With 11% of Americans on antidepressants and one in four women of reproductive age, one would assume these pharmaceutical products are well-studied and clinically indicated. As I have discussed, unfortunately, psychiatric research suffers from profound conflict of interest and corruption of its data set. We are also turning a blind eye to adverse effects that strike at random. Most antidepressants are, in fact, prescribed by non-specialists, who are reportedly becoming more and more comfortable prescribing all classes of psychotropics.
Because antidepressants are prescribed for an impossibly long list of maladies, this fact alone would undermine any beliefs about their ability to precisely correct a chemical imbalance at the root of everything from phobias to binge eating, to borderline personality, to melancholic depression.
Antidepressants: No Diagnosis Needed
A condemning paper corroborates that antidepressants are used willy nilly with little regard for even the straw man of diagnostic criteria set up by the psychiatric bible, the DSM. In this analysis by Takayanagi et al. they “examined the prevalence of mental disorders, assessed prospectively over multiple interviews, among individuals currently using antidepressants in a community sample.”
They determined over four interviews (the precise diagnostic tool used in psychiatry!), that:
Among antidepressant users, 69% never met criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD); and 38% never met criteria for MDD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
Many individuals who are prescribed and use antidepressant medications may not have met criteria for mental disorders. Our data indicate that antidepressants are commonly used in the absence of clear evidence-based indications.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be so concerning if these medications weren’t known to cause suicide, homicide, and to result in dependence sometimes preclusive of safe discontinuation. For this reason, prescribing doctors are not adhering to their vow of first doing no harm. If only the tools offered patients in their (5-7 minute) appointments included lifestyle interventions with the potential to actually reverse their symptoms and safely support meaningful recovery. A girl can dream…