With increasing evidence that psychiatric drugs do more harm than good over the long term, the field of psychiatry often seems focused on sifting through the mounds of research data it has collected, eager to at last sit up and cry, here’s a shiny speck of gold! Our drugs do work! One recently published study on withdrawal of antipsychotics tells of long-term benefits. A second tells of long-term harm. Which one is convincing?
Since the mid-1990s antipsychotic medications have been increasingly prescribed for children, adolescents, and adults. The most recent report finds an increase in use for older children from 2006 to 2008. Most of the prescriptions of antipsychotics for children reported by the study were for conditions which had not been approved by the FDA (called off-label use).
I’ve been teaching a course on substance abuse for about 30 years now. In this course, I cover a new drug class each week and always review the history of the drug. All of the drugs of abuse, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, opiates are not new on the human scene. They date back to the Sumerians and the Greeks. The question for me is what accounts for epidemics? I have come to believe that epidemics are supplier driven rather than a function of consumer demand. For the current opiate epidemic, the suppliers were the pharmaceutical houses.
The hearing for Bill H4062: Informed Consent for Benzodiazepines and Non-benzodiazepine Hypnotics took place on Monday – in the middle of an April snowstorm! The discussion clarified some important points in the legislation and gave survivors an opportunity to tell their stories. I was so proud to be there and witness the courage, camaraderie, resilience, advocacy, and vulnerability of fellow survivors. This legislation is our chance to be heard. As one survivor said, through tears, to the committee, “Do not let my suffering be in vain. I beg you to pass this bill.”
During the past twenty years, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and American psychiatry have adopted a "medicalized" approach to preventing suicide, claiming that antidepressants are protective against suicide. Yet, the suicide rate in the United States has increased 30% since 2000, a time of rising usage of antidepressants. A review of studies of the effects of mental health treatment and antidepressants on suicide reveals why this medicalized approach has not only failed, but pushed suicide rates higher.
There appears to be increasing acceptance of the idea that lithium prevents suicide, and even that it can reduce mortality rates. For a toxic drug that makes most people feel rather depressed, this seems curious. I did wonder whether it might be having this effect on suicide by sapping people of the will to act, but the proposed effect on mortality seems completely inexplicable. A closer look at the evidence, however, suggests the idea is simply not justified.
Medicating children for a host of mental disorders has become very popular in some parts of the USA. More than 8 million kids from 6 months to 17 years of age are on pharmaceutical drugs in this wonderful country. We lead the world in drugging youth for behavioral, cognitive and attention issues. We are once again #1. But I would like to share with parents as well as adults working with children a few not so readily available facts related to medicating kids for behavior issues.
The authors of Study 329 began recruiting adolescents for a comparative study of Paxil, imipramine and placebo in 1994 and finished their investigations in 1997. They dropped a large number of their original cohort, so the randomness element in the study must be open to question. Late in 1998, SmithKline Beecham, the marketers of Paxil, acknowledged in an internal document that the study had shown that Paxil didn’t work for adolescents in terms of the two primary and six secondary outcomes they had established at the start of the study. In a nutshell, Study 329 was negative for efficacy and positive for harm, contrary to their succinct upbeat conclusion.
On February 24th, 2016 Bill HD4554 - An Act relative to benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics was filed by Representative Paul McMurtry in the Massachusetts State House. The bill received 47 co-sponsors during the seven-day open period in which legislators can co-sponsor. This is an impressive and promising turnout.
The writings of Pies and his colleagues, I believe, provide a compelling case study of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance arises when people are presented with information that creates conflicted psychological states, challenging some belief they hold dear, and people typically resolve dissonant states by sifting through information in ways that protect their self-esteem and their financial interests. It is easy to see that process operating here.
This review of the scientific literature, stretching across six decades, makes the case that antipsychotics, over the long-term, do more harm than good. The drugs lower recovery rates and worsen functional outcomes over longer periods of time.
With 1 in 5 Americans taking a psychiatric medication, most of whom, long term, we should probably start to learn a bit more about them. In fact, it would have been in the service of true informed consent to have investigated long-term risks before the deluge of these meds seized our population over the past thirty years.
Medically-induced harm—affecting tens of millions of people worldwide—has taken the field decades to take seriously.
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:
People hassle me for being anti-medication, and I always tell them I am NOT anti-medication; I am pro-fully-informed choice. But people like things black-and-white. They see me as being against medications, and so I'm telling you why medications may have saved my life yesterday, or at least saved me a whole bunch more trouble.
I thought I would make a small contribution to the discussion about how coverage of the recent airline tragedy focuses so much on the supposed ‘mental illness’ of the pilot and not so much on the possible role of antidepressants. Of course we will never know the answer to these questions but it is important, I think, to combat the simplistic nonsense wheeled out after most such tragedies, the nonsense that says the person had an illness that made them do awful things. So, just to confirm what many recipients of antidepressants, clinicians and researchers have been saying for a long time, here are some findings from our recent New Zealand survey of over 1,800 people taking anti-depressants, which we think is the largest survey to date.
After a meta-analysis of RCTs of antidepressants was published in Lancet, psychiatry stated that it proved that "antidepressants" work. However, effectiveness studies of real-world patients reveal the opposite: the medications increase the likelihood that patients will become chronically depressed, and disabled by the disorder.
Depressed pregnant women need good care. They should not be made to feel guilty for the choices they make concerning their depression or lectured to by those who don’t understand the area or lack compassion for them. In that sense, Andrew Solomon does the public a service by turning his attention and writing talents to the topic of depression and pregnancy this week in the New York Times. However, a crucial part of providing good care to depressed pregnant women is to give them accurate information on the topic. In this sense, Andrew Solomon falls short.
Let’s face it, as our kids slowly developing brains wrestle with behavioral and maturity issues while also trying to juggle expectations related to academic and social challenges, some of the behaviors they display can be quite concerning. Understandably, after trying what seems like everything in the books plus the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room sinks, caring and often exhausted parents are actively looking for help, resources and answers. But guess what? Without any need for pharmaceutical intervention or “drug therapy,” for centuries parents have been quite capable of helping challenged children overcome semi-annoying and concerning behaviors that some “experts” want to label today as symptoms of a mental disorder. Behaviors that a billion kids worldwide display every day.
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.
It can be difficult to pinpoint transitions. The Rubicon that led from a Medical Republic to a Pharmaceutical Empire was crossed in 1962 with the passage of the Amendments to the Food and Drugs Act. This act put in place an apparatus of controlled trials, prescription-only status and disease indications that laid the basis for a global pharmaceutical hegemony, although the drift to Empire could still have been stopped at this point.
If academic psychiatry is evidence-based, why did it take two decades to recognize SSRI withdrawal as widespread and chronic among patients?
A medical journal is expected to promote an open-minded discussion of treatments, even if findings—or criticisms—threaten conventional beliefs. But the American Journal of Psychiatry will not find space for criticism even if it comes from one of the best-known psychiatrists in the world.
On September 18th the one day "More Harm than Good Conference" brought together many of the leaders of the critical psychiatry movement. While the event has passed, the video and slides from the conference have been made available on the council for evidence-based psychiatry website.
Alarming headlines, based on a recent study, declare that diagnosis with ADHD doubles the risk of early death. Psychiatrist Stephen Faraone, commenting on the original study published in the Lancet, concludes that: “for clinicians early diagnosis and treatment should become the rule rather than the exception.” This conclusion represents a false assumption that the deaths occurred in cases that were not treated.
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