The Bitter Pill

I think I am still reeling from the incredibly insensitive journalism that surrounded the publication of research by Professor Kirsch of the University of Hull, questioning the benefit of anti-depressants.

“Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists” reads the headline in The Guardian

Having read various reports, many of them factually flawed and contradictory in nature, I conclude that there is only one looser in this sad debate. That being the brave people in emotional distress who have taken the hard decision to accept medication as part of their treatment.

In case we are unsure, SSRI medication is fully licensed, meaning that it has been scientifically proven to offer marked benefits over the placebo in extensive controlled tests. I am not going to pretend that unfavourable trials may have been concealed, but at the heart of this debate is the reality that every paper still concedes that SSRI medication ‘should be used in serious depression’. The Independent “given these results, there seems to be little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed".

At the heart of the headlines was disgraceful stigma towards mental health issues. The news was reported with no concern for people who were taking anti-depressants. We can only guess the anguish, doubt and anxiety that these reckless headlines provoked in thousands of anxious and depressed people who are currently taking their GP’s specialised and professional advice for their unique situation.

I really wonder whether the same aggressive journalistic approach would be made towards a new cancer drug, or heart medication. How sad that there are so many nay sayers out there, so willing to undo the hope and determination of others. If you are currently taking anti-depressants, we want to loudly echo Professor Kirsch’s very small print. That being; keep taking your medication. If you do have any concerns or would like a detailed explanation of the research then do return to your GP.

Also please know Mind and Soul’s compassion and prayers on your journey to healing.

Will Van Der Hart, 06/03/2008
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