SSRI Anti-Depressants : Harmful Or Helpful?


“It is absolutely horrendous that they have such disregard for human lives.”
Professor Peter Gotzsche, Nordic Cochrane Centre

I’m blogging over 9 years (I started this blog in 2007), and in that time I have read tons of stuff about SSRI anti-depressants, psychiatry, and the pharmaceutical industry. I have focused my attention, in particular, upon the SSRI anti-depressant drug Seroxat, and the pharmaceutical company that manufactured it- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). However, even before I started this blog, I had been educating myself about SSRI’s, the pharmaceutical industry, and ‘mental illness’ related issues. All in all, I have been reading, writing and researching about this stuff since at least 2001 (15 years). I had a particularly bad reaction to Seroxat, and I have no love for the pharmaceutical company who created it (GSK). I think GSK should have warned me about the dangers of Seroxat, and I believe that by suppressing information on Seroxat over the years, much harm was caused to me and to many many others.

The story of Seroxat is still as scandalous as ever.

I am particularly disturbed at how GSK behave generally too. They are an extremely sociopathic company, and they have absolutely no regard for patient well being, the law, or basic human values or ethics. They have been proven numerous times to be corrupt, devious and downright evil in how they behave. They have been fined numerous times for breaking ethical and legal codes in varous countries, however in their home turf of the UK it seems (because of the vast wealth that they bring there and the huge influence they have upon academia/industry etc) they are never brought to book. There are over 1000 blog posts on this blog detailing how GSK have corrupted doctors, the regulators and psychiatry, and I think my blog backs up my opinion on these subjects- ten fold. I had hoped, that by documenting GSK and Seroxat, others might not end up damaged by a pharmaceutical drug like Seroxat, I did it to bring awareness, it was that simple. I didn’t expect this blog to become the force that it has, I didn’t plan on being a blogger. I experienced an injustice from being prescribed the dangerous drug- Seroxat. I should have been warned, and I wasn’t. I met others who suffered because of Seroxat, and I felt compelled to do something about it- this blog spawned as a result of that impetus.

I have had some people e-mail me and thank me for saving their life, others have sent words of support and encouragement, or mentioned how my writing validated their experience, and I have received a lot of kindness because of my writing, and all of this has been extremely humbling for me, but none of this was planned.

(I have also had some psychos/stalkers/assholes and others who have pestered me from time to time- but those idiots will never stop me from helping others and bringing awareness).

Nevertheless, in all that time, and after digesting so much information about all this stuff, one of the most striking aspects of all this which I noticed is – just how polarized the debate about SSRI anti-depressants has been- over these years. There are those who swear blind that SSRI drugs are really helpful, and that the ‘risks’ are worth the (so called) ‘benefits’. There are people (usually biological psychiatrists) who claim that anti-depressants save lives, and they claim that SSRI anti-depressants are vital in the treatment of depression. Then there is an opposing camp who claim that these drugs are causing suicides, and that there risks far out weigh the benefits. I fall (like most reasonable people) somewhere in the middle…

I believe, or actually, in fact- I know (from my own experience, of almost 4 years on the SSRI Seroxat) that these drugs can be extremely harmful for a lot of people. I do understand that they can be somewhat helpful to others (perhaps very short term with close monitoring in extreme cases, or in a hospital setting), but I believe that the harms far out weigh the ‘benefits’. I also think that the so called ‘benefits’ are largely illusory, and often quite transient and subjective (if they exist at all). The benefit is an illusion just as much as the effect of any mind altering drug/substance is an illusion. Nevertheless, the only people who really know if these drugs are harmful or helpful are the people who take them. I don’t think that these drugs are helpful long term, nor do I think they should be prescribed as first line treatment.

These are potent, heavy, seriously addicting psychotropic/psychoactive/mind altering drugs; they are powerful and their affect on the mind is extremely difficult to predict in each individual. Some people will experience increased anxiety, increased suicidal ideation, hallucinations, distortions in their reality/perceptions/personality etc, and others might not experience these effects too badly. Most will experience some, or variations of these effects over time, and the longer you’re on them the more toxic you become. Withdrawal from them is often horrific too. However, most people will experience the physical side effects of nightmares, sweating profusely, stomach problems, irritability, tension, sexual side effects, nervous system side effects etc. The physical side effects in themselves can be extremely debilitating and disturbing. These drugs are quite toxic physically and they have been way too over-prescribed to too many people, mostly without adequate monitoring or informed consent.

