A new study, about to be published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, investigates the role a stressful environment plays in antidepressant effectiveness. The results of this study, conducted on mice to examine brain inflammation, indicate that SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) may only be effective for those who live relatively unstressed lives. Indeed, those with stressful lives may actually find their symptoms worsened by the use of such antidepressant medications.
Jürgen Margraf and Silvia Schneider, both well-known psychologists at the University of Bochum in Germany, claim that psychotropic drugs are no solution to mental health issues in an editorial for the latest issue of the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. They argue that the effects of psychiatric drugs for depression, anxiety, and ‘ADHD’ are short-lived and may have negative long-term consequences.
A team in the Netherlands is currently investigating the effects of tapering off of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy. In this randomized controlled trial, one group of women will be guided in tapering off of SSRIs (STOP condition) while also receiving psychological support in the form of online preventive cognitive therapy (PCT). The other group will serve as the control group (GO condition) and will continue taking the SSRI as usual. The study is designed to compare the rates of relapse or recurrence of depression in both groups.
A new analysis published in the The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry investigates the public health effects of direct-to-consumer advertisements for psychiatric drugs. The researchers from Brown University systematically examined existing studies on the consequences of these ads on prescription rates and quality of treatments. They found that, although there have been limited studies addressing this issue, doctors appear more likely to prescribe when ads are referenced by patients and that this contributes to the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs.
The August issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics published a review conducted by André F. Carvalho and colleagues regarding the literature around the long-term use of newer generation antidepressant drugs (ADs) and their side effects. Their investigation, which focused on data obtained from populations diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), found that there were a number of safety issues and potentially serious adverse events, which occurred as a consequence of using ADs.
A change.org petition out of the United Kingdom is addressing the extreme difficulty faced by people who attempt to taper off of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. The petition calls on the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to require pharmaceutical companies to produce “drug tapering kits” designed to help patients reduce their medications over time. “As it is now, many people who want to stop have no option but to reduce to the lowest possible dosage then ‘jump off’ which can be extremely challenging,” the petition reads. “Some users simply carry on taking a drug beyond the point at which it was effective and useful to avoid the challenge of stopping.”
In 2010, my 25-year old son was prescribed Prozac for depression. After a psychiatrist doubled his dose, my son became acutely psychotic and had to be admitted to the hospital. Over the next twelve months, during which time he was treated with antidepressants and neuroleptics, my son had five further psychotic experiences. I thought it might be that my son was having difficulty metabolising the drugs.
A new study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, investigates how the use of antidepressants during pregnancy can lead to a life-threatening lung complication in newborns. Previous research has demonstrated that exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in utero is associated with an increased risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), but this latest study makes use of animal models to locate the biological mechanism through which this occurs.
The Washington Post reports that "a Maryland man was found not criminally responsible for shooting his wife in the neck in their home in 2014 because he was found to be suffering from 'involuntary intoxication' due to Chantix." More than 2,000 people have joined in lawsuits against Pfizer for psychiatric problems including suicide and suicidal thoughts associated with the drug.
In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association published a paper supporting the use of the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) in children and teens. After reanalyzing the data, however, researchers found no difference between the drug and placebo. It also became evident that the original study misrepresented the data and was ghostwritten, in large part, by industry insiders. Journal editors continue to refuse to retract the original study in the face of rampant criticism, and, as a result, the paper continues to be cited uncritically.
The use of antidepressants has increased substantially in recent years, yet relatively few studies have asked patients about their experiences with these drugs. A new study, published open-access this week, does just that. After interviewing 180 long-term users of antidepressants, the researchers found that while the majority reported an improvement in depression, many also experienced problems with withdrawal symptoms, and others said they “felt addicted.”
An increase in suicidal thoughts is a known and serious side-effect for various types of antidepressants. Recent studies suggest that there may be some genetic factors that increase the risk for this reaction. A new study, in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, identifies two specific genetic variants that are associated with worsening suicidal ideation in patients taking antidepressants.
The media is now reporting details about the 18-year-old who shot and killed nine and wounded many others before killing himself on July 22 in Munich. My clinical and forensic experience leads to a distinction among people who murder under the influence of psychiatric drugs. Those who kill only one or two people, or close family members, often have little or no history of mental disturbance and violent tendencies. The drug itself seems like the sole cause of the violent outburst. On the other hand, most of those who commit mass violence while taking psychiatric drugs often have a long history of mental disturbance and sometimes violence. For these people, the mental health system seems to have provoked increasing violence without recognizing the danger.
Earlier this year, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) came out with the controversial recommendation that all adolescent and adult patients undergo depression screening in primary care. A new study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, calls this recommendation into question. Researchers led by Brett Thombs from McGill University reviewed the accuracy of the existing screening instruments used for the detection of depression in children and adolescents and found insufficient evidence for their use.
A new study investigating fifteen years of patient records at a Midwestern hospital found that psychiatrists almost always responded to patient complaints about their relationships by prescribing antidepressants, despite the fact that these complaints had little to do with the DSM criteria for depression. The study’s lead author, Jonathan Metzl, a professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt, suggests that after the decision in 1974 to remove homosexuality from the DSM, psychiatry continued to enforce forms of socially accepted relationships through the prescription of antidepressants.
The Times Katie Gibbons reports that the UK “NHS is spending a record £780,000 a day on antidepressants as failing mental health services struggle to provide alternative therapies.”
For The Times, Labour MP Luciana Berger writes about her concerns with the increased use of antidepressants. “Antidepressants should never be prescribed as a first response to mild depression,” she writes. “Psychological therapies are what the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends. Unlike fluoxetine, citalopram and the rest, talking therapies are non-addictive and can be matched to a patient’s needs.”
The award-winning documentarian, Katinka Blackford Newman, talks to the Daily Mail about her new book on the dangers of antidepressants, The Pill That Steals Lives: One Woman’s Terrifying Journey To Discover The Truth About Antidepressants.
I have given up on psychiatry as a system capable of “being there” for people who are dealing with life and death issues. Psychiatry as a system of care lacks validity. Every day — unfortunately — we learn of new examples proving this statement. But here’s the good news: every day we meet people who show us that the predictions of psychiatry are not true; that there are “cures,” that it is possible to reduce or withdraw psychiatric drugs. This October 15th, we will host Scientific Symposium – Psychiatric Drug Risk and Alternatives in Gothenburg, Sweden, to gather and build on what we learn from them.
A study released this week in JAMA examined whether giving patients with chronic heart failure and depression the SSRI antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) for two years would improve their mood and health outcomes. The results of the randomized control trial reveal that the antidepressant not only failed to improve physical health outcomes but also failed to improve depression symptoms.
A new meta-analysis finds that the large antidepressant effects of exercise may have been underestimated in previous reviews. This latest report, published this month in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, examines twenty-five previous studies and concludes that regular exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect in people diagnosed with moderate and severe depression.
A first of its kind neuroscience study, published this month in Cerebral Cortex, found changes in the brain electrical activity of infants exposed to SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy. The changes are associated with less-organized communication between the brain’s hemispheres and are comparable to the effects found in previous animal studies. The researchers call for more critical evaluations of the prescription of antidepressants during pregnancy and suggest that non-pharmacologic and therapeutic alternatives should be the preferred treatment.
If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential. But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment. Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
“The true balance of risk versus benefit for people taking these kinds of antidepressants will probably only emerge when independent researchers have access to all the data from clinical trials – something manufacturers of these drugs are still resisting.”
Copyright © 2016 Mad in America Foundation.