Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Antidepressants can cause psychological dependence

Robert Whitaker (who I have mentioned previously eg. see previous post) has posted on the Mad in America blog about the All party parliamentary group for prescribed drug dependence. He includes a link to his slides for his presentation to the group on "Causation, not just correlation: Increased disability in the age of Prozac". The meeting to which he gave this presentation today is a product of the book Cracked: Why psychiatry is doing more harm than good (see my review), which led to the Council for evidenced-based psychiatry (CEP).

There is no doubt that psychotropic medication can lead to psychological dependence. Since my BMJ letter, I have emphasised psychological aspects of antidepressant discontinuation problems (see eg. my Antidepressant discontinuation problems webpage and my book chapter "Why were doctors so slow to recognise antidepressant discontinuation problems?).

As I have also said previously (eg. see post), Robert Whitaker, in his original books Anatomy of an epidemic and Mad in america, has emphasised the vulnerability created by taking psychotropic medication. He may have implied this is more of a physical problem than I think is the case. In his current presentation he mentions the idea of drug-induced oppositional tolerance which comes from Giovanna Fava, which I am not convinced is valid (see previous post). But the correlations Whitaker points to still stand without postulating a biological explanation for why psychiatric drugs may have harmful long-term effects. I think CEP would do better to emphasise the psychological aspects of prescribed drug dependence.

In fact, the problem is not necessarily specific to medication at all. Medicine has always tended to create dependency. This critique of medicine is not new and was famously expounded by Ivan Illich in Limits to medicine (see Jo Moncrieff's recent blog on this classic book). I wouldn't want to go as far as Illich in suggesting there is no need for professional services and that "do it yourself" care is preferable. But there is an onus on doctors to provide proper expert advice and as a society we may well need less medicine not more (see eg. post on my personal blog). 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, I forgot International Critical Psychiatry. But I am asking about the UK Critical Psychiatry. Does it exist. I returned to this world through this blog. I love to know if you people are still together.