Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't be tricked into taking antidepressants

Bruce Levine, one of whose books I reviewed some time ago, has an article on the Greanville Post which asks "Why has the American public not heard psychiatrists in positions of influence on the mass media debunking the chemical imbalance theory?" As Levine says, and as I have previously discussed several times (eg. in an BJPsych eletter), the reason is that the theory is used to persuade patients to take their medication. It may make it easier for patients to accept their depression and take their medication if they believe they have a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Actually, I do find that patients are generally able to understand that the "chemical imbalance theory" is only a theory. In fact the evidence is against it. What they find more difficult to appreciate is why they are told that the theory has been proven, when this is clearly not the case.

Big Pharma is commonly blamed for encouraging the chemical imbalance theory. Actually, drug companies sometimes only say that it is a commonly believed theory, maybe implying but stopping short of indicating that they believe it. The theory wouldn't have survived if it wasn't for psychiatrists' complicity with it. Bruce is right to direct his criticism at psychiatrists themselves.

1 comment:

Chrys Muirhead said...

I'm not convinced of this argument, that psychiatry is more to blame for big pharma influence and think it's more of an even stephen situation.

The chemical imbalance theory wasn't one I ever heard in over 40yrs of psychiatric engagement. I always knew the drugs were about managing or controlling patients since a teenager and seeing my mother in a psychosis. The mental hospital was the only choice in relieving her mental distress. Drugs and ECT at that time the tools of control.

I thought people took antidepressants to relieve their pain and mental suffering. Some and maybe many people think the pills help. Others of us think they made things worse. We're not all the same so will have different reactions. The issue is one of coercion, control, choice and availability of talking therapies instead of drugs. In my opinion.

I'd like to see psychiatrists having other tools in their toolbox, not having to resort to drugs. But that will require other disciplines getting up to the mark in what they provide and in standing up to psychiatry who earn more than other folks in medicine and who have the power of the pen, in terms of diagnoses.