The Anti-depressant ‘Filler’ In The Treatment ‘Gap’ Is The Real Killer

Which anti-depressant’s were prescribed to Martin Strain? What dose was he on? and for how long? It’s the anti-depressants and psych drugs which are pushing people over the edge. I know- as I was on them- people like Simon Wessely won’t warn you about the suicidal side effects of anti-depressant’s (you’ll have to rely on others to do that). Psychiatrists like him are hired to defend psychiatry, not patients- people like him will always blame the depressive ‘illness’ which is akin to blaming the individual, because it is close to impossible to separate depression and the individual experiencing it.

This morning, Adrian Strain spoke articulately, intelligently and movingly about his son Martin, his suicide, mental illness and the catastrophic shortcomings in the system. He buried his son yesterday, who was 34.

The story of this young man’s life and death was as ordinary and as extraordinary as every individual life. But for reasons that no one could quite understand – and how his parents must have tried, for he had attempted suicide before and had been ill off and on for nearly 10 years – there was the public man, a prankster, kind and fun, and the private one, the depressive.

Every fortnight since his illness had forced him to stop work in April, Strain explained, his son went to his GP to be signed off. Every fortnight the doctor gave him another prescription for antidepressants. He was referred to specialist care, the ironically named Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, which is one of the big new changes intended to improve care for the mentally ill. The first appointment they could get for him was four months hence.     (check out these two sites on SSRI related suicide, side effects and violence)


University of Liverpool professor tells reporter Tom Belger why it’s time to rethink society’s approach to depression, in the wake of the suicide death of actor Robin Williams.

How could a man as successful as Robin Williams be so tormented by depression that he took his own life?

The apparent contradiction has generated debate following the actor’s suicide, and the announcement he was suffering from “severe depression”.

But for one Liverpool professor, the actor’s case highlights serious flaws in the way we think about mental health.

“It’s all too easy to assume mental health problems must be a mystery biological illness, random and essentially unconnected to a person’s life.

“But start asking questions, and those assumptions start to crumble.”

Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, argues that biological factors are far less important than social factors in people’s lives, and that this medical bias wrongly convinces us medication is the answer.

Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at Liverpool University
Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at Liverpool University

It comes at a great cost for many sufferers because drugs’ side-effects can prove far nastier than their benefits – as the professor found last month when he tested an anti-psychotic himself.

Now, with one in four of us likely to experience mental health problems each year, he believes the time is ripe for a rethink of our approach to mental health.

Controversially, he believes mental health problems are not “illnesses” but rather “distress” largely brought on by people’s circumstances.

He says there is little reason to give them a standalone status as illnesses, regarding them simply as more extreme points of the same mental health spectrum as everyone else.

“So people might say their uncle has clinical depression.

“When you ask more, they’ll say he lost his job recently. When you say it sounds like sadness and an understandable human response to a tragic situation, they’ll agree – but insist it’s completely different.”

For Prof Kinderman, environmental factors are key.

“We know poor, ethnic minority and urban populations are much more likely to have psychotic experiences.

“In recession, the number of suicides and anti-depressant prescriptions rises.”

His claims fly in the face of the traditional view of mental illness as having principally biological causes, something he claims there’s limited evidence for.

“Depression is sometimes seen as the consequence of chemical abnormalities; schizophrenia a problem with neurotransmitters.”

This matters.

Robin Williams in One Hour Photo
Robin Williams in One Hour Photo


Partly because of the stigmatising consequences of being labelled different but, crucially, he says our views on the causes mean we’ve drifted into unthinking assumptions about the answers.

The professor believes we place far too much faith in anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, with blame lying partly with the pharmaceutical industry for fuelling the idea medication works, through heavy marketing to doctors and suppressing unwanted research.

He’s experienced anti-psychotics for himself, having taken them in Paris before a conference last month to see their effects firsthand.

He chose chlorpromazine, a “quintessential anti-psychotic” prescribed around 600,000 times in England each year.

“It was like being both permanently drunk and hung over.

“On the first day, it knocked me out. I slept for 14 hours. I’d never done that before,” he says, smiling.

“One day, I planned to watch the Germany-Brazil game, but fell asleep after the first goal.

“At a posh restaurant I kept slumping in my chair, and later took my shoes and socks off because I got akithisia – restlessness.”

He says the effects are “not what your boss would want on a day-to-day basis”, even if the drugs had “a pleasant element of not caring too much.

“They can also make you fidget or move your jaws. People treat you like you’re strange – not good when you have mental issues to resolve.”

What most concerns Kinderman is what happened the night after he came off the drugs.

“I was quite convinced there were people walking in my room. Glimmers of paranoia. Some would claim it’s an underlying illness returning but I hadn’t had it, so it could be a rebound effect.”


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