Earlier this year, I told you about Dr. Irving Kirsch the Associate Director of the Program in Placebo Studies and a Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. When he — along with other medical experts — questioned the wide use of antidepressants after scrutinising ALL the research (published and unpublished) on the effectiveness of these drugs, he received anything but a warm reception from his peers.
Based on what Dr. Kirsch found (especially in unpublished and hidden trial results) instead of treating depression, antidepressant drugs may instead induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.
The response from his critics in the mainstream was harsh. Put simply, Dr. Kirsch was ridiculed to the third degree and accused of being contrarian, inflammatory and engaging in scaremongering.
A life nearly in ruins
However, now it seems that Dr. Kirsch may have been right all along.
A recent study, conducted at the prestigious Cochrane Centre, found that antidepressants could double the risk of “feelings that could lead to suicide.” The results of the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Royal Society of Medicine, have triggered furious rows in the medical community.
Critics have attacked the study as “fatally flawed”, saying that the researchers extrapolated certain side effects, such as anxiety, as being a risk factor for suicide. However, the researchers say they extracted information from the studies they reviewed about adverse events that were either suicidal or violent, or considered by medical authorities to be “precursor events” to suicide or violence.
Now, this kind of tennis match argument between mainstreamers could carry on forever and patients — those taking the drugs — will never really get a conclusive answer in terms of who is “right” and who is “wrong”.
Or maybe they will.
It turns out that earlier this week, patients whose lives have been ruined by commonly prescribed antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have taken their case to Parliament. Some users say the tablets have made them suicidal.
Claire Hanley told the BBC: “I was getting seizure-like symptoms, where my muscles were jolting around of their own accord. Within two weeks I’d tried to take my own life twice.”
She added: “I felt disorientated and sick and had digestive problems and infections, it was really extreme. I don’t even know how to begin. All I can remember is being on the bedroom floor in a kind of semi-conscious state having seizure after massive seizure.”
It is thought that about one in 100 people experience severe side-effects as a result of taking SSRI antidepressants.
Prof David Healy, from the psychiatric unit at Bangor University, believes the drugs make “one in four people become more anxious, rather than less”. He says: “Some people become very agitated and some go on from that to become suicidal. The drugs can become the problem that they’re then used to treat.”
Prof Healy added that the side-effects of antidepressants are not just felt when someone is taking them, but also when they try to reduce the dose or come off the tablets altogether.
He said: “There’s a large number of people – and it seems to be more women than men – who have great difficulties trying to reduce the dose. And if they halt the treatment, they can become terribly agitated, they can become suicidal.”
I bet that if Dr. Kirsch reads this, he’d probably say: I told you so… But then again, so did we… Fortunately, it seems that the dangers of antidepressant drugs are finally being taken seriously.
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Antidepressants ‘double suicide risk’ says controversial study, published online 13.10.16, nhs.uk
The ‘extreme’ side-effects of antidepressants, published online 19.10.16, bbc.co.uk
The Hidden Harm of Antidepressants, published online 03.02. 2016, scientificamerican.com
Study Outlines Why Antidepressant Drugs Could Be Completely Useless & Harmful, published online 16.03.2016, collective-evolution.com