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Changing Brain Activity Forecasts Drug Side Effects

If you want to predict a patient's vulnerability to side effects from antidepressants, UCLA researchers believe changes in brain activity prior to taking these toxic drugs may be the key.

The study compared brain function changes in 32 healthy research subjects with no history of depression while taking an antidepressant versus a placebo. In addition, all participants took only a placebo for one week prior to taking either an antidepressant (venlafaxine) or another placebo for four weeks. Using a quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) imaging technique developed at UCLA called cordance, researchers found changes in brain function in the prefrontal region during the one-week placebo lead-in were related to side effects in subjects who received an antidepressant.

Interestingly enough, the UCLA research team used healthy patients so brain function would not be affected by illness or changes in the illness. The team examined QEEG cordance during a placebo lead-in so brain function changes in the first phase of the trial could arise from only non-medication factors.

Just another sign, conventional medicine may be getting the hint there are other safer and more viable options available to treat depression than merely taking a pill, especially in light of recent studies that have found adults can be just as vulnerable as children to the toxic side effects of antidepressants.

Consider these safer, healthier and far less expensive options to treat your depression without a drug:

  • Energy psychology tools, like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), can be very useful to battle the dual effects of stress and depression.
  • Meditation can be used to promote spiritual growth or find inner peace, while others use it as a relaxation and stress-reduction tool.
  • Optimizing your diet is clearly an important step, and one of the most important tools will be to make sure you are getting enough omega-3 fats. I have had large numbers of patients spontaneously take themselves off their antidepressants once they started taking a high-quality fish or cod liver oil, chock full of omega-3 fats.

Neuropsychopharmacology April 2005, Vol. 30, Number 4: 792-799

EurekAlert March 31, 2005

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