Anti-Depressants Affecting Montreal Fish

According to a recent research study about 25 percent of Montreal residents take an anti-depressant, and human waste that enters the Montreal sewage system contains these drugs. The system is similar to sewage treatment facilities in other major cities around the world, so there is some chance a similar effect may be occurring there as well. The Montreal system treats solid waste but does not disinfect wastewater, so anti-depressants are present in the system, which empties into the Saint Lawrence river ecosystem. Researchers found anti-depressants accumulate in fish and can alter their brain activity.

“We know that antidepressants have negative side effects on human beings, but we don’t know how exactly these chemicals are affecting the fish, and by extension, the Saint Lawrence River’s ecosystem. Nevertheless, we are seeing an impact on the river’s ecosystem, which should concern cities everywhere,” said Dr. Sébastien Sauvé. (Source:

Last year research conducted in England discovered a similar scenario, but with shrimp instead of fish. Dr. Alex Ford from the University of Porthsmouth revealed anti-depressants in wastewater released into rivers and estuaries have probably already altered shrimp behavior making them more likely to be eaten by predators. So when Dr. Sauvé referenced the impact on the whole St. Lawrence river ecosystem, that is a very real possibility.

If trout behavior was altered as significantly as the shrimp’s was in England, they may not play their normal role any longer and their habitat could also change. Additionally, whatever species consume them when they are alive or dead could be affected by the ingestion of tissue containing anti-depressants. The amount of anti-depressants in the fish is very small, but we don’t know how little of the drugs can cause a change in small marine creatures, or even in birds that may consume contaminated fish. Once a chemical has entered the food chain it may be recycled many times. There is no immediate danger to humans from the presence of anti-depressants in the Montreal waters.

It isn’t known exactly if the anti-depressants are having negative effects on Montreal fish, but in humans they can cause decreased libido, weight gain, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, nervousness and constipation.

Last year the United States Geological Service conducted research in Colorado and Iowa showing anti-depressants in water and fish downstream from sewage treatment plants. “The antidepressants were found in fish collected over 8 kilometers (approximately 5 miles) downstream of the location of the wastewater discharge. The scientists detected several commonly used antidepressants in water, streambed sediment, and the brain tissue of white suckers, a native fish species. Fish collected upstream from the wastewater discharge did not have antidepressants present in their brain tissues.” (Source: USGS)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, meaning working with a therapist to reduce sad, angry, and negative thoughts to improve mood, actually can work better for some people, than anti-depressants.

Image Credit: Philthy54

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Kenneth L.
Kenneth L4 years ago

"In terms of (psychiatric) medication, the evidence that's claimed is the medications are highlty effective and not very toxic---but actually in fact the data in Psychiatry are very clear that that's not true. What is true is the medications are barely, if at all, more effective than placebo (sugar pill)" Dr. Colin Ross, Psychiatrist

"We keep finding more and more health problems associated with psychotropic (psychiatric) drug use. There are health problems associated with these drugs that often do not crop up, we're not aware of, until years after the drug has been on the market. "..Dr. Timothy Scott, Psychologist

"These (psychiatric) drugs are dangerous, they're dangerous for adults, let alone children, and they're being prescribed recklessly, they're being administered recklessly, and they're being promoted even more recklessly" Michael Freedland, Attorney

"All these (psychiatric) drugs are very very similar to illicit or illegal drugs, except more dangerous" Dr. Bruce Levine, Psychologist

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad4 years ago

Happening in the USA as well simply because when people are better or feel better depending on the medication used and whether they have used it according to prescription directions. These medications are being flushed down toilets as well as older medications that have been sitting around for time well past expiration, mist go some where and depending on your cities water purification system, you too can incur problems. But fish are getting the full monty of effects, because they get these meds long before they are passed into our filtering systems. People really need to find more safe AND reliable ways to dispose of no longer needed medications.

LMj Sunshine


LMj Sunshine


LMj Sunshine


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

How about the contraceptive pill? Let alone thinking of all the other allopathic pharmaceutical shit ending up in our water? One of the reasons one should opt for homeopathics or herbal remedies first!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M6 years ago

Thanks you for this information Jake. I am guilty for taking anti depressants, and never even thought about this. I am lowering doses to get off, but it isn't easy.Cognitive Therapy didn't help and walking is out until my back heals. Never Go On Antidepressants!!!!!

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan6 years ago

Depressing news !

Lupe G.
Guadalupe G6 years ago

We've heard for years how run off from fertilizers has caused so many problems to our ecosystems & people were warned not to throw away pills & such in trash or flush them down toilets to avoid this matter, but of course if the body excretes them all we can do is suck it up & stop relying on pharmaceuticals to tell us how we should feel, take our $$$ & just try to heal naturally from what we suffer from.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago

Where I come from sewerage is treated (I hope) and then released into the river/sea. The problem with pills (in my opinion) is that they if they are water soluble, they're difficult to remove unless they add chemicals to make it precipitate or flocculants to collect or molecular sieves to remove individual chemicals. Then you can simply filter it out.

But of course you have got to know what is in there first so that you can use the right treatment to get it out.

Unfortunately when a potable water processing unit is built it's pretty standard (I think).

Take water from river (hopefully upstream of where sewerage is released), treat it by way of removing solids (flocculating and filtering) and disinfect it (add chemicals or ozonate it) to kill bacteria. Disinfection does not remove chemicals, it's purely germicide.

I doubt they are going to test for herbicides/pesticides/pills (unless it’s a known problem) and provide a specific processing unit for their removal.