Has the Romance Gone? Was It the Drug?

For the majority of people taking antidepressants, a decreased sex drive doesn't seem like a big sacrifice for the benefits from the drug. Sexual side effects from antidepressants have been reported in nearly 70 percent of patients and that number of people has increased ever since Prozac began to be offered in the late 1980s. Experts stated the pressing question isn't about how antidepressants diminished sex drives, but how they effected a person's capabilities to experience romance. A study found that some popular antidepressants that alter serotonin levels in the brain, could also throw off neural circuits that play a role in romance and attachment. Scientists discovered that three brain systems that monitor lust, attraction and attachment functioned on different sets of chemicals. For this reason, scientists believed that a rise of serotonin levels with antidepressants, could not only stifle the sex drive, but also create an imbalance among the three brain systems. Research revealed that while the changes weren't that noticeable initially, they gradually led to blunted emotions and loss of romantic feelings toward significant others.

Antidepressants are a serious problem in this country, as they at best treat the symptoms and could alter a person's emotional balance, which could result in many hardships on relationships with loved ones. Back in 2002, I posted an article on the devastating consequences of taking antidepressants. There is no question that these drugs have provided enormous symptomatic relief from the ravages of depression. I am equally certain that they have saved many people's lives by preventing suicide. However, I am just as equally certain that these drugs rarely, if ever, are the appropriate long-term solution. They serve merely as a band-aid to temporarily resolve the symptoms. As anyone who has suffered with depression knows, it is a devastating illness and needs to be aggressively treated.

However, I did quite a bit of research for the book and can provide you with the following insights. The food you eat has a far more profound influence on your feelings than you think. This is particularly true for sugars and grains that require insulin to metabolize them. Elevated insulin levels will lead to disrupted serotonin and other neurochemicals that will lead to depression. Exercisecan also be beneficial in helping those with depression. The practical problem with using exercise in depression, however, is that the desire to pursue any activity, let alone exercise, is not very high when you are depressed. The converse though also needs to be considered. Just because one exercises, that does not mean you cannot become depressed. Exercise makes it easier to treat depression, but it certainly does not cure it in everyone.

The New York Times May 4, 2004

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