Our Products
About Us
Contact Us
Hello Sign In
Your Account
My Cart

Study Reveals Why Antidepressants Do Not Work

Pin it
A new study has found that most antidepressant studies exclude 80 percent of patients with depression. This data indicates one reason for the low effectiveness rating of antidepressant medication. Read more about the connection below:

According to studies, most antidepressants are only about 50 to 55 percent effective. In fact, in some cases, antidepressants are only about as effective as a placebo in treating depression. Antidepressants are typically most effective in cases of severe depression. Mild or moderate cases may not be improved with antidepressants at all.

But have you ever wondered why antidepressants are not as effective as they could be?

A new study may have found the reason. Please note: If you ever have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others, don’t try to treat your problem on your own. Contact a qualified health professional immediately through a suicide hotline, 911, or another emergency number.

Antidepressant Clinical Trials are Abnormal

The study was published in a 2015 edition of the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. The study has found that about 80 percent of individuals with depression are not eligible for antidepressant trials. Why is this the case? The study authors found some surprising results when they investigated the issue.

The study authors found that most clinical trials for antidepressants screen five patients for every one they enroll. The patients who were picked for the studies were unlike most patients with depression.

The Decision Making Process

Antidepressant registration trials (ARTs) have specific criteria they look for and do not want to have in patients enrolled in the trial. These criteria are ordinarily set in place to determine the true effects of the drug (the patient cannot be on other medication, for example), but these strict criteria also have adverse results, such as only choosing study participants who are unlikely to suffer side effects.

Typically, an ART study would exclude a patient with depression who also had other health issues (which is extremely common) because if the patient became sick during the study, the medication might be blamed.

Study Results

The authors from the study examined over 4,000 patients who were part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. This has been the largest depression study to date. This study had far fewer exclusion criteria than most ART tests.

The researchers found that 82 percent of the STAR*D patients would not be eligible for other clinical trials due to exclusion or inclusion criteria. Most would be ineligible for age, another medical condition, too mild depression, and women who were not on hormonal birth control. The researchers found that these conditions excluded the following percentage of patients with depression:

Reasons for Study Exclusion
  • Age (14 percent)
  • No birth control (21 percent of women)
  • A lower depression rating (15 percent)
  • Other medical condition (20 percent)

Study Implications

Because the study participants in most clinical trials for antidepressants represent such a small percentage of the population currently suffering from depression, it makes sense that the treatment rating would stay low.

Previous research states that individuals with severe depression are most helped by traditional antidepressants, which makes sense because most study participants are also severely depressed. The studies do not show what results may occur when someone has another medical condition, is elderly, or has mild to moderate depression. What helps at one level of depression appears to not be what helps at another.

Further Antidepressant Study Limitations

The study authors stated that exclusion and inclusion criteria are not the only problems that antidepressant studies face. Many patients with depression simply do not want to enroll in a clinical trial, which makes finding eligible study participants even more challenging. Additionally, the length of each clinical trial typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months, which may be too short of a period to determine the true effectiveness of the antidepressant study.

The researchers noted that their study results will help healthcare providers understand why antidepressants don’t always work the same way for “real-life” patients as they do in the clinical trials.

"Obviously," the authors stated, "the more patients who are excluded from the ARTs, the greater the chances that the results will not generalize to the routine clinical practice."

Science-Backed Alternatives to Antidepressants

Although antidepressants are effective for some patients, individuals with mild to moderate depression who are not suicidal may find that the potential side effects of antidepressants outweigh the possible benefits of medication. Some patients simply do not respond to antidepressants at all, no matter how severe or what kind of medication is prescribed.

However, you don’t have to suffer through your depression. Research has found that the following natural treatments for depression are effective at relieving the symptoms of depression. Some of the treatments are just as, or more, effective as antidepressants in the general population of “real-world” depression.

Find the Reason for Your Depression

If you don’t know why you are depressed, it can be a challenge to stop feeling depressed. Although not all cases of depression are triggered by specific events, often depression starts with a traumatic event such as physical abuse, job loss, the death of a loved one, an abusive relationship, traumatic injury, or loneliness. Conduct some soul-searching if you are feeling depressed to determine if your depression is tied into something specific.

