In relation to treating depression-
” The message that we need to get across is that it’s deal-able with.. it’s scientific.. there’s a way of treating it…”
“… There is so many approaches to take… You’ll see that there are so many roads to take…
“.. the one I took was personal fitness... Serotonin levels..:’
(Bressie Prime Time RTE 2013, Psychiatrist Jim Lucey Was also on the panel)
First of all Bressie, I’d like to say, I think that your mental health activism is genuine, however I think in regards to your views on Depression being a ‘chemical imbalance’- I think you are seriously misguided. If you did some research, even for 5 minutes on the internet, you would see that this theory has been thoroughly debunked, in fact, it was never proven in the first place, and was merely a pharmaceutical marketing ploy (See Dr David Healy’s Recent Paper Here In The BMJ).
The ‘chemical imbalance theory’ has been a winner for psychiatry, and the pharmaceutical industry which it covets and protects. The losers, have been people like me (and tens of thousands of others); people who lost years in a medicated haze, not warned, and not informed- of side effects etc. We were told we had a chemical imbalance and needed meds for life, because drug companies and psychiatrists told GP’s that. It was a lie to sell drugs.
I am glad that my post yesterday sparked off some dialogue between you and Dr Terry Lynch, and I sincerely hope that you read his new book ‘Depression Delusion‘ (and the others) because I think that you perhaps need to read deeper into this subject. When most people seek ‘treatment’ (as you are recommending) for any kind of depression or anxiety problem, they will be offered SSRI drugs as first line treatments. There might be many roads to take in theory, but if people go to seek help they will invariably go to their GP or psych services. GP’s and psychs use drugs as the first port of call. So when you push people to get ‘treatment’ and the only treatment that’s usually available (In Ireland through the public system at least) is drugs then you are not providing them with other options. If you are doing this- then you are promoting the (psychiatric/drugs industry) medical model for treating depression (whether you realize it or not). Therefore, if you intend to continue to do this, you must adequately warn people that they will have to wait at least 6 months for psychotherapy, and that they will be encouraged to take meds before any talk therapy. You also must warn them of the dangers of these meds- not doing this is putting people in harms way (because not everyone is as informed as bloggers and ex-SSRI users like me- that’s in essence why I blog).
It’s your duty to warn.
Secondly, I would like to say, that I myself have suffered from depression and anxiety since my teens, and I have been campaigning on issues of mental health in Ireland, and elsewhere, for over 10 years. I’m not as high profile as you, but I have done a lot of work on this subject. If you read my blog you will see that I have over 8 years of posts on this blog, and I also have over 800 posts detailing much of my varied reading about this stuff.
We are close enough in age, and we would have a lot in common, however, I think that you need to do a bit more reading on Depression, the pharmaceutical industry, and psychiatry etc. In particular you should maybe read Dr David Healy’s work (he has many books and a blog), also I would recommend Dr Terry Lynch, and Dr Peter Gotzsche. There are many more authors, and many of these individuals are professors and experts in their field. The area of mental health is vastly complex, there are many voices. Biological psychiatrists like Jim Lucey offer only one approach, and that approach has been criticized hugely because it doesn’t address the core needs of the individual suffering in distress, it treats their humanity as if it was a mere faulty brain problem.
Thirdly, you should also question Dr Jim Lucey, and the general ideology which he makes his living off (academic/biological psychiatry). The information which he has provided as advice, on your website, about anti-depressants, is not only misleading but it is also inaccurate, and personally, I believe, by not revealing information on side effects etc, this misinformation can easily cause harm.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 21, and the worst thing that I did was allow a doctor to prescribe me the SSRI Seroxat for over 3 years. If you google on the internet, you will see that Seroxat is the most notorious drug of recent times. There were 4 BBC panorama documentaries on it from 2002 to 2007. These documentaries would be a good starting point if you’re interested in learning about Seroxat. As you will see, there is a huge industry and ideology benefiting from the sale of SSRI anti-depressants like Seroxat. In Ireland Lundbeck are the major player, as they sell millions worth of Cipramil, and Lexapro. Lundbeck sponsor Aware, and are closely linked to St Pat’s and the agenda of biological psychiatrists like Jim Lucey. These conflicts of interest between Lundbeck and Aware have been documented on many blogs, forums etc over the years. Lundbeck’s only interest is selling as many SSRI’s as possible, hence why they sponsor academia, patient groups, universities, etc etc. However, Leonie Fennel’s blog is a good starting point in relation to Lundbeck’s strangle hold on Irish Psychiatry and the promotion of Depression as a disease model. Lundbeck are in this for profit, and most of Irish psychiatry cares more about protecting its interest, than the interest of patients (so beware is all I am saying). Furthermore I have no doubt that Jim Lucey believes in what he is saying, however the information he has put on your website is misleading, deceptive and highly questionable. He is basically advertising SSRI’s above and before exercise, diet, lifestyle changes etc. I find this ironic considering that you yourself claim not to take drugs to treat your depression and anxiety, and instead choose exercise to beat your demons and make yourself feel better, yet you allow Lucey to claim that drugs are better!
Also, although Jim claims that ‘rarely anti-depressant meds need to be taken longer’ (than 12 months), many people are in fact- kept on them for much longer- and many people also can’t come off them! Jim needs to warn people of this! (not warning people is negligent in my opinion). I’d also be very interested in a more thorough explanation from Jim about how these drugs ‘restore brain connectivity’, this statement is simply outrageous (I’m sure Terry Lynch would be able to explain why much better than me though).
