The medicalization of distress has led to a dramatic rise in the use of antidepressants, however it is questionable whether patients are being told that in controlled clinical trials the drugs barely outperformed a placebo, says Jonathan Leo, Associate Professor of Neuroanatomy, Lincoln Memorial University, DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr Leo also states that patients are not told that in many cases the symptoms of depression will improve within six months even without medication, or that many people have significant physiological problems when they try and get off the drugs. In the interest of informed consent, he notes, patients should be given all the facts before taking an antidepressant.
In 2004, a study of previously hidden unpublished data as well as published studies on five SSRIs, was conducted by Tim Kendall, deputy director of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Research Unit in London, to help analyze research to draw up the clinical guidelines for British regulators, and published in the Lancet.
Following his evaluation, Mr Kendall stated: “This data confirms what we found in adults with mild to moderate depression: SSRIs are no better than placebo, and there is no point in using something that increases the risk of suicide.”
In 2005, the British Medical Journal published another study that concluded that SSRIs are no more effective than a placebo and do not reduce depression.
SSRIs have been on the market less than 20 years so their long-term effects are still unknown. Barry Tuner, a professor of law and medical ethics in the UK, says mental illness has skyrocketed in the US because drug companies have marketed it and the US is facing a “societal catastrophe” if this is not reined in.
“In twenty years,” he warns, “a huge percentage of the population will be damaged by these medications and the recipients will have real mental disorders caused by the drugs.”
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