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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 speciﬁc biological 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."
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.
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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