The Real Truth: Antidepressants Actually Deplete These 3 Crucial Nutrients for the Brain
If you try to cheat nature, it will backfire.
By managing symptoms with synthetic man-made drugs, you may feel better for a while. But once you stop those drugs, you will end up with more symptoms than you started with.
I experienced this firsthand.
When I took antidepressants, I felt better initially.
But then something just didn’t feel right.
I started suffering from cognitive decline, something I hadn’t experienced before.
I eventually got fed up with the medication and tried getting off them.
But then I felt remarkably worse – much worse than I did before starting the medication.
Doctors simply told me I was experiencing a relapse of my depression and anxiety.
But that couldn’t be it, because not only were my symptoms much worse, but I also had new symptoms – symptoms I didn’t experience before I went on medication.
So, I did some research and discovered something called “drug-induced nutrient depletion”.
Studies show that pharmaceutical drugs can deplete your body of critical nutrients through multiple mechanisms, including increased excretion of nutrients, and impaired digestion, absorption and storage of nutrients. Over time, nutritional deficiencies can develop. And these deficiencies can cause additional symptoms and increase side effects. In fact, many drug “side effects” are simply nutritional deficiencies.
This is clearly a problem because nutrient deficiencies can be one of the main causes of mental illness. Being prescribed medication that further deplete nutrients from your body will make you worse. It’s an epidemic that seems to be ignored by the conventional medical system.
You may even develop new symptoms or side effects months or years after starting a medication because it takes time for nutrients to be depleted from your body. So both you and your doctor may not make the connection between the original medication and new symptoms.
These additional symptoms and “side effects” are often diagnosed as a new disease, leading to a new prescription, which further depletes nutrients.
So it’s clearly a downward spiral where you could end up being on multiple medications.
At my worst, I was on four psychiatric medications. Thankfully I’m off them all now and very healthy.
This article discusses the three key nutrients that are commonly depleted by psychiatric medication.
Your drug package insert won’t list these deficiencies, and your doctor is likely not aware of them.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule found in every cell of your body and plays a key role in the production of energy.
It’s also an antioxidant and protects your body and brain from free radical damage.
Higher levels of CoQ10 have a “significant antidepressant effect” in rats because of its “well-documented antioxidant effect”. This makes sense considering the increasing amount of scientific literature suggesting that oxidative stress contributes to depression.
Unfortunately, studies show that a number of psychiatric medications, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, deplete CoQ10.
Low levels of CoQ10 can cause brain fog, mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, depression and irritability.
Other deficiency symptoms can include increased blood pressure, muscle cramps, high blood sugar, and shortness of breath.
Magnesium is a vital mineral that participates in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body. This includes neurotransmitter, enzyme, and hormonal activity, all of which can have a huge effect on your mood and brain function.
It’s one of the most important nutrients for optimal brain health, and reduces anxiety, depression and irritability. Yet, many people are deficient in magnesium today and may experience the following symptoms because of it:
- Increased blood pressure
- Muscle weakness, cramps, tremors, and spasms
- Headaches and migraines
- Suicidal thoughts
- Heart arrhythmias
Interestingly, these symptoms sound very similar to the list of side effects of some psychiatric medications.
In fact, research has shown that many antidepressants and stimulants do deplete magnesium from your body, increasing the likeliness of developing a deficiency.
Inadequate magnesium levels can then contribute and worsen many neuropsychiatric problems. This includes depression, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, ADHD, pain, schizophrenia, irritability, premenstrual syndrome, drug abuse, and short-term memory and IQ loss. Case studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia or major depression who have attempted suicide had significantly lower levels of magnesium in their cerebrospinal fluid.
So if you have mental health condition, or take medication to deal with it, you should consider supplementing with magnesium.
Also, you should make sure to eat lots of food with magnesium, including avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, spinach, dark chocolate, halibut and beets.
A number of B vitamins are also depleted by psychiatric medication, including B2, B6, B12 and folate.
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, plays a key role in energy metabolism throughout your entire body.
As a result, a deficiency can affect the entire body, leading to low energy, weight gain, and skin and thyroid problems.
Antipsychotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers can inhibit the absorption of vitamin B2, increasing your need for supplementation.
Lower levels of vitamin B2 have been found in people with depression, so giving them psychiatric medications can actually make them feel worse in the long run.
Healthy food sources of riboflavin include pastured eggs, leafy vegetables, beef liver, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
Vitamin B6 is another key nutrient that boosts mood, deepens sleep, and supports your entire nervous system.
It accomplishes this by playing a key role in the production of many neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin, GABA and dopamine.
But since psychiatric medications alter these neurotransmitters, vitamin B6 levels can be affected as well.When I took antidepressants, multiple functional and integrative doctors suggested I supplement with vitamin B6.
This is because antidepressants and benzodiazepines have been shown to deplete B6.
Symptoms of deficiency include weakness, mental confusion, depression, insomnia and severe PMS symptoms.
Some of the best food sources of B6 include potatoes, bananas and chicken.
Lastly, vitamin B12 and folate are essential B vitamins that play a key role in methylation, one of the most important processes in your body and brain for optimal energy and nervous system function.
If you are depressed, you likely have lower levels of B12 and folate circulating in your blood, and people with low blood folate and B12 are at greater risk for developing depression.
Yet, instead of looking at folate and B12 levels in the blood, doctors often prescribe antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers that have been shown to deplete folate and B12.
B12 and folate deficiency can lead to an inability to methylate properly and increased homocysteine levels. This can worsen your depression, irritability, fatigue, confusion and forgetfulness.
Good dietary sources of natural folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries. B12 is found primarily in animal foods, and beef liver is a good source.
The bottom line is that the medication that you take to manage your mental health can actually reduce nutrient absorption and rob your body and brain of essential vitamins and minerals. This can lead to unwanted side effects and declining health.
On top of this, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are actually a huge underlying cause of mental health issues to begin with.
Luckily, you can avoid side effects, and even control and overcome chronic mental disease without medication, by restoring these missing nutrients.
Unfortunately, in my case, I was given a prescription that made my underlying deficiencies worse, and dug me into a deeper mental health hole.
If you’re required to take a prescribed drug, you can offset many of the side effects and experience much better health by supplementing with the above nutrients.
So why isn’t this information passed on to patients who are taking psychiatric drugs? Because unfortunately, almost all doctors are unaware that medications can deplete nutritional reserves.
So, for now, you’ll just have to be aware of drug-nutrient depletions yourself.