Get Help

Sometimes depression occurs when you feel overwhelmed and have no one to turn to. Feeling shut out from others and unsupported makes depressive symptoms worse. Do not wallow in feelings of neglect or loneliness. Ask people you know to help you with whatever you need. Most friends and family are more than happy to help you through a rough patch.

Eat Well

Your diet plays a huge role in your mental health. Studies show that foods rich in serotonin, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants all work together to keep the brain healthy and depressive symptoms at bay. You may want to eat nothing but junk food if you are feeling blue, but you’ll be better off if you eat fish or fruit instead.


Exercise boosts serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. Exercise gives your brain a temporary boost of happy feelings that can carry over into the rest of your day. 20 to 30 minutes of activity each day will keep your brain happy. A few studies suggest that stress-relieving exercises, such as yoga, are even more beneficial for your mental health than regular cardio or strength-building exercises.

Sleep Enough

Sleep is incredibly important for your mental health. Lack of sleep is one thing that makes postpartum depression common. Many individuals with depression sleep in the day and stay up late at night, causing a cycle of poor sleep habits and insomnia. Try to sleep between seven and nine hours each night for maximum mental health.

Get Outside

Vitamin D and sunshine itself boost mood. Sunshine is almost like a mini happy drug that you can gain benefits from just by stepping outside boosting dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. Try to get at least 10 minutes of sunlight a day. If you can exercise in the sun you will maximize the benefits of both and you won’t have to have a separate period for exercise and sun exposure. For maximum sunlight benefit, expose as much skin as seasonally appropriate.

Increase Brain-Boosting Nutrient Intake

Psychology Today states that some supplements and nutrients can have a positive effect on the brain.

5-HTTP: 5-HTTP is an herbal supplement that converts to serotonin in the brain. Health experts do not recommend taking this supplement in combination with antidepressant medication. If you take too much, you could feel sluggish or have runny stools.

St. John's Wort: St. John's Wort is a well-known remedy for depression. It can boost good mood feelings and raise serotonin levels in the brain.

SAMe: According to Psychology Today, SAMe is one of the most effective depression remedies available over-the-counter. At high doses, SAMe can cause side effects such as nausea, agitation, or insomnia.

L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine: Individuals with depression often feel sluggish and sleepy. Both l-theanine and l-tyrosine help boost energy levels and prevent energy slumps.

Ginkgo biloba: The Mayo Clinic states that ginkgo biloba is well-known for its benefit in increasing blood flow to the brain. Reduced blood flow can cause problems such as fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration, and depression. Taking ginkgo biloba could fight depression caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Rhodiola Rosea: In over 300 studies, rhodiola rosea was shown to improve symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Users report enhanced mood, more energy, reduced stress, and better sleep after taking rhodiola rosea.

Speak to a Health Professional

Therapy is still one of the most effective treatments for depression. A therapist offers trained techniques for learning to manage depressive thoughts while providing other, positive, thoughts to replace negative images in your mind. A therapist can help identify why you feel depressed and offer actionable steps to cure depression and prevent it from creeping back. Therapy works best in combination with other natural treatments for depression that boost the mood from the inside out.

Make a Happy Diary

Keep track of happy or positive thoughts throughout the day. Think about three things you can be thankful for each day and write them down. Make a diary that contains only positive thoughts. This can help train your brain to focus on positive thoughts and may help prevent some thoughts that trigger depression.


Studies show that patients who meditate recover from depressive episodes faster and in larger numbers. Meditation provides a calming focus that centers the mind. If you are religious, you can use this time to pray, but there are also other meditation techniques for individuals who are not religious. Non-religious meditative images include deep breathing, focused relaxing, and guided imagery.

Antidepressants Do Not Work for Everyone

This new study shows just how narrow the target market for antidepressants really is. It is no wonder that the success rate for antidepressant medication is so low. Luckily, for individuals who do not wish to take antidepressants or do not respond to them, research shows that there are many natural treatments for depression that can boost mood, reverse depression, and help you feel like a whole person again. Before starting any antidepressant routine, consult with a qualified health professional to determine what treatment method is right for you. With the right combination of treatments, you will be back on your feet and feeling healthy again in no time.





[+] Show All
Next Article: 5 HTP and Heart Issues