Monday was World Mental Health Day, so the timing is perfect to take a deep dive into the latest shocking research.
Here is a recap. The article mentions Dr. Mark Horowitz – an unlikely skeptic of psycho- pharmaceuticals. He had been taking the popular antidepressant Lexapro virtually every day for 15 years.
Then, when he tried to wean himself off the medication, he suffered panic attacks, sleep disruptions and a debilitating depression – he says they were far worse than anything he experienced prior to going on the drugs. He went online and found thousands of others in a similar situation – many stay on the drugs simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
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.
In 2019, one in eight Americans—43 million in all—were taking an SSRI, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, which include Lexapro, Zoloft and Prozac. – during Covid it got even worse. Almost one in 4 women over 40 are taking them. Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.
Evidence is mounting, however, that doctors are VASTLY overprescribing SSRIs.
As the Newsweek Cover says – Only about 15 percent derive any more benefit from the drugs – than they would taking a sugar pill.
Dr. Horowitz, now a research scientist at University College London published 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.
The pharmaceutical industry used the idea that depression is associated with deficits with brain chemical serotonin – to market the drugs to consumers for many years, and it remains a kind of shorthand some doctors use to explain to their patients how the drugs work. It has been repeated endlessly in the media without question, until now.
As a result, between 85 and 90 percent of the public believe that low serotonin levels cause depression. After reviewing data from previous studies involving hundreds of thousands of individuals, Horowitz and his colleagues concluded that there is LITTLE TO NO evidence that this is true.
“We have a mistaken view of what psychiatric drugs are doing,” says Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London.
“It’s not helpful to think of depression as a brain disease, ” she says.“I think that we should be thinking of it as an emotional reaction to life circumstances.”
My person belief – Life is hard. We are all fighting a battle at one time or another. Times of stress, anxiety and depression are normal and fall in the normal expected range of all humans.
A few weeks after the Horowitz paper came out, a team of researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, published the most comprehensive analysis to date – 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 found that while 88.5 percent of those taking the drugs saw SOME (how do you define that) improvement in their depression symptoms, but, 84.4 percent in the placebo group did, too. Virtually the SAME! The simple act of treating a patient creates an expectation of healing that results in an improvement in the patient’s condition.
“The drug companies convinced us that if you’re sad, you should go to your doctor and seek treatment,” Dr. Horowitz told Newsweek.
Unfortunately, that treatment was a dangerous drug – not a book, a video, a course, a therapy session, a meditation class, or getting a better diet or exercise routine.
Quote – “They convinced people these are very ‘mild’ drugs that are very easy to stop. None of this is true.” The good news – There are other treatments that are at least equally effective, and that don’t carry the risks.
I think we have had a “’magic pill” society since the early 1900’s. Maybe if you have consistent stomach problems, you should look at your diet. Maybe if you have trouble sleeping or consistent headaches you should look at your daily and nighttime routine. If you want to lose weight maybe, you should eat less.
Putting your faith in a pill, can keep you from looking at the actual reasons you are in that situation. One of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes is – “If I change, everything will change for me.” You must look in the mirror, confront the brutal facts and accept that your current habits are causing your situation. You can then do the work to make the needed changes.
Here is a quote from THINK, written in 1918 by Col. Wm. Hunter.
“How often we see the pill fiend. In his vest pocket he has a small apothecary shop — a collection of round paste-board boxes and little bottles. Every little while he dopes himself. If his stomach is on a strike, he pops in a pill. if his head aches, he takes a tablet. He sneezes, he takes a cold-cure pill.
When anyone around speaks of a pain or ache, he hands the person a pill. The pill eater is a hypochondriac, and very likely his doctor knows it. His salvation is that the doctor probably gives him harmless stuff in pill form. The patient doesn’t know this, it satisfies the mind and nature makes the
THAT IS THE PLACEBO EFFECT! You likely thought that was a relatively new discovery! If you want to read THINK to find out more, just email me, I will send you a PDF for free.
Dealing with stress, anxiety and disappointment is a skill. Being happy is also a skill that should be taught, beginning in grade school. There are many other options besides taking dangerous drugs that can battle “depression.”
We have the highest rates of depression in the world in the USA when we should have the lowest. If you are currently taking these drugs, read the full article. Find out how you can stop taking them. Talk to your doctor and have them help you.