This should be the front page of every newspaper in the country.
SSRIs, which are prescribed to 43 million Americans, are being shown to be more effective than sugar pills only 15% of the time.
This means that placebos are nearly as effective as antidepressants.
We are drugging 10's of millions of Americans for very little reason.
Evidence is mounting, however, that doctors are vastly overprescribing SSRIs. Although there is widespread agreement that SSRIs help some people with severe depression, these patients are a small minority of people who take the drugs. Only about 15 percent derive any more benefit from the drugs than they would a sugar pill, one recent study found. In addition, withdrawal symptoms for long-term users may be more severe that previously thought — sometimes worse than the original disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of Americans on SSRIs — almost 26 million people — have been taking the drugs for more than two years and six million have been on them for a decade or more. Some patients may stay on SSRIs simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms, say some experts.
People are being unnecessarily hooked on this drug and they can't get off because the withdrawals from the drugs are worse than the disease they are supposedly treating (doctors insist these sometimes years-long neurological symptoms of extreme pain, disorientation, and anxiety are not withdrawal but mild "discontinuation" syndrome that shouldn't be a concern).
These SSRI's are incredibly dangerous and many doctors are handing them out like candy.
Family doctors with little psychiatric training now prescribe them for adults and children alike. In 2019, one in eight Americans — 43 million in all — were taking an SSRI, and those numbers have likely risen among a public ridden with COVID-induced anxiety. During the pandemic, doctors phoned in so many new prescriptions for Zoloft, the FDA warned of a drug shortage.
So, what's the lesson here?
"People do get better on the drug — but in the vast majority of cases it's not because of what's in the drug," says Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. "There are other treatments that are at least equally effective, and that don't carry the risks."
The issue has cleaved the psychiatric community. Some clinicians and researchers are calling for a new approach to the treatment of depression that includes curtailing the use of SSRIs. Others, including the drug companies, insist that the drugs save lives and worry that attention-getting studies casting doubt on the effectiveness of SSRIs could end up discouraging the very people who need them most and who could be helped by them.
Yeah, call me crazy, but I'm just a little skeptical about the drug companies whose main job is to make money selling drugs.
I'm not saying to go off your meds because I'm a gorilla and not a doctor, I'm saying research all possible alternatives before starting SSRIs. The website Surviving Antidepressants, for example, has a lot of info for regular people that's come in handy for a lot of people trying to crawl out from what the medical industry has been selling.
One of the authors of the new study is Horowitz, now a research scientist at University College London. His July paper, "The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence," is aimed squarely at debunking the basis upon which pharmaceutical companies marketed drugs like Prozac, Lexapro and Zoloft to consumers for decades: namely, the idea that depression is associated with deficits in the concentrations or activity of the brain chemical serotonin...
See this news article for more on this July study:
More from the Newsweek article:
"The drug companies convinced us that if you're sad, you should go to your doctor and seek treatment," Horowitz told Newsweek. "They've made us all believe that normal aspects of the human condition are a medical illness called major depressive disorder — that normal reactions to difficult situations are a chemical brain problem that needs a medical solution. They convinced people these are very 'mild' drugs that are very easy to stop. None of this is true."
This is just one study and one opinion, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.
A few weeks after the Horowitz paper came out, a team of researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with Kirsch, a long-time critic of the drugs from Harvard Medical School, published the most comprehensive analysis to date of all the antidepressant clinical trial data in its files, much of it previously unpublished. The study, which examined 232 placebo-controlled trials of 73,388 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder, suggested that the active ingredients in 10 of the most popularly prescribed antidepressant medications made a meaningful difference in only 15 percent of the patients who took them, almost always in those patients suffering from the most severe depression.
The study, along with others, adds to mounting evidence suggesting that the active ingredients of SSRIs can make the biggest difference in patients who have severe depression, and often are of only marginal utility to those suffering from mild to moderate depression. Why, then, are they so overprescribed?
One reason may be that SSRIs are effective for many people not because the drug itself is working but because of the placebo effect. The simple act of treating a patient creates an expectation of healing that results in an improvement in the patient's condition. Previous research has generally found that the placebo effect is successful in 30 to 40 percent of cases of depression — in other words, a third of those who receive a pill or a shot that has no active ingredient get better from the simple fact that they are receiving care and attention from another human being.
These drugs are dangerously overprescribed. It's hard to argue otherwise.
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