New Study: Patient’s Environment May Determine Effectiveness of Antidepressants

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

It is an open secret in the mental health profession that although antidepressant do have an impact on depression, a large number of depressed patients get little to no relief from antidepressants.  New research suggests a reason for that.   It turns out that the effectiveness of antidepressants may depend strongly on the patient’s environment.

The new study finds that antidepressants may not treat depression directly, but rather, makes the brain more amenable to change.  If a patient’s environment is positive, healthy, and affirming, SSRI’s like Prozac or Zoloft, etc. may “allow” the patient’s brain to more readily “recognize” and adapt to this healthy environment.  If, however, the patient’s environment is negative, unhealthy, or un-affirming, there is nothing for the brain to adapt to (except to reinforce the negative wiring that already exists) and the patient experiences little to no benefit.  Here is the how the study explains it.

simply… taking an SSRI, does not cause a recovery from depression, but puts the brain into a condition where change can take place. They believe the medication increases the plasticity of the brain, making it more open to being changed.

“In a certain way it seems that the SSRIs open the brain to being moved from a fixed state of unhappiness, to a condition where other circumstances can determine whether or not you recover,” said Poggini. According to the researchers, it is the environmental conditions you find yourselves in at the time of the treatment which determines whether you are likely to get better or worse.  READ MORE

This is why study after study asserts that despite the fact that most depressed patients are treated only with medication,  the best course of treatment for depression is a combined approach that involves BOTH medication AND ongoing psychotherapy.  If you, or someone you love, is depressed and only taking medication, there is a very good chance that they are not receiving the help they need to make a full recovery.  Psychotherapy can make all the difference. If you are looking for a faithful place to turn for professional help, I invite you to contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute (740-266-6461) to learn more about how our tele-counseling practice can help you find greater peace and joy in your life.  There is hope and healing after depression.  Getting the help you need is the key to a brighter future.



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