SSRI Does Not Improve Outcomes or Mood for Patients with Heart Failure

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.

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Effects of Exercise on Depression Underestimated, Review Finds

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.

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New Study Finds Brain Changes in Newborns Exposed to Antidepressants

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.

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Rising Rates of Suicide: Are Pills the Problem?

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.
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“If Antidepressants Don’t Work Well, Why Are They So Popular?”

“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.”

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Major Review Finds Antidepressants Ineffective, Potentially Harmful for Children and Teens

In a large review study published this week in The Lancet, researchers assessed the effectiveness and potential harms of fourteen different antidepressants for their use in children and adolescents. The negative results, familiar to MIA readers, are now making major headlines.

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Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Increases Risk of Preterm Birth, Latest Review Finds

Antidepressant use during pregnancy has been associated with a number of fetal and developmental complications. The latest meta-analysis of the effect of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy adds to this growing body of research. The review found an increased risk for preterm births that remained significant even when compared to women who were also diagnosed with depression but did not take antidepressants.

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Does Your Child Have ‘ADHD’? It Might Depend On Your Doctor

A study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals large differences from one pediatrician to the next when it comes to diagnosing and prescribing drugs for ‘ADHD.’ The researchers found that the percentage of children being diagnosed with ‘ADHD’ varied from as high as 16% of patients at some offices to as little as 1% of patients at others. The data also revealed significant but lower variability in the pediatric diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

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Rising Prescriptions, Rising Disability: Video from the UK Parliament

Mental health campaigner Chrys Muirhead’s blog features video from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence event on 11 May 2016 at Westminster. “Robert Whitaker, the Pulitzer-shortlisted science journalist and author, presented global prescribing and disability data, as well as research which shows how long-term use of psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, can lead to worse outcomes for patients.”

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Are DNA Changes the Link Between Poverty and Mental Illness?

Researchers at Duke University who studied 183 adolescents for three years found that increased depression associated with poverty may be mediated by epigenetic changes in DNA. The researchers conclude: "These initial results suggest a specibiological mechanism through which adversity contributes to altered brain function, which in turn moderates the emergence of general liability as individual risk for mental illness. If replicated, this prospective pathway may represent a novel target biomarker for intervention and prevention among high-risk individuals."

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Mindfulness Therapy May Be More Effective Without Antidepressants

While an estimated 74-percent of patients diagnosed with major depression receive a prescription for an antidepressant, new research reveals that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be most helpful when drugs are not used. The study, published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that the participants in a randomized control trial for MBCT who showed the greatest improvement were those who had not taken antidepressants.

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Prescribing Antidepressants for Girls: Intergenerational Adverse Consequences

Children exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy, a recent study shows, were diagnosed with depression by age 14 at more than four times the rate of children whose mothers were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder but did not take the medication. Such reports are usually met, appropriately, with an outpouring of reassurances from clinicians who take care of pregnant women, who need to protect their emotional wellbeing in whatever way they can. From my perspective as a pediatrician specializing in early childhood mental health our attention must be on prevention.
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Who Will Guard the Guardians of Psychiatry?

The assertion that the so-called antidepressants are being over-prescribed implies that there is a correct and appropriate level of prescribing and that depression is a chronic illness (just like diabetes). It has been an integral part of psychiatry’s message that although depression might have been triggered by an external event, it is essentially an illness residing within the person’s neurochemistry. The issue is not whether people should or shouldn’t take pills. The issue is psychiatry pushing these dangerous serotonin-disruptive chemicals on people, under the pretense that they have an illness.
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“The Hidden Harms of Antidepressants”

In a new article for Scientific American, Diana Kwon reports on how the true risks for suicide and aggression in children and teens taking antidepressants have been suppressed by drug companies. “Taken together with other research—including studies that suggest antidepressants are only marginally better than placebos—some experts say it is time to reevaluate the widespread use of these drugs.”