It seems to me that those who defend the drugs without question are usually biological psychiatrists with a vested interest (either directly through pharmaceutical affiliation or indirectly through other means of the psychiatric profession) in keeping knowledge of the harms of these drugs as suppressed as possible.

The problem facing biological psychiatrists who defend the use of SSRI’s -almost evangelically – is- the cat is now fully out of the bag. You can’t defend these drugs in an extreme quasi-religious manner anymore without coming across as some kind of irrational zealot nutcase, because even the most eminent drug experts (the Cochrane group for example) now agree that there are serious issues with these drugs and in fact these drugs are very likely causing more harm than good. It has taken a few decades for the truth to finally become known, but the widespread consensus seems to be leaning towards the fact that these drugs are causing serious harm to a considerable number of people, and they have been for a very long time.

There will always be some biological psychiatrists who (seemingly desperate to hang on to some semblance of power and prestige in their own insecure minds) will defend these drugs like they are some kind of sacred religious iconography. They deem any criticism of the drugs as close to some kind of blasphemy. They imagine that if the drugs they dish out are undermined in any way, they themselves will be undermined also, and their beliefs and ideology will be debased as a result.  With their ego, their profession and their world view under threat of extinction from the truth, some of these psychiatrists can get very irrational and volatile indeed. Their egos just cannot take this perceived assault so they continue to deny despite the evidence rendering their denials redundant and ridiculous, because denial is all they have left as a defense.

Unfortunately, the ship of reason has sailed, and those psychiatrists are not on it.

These hell-fire and brimstone biological psychiatrists are few and far between nowadays, as most ‘clever’ psychiatrists are slowly starting to change their own discourse about SSRI’s so as to make it appear that they were never fully behind the widespread use of them in the first place (most of them really were, but at least some of them have the appearance of decency-or ‘devious intelligence’- to accept the truth and follow the tide of consensus).

It must be very difficult for some psychiatrists to accept that the drugs which they have been peddling for a very long time have perhaps harmed (and in some cases killed) many of their patients. It understandable what a hard pill of truth this might be to swallow (pardon the pun) for some of these individuals but the truth is self evident now. However continuing to deny the realities of the side effects of these drugs, and the harms that they caused, and continue to cause- is not acceptable.

Defending the drugs as a means of protecting the psychiatric ideological paradigm -at the expense of patients’ lives and public health- is utterly reprehensible- in my opinion.

There have been a flurry of articles, in the media recently, about the side effects of SSRI’s and much debate has ensued. However, instead of writing my opinion on each, I think it might be best to combine them all in one post.

The latest damning article about SSRI’s and their dangers comes from the Telegraph UK. The Telegraph article is based on a study from the Nordic Cochrane group. The Cochrane group are among the most respected (and widely cited) academics in the field of medicine.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/12126146/Antidepressants-can-raise-the-risk-of-suicide-biggest-ever-review-finds.html#disqus_thread

“…Antidepressants can raise the risk of suicide, biggest ever review finds

Antidepressant use doubles the risk of suicide in under 18s and the risks to adults may have been seriously underestimated, researchers found

Antidepressants can raise the risk of suicide, the biggest ever review has found, as pharmaceutical companies were accused of failing to report side-effects and even deaths linked to the drugs.

 

An analysis of 70 trials of the most common antidepressants – involving more than 18,000 people – found they doubled the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour in under 18s.

 

Although a similarly stark link was not seen in adults, the authors said misreporting of trial data could have led to a ‘serious under-estimation of the harms.’

For years families have claimed that antidepressant medication drove their loved ones to commit suicide, but have been continually dismissed by medical companies and doctors who claimed a link was unproven.

The review – the biggest of its kind into the effects of the drugs – was carried out by the Nordic Cochrane Centre and analysed by University College London (UCL) who today endorse the findings in an editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

After comparing clinical trial information to actual patient reports the scientists found pharmaceutical companies had regularly misclassified deaths and suicidal events in people taking anti-depressants to “favour their products”.

Experts said the review’s findings were “startling” and said it was “deeply worrying” that clinical trials appear to have been misreported….”

Tarang Sharma of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark admitted: “The analysis suggests that clinical study reports, on which decisions about market authorisation are based, are likely to underestimate the extent of drug related harms.”

