The all party parliamentary group on depression

Sounds impressive, huh?

I’ve written before about this here and here.

Paul Flynn MP has written about the way drug companies ‘interact’ with Parliament here.

I’m revisiting this particular subject after reading an interview from April 2005 on the website epolitix.com

In the interview a Depression Alliance (DA) spokesman talks about the good work of the all party parliamentary group (APPG) on Depression and agrees that DA works closely with APPG.

Once again I have to report that I am skeptical about all this.

My reasons?

As I have said before, the APPG on Depression was never registered and as far as I can tell never did any work at all.

A colleague has informed me that the erstwhile Chair of the Group, Laura Moffat MP wrote (in April 2006) that “The Depression Alliance and I were very keen to get the group off the ground. We had a couple of meetings to attract Members and the General Election arrived. [2005] I still hope a group will start but I am to say the least overstretched at the moment.”

So we have established the APPG never actually started work.

That’s fine – but what annoys me is when organisations are happy to claim they have connections and service the work of the group in some way and certain individuals claim on their CV to have “managed the secretariat function” of this non-existent group.

In the accounts filed by Depression Alliance for the year ended March 31 2005, we are told that “The All Party Group was funded Eli Lilly and Co and has a remit of putting forward depression as a parliamentary issue.”

The amount of Lilly’s restricted donation (to fund the APPG) was £17,200 – of which a whopping £15,834 was spent in the year up to March 31 2005. Is it just me or does that seem quite a lot to spend on “…couple of meetings to attract Members…”

I wonder how the £15,834 was accounted for?

Eli Lilly and Depression Alliance had a very close working relationship in those days, so perhaps Lilly was happy to write off its ‘restricted donation’.

3 Responses to “The all party parliamentary group on depression”

  1. truthman30 Says:

    Some interesting quotes from this DA interview

    http://www.epolitix.com/EN/ForumInterviews/200504/f4c43854-5e42-418a-acc7-7383efded66b.htm

    Question: What are the aims for this year’s national depression week?

    Amelia Mustapha: The aim is to spread the message about depression as a real condition. In the media we’ve witnessed a negative balance of stories claiming depression is normal human suffering and that it is being over-medicalised. We really want to contend that this is a serious medical condition that is life-threatening.

    Question: Depression Alliance advises a full range of treatments for depression – what are these?

    There has been a lot of investment in medication and there has also been a lot of criticism about those treatments in the press recently and what we want people to know and understand are the facts about what is safe and what is reliable.

    Question: Depression Alliance has come under criticism from the media for being funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and has been the subject of a health select committee report. What did the report say?

    We would, and have, challenged anyone who thinks our independence is compromised by our insistence on working with all stakeholders in mental health, to find one shred of evidence.

    Hmmm….

    I wonder why Depression Alliance didn’t speak out against Seroxat, even though every other mental health group, media and organisation in the UK and Ireland condemned the drug and GSK at the time…

    “Investment in medication”?….

    Hmmm .. in whose interest?…

    “Depression as a real condition” ?

    Yes depression is a real “experience” and yes it has been overmedicalised, that is a well established fact. Why would Depression Alliance be concerned that the media were highlighting the dangers of Anti-D’s and the overprescription on medication for Depression… ? Surely this is a good thing and would be of great benefit to the patient and sufferer , it would make them aware and informed….

    It wouldn’t have been in the pharma’s interest though , and i wonder with all that pharma funding over the years , did Depression Alliance gradually become a mouthpiece for the industry without realizing it ?where do Depression Alliances loyalties really lie? …
    With the patient? or the pharmaceutical companies who fund them ?
    Who are Depression Alliances “Allies”…?

  2. Matthew Holford Says:

    I’d contest the suggestion that depression is life-threatening. It causes people to be so miserable, that they kill themselves, but that’s not the same thing.

    To discuss depression as a “real” condition, I would have to know what it was, or what it was caused by, in order to understand whether I had it, or not. Otherwise, anybody could tell me that I was depressed (or schizophrenic, or ADHD, or bipolar, or whatever), and I wouldn’t know any different: “I regret to inform you, Mr Holford, that your tendency to write sharply-worded emails to people who ignore you habitually, is indicative of some kind of delusion. You’re delusional as to the likelihood of these people ever acknowledging your existence. Here, take these pills.”

    Anyway, perhaps the evidence of DA’s allegiance is in what it doesn’t say, as opposed to what it does, as you suggest.

    Anyway, if anybody tries to ‘mail me, and I don’t respond, it’s because my Hotmail server is down, or so the error message tells me, anyway.

    Matt

  3. truthman30 Says:

    I agree Matt, and I particularly like this key point of yours:

    “I’d contest the suggestion that depression is life-threatening. It causes people to be so miserable, that they kill themselves, but that’s not the same thing”

    Indeed, the myths of depression are still alive and well.
    (And still being perpetrated by certain “advocacy groups” it seems)

    To deem depression as “life threatening” makes it sound like an incurable cancer. Of course depression can lead to suicide, but suicide itself is not a definite outcome of a “depressive episode” by any means.

    Depression does not, never has and never will fit the disease model; it is a completely different affliction, which has many sources, factors and influences. It is one of the most complex experiences known to man, and it is an inherent characteristic of the human condition. And it will never be eradicated because it is not a disease. And it will always continue to surface and manifest in people for as long as people are around as it is a fundamental part of human nature.

    This scaremongering about depression being “life threatening” is misinformation and causes great distress for people who do not understand depression. It makes them fear it, and it leads them to seek drugs as a “cure” for something, which is not a disease. And it leads them to ingest chemicals to treat something that is not biological in origin. Which then leads to more problems and a spiral of dependence, self loathing and confusion.

    Depression before Seroxat is like Disneyland compared to the Depression afterwards because the brain did not have a seroxat deficiency in the first place. Much of the withdrawal symptoms and neurological damage from SSRI’s has been falsely defined as “relapse”. This lie itself has been propagated by the pharmas, passed down through the drug reps and into GP’s surgeries. It was then thrown at the patient as an excuse and cover up for withdrawal symptoms. To perpetrate lies of this kind is unforgivable, inhuman and it is a grave attack on human rights and dignity. It is truly shameful.

    Treating emotional/psycho-spiritual behavioral manifestations with drugs is like painting over the cracks, it’s very dangerous and it is ethically and morally wrong. To promote such ideas as “biological depression”, “chemical imbalance” and “life threatening depression” does a great disservice to those whom have the misfortune to experience depression.


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