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Antidepressants Not a ‘One Size Fits All’ Solution, Researchers Find

The largest ever study of the thoughts and reactions of antidepressant users reveals that many people have vastly different understandings and experiences of the drugs. It is also evident from the study that many antidepressant users’ experiences are influenced by “chemical imbalance” and “serotonin deficiency” theories, despite these theories being roundly disproven in the scientific literature. The researchers, including MIA contributor John Read, are now seeking participants for a new survey on both antipsychotics and antidepressants, which can be accessed at www.psychmedicationsurvey.com

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A Worldwide Epidemic – The Misuse of Anti-Depressant Medications

Not all people who have letters after their names are actually “gods” or even people who have any special powers to know things about us more than we can learn about ourselves, about our own bodies, and our own minds. Blindly following what someone says we need to be doing for our own health (mental or physical) and well-being just because they have a white jacket on (so to speak) is usually not in our best interests.
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“Psych Drug Link to Violent Episodes Analysed”

The Irish Examiner reports on research by Yolande Lucire connecting antidepressant-induced akathisia to violent episodes. The research concludes that the “medicalisation of common human distress” has resulted in a very large number of people getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing “suicides and homicides and the mental states that lead up to them”.

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Coyne Covers Citalopram Controversy

In his “Mind the Brain” blog for PLOS, well-known researcher James Coyne reviews the controversy surrounding the latest case of a fraudulently reported study on the antidepressant citalopram. “Access to the internal documents of Forest Laboratories revealed a deliberate, concerted effort to produce results consistent with the agenda of vested interests,” he writes, “even where prespecified analyses yielded contradictory findings.”

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In Honor of Fear and Pain

Our use of antidepressants has turned single-episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development. But, If you are in the hole of pain, here’s what I have to say to you. It’s what I say to my patients, and what I tell myself in times of struggle.
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“The Unfulfilled Promise of the Antidepressant Medications”

A new article in The Medical Journal of Australia laments that, while antidepressant use continues to climb, the research evidence shows that their effectiveness is lower than many thought. Meanwhile, fewer patients are getting access to psychotherapy.

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Childhood Trauma Predicts Lack of Response to Antidepressants

Research in Translational Psychiatry finds that childhood maltreatment and trauma predict a greater likelihood of developing chronic depression, and a reduced likelihood of responding to treatment in the form of antidepressant medication. The researchers recommend increased consideration of trauma issues in relation to depression, and therapies that address the trauma issues along with the current experience of depression.

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Daughter of a Psychiatrist

Here I was, 15 years old and already in a long-term treatment facility. I was, on paper: crazy! This entire time, all the adults in my life had been speaking for me. I never felt like I was any of the things they said, but I went along with it. What else could I have done? Every time I rebelled, it only confirmed to my mother what she thought of me.
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Interview: Researchers Deconstruct Ghostwritten Industry Trial for Antidepressant

Researchers, Jon Jureidini, Jay Amsterdam and Leemon McHenry, have taken a closer look at the data from a randomized control trial of citalopram (Celexa) that was ghostwritten and then used by the manufacturers to support claims of the drug’s efficacy and safety in the treatment of child and adolescent depression. Their analysis used 750 recently-released court documents from a lawsuit against Forest Labs concerning the marketing and sales practices involved in the off-label promotion of Celexa. Drs. Jon Jureidini and Jay Amsterdam were expert witnesses in the case. The article is published, open-access, in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. 

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Report from the Parliament: Can Psychiatry At Least Be Curious?

In the past six years, I have had the opportunity to speak at several conferences or meetings that I felt had particular potential to stir some political activity that would challenge current psychiatric practices, and one of those events was the meeting convened in the U.K.’s Parliament on May 11th, which had this title for the day: Rising Prescriptions, Rising Mental Health Disability: Is There a Link?
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Antidepressants Do Not Prevent Suicides, May Increase Risk

When the CDC released data revealing an increasing suicide rate in the US, some experts, speaking to major media outlets, speculated that the increase could be tied to the FDA’s Black Box warning for teen suicides on antidepressants. It was suggested that the warnings may discourage some from taking antidepressants and that these drugs may prevent suicides. The research, however, does not appear to support these claims. A new review of studies on the role of antidepressants in suicide, published this month in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, concludes that there is no evidence that antidepressants prevent suicide and that the research may even suggest that the drugs  increase the risk.

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