Four deaths were misreported by one unnamed pharmaceutical company, who claimed they had occurred after the trials had stopped.

One patient strangled himself unexpectedly after taking venlafaxine but because he survived for five days, he was excluded from the results because it was claimed he was no longer on the trial while he was dying in hospital.”


 

Leonie Fennell is a dedicated patient advocate, and genuine mental health activist, who has done stellar work in bringing awareness to the dangers of SSRI medications (her focus is on the SSRI Cipramil in particular, and Lundbeck the pharma who makes it). Her latest post explores some of the themes which I have mentioned in my post thus far. You can read her full post here, but in the meantime here are some very poignant excerpts from it :

“...Yesterday’s BMJ article that found antidepressants double the risk of suicide and aggression in young people, made headlines worldwide. From America, Australia to india, caution was advised when prescribing in this age bracket. Not so in Ireland. The one newspaper article referring to the BMJ article can be found in today’s Irish Examiner here, entitled ‘Drug link to child suicide queried by expert’. So did it warn prescribers of the suicide and aggression risks, advise stricter guidelines or just advise caution when prescribing to children? None of the latter. Instead the Irish Examiner published an article allowing Professor Patricia Casey to question the findings of the Nordic Cochrane Centre..”


Both the Cochrane group’s report on the doubling of aggression side effects, and suicidal side effects etc, and Leonie’s excellent commentary upon it, is no surprise to me because I experienced these side effects directly from GSK’s notorious Seroxat SSRI. I know just how dangerous these drugs are. Leonie Fennell also knows just how dangerous these drugs are because Cipramil killed her son Shane, and tragically also Cipramil caused Shane to be violent- and as a result of this side effect of SSRI induced violence came the death of Sebastian Creane too. Anyone on an SSRI could end up in Shane’s altered state of mind, I’ve been there, and I know of many others, who have expressed similar experiences. These drugs can make people violent and volatile, they can literally snap your mind. Shane should have been warned and monitored properly for emerging suicidal ideation/akathisa/aggression etc. He wasn’t warned, and neither was his family, and the tragedy that followed could have been prevented had they been.

Although I have been drawing attention to these issues for a long time, it is heartening to see my views legitimized by studies from a group as prestigious and respected as the Nordic Cochrane group. It’s high time the public knew just how dangerous these drugs are for all age groups. The studies highlighting the dangers in adolescents and the young show very clear dangers, however this is the proverbial ‘canary in the coal-mine’. All ages, adults and younger, can experience the same deadly side effects of SSRI’s.

I’m not a huge fan of Peter Hitchens (I preferred his brother- Christopher), however he has been good at covering the dangers of SSRI’s and his latest article on the Cochrane study on SSRI’s pulls no punches in that regard.

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2016/01/time-for-some-serious-thought-about-antidepressants.html

Here are some excerpts:

28 January 2016 4:26 PM

Time for Some Serious Thought about ‘Antidepressants’

I expect to have more to say about this, but today’s BMJ? UCL/ Nordic Cochrane Centre analysis of research on ‘antidepressants’ should surely change the terms on which we debate this subject.

I should say that all intelligent people should draw lessons about the difference between what they think is happening, and what is actually happening,  from two major Hollywood films – The Big Short’ and ‘Spotlight’. In both cases – the sub-prime mortgage disaster and the widespread unpunished sexual abuse of children by priests – complacency prevented serious concern for years. In both cases the alarm was raised by outsiders, and most people refused to believe what was being said.

I believe that psychiatric medication contains a similar problem, which in a few years, everyone will acknowledge as fact. But at the moment, it is still difficult to raise it without being accused of being a crank. Complacency rules.

For some years now I have been more or less begging my readers to obtain the book ‘Cracked’ by James Davies’ and to study two clearly-written and straightforward articles on the subject by Dr Marcia Angell, a distinguished American doctor, and no kind of crank, in the New York Review of Books. I link to them (yet again) here. They are devastating, not least because of their measured understatement. The alleged scientific theory (the Serotonin theory) which underpins the prescribing of such drugs is, to put it mildly, unproven. The drug companies themselves have kept secret (until compelled to disgorge them by FoI requests) research results which suggest their pills are, again to put it mildly, not that effective.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/06/23/epidemic-mental-illness-why/

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/07/14/illusions-of-psychiatry/

Dr Angell’s articles are themselves reviews of important recent books on the subject.

