Tag Archives: mental illness

Depressing News: Antidepressants are not Always Effective

What is depression? Depression is a medical condition which affects a person’s emotional and physical states. It is something that can be dangerous and deadly. Some common symptoms of depression are feeling hopeless, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, change of appetite, and there are many more.  Depression or mental illness often has a stigma surrounding it. However, depression is very common and antidepressant medication is often prescribed. Here is a quick video explaining what depression is:

YouTube Preview Image

The Science of Depression
Credit: Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown

Recently, there has been reports  that pharmaceutical companies have been “selectively publishing” clinical data from their clinical trials of antidepressants. However, it is fundamental that findings from evidence-based medicine are unbiased and complete,  otherwise the effectiveness of any drugs become unrealistic. Through selectively publishing, companies have deceived many people to believe that antidepressants do more than the drug actually does by only publishing the studies with positive outcomes.

Currently, the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications increase the levels of serotonin and they are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). In recent literature, the usefulness of the SSRI antidepressants have been disputed that they are only as effective as the placebos given during the clinical trials for treating minor depression.

SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin which in theory will improve mood. Credit: Thomas Splettstoesser

SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin which in theory will improve mood. Credit: Thomas Splettstoesser

Moreover, in The New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers reviewed the studies of 12 antidepressant drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and they found that studies with negative or questionable outcomes were not published. They discovered that in published literature, the public is provided information that shows only the positives of the medication.  For example, if the public is informed that 94% of trials conducted had positive outcomes, then in reality only about 51% had positive outcomes.  These numbers arose out of analyses of both published and unpublished clinical trials.

Through further studies by other researchers, it was discovered that in 2012 GlaxoSmithKline was fined $3 billion for “selectively publishing” and fraudulently promoting drugs, including drugs for mental illness such as Aropax. They admitted that they promoted the use of an unproven antidepressant.

Those affected with depression should first turn towards natural treatments, many of which that can be easily found on reliable sites on the internet.  There are many self-help websites that can aid a person coping with depression and it is vital that these people get the support they need.  Here is a video that shows the perspective of a person suffering depression:

YouTube Preview Image

What It’s Like Living with Depression
Credit: BuzzFeedYellow

– Maureen Lai

Infectious Felines



Our furry felines may be the highlight of our day, with those innocent round eyes and that little button nose, but what lies beneath that furry coat? Possibly a parasite, known as Taxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), which may be cultivating in the intestines of our furry friend, CBC News reported.

T. gondii is a single celled parasite that infects people globally, including those in developed nations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 60 million people in the United States are carrying the parasite. People become infected after swallowing the parasite, but symptoms are rare, only those with weaker immune systems and pregnant women may become ill.

The T. gondii parasite causes a disease known as taxoplasmosis, which has been linked to multiple mental illnesses, such as: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsion disorder, and addiction. In the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, A.L. Sutterland and colleagues recently published a paper analyzing 50 published studies of the association with the parasite and these illnesses. They also state that people infected with T. gondii are at double the risk of developing schizophrenia than those who were not infected.

“In schizophrenia, the evidence of an association with T. gondii is overwhelming,” the authors say in a press release. “These findings may give further clues about how T. gondii infection can possibly [alter] the risk of specific psychiatric disorders”, CBC News reports.

Fuller Torrey and Dr. Robert H. Yolken study the T. gondii parasite and health, which has been linked to: miscarriages, fetal development disorders, weeks of flu-like illness, blindness, and death. Recently published in Schizophrenia Research, Torrey and Yolken compare childhood cat owners and mental illnesses later in life. Results indicated that our furry friends, carrying T. gondii, may be a high risk factor for developing mental illnesses.

“Cat ownership in childhood has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness,” the authors reported in a press release.

This seems like a large price to pay for some friendly cuddles, so how do we keep our cats clean and ourselves parasite free? Keep our feline from roaming the streets, and wash your hands when handling the litterbox. Keep the litterbox clean, nobody likes a dirty bathroom, including the T. gondii parasite as they only become infectious 1 to 5 days after your cat’s bathroom break. Finally, keep to home-cooked meals and avoid feeding those carnivorous felines raw or undercooked meat.

Danielle Marcotte