A Quick Debunk: Antidepressants Don’t Cause Depression Relapse, Going Off Them Does

(This post was originally meant for Facebook, but it got long.)

One argument I’ve seen against antidepressants is:

In a study that looked at subjects’ mental health 6 months after a previous 4-month long study comparing the effects of antidepressants vs exercise vs. both, those who remitted during the study (remitted = depression became sub-clinical) were more likely to have relapsed 6 months later if they were in the antidepressant group… Therefore, those who take antidepressants to treat their depression are more likely to relapse. Right?


Having looked at the abstract of the study, I offer a different explanation.

Those on antidepressants for the study stopped taking antidepressants after the 4 month study was over.

Those who got into the habit of exercising over the course of those 4 months continued exercising.

Therefore, the exercising group was still treating it to some extent with exercise. The antidepressant group was no longer treating their depression.

It’s really quite easy to read the four paragraph abstract of a study, my friends. The two-page article perpetuating a basic misunderstanding took you longer to skim through than it would take to debunk it in its entirety.

Not that I have any love for antidepressants (my main memory of being on them is punching my mother to avoid taking them because I hated it), but they are a legitimate and safe form of treating depression. In fact, they are sometimes essential – especially when one has no healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the depression as of yet.

I treat my depression with exercise, nutrition, and healthy coping mechanisms NOW – but when I was on antidepressants, it was because exercise and nutrition were not helping enough. I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms developed, nor could I develop them in the mental state I was in. Similarly, my husband was still depressed even during the times where he was exercising most (though it was markedly less severe, from what he tells me). Things might change, making antidepressants unnecessary for him in the future. In the meantime he and I are both active, eat nutritious food, and make a practice of happiness so that if that time comes there’s a good foundation to build off of.

Source: http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2000/09000/Exercise_Treatment_for_Major_Depression_.6.aspx