I have also drawn attention to the huge sums of money involved, and to a recent case in which a major drug company was fined *three billion dollars* for (amongst other things) mis-selling ‘antidepressants’.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/jul/03/glaxosmithkline-fined-bribing-doctors-pharmaceuticals


Hitchens is astute in his analysis of the Cochrane study. He draws attention to what I have been drawing attention to on my blog for 9 years. The reason why these drugs have been so widely promoted boils down to one thing- money.

The pharmaceutical industry makes billions on them, that’s why they have got away with all these years of cover-ups, lies, death and destruction. Psychiatry would lose its status (and its profitability) as a ‘legitimate medical specialty’ without the drugs- that’s why they deny the problems- even in the face of overwhelming evidence against their use. For psychiatry – raising awareness of the dangers undermines the profession… and we all know how highly paid some psychiatrists are don’t we?…

Nobody likes their bread and butter threatened do they?…

Nope..

Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for payrise it’s no surprise
That they’re giving none away
Away, away, way
Away, away, away

(Pink Floyd – Money)

Irish Psychiatrist Patricia Casey


PC.png

“…My studies of the research literature in this whole area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: the way we currently use psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good. We should therefore use them much less, for shorter periods of time, and always with a plan for tapering off, to prevent people from being medicated for the rest of their lives….”

Prof. Peter Gøtzsche (The Guardian 2014).

“For years the public has been under the impression or of the opinion that medication is bad and that talking therapy is good, and if we have enough talk therapy there wouldn’t be any need for medication. That simplistic view is wrong,” she said, pointing out that in dealing with severe psychiatric illnesses, “medication is absolutely essential”.

Prof. Patricia Casey (Irish Catholic 2015).

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/psychiatric-drugs-harm-than-good-ssri-antidepressants-benzodiazepines

http://www.irishcatholic.ie/article/%E2%80%98simplistic%E2%80%99-therapy-approach-suicide-criticised-new-study

I wasn’t going to comment on this article (from June 2015) by psychiatrist Patricia Casey, because I think that some biological psychiatrists actually delight in upsetting people by putting out misleading information about anti-depressants. I think that some of these high profile psychiatrists seriously think that by publishing blatantly deceptive and illusory pro-anti-depressant articles they have succeeded in striking a blow against people who criticize them. They seem to imagine that they are being clever by twisting facts and pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes. They are certainly not interested in the truth, they are interested in maintaining the status quo, and this status quo mainly consists of protecting the psychiatric profession, and the drugs which validate the profession.

I find this behavior very disturbing…

Patricia Casey’s recent article in ‘The Irish Catholic’ titled: ‘Simplistic therapy approach to suicide criticized in new study’ – is so utterly ridiculous, and so blatantly insulting, not only to those who are critical of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs, but also to those who have been harmed by psychiatric drugs, their families and their friends etc. It’s even more offensive to the families of those who have had to pick up the pieces from SSRI induced suicides. It’s just simply abhorrent to use red herrings, smoke and mirrors, and selective information from specific studies, and then twist these cherry picked anecdotes into conclusions which are dubious, misleading and ultimately harmful.

(See SSRI stories and Surviving Antidepressants for tale after tale of damage from psychiatric drugs and SSRI anti-depressants).

It might seem to be clever to publish these kinds of articles, in the sense that many lay people are fooled and some are bewildered enough to go along with it, and then psychiatry (and the psychiatrist) feels elevated and validated by their own propaganda, but ultimately this ego-game just hurts sufferers of ‘mental illness’.. the very people which psychiatry is supposed to protect (disturbing? cruel? you betcha). The public at large would automatically trust an opinion from a high profile psychiatrist, they wouldn’t suspect that there could be an agenda.

Casey’s article (which also re-appeared in the Independent) “Two thirds who died by suicide not taking drugs prescribed for them” attempts to correlate dubious ‘facts’ and ‘research’ in order to draw a ‘conclusion’ (and create a sensationalist headline) that anti-depressants are not implicated in suicides because (she says) that two thirds of people who died by suicide are not taking prescribed drugs (it is unclear whether this means ‘not taking’-as in ceased to take- the drugs prescribed for them and it’s also unclear if this means that each individual in this group was never prescribed any drugs ever). To the lay reader, this seems that it would be logical to then assume that if those two thirds of people had taken their ‘prescribed drugs’ then they would have been saved from suicide.

