In my early 30s, I developed symptoms of depression. I was prescribed desipramine, which I had to stop due to severe side effects of racing heart, dry mouth and constipation. I was then prescribed Prozac. At first I though it was a miracle, as I felt better and decided that maybe life was worth living. But it did not last, and I suffered unwanted side effects such as insomnia, nausea, weight gain, decreased libido and inability to achieve orgasm, so…I got depressed again. I struggled off and on for years with different antidepressants, oral contraceptives, and probably used alcohol as a bit of a coping mechanism as well. I suffered from almost all of these lengthy side effects listed here. I had no idea that this list could be attributed to low thyroid function. I never admitted being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but anyway it too disappeared with appropriate thyroid treatment. Years later, I mercifully discovered Functional Medicine and my life began to change. It has taken me years of study and much self-experimentation, but I now believe that my depression was due in part to adrenal dysfunction, stress, poor nutrition and a poorly functioning thyroid. For the first time in many years, I feel happy, alive, curious, and ready to meet life’s next challenge. Believe me, it has been quite a journey with major changes in my lifestyle. I still periodically get mildly depressed, but I recognize it and know that my diet, thyroid and adrenals are somehow involved, and I have lost the balance that I have worked so hard to achieve. I know it is not a Prozac deficiency.
Over 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. The name for the nervous system in the gut is the enteric nervous system (ENS). Ever wonder why you get butterflies when anxious, or nauseous when “sick with fear”? Well, your brain and gut are in constant communication. An unhealthy gut leads to an unhealthy mind. Please consider reading Dr. Mark Hyman’s “The UltraMind Solution”. He offers great insights into the “gut brain connection”.
Antidepressants have a role to play in treating depression as they do seem to help those with the most severe forms. I believe that they should be monitored carefully and education and lifestyle interventions should be part of care for anyone on these medications. I don’t believe, in general, that they should be prescribed to children or adolescents. If you are suffering from depression and fatigue, please find a doctor that understands the complexities of nutrition, adrenal dysfunction and thyroid management as it may well be playing a major role in your depression.
You can find an additional article on depression medication here from my weekly newsletter.