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by Lennard Davis, New York Times Journalist and author  

For the past five years, and in my recent book OBSESSION: A HISTORY , I have been questioning the effectiveness of Prozac-like drugs known as SSRIs. I've pointed out that when the drugs first came out in the early 1990's there was a wildly enthusiastic uptake in the prescribing of such drugs. Doctors were jubilantly claiming that the drugs were 80-90 per cent effective in treating depression and related conditions like OCD. In the last few years those success rates have been going down, with the NY Times pointing out that the initial numbers had been inflated by drug companies suppressing the studies that were less encouraging. But few if any doctors or patients were willing to hear anything disparaging said about these "wonder" drugs.

Now the tune has changed.

Reason One:

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that SSRI's like Paxil and Prozac are no more effective in treating depression than a placebo pill. That means they are 33 per cent effective, which is the percent of patients who will respond well to a sugar pill. The article goes on to say that although SSRI's are effective to some degree in treating severe depression they don't have any effect on the routine type of depressions they are most often used to treat. The take-home message is–don't take 's if you have normal, mild, or routine depression. It's a waste of money, and the drugs have serious side-effects including loss of sexual drive.

Reason Two:

A January 4 article in MedPage Today cites a study done at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins. The study says that doctors routinely prescribe not one but two or three SSRI's and other psychopharmological drugs in combination with few if any serious studies to back up the multiple usage. It's pretty obvious that the reason for these multiple prescriptions is that if one drug doesn't work, then perhaps two or three will. Doctors are in essence performing uncontrolled experiments on their patients, hoping that in some scattershot way they might hit on a solution. But of course drugs have dangerous interactions and most physicians are shooting in the dark with all the dangers that attend such bad marksmanship.

Reason Three:  

More and more psychiatric disorders are appearing that might be called "lifestyle" diseases. What was called shyness, sadness, restlessness, shopping too much, high sex drive, low sex drive, and so on have increasingly been seen as diseases and many more will appear in the new DSM, the diagnotstic manual of psychological and psychiatric disorders. Increasingly the criteria for inclusion in the DSM involves whether the disorder responds to a category of drugs. If, as we've just seen, one of the key class of drugs that for 20 years has been considered effective now fails, what does that say for this idea that if a disease responds to a particular drug, then it is a particular disease? We have to rethink the whole biological basis for lifestyle disorders.

Reason Four:  

We're an over-medicated society, and the goal of drug companies and a compliant and harried medical establishment is ultimately to have some drug coursing through every individuals bloodstream. It's a lot easier to quickly pop a pill or prescribe than it is to explore the reasons for a person's distress. Many of us remember the scenario in 1960's science fiction movies of a dystopic future or Soviet-style world with drugs used to control minds. Well, that future is here and the social control we dreaded is now accepted in the form of a pill.

Reason Five:  

The whole serotonin hypothesis is challenged by these findings. What this new information shows is that there may be some help using SSRIs if there is a severe shortage of serotonin, but the average person's depression cannot simply be related to a "chemical imbalance." The human brain is too complicated and so are we to have a simple, quick explanation related to seratonin alone. We have no way of measuring serotonin the brain of a living person, short of cutting open the skull. We have not come up with what a normal level of serotonin should be and below which we can say that you would be depressed and above which we can say you will be happy. People with high serotonin levels can be depressed and those with low levels can be happy. Serotonin inducing drugs like ecstasy can make you feel very happy, but so can alcohol and heroin. We have to go back to the drawing boards on this one, so don't ever let anyone say "I've got a chemical imbalance" without asking them what they actually mean and where is the science to prove that statement.

What Should You Do? Think twice, be skeptical, and question a simplistic diagnosis you might receive after discussing your condition for a short time with a rushed practitioner. If each person takes a stand, is willing to engage in therapies beyond drug-taking, we might actually have a responsible and informed public confronting an increasingly powerful medical-pharmalogical establishment. Drugs may not be the answer for you, and now it turns out that some drugs may not be the answer for almost anyone.

Source: www.psychologytoday.com

Original post: FoodMattersTV

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Feb 17, 2010
    • I blame most of the antidepressant addicts on doctors, they are way to willing to push it to their patients.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Max0125 wrote Feb 17, 2010
    • I really wish that the health care community would first listen to their patients and focus on creating a healthy lifestyle rather pill pushing. Proper eating, sleeping, exercising and stress management techniques have been proven to lift depression. I am not trying to underscore the significance of clinical depression and that some individuals do need antidepressant therapy, but sometimes people need a proper lifestyle adjustment first.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Feb 17, 2010
    • I think Reason One is very important.  There is a HUGE difference between ‘everyday’ sadness and severe depression.  I suffered from sever postpartum depression and would NOT have gotten better without help from medication.  I was on the road to being hospitalized and not having contact with my baby.

      A combination of SRI and cognitive behavioral therapy turned it around.  I now still have ‘moments’ of depression (sometimes that go on for several weeks) but I can now work my own way out with nutritional and personal ‘talk therapy‘.

      I wouldn’t tell anyone with severe depression NOT to take the medication.  However, I agree that ‘everyday’ depression should not be immediately medicated.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Allinet48 wrote Feb 17, 2010
    • Being a nurse I was used to seeing patients who always wanted an easy,fast fix for whatever ailed them. And if something went wrong-sue everyone you could. I do feel used judiously for severe cases they can help.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Betspussl wrote Feb 18, 2010
    • I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH GIVING CHILDREN THESE TYPES OF MEDS.THERAPIST ARE SO QUICK TO PRESCRIBE FOR CHILDREN WITH BEHAVIOR AND ANGER ISSUES INSTEAD OF LISTENING AND HELPING CHILDREN TO FIND A BETTER WAY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES.I DONT THINK KIDS SHOULD BE TAKING THIS STUFF UNLESS THERE IS AN UNDERLYING ISSUE THAT JUST CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITH THERAPY.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Feb 18, 2010
    • I agree - in London they say that drinking tap water your taking in low levels of Prozac as most people are on it and it comes out in their water (don’t dwell on our water quality )

      But having said that during chemo you do suffer a chemical in-balance and you need help - I did and Prozac got me out of bed and back to life but with therapy.

      It’s almost like everyone either wants a quick fix or they assume that 24/7 they must feel fabulous and be in a skip down the street mood ...... sorry but life isn’t like that and taking a tablet will not make it so - you have to work at life there isn’t a short cut .....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Charlotte44 wrote Feb 18, 2010
    • I do not trust Dr’s in general. I know that not all of them are bad, however many are taking kick-backs from the drug companies for prescribing their medications. Especially psych medications. People need to realize that there are high’s and low’s in life and that it’s a good thing.

      I read an article a couple of years ago (can’t remember where) that said 95% of depression could be remedied with changes in diet, exercise, socializing with peer groups and therapy.  

      In the end I totally agree with this article and think that these medications are doing much more harm than good, and don’t get me started on prescription pain medications....acck! Another HUGE problem in the U.S., thanks to the Dr’s!



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Marya1961 wrote Feb 18, 2010
    • Many of you know that I advocate a healthy lifestyle..especially probiotic therapy, organic foods, exercise, but with that said, there are some conditions that warrant taking an anti-depressant if need be..I, for one, suffer with Fibromyalgia (a nerve condition) which affects the muscles and causes extreme anxiety at times, not to mention pain, so my doctor suggested a low dose (10 mg.) of Lexapro and it helps very much..she is a great doctor, would never push anything on me and actually does recommend other forms of therapy which I hope to follow soon.estatic



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