Zoloft Side Effects:
Antidepressants May Affect Imune System
Dr. Ben Kim
to scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and at Robarts Research
Institute in Canada, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants
such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft
may have a significant effect on the immune system.
contention is based on the recent discovery that serotonin is exchanged between important cells
in the immune system, and is specifically used to trigger an immune reaction
in response to various stimuli.
is a chemical that is transmitted between cells in the brain. It is associated
with feelings of pleasure, mood, and appetite.
drugs like Paxil and Prozac are antidepressants that are designed to keep serotonin
within the stimulating regions between cells in the brain, which is intended to
enhance serotonin's positive effects.
SSRI antidepressants have a direct impact on serotonin, it stands to reason that
these drugs have some effect on the immune system.
more is discovered about what serotonin does in the immune system, the specific
impact that SSRI drugs have on immune function should become more clear.
in the brain communicate mainly through chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters.
immune system is different from the nervous system in that it communicates mainly
through physical contact. Various cells in the immune system grab a hold of foreign
invaders and present these invaders to white blood cells called T-cells. This
enables T-cells to reproduce in large numbers and trigger an immune response that
is aimed at ridding the body of the foreign invader(s) in question.
scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and Robarts Research Institute
found is that the most prominent type of cell - called the dendritic cell - that
presents invaders to T-cells can quickly release serotonin, which is thought to
facilitate the T-cell response to foreign invaders.
the words of one of the scientists involved with this contention,
that block serotonin reuptake likely change some of the parameters of T-cell activation,
but we don't know yet if it enhances or inhibits the total immune response. But
it is something that should be explored because we really have no idea what SSRIs
are doing to people's immune systems."
other words, SSRI drugs, like all other drugs, are not smart enough to effect
just one part of human physiology.
people would rephrase this to say that all drugs have side effects.
would say that all drugs have multiple effects.
term side effects is a crafty phrase that has entered our vernacular
as a way of camouflaging the truth that all drugs have multiple effects on the
body at all times.
this light, it is inaccurate to say that Paxil's main effect
is to decrease a tendency to feel depressed, while a possible side effect is immune
is most accurate to say that Paxil and other SSRI drugs have
multiple effects on human physiology, one being mood regulation, and another being
altered immune function.
me, the take home message from the study referenced above is that people should
be acutely aware of all of the potential effects of antidepressants before using
them for the short or long term.
my approach to addressing depression through natural means is beyond the scope
of this article, here are a few of the essential recommendations that I share
with people who ask me for help with depression:
daily intake of a reliable source of EPA and DHA (I use and recommend cod
possible, get some exposure to sunlight without getting burned
in some form of exercise each day
a purpose for your life that goes beyond your own immediate wants and needs
how to be a good friend, how to recognize a good friend, and how to keep a good
friend (if you want guidance on how to do these three things, I know of no better
resource than The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by
note: Discover how frequently these drugs are prescribed and why so many people
pop them like candy in the article Chemical Imbalances
and Drug Dealers.)
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