There are many ways to interpret this ‘study’, but Casey (true to form) chooses the one which she imagines to validate psychiatry and psychiatric drugs.

However, what Casey doesn’t draw attention to in her summation, is the other ‘remaining third’ who were taking their prescribed drugs at the time of their suicide. What does this tell us? It tells us that it’s possible that the two thirds could have been in withdrawal from their drugs? (Casey chooses to omit any mention of withdrawal). SSRI withdrawal can cause seriously debilitating effects, suicide is one of them.

I know because I experienced it...

(and so have many many others).

We could interpret the study in the article to indicate that some of these individuals (in the 2/3rds group) could have stopped taking their (SSRI) antidepressants abruptly before their suicide (maybe a few months, days or weeks before- and perhaps that’s why they didn’t turn up on the toxicology reports?)- maybe this factor is significant in attempting to understand at least two out of three of these cases?-  and furthermore we could then go on to perceive that despite being prescribed drugs and taking them at the time, the entire group of those found with psychiatric drugs in their toxicology reports (the other third)-did -in fact- commit suicide.

Leonie Fennell (in her excellent dissection of this article) makes some extremely significant points about toxicology reports, she says:

“...Toxicology results post mortem are notoriously unreliable(Drummer et al 2004) and should not, as yet, be relied upon to conclude drug concentrations before death. I personally know of mothers who have lost their sons to antidepressant-induced deaths where the antidepressant escaped detection in toxicology tests. Two of these mothers vehemently objected and insisted on a re-test – in both cases the drug was eventually detected, once on the second time and once on the third time…”

If one third had an anti-depressant in their system at the time of their death by suicide, then surely this indicates that anti-depressants are not very effective for some- isn’t this another way of looking at this study? If these drugs are really ‘anti‘ ‘depressants’ then surely we would expect then for the drugs to prevent suicides? isn’t that what ‘anti‘ indicates? We should expect to find no mention of anti-depressants found in the bodies of suicide victims or indeed we would expect this to be a rare occurrence; an aberration – yet according to Casey, 100% of those notes on an antidepressant in this study still killed themselves. Therefore, the anti-depressants failed 100% of those studied which were on them, as the third is 100% of those who had toxicology showing anti-depressants in their blood at time of death.

What we don’t know is- were the other two thirds prescribed anti-depressants in the weeks, months, or years, before their deaths? and maybe they suddenly tried to stop taking them, and perhaps it was withdrawal which drove them to suicide? Casey addresses none of these issues.

Furthermore, the article does not mention any details about the study, how it was assessed, where it can be accessed, what drugs were these people on, for how long did they take them, when did they stop them? were they experiencing withdrawal, or side effects? etc.

Casey makes no mention of the other factors which lead people to severe depression, and suicidal actions and thoughts. The core of this is usually societal. People aren’t born suicidal or depressed. These things manifest over an individual’s life. If biology is a factor in depression, it is a small factor (and likely a consequence of depression not a biological cause). Suicides come from despair, and what leads up to that despair is usually a series of traumatic events: abuse, bullying, poverty, loss, grief etc.

Casey does not enlighten us to anything about this study and there are no links to the authors’ credentials, their backgrounds etc. We don’t know what the authors’ agenda is (if there is one), we don’t know their possible professional/public or commercial affiliations, biases, conflicts of interests etc.

There is no link to the raw data. There is no discussion of individual cases from the study. There is no mention of comparative literature in which to draw other possible conclusions. We get no insight into this study whatsoever, we just get Casey’s cognitively biased interpretations and conclusions dressed up as a news article. We get her specifically honed pro-drug perspective too. Nonetheless, despite having absolutely no scientific foundation, the article aims to convince the reader of an outlandish conclusion in regards to anti-depressants. Each and every suicide case is immensely complex, just as each and every suicide case with anti-depressants as a factor is also hugely complex. We have complex lives. This study attempts to simplify individual people’s vastly complex lives, and reasons perhaps, for taking theirs, into something akin to studying weather patterns. If only life were as simple and predictable as assuming ‘it will rain in winter, because it usually does’…

It’s pseudo-science at its very best.

This is dangerous.

