A new study pushes back on psychiatry industry talking points.
- Australian researchers note a link between rising antidepressant usage and rising suicide rates in youth.
- Their research pushes back on psychiatry talking points that SSRIs decrease suicide risk.
- The top method for self-harm and suicide in younger age groups is overdosing antidepressants.
Antidepressants Can Cause Suicide and Homicide — Peter Gotzsche, M.D.<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12a2ec455763e071d5fba7d9422d22b2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oIxcMIBhHS4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Australia, which ranks second in the world in per-capita consumers of antidepressants among <a href="https://www.oecd.org/about/" target="_blank">OECD countries</a>, has never been provided the same safeguards as America—and the efficacy of America's safety measures are questionable at best. The FDA first issued that block box warning in 2004, updating it to reflect adults under age 25 three years later. In 2005, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) required leaflets be included in antidepressant packages to reflect the risk of suicidal ideation.</p><p>The researchers write that the data put forward by psychiatrists and mental health organizations was misleading. Much like the industry ran with Rusk's assertion, many professionals cite a 2007 <a href="https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07030454" target="_blank">ecological study</a> by Robert D. Gibbons that incorrectly associates SSRI usage with a decreased risk of suicide among U.S. youth. This misreading is the basis of the narrative of minimized harm.</p><p>The data tells another story. The researchers point out that between 2008-2018, prescriptions for antidepressant (predominantly SSRIs) increased by 66 percent in the 0-27 year age group, while suicide rates increased by 49 percent in a similar age group (0-24 years). Between the years of 2006-2016, there was a 98 percent increase in intentional poisonings in New South Wales and Victoria. An overlap emerges: the most common method of attempted self-harm and suicide is prescription antidepressants. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is clear evidence that more young Australians are taking antidepressants, and more young Australians are killing themselves and self-harming, often by intentionally overdosing on the very substances that are supposed to help them."</p><p>The researchers note that the FDA has long been criticized for not offering more non-pharmacological treatments. The cost of psychotherapy is prohibitive for many in the U.S. health care system. The reflex action of the medical establishment is to write a script. When one pill doesn't work or loses efficacy, it's usually replaced by another pill or added to an ever-growing pharmacological cocktail. Some people take four to six (or more) drugs to manage mental distress, each one countering the side effects of the other. </p>
Photo: Ryan McGuire / Pixabay<p>As in America, Australia suffers from corporate lobbying. The team writes that many opinion leaders receive funding from pharmaceutical companies; it makes sense that these figures will tout the benefits of antidepressants while downplaying potential harm. They also note that governing bodies are likely relying on outdated evidence of risk, which translates into a lack of consumer awareness.</p><p>They also write that general practitioners account for 90.4 percent of antidepressant prescriptions in Australia. Since mental health is not their area of expertise, they often repeat what psychiatrists initially prescribed.</p><p>Correlation is not causation, a limitation the researchers acknowledge. They list another cocktail, this one labelled "drivers of mental health distress." Smartphone addiction, online bullying, lack of meaningful relationships, climate change, and debt top the list. Antidepressants are not the cause of mental distress. What we need to know is whether they help alleviate it or add to the burden. </p><p>This forces us to confront a longstanding question: Why are we treating the symptoms of mental health problems with pills while never addressing their <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/antidepressants-dangers" target="_self">actual cause</a>? Put another way, why does the psychiatry industry rely on pills with a long list of <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/antidepressants-withdrawal" target="_self">side effects</a> instead of addressing the environmental and social issues that are at the foundation of mental distress? And why are we putting increasingly higher numbers of teenagers on drugs that <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/anti-depressants-for-teens-201601229018" target="_blank">negatively impact their brains</a> while their prefrontal cortex is still in development? This seems to set them up for a lifetime of dependence, which is a great profit model but a terrible health care solution. </p><p>The psychiatry industry faced an existential crisis in the nineteen-seventies when the public grew weary of their growing reliance on drugs. The industry's response was to double down on pharmacology. Thanks for a massive PR campaign around Prozac, that move worked. You cannot both have <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624" target="_blank">increasing numbers of prescriptions</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190315110908.htm" target="_blank">increasing mental health problems</a> and pretend that this intervention is working. </p><p>While more work needs to be done, the researchers are confident in their assertion between increased self-harm with antidepressant usage. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These results are consistent with the hypothesis that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidality and self-harm in young people. Furthermore, they provide compelling evidence that the antidepressants prescribed to children and adolescents are frequently the means of self-harm."</p><p>These children deserve more from us at a pivotal time in their development. The psychiatry industry needs to come through this existential crisis with better solutions. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Weight gain is a side effect of antidepressants, adding another layer of problems.
- A comprehensive scoping review of 12 studies found that being overweight negatively affects the efficacy of antidepressants.
- McGill University researchers investigated SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and tetracyclic antidepressants.
- A double-edged sword: Obesity impacts antidepressants, yet a side effect of these drugs is weight gain.
Antidepressants Make it Harder to Empathize, Harder to Climax, and Harder to Cry. | Julie Holland<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="153edc4adcd3ceaee40f4bcb7e2fffb2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-EMg12QBUx4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Add to this tale a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032719325297?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">new study</a>, published in Journal of Affective Disorders, investigating the efficacy of antidepressants in overweight users. A team at McGill University reviewed 12 studies that focused on SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and tetracyclic antidepressants conducted between 2004-2019. Eleven of them found that weight class or body mass index (BMI) negatively affects the efficacy of these antidepressants.<br></p><p>This comprehensive scoping review from the McGill team is troubling for two reasons. First, obesity is already a predictor for depression. Second, weight gain is <em>also</em> a side effect of antidepressants, implying that their efficacy could dwindle with long-term usage. Recent evidence <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/antidepressants-withdrawal" target="_self">confirms</a> that extended usage of antidepressants results in withdrawal symptoms that persist for over a year, obesity included in that list.</p><p>According to the study, over 300 million people suffer from depression around the world. The WHO reports that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Pharmaceutical intervention is problematic with roughly half of prescription users. While the reasons for this are not well understood, obese and overweight patients suffer from treatment-resistant depression at higher rates than those with normal weight. </p>
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