Trusting your GP with Depression – weak antidepressants evidence
The independent evidence on anti-depressants suggests that they are barely better than placebo with the risk always either of side effects or withdrawal problems.
Anti-depressants are barely better than placebo – best to keep well away
Depression is not an illness as conventionally understood. Given that, doctors trained in the medical model are out of their depth. Unfortunately also, the evidence on antidepressants has big questions against it.
Three reasons for caution: your GP and depression
- The evidence is clear – antidepressants don’t work that well.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on the NHS is not delivering and there are very good reasons why that is the case.
- Our depression epidemic has to have a social dimension and doctors cannot be expected to help – afterall, that is not their job.
What we know about the effectiveness of antidepressants?
This is the best summery of the evidence on antidepressants that I have found – by the Human Givens Institute:
Antidepressants work in aggregate about as well as placebo which means about one third of people benefit. But of course they do not pretend to treat the root cause and so there is a high rate of relapse. And a quarter of users will do less well than placebo.
And there are side effects – from an increased suicide risk, loss of sex drive, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches and so on Finally, a third of those taking anti-depressants will suffer withdrawal symptoms.”
And this is what Charles O’Connell has said, writing in the 2011 Human Givens Journal :
Overall, antidepressants have not been shown to substantially improve the plight of patients with low mood and are associated with many unpleasant and potentially harmful side-effects. It is little wonder that SSRIs have spectacularly failed to treat a condition for which they are marketed, but it is still extraordinary that antidepressants are the eighth most prescribed drug in the world with sales of $19 billion in 2009.
A review of the evidence by a well respected Danish researcher (Prof Gotzsche) concluded that “evidence for the benefits of psychiatric drugs, like antidepressants, was so weak and flawed – and adverse effects so often under-rated or ignored – that the widespread use of these drugs was likely to be doing more harm than good”.
In the June 2021 Human Givens journal, Ezra Hewing explains the likely way in which antidepressants can help depression. They do this by suppressing REM sleep, which of course can help in the short term, but is dangerous longer term. Hewing also reviews the evidence of accentuating the dementia risk from a too long exposure to antidepressants.
So antidepressants can help, but you never know in advance if you will be one of the lucky ones – helped by them and with no serious side effects or withdrawal symptoms when you stop. And of course antidepressants might make you feel worse.
There is also the problem of the unhealthy codependent relationship between doctors and the large pharmaceutical companies who supply these antidepressants and who make mouth watering profits.
The evidence is clear from the brave work of independent researchers – Big Pharma suppresses and manipulates the evidence shamefully.
Suffice it to say that most of the evidence in favour of antidepressants comes from the pharmaceutical companies themselves and they know very well how to play the system so the evidence looks far stronger than it is and the apparent independent academic confirmation is often no such thing.
Read Irving Kirsch and Peter Breggin