I went to Aware meetings in my twenties, and I found that they just pushed drugs, we were told to stay on our ‘medications’. My doctor, at the time didn’t monitor me on Seroxat either, and I had horrendous side effects, again- nobody told me about them either. I was told I had a chemical imbalance, and needed them for life, however, I haven’t been on them in 13 years, and like you I deal with my depression and anxiety my own way. If you are going to promote St Pat’s, Jim Lucey, and the biological psychiatry agenda, then please be sure to give balance, as there are many mental health service users who have been harmed by psychiatry and psychiatric drugs so please be mindful of that demographic.
Also, if you intend to advertise these ‘treatments’ on your web site, you should really put a disclaimer on it explaining side effects such as increase in suicidal thoughts, aggression, withdrawal, akathsia etc. These side effects are very common, they are also very harmful, frightening and dangerous (Jim Lucey won’t advertise that though!). Medication might have a place, but the way Irish psychiatry, GP’s and the industry, have treated patients over the years has been deplorable; over prescribing has killed people (see Seroxat study 329), and has also left a lot of damage for those that were prescribed these drugs (particularly long term). If you really want to help and educate people, warn them of side effects with psychiatric drugs, and research them yourself. Mad In America is a good place to start.
And Fourthly, I would like to say, I am disappointed that you choose to block me on Twitter, it doesn’t bother me, but I do think if you intend to market yourself as a mental health advocate, and make a career out of your experiences with mental health, then perhaps dismissing other people’s experiences is not the most ethical and inclusive way to go about it? You will see that there are many more opinions and views similar to mine, there are a lot of people out there (professionals and members of the public) who shudder when they see people like Jim Lucey pushing misinformation about meds and depression. There are many who would be horrified to know that the idea of a chemical imbalance as the main cause of depression is still being perpetrated. There are many of us who have spent years campaigning for informed consent, and better mental health care and ethical treatment of the mentally ill in Ireland, and beyond.
Mad Pride are a good example.
Check them out.
Lastly, I wish you well in your campaigning, it takes guts to speak out, but just don’t get sucked into the agenda of St Pat’s and the ‘chemical imbalance’ psychiatrists. I’m sure they are only too delighted to have someone of your celebrity giving them this PR, don’t let them mislead you…
On Monday I reported for the Irish Examiner on comments made by Dr Declan Gilsenan, a former deputy state pathologist, who highlighted his concerns about a link between SSRI anti-depressants and suicide. In a nutshell Dr Gilsenan said he had seen too many cases where people who had taken their own lives had recently begun taking SSRI anti-depressants.
He also referred to a high profile case in recent years in this country, on which he worked, and was concerned about due to toxicology reports he carried out. I won’t go into the details of the case again, as needless to say I have already been accused of using a family’s grief for a story and don’t want that to happen again.
What I am interested in is the bigger picture. People like Dr Terry Lynch, Dr Gilsenan and others are speaking out on an important issue, but unfortunately their voices are drowned in a sea of opposition from mainstream psychiatry.
Worryingly, the people that often get the most air time in this country are those who continue to deny that legally prescribed drugs can be harmful.
On RTE radio on Monday at the end of a debate on autism, Pat Kenny’s resident psychiatrist Prof Jim Lucey said Dr Gilsenan’s views were “a classic example of a single dimemsional divide” that occurs in the suicide debate. Not sure exactly what that means, but he went on to say there is “no evidence” that anti-depressants cause suicide, and referred to an “anti-psychiatry movement”. Prof Lucey instead preferred to blame alcohol for a rise in suicide. I was under the impression that we Irish had always drunk copious amounts, so why all of a sudden is it driving us to suicide? Perhaps the issue of alcohol mixed with legally prescribed drugs would be a more valid argument. Coroners up and down the country have been commenting on the number of cases where legally prescribed drugs are a factor in deaths.
After a RTE Frontline debate on mental health earlier this year, psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey wrote an inflammatory piece for the Irish Independent saying the programme could “cost lives”.
Minister Kathleen Lynch had bravely spoken out saying she believed depression medication was only for short-term use
According to Prof Casey: “What was most worrying was the suggestion that if only we had enough talking therapies the problem of depression would be reduced and so too would suicide.”
Psychiatry needs to wake up. It has a dark history, and comments like this serve only to highlight how out of touch some of its disciples are.
Speaking to people like the inspirational Joan Freeman of Pieta House, and Dr Terry Lynch, they believe that’s exactly what people need – to talk. Some will need medication too of course, but therapy needs to the biggest part of their recovery. Robert Whitaker was in Ireland last year, and his book, Mad in America should be read by every psychiatrist to remind them just where their profession originated.
Prof Healy, who is Irish but based in the UK, has been involved as an expert witness in homicide and suicide trials involving psychotropic drugs, and in bringing problems with these drugs to the attention of American and British regulators, as well raising awareness of how pharmaceutical companies sell drugs by marketing diseases and co-opting academic opinion-leaders, ghost-writing their articles.
It was heartening to hear Minister Kathleen Lynch congratulating Dr Gilsenan for speaking out, and to see others coming out in support of him.
Psychiatry needs to wake up to the dangers of the drugs they are prescribing.
Professionals in this area really need to be more proactive in warning people about dangers. Yes extreme side effects only happen in a small minority of people but they still happen and can cause great harm.
Even the pharmaceutical companies who make them recognise the dangers.
What I and many others am interested in is the bigger picture, which as an editorial in the Examiner pointed out, surely can no longer be ignored.
Other stories of interest: