It is hard to believe that a year has gone past since I posted Playing the Odds: Antidepressant Withdrawal and the Problem of Informed Consent. The feedback I received underscored the more controversial aspects of SSRI toxicity. Common themes concerned the abrupt onset of new symptoms 3 to 12 months after stopping the drug, reinstatement of the drug failing to help withdrawal related symptoms, the possibility that withdrawal-related symptoms can persist indefinitely and concerns about using benzodiazepines to help with tardive akathisia. Full Article →
Dr. Bernard Carroll, scientific director of the non-profit Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation and a former chair of Duke University’s psychiatry department, is suggesting the British Medical Journal should retract last month’s article that linked the FDA’s black box warnings about increased suicidality in youth taking SSRIs to increases in adolescent suicide attempts. The BMJ article by Christine Lu et al reached its conclusions by using drug poisonings as a proxy for suicide attempts. “A substandard article with large policy implications slipped through their review and editing process and it was trumpeted in the world media,” writes Carroll in his second critical letter to BMJ about the article. Carroll points out that many letters have exposed the profound flaws in the study, but “the coup de grace” was the recent letter to BMJ from Barber, Miller and Azrael from the Harvard School of Public Health, reported yesterday in Mad In America. Those authors provided direct evidence that suicide attempts had not increased, and also disavowed Lu’s citation of their study as proof that drug poisonings were a valid proxy for suicide attempts. “Certainly, a retraction would shine a stronger public searchlight on the compromised validity of the Lu report than just the Rapid Responses can do,” writes Carroll.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric News today published an article about the Lu study, and reproduced many of the flaws and omissions which were publicly exposed weeks ago. Only one critic is quoted.
Mad In America has been following the story closely and has compiled links to critiques and a summary analysis of the issues here.
Last month a widely-reported British Medical Journal study led by Harvard Medical School’s Christine Lu suggested that black box warnings about increased suicidality in youth who take antidepressants actually led to increases in adolescent suicide attempts. Lu’s study based its conclusions on data that showed drug poisoning rates rose after the FDA warnings came out. However, the latest in a stream of critics of that conclusion are the authors of one of the key studies cited by Lu in support of her team’s analysis. Catherine Barber, Matthew Miller and Deborah Azrael of the Harvard School of Public Health write in a letter to BMJ that drug-poisoning rates are not, in fact, a reliable proxy for suicide attempts. Furthermore, they report that “five readily available, online data sources that provide more reliable and valid measures of youth suicidal behavior” showed no increase in suicide attempts following the black box warnings. (more…)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a meta-analysis “Evidence Report” of the studies into the benefits and harms of antidepressant treatments during and after pregnancy. Prepared by the Portland-based Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center, the research team’s analysis included all studies published before July 2013. Overall, the team determined that not enough research has been done to provide clear guidance on benefits or harms, though they did identify several concerns about newborns. Discuss →
German psychiatrist Stefan Leucht and colleagues have produced another really important paper. The results indicate that the small differences usually found between antidepressants and placebo are far below the sort of differences that would be clinically detectable or meaningful. Leucht et al. have conducted the first thorough, systematic attempt to provide some empirical evidence about what constitutes a clinically meaningful difference in scores on depression rating scales, although the study did not set out to explore antidepressant effects. Full Article →
Giovanni Fava has published an integrative analysis of the different sources of scientific research into antidepressants in Psychotherapy and Somatics. “The use of antidepressant drugs exemplifies the discrepancy between different sources of information,” he writes. Discussing tolerance, efficacy, paradoxical effects, withdrawal, and effects of antidepressants on different psychological conditions, Fava ultimately argues that a rational use of antidepressants “consists in targeting their application to only the most severe and persistent cases of depression, limiting their use to the shortest possible duration and reducing their utilization in anxiety disorders…” Discuss →
Psychiatric Times has published a discussion of the research comparing the effectiveness of antidepressant medications under different conditions. “First, there seem to be no significant differences among [different antidepressants],” states author Dr. Steve Balt. “Second, and somewhat surprisingly, antidepressant effectiveness is quite low.” When discussing the significance of the placebo effect, Balt cites research suggesting that “the quality of the therapeutic alliance between prescriber and patient is sometimes a better predictor of patient outcome than which drugs are prescribed. One study found that “effective” prescribers obtained better outcomes with placebos than “less effective” prescribers with active antidepressants.” (more…)
Thanks to the work of Dr. Irving Kirsch, we now know that the majority of the effect of antidepressants is attributable to the “active placebo effect” or the belief that receiving a memified brain-chemical-corrector will actually help alleviate symptoms. As I discuss in this post, evaluation of published and unpublished data, in two metanalysis, demonstrated a non-clinically significant difference between placebo and antidepressants. A fascinating new study entitled The Role of Patient Expectancy in Placebo and Nocebo Effects in Antidepressant Trials further explores the power of belief in psychiatric treatment. Full Article →
Examining the link between depression and loss of employment, a study by American researchers in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that cognitive therapy was more strongly positively linked to employment than antidepressants, and the impact increased over time. Following 141 treatment responders from a previous study, the researchers found that, after four months there was little difference between the two groups, but after 28 months, 88.9% of the people who’d been involved in cognitive therapy were employed, while 70.8% of the people taking antidepressants were. “Cognitive therapy may produce greater improvements in employment v. medication, particularly over the longer term,” the researchers concluded. Discuss →
The alleged “Prom day” killer, Christopher Plaskon, is a snap shot of the future result of Connecticut’s increased mental health services. The 17 year-old’s defense apparently will be that his “mental health” caused his murderous actions – not the dangerous psychiatric drugs he obviously has been taking for some time. Full Article →
On April 19, 2014, The Lancet published an article titled Do we underestimate the benefits of antiddepressants?, by German psychiatrists Mazda Adli and Ulrich Hegerl. The authors argue that randomized controlled trials (RCT’s), as currently conducted, systematically underestimate the benefits of antidepressants and overestimate the benefits of psychotherapy. But what’s interesting is that in all the years that pharma-psychiatry was churning out its fraudulent, spurious and self-serving “findings,” I never heard of a single complaint from psychiatry about these kinds of methodological issues. Full Article →
Greg Young, who leapt to his death from the top of Niagara Falls, “had been on numerous medications, all of which came with warnings that they could inspire suicidal tendencies in young men about Greg’s age,” according to an article on the website of the High Point Enterprise. “‘That’s one of the most appalling things to me,’ says Greg’s father, Richard Young, a retired Baptist minister. ‘Gregory was fighting this disorder, and every drug they gave him to try to help him warned that it might cause him to commit suicide. That blows my mind.’” (more…)
The title of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent derives from presidential advisor Walter Lippmann’s phrase “the manufacture of consent”—a necessity for Lippmann, who believed that the general public is incompetent in discerning what’s truly best for them, and so their opinion must be molded by a benevolent elite who do know what’s best for them. Why has the American public not heard psychiatrists in positions of influence on the mass media debunk the chemical imbalance theory? Big Pharma’s corruption of psychiatry is only part of the explanation. Many psychiatrists, acting in the manner of a benevolent elite, did not alert the general public because they believed that the chemical imbalance theory was a useful fiction to get patients to accept their mental illness and take their medication. In other words, the chemical imbalance theory was an excellent way to manufacture consent. Full Article →
My name is Leah Harris and I’m a survivor. I am a survivor of psychiatric abuse and trauma. My parents died largely as a result of terrible psychiatric practice. Psychiatric practice that took them when they were young adults and struggling with experiences they didn’t understand. Experiences that were labeled as schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder. My parents were turned from people into permanent patients. They suffered the indignities of forced treatment. Seclusion and restraint. Forced electroshock. Involuntary outpatient commitment. And a shocking amount of disabling heavy-duty psychiatric drugs. And they died young, from a combination of the toxic effects of overmedication, and broken spirits. Full Article →
Chuck Norris writes in WND: “I believe that too many who struggle with mild cases of depression don’t think they can find genuine relief without a pill. And it’s important for people know that in the wrong hands and taken the wrong ways, antidepressants can actually depress or worse. There’s a brand-new study conducted by epidemiologists at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and shows that “kids and young adults starting on high doses of antidepressants are at especially high risk, especially in the first three months of treatment,” according to the Los Angeles Times.” (more…)
A comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized trial data by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health finds that children and young adults who start antidepressants at high doses appear to be at greater risk for suicidal behavior. Discuss →
Julia Llewellyn Smith reports in the Telegraph that “Last year, 53 million prescriptions were issued for antidepressants in England alone, nearly double the number prescribed a decade ago, and a six per cent increase in the past year. According to recent research, one in three British women and one in 10 men now take the medication, including popular brands such as Prozac, Cipramil and Seroxat, at some point in their lives. But a growing number of experts now believe depression is vastly overdiagnosed and the drugs can cause far more harm than good.”
“A ‘tail suspension test’ is exactly what its title implies. Researchers lift a rat by the tail for a few minutes at a time, just to see what it does . . . Antidepressants have been found to increase the ‘try to escape’ to ‘given up,’ ratio, so a common early test for antidepressants is holding rats by tails, stuffing them with antidepressants, and then holding them by their tails again.”
On Monday April 14th, an important new study from Harrington et al was published in the journal Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.) The study was designed to examine prenatal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental delays (DDs). Nine hundred sixty-six mother child pairs were studied and the researchers found that in boys, the association between maternal SSRI use in the first trimester and autism was very strong (OR 3.22). The association between third-trimester maternal SSRI use and developmental delay was even stronger, with an odds ratio of 4.98. Full Article →
On Monday a new study was published with the finding that there is a three- to four-fold increase in the rates of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Delay in children, especially boys, born to mothers who have been on antidepressants through pregnancy. There are further studies with comparable findings in the offing. Not only this but it looks as though the SSRIs may redefine what it means to be a teratogen. Other teratogens produce their effects in the first trimester of pregnancy when organs are first being formed. But it looks like antidepressants used in the third trimester can lead to autistic spectrum disorder and developmental delay. Full Article →
Doris Iarovici, a psychiatrist from Duke University, asks in the New York Times “Are we using good scientific evidence to make decisions about keeping these young people on antidepressants? Or are we inadvertently teaching future generations to view themselves as too fragile to cope with the adversity that life invariably brings?” (more…)
Concentrations of Prozac as low as 1 microgram per liter (μg/L), a concentration that has been found in many freshwater environments, were found to significantly impact the mating behavior of fathead minnows, specifically nest building and defending. Males were also found to display aggression, isolation, and repetitive behaviors at higher concentrations. Predator avoidance behaviors in males and females were also impacted at 1 μg/L. Feeding was impacted at 10 μg/L and in the highest exposure (100 μg/L), egg production was limited by deaths of females due to significant male aggressive behaviors in the first two weeks of exposure. “With increased aggression, in the highest level of concentration, female survivorship was only 33% compared to the other exposures that had a survivorship of 77–87.5%. The females that died had visible bruising and tissue damage,” according to c0-author Rebecca Klaper.
The average rate of female prisoners in Canada’s prison system who receive psychiatric medication has jumped from 42% in 2001 to over 60% today, with some regions prescribing psych meds at a rate of up to 75%, according to a joint investigation by the Canadian Press and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Former prisoners and their advocates have been complaining for years about the overmedication of inmates, with Seroquel – a powerful antipsychotic — routinely being prescribed to female prisoners as a sleeping aid. Discuss →