Why Do Antidepressants Stop Working?

Elizabeth Handy

Why Do Antidepressants Stop Working?

It’s no secret that antidepressants come with a long list of side effects from weight gain and sexual dysfunction to fatigue, insomnia and constipation.

But, if you’ve ever taken this type of prescription medication, you may have already discovered one of the worst things about them… They don’t work.

And, the only answer your doctor has when you return to tell them of your problems is to increase your dose. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle that simply doesn’t work.

Now, an international group of researchers has discovered the answer to why these antidepressants don’t work over the long run and aren’t the answer to the depression you’ve been experiencing and why long-term users of the medications often become chronically depressed.

Here’s what they found …

According to the study, “Up to a third of people taking antidepressants find them ineffective or find that they increase depressive symptoms.”

Negative Outcomes of Antidepressants

They also point to the adverse outcomes associated with the medications, the first of which is known as emotional blunting.

Put simply, emotional blunting is when the medications “damp down” or “tone down” your natural
emotions. This can leave you feeling as if you’re in limbo or simply not caring about the things that used to bring you joy.

You actually lose the ability to experience emotions – pleasure, joy, passion – or regulate your emotional state. Even more damaging, emotional blunting is an impediment to processing with Brainspotting or EMDR so taking antidepressants can actually keep you from working through the problems that caused the depression in the first place.

Second, on their list of problems with antidepressants is the tolerance effects associated with the medications. This has to do with that common practice of increasing dosage when they don’t work.

These tolerance effects and subsequent dosage increase can lead to worsening depression over time.

And third, they note the prevalence of sensitization, whereby you become more susceptible to the side effects of the antidepressants over time.

Why then do antidepressants stop working?

Although the focused on the biological processes behind the phenomenon, they also discovered a
number of other reasons such as:

  • In some patients, antidepressants can cause manic episodes, leading to much more extreme
    diagnoses and treatment, such as bipolar disorder.
  • Normal daily stresses can cause the medication to stop working.
  • Other problems like drug and alcohol abuse can diminish their effectiveness.
  • And, it’s important to note that antidepressants have a very slim margin of effectiveness versus placebo so many people who begin taking the medications and initially find relief are only experiencing the placebo effect, which doesn’t last, leading to increasing dosages of the

These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Biological Reasons Antidepressants Stop Working

The biological processes behind the tolerance effects of antidepressants include:

  • Pharmacokinetic: There is an enzyme in your body known as cytochrome P450 that is
    responsible for breaking down the active ingredients in antidepressants. Unfortunately, when it
    adapts to the drugs, it actually becomes more effective, breaking it down more quickly and
    reducing the amount of the antidepressant in your system.
  • Pharmacodynamic: Your neurotransmitter receptors also adapt to the presence of antidepressants over time, lessening their effects.
  • HPA theory: Antidepressants can over-activate your hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA), which can destroy the functioning of your serotonin receptors.
  • Sensitization: This action on your HPA axis may also make you more susceptible to stress and cause your depression to worsen.

The Truth behind How Antidepressants Work

If all of that wasn’t reason enough to doubt the antidepressant model, there’s more.

The original theory behind antidepressants (that they increased your serotonin levels to decrease your depression) has now been de-bunked.

The new Oppositional Model of how antidepressants work says that in truth, it is actually reduced serotonin that causes the antidepressant effect.

It says that antidepressants can actually reduce serotonin because when they increase serotonin levels, your body compensates by producing less and less of it – over-adapting and producing far less than your body needs for good mental health.

Antidepressants are Not the Answer

It’s clear that antidepressants are not the answer to overcoming depression and can actually cause worsening symptoms on top of their damaging side effects over time.

If you suffer from depression and are ready to find real, lasting relief by getting to the root cause of the issue, processing and moving beyond it, get the help you need today by scheduling a free, confidential 30-minute consultation.