A report in the Daily Mail covered a book written by Prof Irving Kirsch, professor of Psychology at Hull University, which makes the case that anti-depressants may not be any better than placebo according to his review of US manufacturers’ trials.
The book is called ‘The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding The Antidepressant Myth’, published by Bodley Head and, I would imagine, is set to cause a bit of a stir in the psychology field.
Prof. Kirsch has been studying antidepressants for a decade and, amazingly, under the Feedom of Information Act, he forced the US Food & Drug Administration, which licenses drugs, to let him see all the antidepressant trials by the drug companies.
He found over half the trials showed no difference at all between the drugs and placebos.
He said: I decided to look at the drug companies’ own data, using the US Freedom of Information Act. … I got (a) shock. More than half of the trials showed no difference at all between the drugs and the placebos — but most of those negative trials had never been published.”
Antidepressants cost the NHS £250 million a year and have side-effects such as sexual dysfunction and suicide. He said that talking therapies make depressed people feel much better.
Quite apart from the fact that drugs have gone ahead for prescription on the basis of poor trial results, what strikes me is the irony of the constant diatribe against ‘natural medicines’ like supplements, herbs and homoepathics where the powers that be are always saying there is no evidence they work. Seems like one rule for one and one rule for another to me.
Personally, I think sometimes anti-depressants can definitely help and should not be shunned in moderate to severe cases, but that natural methods should be tried first if possible. Many times I have found food intolerance, imbalance of nutrients, amino acids and neurotransmitters and learned behaviours are at the heart of the issue. In these cases, using a sticking plaster over the cause, or a cosh to dampen feelings is a short-term measure when sorting out the deeper factors can really help.
You only have to read one of my fave books on this subject – ‘Nutrition and Mental Illness’ by Carl Pfeiffer, who did loads of research on this subject in the ’50s, to see that the subject of his first chapter ‘Not All In The Mind’ just about says it all. Worth a thought.