There is a website called antidepaware which has been documenting hundreds of suicides (people on SSRI’s at the time) for a few years now. Perhaps Casey and the researchers in this study, need to look a little further, and delve a little deeper. One random study (with absolutely no scrutiny of the question of whether these individuals who completed suicide were withdrawing from an anti-depressant at the time and with many flaws) does not prove that anti-depressants are safe. If two thirds had no antidepressants in their system at the time of their suicides, can we assert that perhaps this was because they had tried to withdrawal from their meds, and it was this that plunged them into suicidal ideation?

It’s true that people on SSRI’s commit suicide, as do people not on SSRI’s. People also commit suicide from akathisia, de-realization, and de-personaliztion (all quite common- and terrifying- side effects of SSRI antidepressants which are well known and listed in PIL’s). We could assume that a sizable portion of suicides could leave no trace of an antidepressant in their system because perhaps they are in withdrawal from the drugs? However, perhaps the only way to truly know what effect SSRI’s have in regards to suicidal thoughts etc, would be to ask those who came off SSRI’s because of suicidal side effects etc?

There are  hundreds of thousands of us out there- we are not ‘anecdotes’. Our experiences are valid. Psychiatry should be documenting, and studying us.

Where is the study representing SSRI survivors?

Casey also admits that this study is extremely limited. However, despite admitting that the study is very flawed-(in other words we can’t really make concrete conclusions about it) she then goes on to make sweeping statements about the validity of it..

“….the numbers were small, it does cover a limited period, and the study needs to be replicated”, she said it was “highly likely” that similar patterns could be found nationally and internationally”…

However, she kind of slips up -and reveals perhaps -an agenda- which is: to counter the current cultural aversion to medication for the human condition. There has been a huge backlash against psychiatric drugs, and psychiatry in general, these last few years-because the ‘service users’ are beginning to see that the emperor of psychiatry has no clothes…

Communities like MadPride and MadInAmerica have been challenging the psychiatric stranglehold upon ‘mental health’ and the discourse for years now…

Casey defends the drugs because the drugs validate her profession…

The risks of these drugs – it seems- don’t really matter to her..

“..We know that generally people don’t adhere to medication”, she said, adding that “the antipathy to medication for mental health problems is a cultural thing”.

Personally I think that Patricia Casey is talking utter nonsense, and I suspect she is well aware of what she is doing. This is an article which defends psychiatric drugs at all costs, despite recent research from people like Bob Whitaker and Peter Gotzsche outlining the clear dangers from psychiatric treatments (particularly long term). It’s an utterly shameful article which does nothing but confuse and miselead the public. It serves no purpose in the ‘mental health’ discourse, apart from upsetting those of us who can see through it, but then again, perhaps that is the purpose? If so- then well done Casey! You’ve scored another point for biological psychiatry, and let patients down, once again.

“…According to Whitaker, research suggests that while people suffering from depression may not have low serotonin levels to begin with, the use of SSRIs reduces the brain’s capacity to produce serotonin on its own, leading to a worsening of symptoms when patients stop taking the drugs…”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/antidepressant-drugs-may-not-be-best-treatment-robert-whitaker-1.2667410

What Casey doesn’t explain is why there is antipathy to medication. In my view the antipathy comes from user’s experiences; largely negative experiences involving horror stories from anti-depressants. She doesn’t seem to see either that the discourse is changing. People can read opposing views now, and people can read about the side effects on the internet. Psychiatry can no longer just tell people, ‘it’s all in their head’ because people can inform themselves. Psychiatry no longer has the absolute stranglehold (it once had) upon the mental health ‘discourse’. The internet has democratized the discussion, patients can now express their opinions on ‘treatments’, and their voices are being heard.

In the 80’s and 90’s Casey was Ireland’s virulent anti-abortion pundit. She regularly took to the Irish airwaves to sprout right wing Catholic views; views which belonged (and still belong) to an age of Magdalene laundries, heavy handed Christian brothers, and an era where women were supposed to feel ashamed of their bodies, and in particular, of their pregnant unmarried bodies. Her stance was, and still is, out of kilter with modern Ireland (and the modern world in general). Her views on abortion and gay marriage disturb a lot of people…(including other -more secular- psychiatrists – such as Prof Veronica O’Keane).

O’Keane has taken Casey to task over her conservative views many times- see the quotes below-

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/equal-rights-including-marriage-can-promote-better-health-for-lgbt-people-31171627.html

“….Professor Patricia Casey’s latest contribution to public debate on the topic of suicide is that young gay men who have suicidal ideation or who attempt to harm themselves will not necessarily go on to kill themselves. She has told us that we should not “conflate” the act of self-harm with the completed act of suicide. Her argument is that, although suicidal behaviour is disproportionately more common in LGBT individuals, that the completed acts of suicide may not be higher..”

