The extensive off-label use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes is causing many adverse effects and providing limited benefits, according to a review of the literature in Health Policy. More →
Pneumonia cases in the elderly are strongly associated with use of anticholinergic medications, according to research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Some anticholinergics are used for treating psychiatric conditions, including benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants. More →
In 2010, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica published a study by Göran Isacsson et al. The paper was titled Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression. It’s a complicated article, with some tenuous logic, but, in any event, it’s all moot, because the article was retracted by the authors and by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica about sixteen months after publication. The retraction had been requested by the authors because of “… unintentional errors in the analysis of the data …”
Common scientific beliefs about serotonin levels in depression and how antidepressants act on the brain appear to be completely backwards, according to a paper from Canadian and American researchers in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. More →
In the first systematic review of withdrawal problems that patients experience when trying to get off SSRI antidepressant medications, a team of American and Italian researchers found that withdrawing from SSRIs was in many ways comparable to trying to quit addictive benzodiazepine sedatives and barbiturates. Publishing in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, they also found that withdrawal symptoms can last months or even years, and entirely new, persistent psychiatric disorders can emerge from discontinuing SSRIs. More →
When I was researching Anatomy of an Epidemic and sought to track the number of people receiving a disability payment between 1987 and 2007 due to “mental illness,” I was frustrated by the lack of diagnostic clarity in the data. The Social Security Administration would list, in its annual reports on the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs, the number of people receiving payment for “mental disorders,” which in turn was broken down into just two subcategories: “retardation,” and “other mental disorders.” Unfortunately, the “other mental disorders,” which was the category for those with psychiatric disorders, was not broken down into its diagnostic parts.
Greater cumulative doses of antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants and other drugs that are anticholinergic or block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine are associated with significant increases in dementia and Alzheimer's, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. More →
Sertraline and paroxetine may be somewhat safer for the infants of nursing mothers than other SSRI antidepressants, but generally there is far too little information to go on, reported two Italian medical researchers in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. More →
Depressed elderly people are more likely to suffer heart disease not because of their depression, but apparently due to antidepressant medications, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine. More →
"Several studies have found altered semen parameters after exposure to SSRI antidepressants," stated the French non-profit medical continuing education organization Prescrire in a special report. "Although the role of SSRIs is uncertain, it is justified to take into account the observed effects on sperm quality and to inform exposed patients." More →
What if I told you that, in 6 decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety – the claim that “Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Zoloft works to correct this imbalance” – has not achieved scientific credibility? You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim. So, here you go:
Scientists from the University of Utah say they have discovered a new way of doing mice experiments that more sensitively and quickly reveals negative side effects from drugs being tested. In their proof-of-concept, their experiment much more pronouncedly and rapidly revealed the negative effects of the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) on pregnant mothers and offspring, even at relatively low doses. More →
The Finnish Psychological Association held a meeting in Helsinki on 1 Sept 2014 titled “Mental Health and Medicalization.” I spoke at the meeting and four days later I sent a letter to another speaker, psychiatrist Erkki Isometsä. Professor Isometsä replied: “I will respond to it in detail within a few days…” As “Open Dialogue” is essential in science, I have published my letter to Isometsä here as well as on my own website, although I didn’t succeed in starting a dialogue.
The article “Special K, a Hallucinogen, Raises Hopes and Concerns as a Treatment for Depression,” by Andrew Pollack in the New York Times, December 9, 2014, tells how far afield my field, psychiatry, has really gone – that it is even a consideration to use an hallucinogen for the treatment of depression.
Depression during pregnancy is an important issue. Depression should not be ignored and depressed pregnant women deserve good treatment and care. Part of that good care, though, is providing them with full and correct information. I care for pregnant women taking antidepressants on a daily basis and too often they tell me that the only counseling they received about the medication was, “my doctor told me it’s safe in pregnancy.” This post will review the evidence in this area and address the counterarguments.
Patient Drug News advises avoiding use of the antidepressant Vortioxetine (also called Brintellix or Trintellix), because the most recent evidence from the FDA shows that the drug has "little benefit" and "significant risks." More →
Two South African researchers review scientific understanding of the brain changes that lead to antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (ADS) in Human Psycho-pharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. They then put forth a biological analysis and theory as to why the antidepressant agomelatine seems to cause less severe withdrawal problems. More →
Robin Williams had "therapeutic" levels of the tetra-cyclic antidepressant mirtazapine in his blood at the time of his suicide, according to the coroner's report on his death, posted in its entirety by TMZ. More →
In the New England Journal of Medicine, Richard Friedman and Marc Stone present very different arguments about the reliability of the body of research into antidepressants, suicidality, and FDA black box warnings, and what that body of research is truly telling us. More →
Ever higher levels of pharmaceutical drugs are turning up in drinking water supplies, and an op-ed in the UK Mirror discusses a study that looked at what happened to birds when they were given comparable levels of antidepressants in their water. More →
The FDA released a report in July of a trial on children and adolescents of the selegiline (Emsam) transdermal patch for treatment of depression, but few pharmacists and doctors know about it because it was not published, according to Patient Drug News. The FDA report declared that "the benefits of Emsam in this population have not been adequately demonstrated." Patient Drug News has provided an analysis and commentary about the report. More →
Through my years in the medical system, I have learned that depression (or whatever tentative variants and labels have been offered therein) won’t disappear with pills. Nor it is something I can just will away by inflicting pain upon myself and saying ‘never again’ with every bout. Although I loathe the inevitable ups and downs of recovery, I am starting to recognize that they are simply a fact – and that progress IS being made. Living beyond medication, I have learned that even the worst days will end, I can still hope for the sun where there seems only cloud, and that every given moment is a chance to move on and keep going.
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