You may have noticed over the last few weeks that news headlines have been blaring the disturbing fact that most approved prescription anti-depressants are only slightly better than placebo. The figures come in at about 8-13% better. What that means in numbers is that for every 100 people given Zoloft we can expect 10 to improve because of the drug. Yikes!

Some knowledge of neurochemistry explains this. Depression, as well as Attention Deficit Disorder, migraines, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and increased appetite are caused by deficiencies of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine or norepinephrine. Antidepressants recycle and block the reuptake of neurotransmitters that the brain has available, which tricks it into thinking it has more. People may initially feel better. However, drugs don’t create any more neurotransmitter but deplete the amount the brain has available. That’s right. Drugs used to treat depression are actually making the problem worse!

Some patients may gain 15 to 20 lbs, most likely from neurotransmitter depletion stimulating the appetite. They may try to get off their anti-depressants and find they feel as depressed as when they first started treatment. Why can’t they get off the drugs? Because they have even less neurochemicals available than when treatment started and they feel depressed again. This scares most people right back into the drugs. Depression is a painful experience and most people would rather do anything than feel that bad again.

A more sensible way to treat Neurotransmitter Depletion Syndrome (NDS) is to feed the body what it needs by simply provide the amino acid precursors tyrosine, 5-hydroxytryptophan and L-dopa. In hindsight it seems to be an obvious approach, and one that would be much more widely accepted if it weren’t for the fact that drug companies don’t make any money from promoting amino acids. And prescription antidepressants are very profitable so perhaps it’s not surprising that the nutrient based approach is relatively unknown.

Marty Hinz, MD, at University of Minnesota Medical School, has been studying amino acid therapy for 10 years in a scientifically rigorous way. His database of over 1 million patient hours shows that by using a combination of tyrosine, dopamine and 5 HTTP they can get 100 percent of patients free of depression and 90 percent free of migraines. ADD in adults and children can also treated in this way. And by the way- amino acid therapy also helps people lose significant amounts of weight, enough to remediate type II diabetes. This work is extremely exciting and we plan to talk a lot more about it here on our blog.