One of the Most Widely Used Antidepressants Implicated in Breeding Antibiotic Resistance

A drug found in antidepressants such as Prozac and Sarafem may be contributing to antibiotic resistance, Australian researchers say. Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) in these antidepressants, was put to the test against E. coli, a common bacterium, over a 30-day period. Researchers found that the fluoxetine aided E. coli’s ability to mutate and increase its resistance to several antibiotics. What’s worse, up to 11 percent of fluoxetine goes through the body unchanged, and enters the environment through sewer systems, Science Alert reported.

We have two things going on here: SSRI usage in itself is a problem; antibiotic resistance is another problem — one that, until now, we didn’t know could be connected to SSRIs. According to statistics, nearly 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 12 is on an antidepressant. And while prescriptions for psychiatric drugs keep increasing, when you include other drugs beside antidepressants, such as anti-anxiety drugs, nearly 17 percent of American adults are medicated), several parameters show mental health is declining, rather than getting better.

It would seem, then, that one positive way of addressing antibiotic resistance would be to get as many people OFF antidepressants as possible. This means, if you're at all interested in following science-based recommendations, you'd place antidepressants at the very bottom of your list of treatment candidates.

If you're currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally, you'll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. It would also be wise to do some homework on how to best proceed. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen from Harvard has written a helpful book on how to withdraw called "The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and Addiction."

Once you have the cooperation of your prescribing physician, start lowering the dosage of the medication you're taking. There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose that your doctor should be well aware of. At the same time, it may be wise to add in a multivitamin and/or other nutritional supplements or herbs. Again, your best bet would be to work with a holistic psychiatrist who is well-versed in the use of nutritional support.