If there’s anything worse than an ineffective drug, it’s a dangerous one — and antidepressants win on both counts. They often fail to beat placebos in studies, and they come with more risks than most people realize.
Now, new research confirms one of the worst of those risks: SSRI meds — including common antidepressants such as Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft — can boost your risk of strokes referred to as intracranial hemorrhages or intracerebral hemorrhages by up to 50 percent.
I’ve seen this link made before, and a number of studies have found that women in particular face a higher risk of stroke while on antidepressants. One study in 2010 even found that the stroke risk shoots up by 45 percent in post-menopausal women who take those same SSRIs.
The new look at 16 studies involving more than 500,000 patients goes further, showing how the risk extends to everyone — men and women — leading to 10 extra strokes in every 100,000 patients who take SSRI drugs.
That number may sound low, but the risk of this type of stroke is fairly low in the first place. Even without the drugs, just 25 in 100,000 people can expect to suffer one.
Adding 10 more to that toll is a major increase, especially when you consider that close to 30 million Americans take antidepressants. This could add up to nearly 3,000 extra strokes per year, all linked to the meds, according to the study in Neurology.
And if that’s not enough risk for you, antidepressants can cause sexual dysfunction, bleeding problems, hyponatremia, and more. Some recent studies have even shown that seniors on these drugs have higher risk of death.
But all of those risks are completely unnecessary.
Depression is a condition that can almost always be beaten naturally with the help of homeopathic remedies, B vitamins, and/or serotonin-boosting nutraceuticals.
Many cases of depression are also caused or worsened by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for proper brain function. Studies have shown that fish oil supplements can improve or even cure the condition, and I’ll bring you more on that later in the week.
And if you’re still having trouble shaking off your own blues, don’t visit a shrink who’ll offer you those dangerous SSRI meds — visit a holistic doctor like me instead.
Coming up next, more on stroke — including a delicious way to slash your risk.
Tomatoes can slash your stroke risk
While many diseases come with warning signs, strokes can strike with none at all — and that element of the unknown is part of what makes them so frightening.
But there are simple steps you can take right now to slash that risk — like eating more tomatoes.
This humble fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is rich in lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant that can also help thin the blood. Thinner blood is less likely to clot, cut off the flow, and lead to a stroke.
That’s why a new study of more than 1,000 Finnish men finds that those with the highest blood levels of lycopene have a 55 percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest.
So it can prevent stroke and fight off cancer — including cancers of the lung, stomach, and prostate — and that’s still not all this natural wonder nutrient can do. Studies have shown that lycopene can also boost the immune system, and there’s even evidence it can help prevent heart disease.
In one study, high levels of lycopene cut the risk of the disease in women by more than a third.
As I mentioned, tomatoes are one of the best natural sources of lycopene. The best way to enjoy them is cooked, since heat can break down the fiber and help your body to absorb the lycopene better. The fats in olive oil can also add some flavor and increase that absorption.
Yes, in other words tomato sauce may be the best and most delicious way to get this nutrient — as long as it’s not on top of a fast food pizza. In addition to tomatoes, other delicious sources of lycopene include watermelon, guava, and papaya.
Dr. Mark Stengler