SSRI antidepressant medications contribute to a significant worsening of emotional "rapid cycling" in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The authors described the study as the first-ever randomized clinical trial to test whether the finding from previous observational studies was true, and stated that the study clarified the "lack of safety" of antidepressants for some people with bipolar. More →
Four different studies conducted in different ways examining different groups have linked use of certain psychiatric drugs, particularly SSRI antidepressants and antipsychotics but also benzodiazepines, to bone fracture risks and negative impacts on human bone development. More →
An influential 2007 US National Institute of Mental Health-led study included a statistical manipulation that disguised the fact that youth taking antidepressants were actually over four times as likely to experience suicidal events as those taking placebo, according to a study in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. This new published analysis has appeared several years after the revelations were first publicly discussed. More →
Continuing to take antidepressants during pregnancy was associated with higher rates of depressive relapses, hospitalizations and self-harming than stopping antidepressants, according to a study in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. More →
"A Pfizer Inc. report shows a scientist warned executives last year about a potential link between the anti-depressant drug Zoloft and birth defects, and recommended changes to the medication’s safety warning," reported Bloomberg. More →
A new study shows psychiatric drugs kill over half a million Americans and Europeans every year who are over 65. Professor Peter Gøtzsche claims efficacy trials underestimate the harmful effects of antidepressants, which in fact cause up to 15 time …
A new study in JAMA has reinforced earlier warnings that taking SSRI antidepressants late in pregnancy appears to put mothers at a slightly increased risk of having newborns with persistent pulmonary hypertension. PPHN is a potentially life-threatening condition. More →
In The Lancet Psychiatry, David Menkes of the University of Auckland and Andrew Herxheimer of the UK Cochrane Centre argue that a recent headline-making Lancet study linking depression to acts of violence should have examined antidepressant medications -- rather than depression alone -- as possible causes. More →
Depressed pregnant women need good care. They should not be made to feel guilty for the choices they make concerning their depression or lectured to by those who don’t understand the area or lack compassion for them. In that sense, Andrew Solomon does the public a service by turning his attention and writing talents to the topic of depression and pregnancy this week in the New York Times. However, a crucial part of providing good care to depressed pregnant women is to give them accurate information on the topic. In this sense, Andrew Solomon falls short.
The reason that SSRI antidepressants have seemingly not performed better than placebo is because their effects have been measured incorrectly, according to a reanalysis of clinical trial data published in Molecular Psychiatry. A more appropriate way to measure SSRI efficacy, the researchers argued, is to ignore the answers to 16 of the 17 questions about patients' feelings that were typically asked during the drug trials. More →
Children's positive responses to SSRI antidepressant treatments for depression are even less significant than adult responses, and drop to "minimal" after just four weeks, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. More →
"Depression can double risk of stroke," reported Time, CNN, NPR and many other news outlets, covering a study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers in the Journal of the American Heart Association. More →
The apparently positive effects of antidepressants on depression are even smaller than previously thought and "fall far short" of clinical significance, according to a new analysis of the trial data published in Contemporary Clinical Trials. The study was conducted by Irving Kirsch, author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, and MIA Blogger Joanna Moncrieff. More →
Pregnant women taking antidepressant medications, especially during the second trimester, have an increased risk of preeclampsia, a potentially serious or even fatal condition for both mother and child, according to a study by Kaiser Permanente Northern California researchers. More →
Salon looks at old data on depression studies and new data on anxiety disorders, and finds pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric researchers still "aren't telling you the whole truth." More →
A University of Oxford-led randomized controlled study published in The Lancet found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was as effective as antidepressants at preventing relapses in depressed people. The press release for the study noted this also meant that MBCT "isn't any more effective" than maintenance antidepressant treatment in preventing relapses. However, the mindfulness group had to deal with another important confounding factor which the study authors only noted in passing. More →
The pilot who deliberately crashed a Germanwings commercial airplane was questioned by the Federal Aviation Administration and denied a license to fly. The Agency reversed course in 2010, however, when his treating psychiatrist wrote letters of support indicating that the pilot's treatment with antidepressants and psychotherapy was a "complete" success, reported CNN and USA Today. More →
On The Mental Elf, forensic psychiatrist Andrew Shepherd reviews in detail a recent study and journal editorial on withdrawal effects from coming off antidepressant drugs. More →
The BMJ article on The Marketing of Serotonin has stirred some interest. There are some highly technical comments on the BMJ site but of course the key point behind the piece is the rather obvious fact that twenty-five years ago many people were saying it was all a myth. The extraordinary Michael Leunig nailed it twenty years ago in the sketch above. (Leunig is wonderful across the board and razor sharp on medicine and mental health).
"The latest prescription figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the UK is in the midst of a psychiatric drug epidemic," reports the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry. More →
A recent article on the website i09 titled, ‘The Most popular Antidepressants are Based on an Outdated Theory” has again raised the issue of Chemical Imbalances. It is interesting that the author of the i09 piece cites Dr. Peter Kramer and states, “Some psychiatrists vehemently disagree with the way journalists and other psychiatrists have pushed back against the chemical imbalance theory….” In both cases he cited what he considered the best evidence in support of the theory, but he did not discuss the research in any depth. Back in 2008, we took an in-depth look at the evidence that Dr. Kramer used to support the chemical imbalance theory. When one takes a closer look at that research we do not think it supports the theory. For this reason, we are reposting our 2008 essay about this.
The serotonin reuptake inhibiting (SSRI) group of drugs came on stream in the late 1980s, nearly two decades after first being mooted. The delay centred on finding an indication. They did not have hoped-for lucrative antihypertensive or antiobesity profiles. Even though a 1960s idea that serotonin concentrations might be lowered in depression had been rejected, drug companies marketed SSRIs for depression even though they were weaker than older tricyclic antidepressants. They sold the idea that depression was the deeper illness behind the superficial manifestations of anxiety. The approach was an astonishing success, central to which was the notion that SSRIs restored serotonin levels to normal, a notion that later transmuted into the idea that they remedied a chemical imbalance.
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