There’s an interesting exposé in the London Daily Mail, September 29, titled Critics claim antidepressants are being handed out like sweets… Thanks to Leonie and Antidepaware on Twitter for the link.
To find out how easily people could get prescriptions for antidepressants, the Mail sent
“…three women of differing ages — all of whom had no current mental health issues — to their doctors, reporting fictional symptoms of mild depression which had lasted for three to six weeks.”
Two of the three volunteers were given prescriptions for SSRI’s without difficulty. The third was not offered a prescription, but instead was encouraged to exercise and make some dietary changes.
The article points out that there was a 7.5% increase in antidepressant prescriptions in the UK from 2011 to 2012.
The article contains two comments on its findings.
The first comments are from Dr. Des Spence, a General Practitioner from Glasgow, Scotland. He writes and blogs about “… all the stupid and bad things that medicine does.” His recent posts include: Saying “no” to Chemotherapy; The Power of Non Intervention; and Get Big Pharma out of Post Graduate Education!
He is quoted in the Mail article as follows:
“The growth rate of antidepressant use is a major concern…We need to acknowledge they are being overused.” Dr Spence warns that our excessive use of antidepressants is turning us into a country of pill-poppers who are unable to tackle life’s routine challenges.
Dr Spence says Britain must break its dependency on antidepressants so that more people can beat the blues through self-help and therapy. “People have always talked to others to make sense of their problems,” he says. “People’s sense of well-being isn’t in the gift of medicine — it’s in the support of friends and family.”
The second comment is by Dr. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Dr. Gerada was trained in psychiatry, and Wikipedia reports that she cites mental health and substance abuse as her main work interests.
In the Mail article she is quoted as saying:
“The rise in antidepressant use is not as high as people think, …GPs are prescribing them for longer because this has been shown to work better.”
This strikes me as typical of psychiatry’s response to any kind of criticism. It is obvious that the use of antidepressants has been increasing, and that the increase is causing concern. In addition, there is abundant evidence that antidepressants are nowhere near as effective as they are claimed to be (here, here, and here), and that long-term use of these drugs leads to a deteriorating long-term outcome. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the side effects are more serious and more prevalent than pharma-psychiatry’s promotions portrayed.
Incidentally, a similar experiment was conducted in Ireland six months ago by a journalism student, with similar results. The Irish Examiner covered the story in their article Depressing truth about treating depression in the young.