscribe to the tenets of Dr. Kurt Harris and his archevore nutritional plan, and give that out to those patients who are interested. I follow paleo/primal eating plan myself, except I do have Atkins low carb snack bars and HEB Mootopia low carb high protein milk at times. I also diverge from many paleo advocates in that I understand the average person I see cannot afford grass fed meats, so I encourage those that do listen to eat whatever meats they can afford, and to supplement with omega 3 fish oil to at least improve their omega 3 to omega 6 rations. In fairness, the average person I see lives under the median income of most physicians, as I work in a clinic that serves individuals with Medicare, Medicaid, and those who are indigent or have no health insurance. We do serve those with private insurance, but most folks with private insurance make the trip to see a private psychiatrist.

  • Thank you for your comment, Robert; I certainly did not mean to place all the blame on the docs, although in retrospect I can see how my article may have come across that way. I appreciate you pointing this out and taking the time to post. If only more health care professionals implemented the type of approach you do!

  • You can drag a horse to water but…same hold true with people. Happily, there are more and more people becoming fed up with the endless cycle of medications and thanks in large part to the internet are finding there are other ways of gaining true health. Granted, anyone who has a major psychiatric disorder may not be the most rational candidate for change. We can only help those who seek our help.

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