As most of you know, I do a lot of research. Recently, I came across a study that summarized clinical data for several selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications used in the treatment of depression. The results were shocking.

SSRI medications don’t work for ~90% of people!

This study showed that people taking popular SSRI medications – including Lexapro, Celexa and Effexor-XR – have remission and response rates 5.6%-13.0% greater than taking a sugar pill. Said differently, this means that between 87.0% and 94.4% of people taking these drugs have no greater relief of depression symptoms than those people that took a sugar pill. However, 100% of the people taking these drugs are exposed to drug side effects, including nausea, runny nose, headache, back pain, dry mouth, diarrhea, insomnia, drowsiness, extreme fatigue and even suicide. (The original study and a more lengthy discussion of the results can be found here)

The bottom line is that this study indicates that SSRI medications provide relief greater than placebo in only 5.6% to 13.0% of the people taking them. This is supported by previous research that showed that only 7% to 13% of adult patients achieved relief of depression symptoms greater than placebo with antidepressant drugs (Hinz et al 2009). In addition, the total incidence of side effects in these studies is greater than relief of symptoms from any of these SSRI drugs. Once more, 100% of the people taking these drugs are exposed to the depletion of neurotransmitters that are caused by SSRI medications, which will only make the real problem worse over time.

Addressing the Cause of the Problem

SSRI medications are designed to shuffle around neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, to try and help a person eliminate their depressive symptoms. What they end up doing, however, is causing further depletion of not only serotonin, but other neurotransmitters as well. (For a more complete discussion on how this occurs, see Amino Acid Therapy on this site and This not only exacerbates the existing problem of depression (making it necessary to increase or change medications) it can also create many more problems, such as anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, hormone imbalances and many others.

The real solution is to supply the body the nutrients and cofactors it needs to manufacture the needed neurotransmitters. Only by doing so can a person achieve proper neurotransmitter balance and achieve a lasting resolution of symptoms. Studies have shown that following this approach leads to a relief of depressive symptoms in 93% of people, with the remaining 7% requiring a dual drug-amino acid approach to achieve a relief of symptoms. That’s a 100% response rate.

So a person needs to ask themselves: Do you want a 5.6%-13.0% chance of having a relief of symptoms with a 63%-72%% chance of experiencing unpleasant side effects OR do you want a near 100% chance of having relief of symptoms with nearly a 0% chance of unpleasant side effects. In the case of depression, the research is clear: targeted amino acid therapy is FAR superior to SSRI drug treatments for the resolution of symptoms.