Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are Anti-Depressants Glorified Placebos?


Admittedly "yesterday's news" but this serves as a decent followup to the recent DSM V article 'Curse of Shifting Sands,'
Which came first, the mental illness or the drug? While in other areas of medicine this is a no-brainer (no pun intended), some argue that certain psychiatric conditions are created and classified because of the effects particular drugs have on the body, and not the other way around.
Three new books, reviewed in Dr. Marcia Angell's article "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?" in The New York Review of Books, raise startling possibilities about the truth behind the explosion of prescriptions of pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. (Dr. Angell, by the way, was the first woman to ever be editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine).
All of the authors of the new books agree on two thought-provoking viewpoints:
1. Our understanding of categories of mental illness and their treatments has been influenced by drug companies, through both legal and illegal marketing.
2. Mental illness is not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
These views, however controversial, are documented well, Angell says.
Full article CNN.

Even stranger,
It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time.
It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger.
Full article Wired.


[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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