“...Does it really help make us a better or more healthy society to calculate whether gay men are over-represented in our suicide statistics? Is it not enough to know that the mental health of our LGBT citizens is suffering because of social discrimination? Psychiatry and medicine are frequently involved in issues related to ill-health, such as poverty, income inequality and discrimination, because these issues affect peoples’ health. Medics can only treat the ailment, but the power to alleviate this ill-health lies with all the citizens of our country. Choosing to vote ‘Yes’ is a vote that will lead to a healthier society for us all….”

In the 00’s she was one of Ireland’s anti- gay marriage equality mouth pieces. She is a current patron of the right wing Catholic- Iona institute (an utlra conservative Catholic lobby group). This much-hated organization was the driving force behind spreading misinformation about gay people, surrogacy, and marriage equality leading up to the recent (and thankfully successful) marriage equality for gay people in Ireland.

During many intense debates in the media, leading up to the vote, Casey was deemed a homophobe on Ireland’s national broadcaster (by gay activist Rory O Neil), and the Irish broadcaster, in panic-mode- subsequently paid out money in order to avoid the wrath of Casey and her ilk.

(Casey threatens to sue almost anyone who dares to criticize her in any way).

And nowadays (as she was also throughout her career also) she is Irish psychiatry’s ‘medication apologist’.

Her track record with studies and interpreting research leaves a lot to be desired…

as does her membership of the despised right wing Catholic ‘think-tank’ The Iona Institute..

Casey has been accused before of misrepresenting studies, notably in the Irish gay marriage referendum debate-

http://www.gaire.com/e/f/view.asp?parent=959225

“….It has come to our attention that Prof Patricia Casey has referred to our article in supporting her views on traditional marriage between biological parents being the best environment for a child to be raised in (March 5th).

Prof Casey’s conclusion that the article is one of the “compelling reasons to continue giving marriage between a man and a woman the special support of the State” is not valid based on our findings”….

Casey was also sued for damages due to alleged negligence, from prescribing psychiatric drugs to one of her patients:

See here-

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/girl-born-disabled-awarded-500000-in-court-settlement-26631023.html

“...Rebecca, originally from Malahide in Co Dublin, but now living in Tyrone, was born in April 2001 with a deformed hand, thin lips, problems with balance and other features of Sodium Valproate Syndrome.

She was described in court as a bright, cheerful, attractive girl whose mental capacity is not affected by her condition. She is of above-average intelligence. “I wouldn’t change her for the world,” her mother added.

 

Through her father, Barry, the eight year old took a legal action against consultant psychiatrist Professor Patricia Casey and consultant obstetrician Dr Mary Holohan over her disabilities, allegedly caused by prescription drugs taken by Mrs McGillin during pregnancy”…

Casey, of course, denied responsibility (but still paid out), and it’s interesting to note also that it is alleged that Casey encouraged the distressed mother to go to England for a termination (Casey denies this) despite the fact that Casey is known in Ireland for her staunchly anti-abortion opinion (Casey is an ultra conservative Irish Catholic).

Traditionally, Catholicism, and the church, was of the view that suicide in itself was a ‘mortal sin’ (and those who killed themselves would be sent to hell). I do not know whether Casey is of this view, but nonetheless, it seems to me that religion perhaps has no business delving into the realm of ‘mental illness’ and suicide? and considering that these ills are typically symptomatic of a stressful (and often quite de-humanizing, brutal and cruel- modern) society, perhaps they are better left in the secular realm?

 I won’t publish the article which I am criticizing (you can read it here) because I don’t want to endorse it or promote it and because, personally I believe it’s articles like that which lead to harm of psychiatric patients, the ‘mentally ill’, and the public at large… but anyhow here’s Bob Fiddaman’s take on the whole thing:

http://fiddaman.blogspot.ie/2015/12/patricia-casey-and-catholic-suicide.html?spref=tw

And here’s Leonie Fennell’s

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/iona-institute-hypocrisy/


Casey has been causing controversy for years -in a recent article on Ciprmail induced suicide, Casey weighs in again, with her usual nonsense.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/man-62-hanged-himself-after-taking-antidepressants-1.1016921#.Vb8sLMxaq7c.twitter