The folly of anti-depressants

As long time readers will know I suffer from depression. Due to the length, severity and re-occurrence of my depression over the past few years I know now that it will be with me for life. I am not talking about “feeling a bit sad today” depression, I am talking about the black dog that is severe depression. If I am not vigilant then down into the darkness I will slip. No one chooses depression, it certainly isn’t the box of laughs that the left-wing likes to think it is for me in particular.

At present my depression is held at bay but not through anti-depressants, rather through hard physical exercise and some techniques I picked up along the way through 6 long years of hell. For the first time in a long, long time i am working again. That has challenges in itself that can affect my control over my depression but it is a start.

The best thing I ever did is ditch the medications that doctors and insurance companies forced down my throat in the interests of getting “better”. For me getting well involved ditching the drugs and I will never let them past my lips again.

There also appears to be growing evidence that the pills don’t work.

Anti-depressants can cause worse long-term health effects, and may have an adverse effect on suicide rates in youth, says an award-winning American medical journalist in Nelson this week.

Robert Whitaker, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of several books, will be speaking in Nelson tomorrow night on the effects of psychiatric drugs on the brain and how anti-depressant medications shape long-term health outcomes.

He will discuss his research in the United States which found the increased prescribing of psychiatric drugs to youth led to a sharp rise in the numbers diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the numbers on sickness benefits.

After examining data from several countries, Whitaker also found increased prescribing of anti-depressants to adults correlated with a sharp increase in disability rates due to depression and anxiety.

Clinical trials had shown anti-depressants may increase the suicide risk in youth, he said. He did not have data on whether increased rates of prescribing was linked to suicide rates at a national level.

Anti-depressants made my life worse not better. But a combination of medical experts and insurance company policies means that there are many people like me that would have got well sooner if alternate treatment policies were followed or even allowed. Even ACC and WINZ follow the same policies, and so it isn;t really any wonder that we have burgeoning mental health issues caused by strict adherence to shoving pills down our throats.

It is my belief that the drugs just paper over the cracks. They are not a solution, they are a temporary salve with long term serious side effects. Even then they aren’t all that effective.

Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, had been attacked by some health professionals, but many had responded in a thoughtful way.

I just bet he was attacked. The drug companies have got the insurance companies by the shorts. Meanwhile the sufferers suffer.


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  • paul

    whale oil i have been to the abyss and sat on the brink staring into the darkness looking for relieve 3 times a site that may help you on your journey

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  • diabolos

    Hello Cam – many thanks for this post. Very real and very human.

    Here is a link for your enjoyment and for you and your beloved wifes information ….

    Im a little bit of a health and fitness fanatic and into alternatives to conventional medicine. There was a doco on TV on sky about this – all fronted mainly by medical professionals from the States, UK and Aussie. They are the proponents of high dose vitamin therapies – including the Gerson Therapy. There are some good trailers of the doco and other docos on the site … one of the best is an expose of the drug companies invention of drug based approaches to depression. Take a gander and see what you think mate. The big thrust of their thinking is diet and nutrition. Not as a component of health – but the source of health and healing.

    Enjoy mate – its a good old life and for the living. I have a VHS copy of the doco i could get to you – but im sure you have better ways to access online or DVD copies – i’m still living in a technophobes ignorance …

    Best wishes – Diabolos

  • jabba

    one of my boys has ADHD (yes it is a real thing). He was very disruptive at both home and school. He was put on Ritalin which slowed him down. A teacher commented on his improvement. Within about 2 weeks we took him off it as he became a zombie. He is 25 now and still hard to deal with when bored but there you go.
    Being aware of his condition and adapting is the way to go .. sod the drugs

  • thor42

    Good on you WO! I suffer from depression too. Fortunately, I’m in a job with a small-but-*great* group of people, all of whom I get on with really well, and the job isn’t particularly stressful – that definitely helps.
    I hadn’t heard you were back working. Good on you, and I hope it goes well. I hope the others at your work (if there are any others) are easy to get along with.

  • diabolos

    Just a footnote Cam – the trailer vid on the site that i particularly think you would find interesting is the one called “The Marketing of Madness” … but the main doco film is very worth obtaining and watching as well. It isnt fringe conspiracy theory mate – its all sound and good value. I compare this group of professionals to the Climate change skeptics / challengers – they point out the obvious and the commonsense. By the way – i also dont subscribe to climate change theories but sorry to go off-topic as always.

  • Murray

    Hi Whale, I am a pharmacist and have dished out truck loads of antidepressants. I have noticed that most people stay on these medicines for years. They become dependant on them. I have always believed the money would have been better spent on good councillors. I know, I was helped immensely by a good councillor. I also believe that in the majority of cases depression has just become the new buzz word for unhappy. And why are these people unhappy, because they have chosen lifestyles that could not possibly make someone happy. (Note I said in the majority of cases, not all cases).

  • reid

    Murray one of the issues seems to be there are very very few good counsellors.

    I have had several family members involved in the system long term and no change, no dealing with the root cause issue, no improvement. Stabilisation, but that’s it. Repeat, no improvement.

    Shocking really, when you think they have had years of access to the best the DHB could offer, and still no diff.

    But the drug thing is the worst. It’s standard medical treatment now, for every single little and big thing. GP’s a simply legal peddlers for the companies who give them nice gifts like trips overseas in return for prescribing their brand.

    It’s time more people understood big pharma behave exactly like the tobacco companies used to. They lobby at all politicial levels, extremely vigorously, look at the TPP, for instance. Not because their drugs alleviate the patients, but because it makes them obscene profits on the most sacred human artifact of all, one’s health.

    They’re worse than the oil companies. Once they’ve patented the entire human genome, they will become even more powerful than them and watch what happens then, profit-wise.

  • P1LL

    I tried to ween myself off the dreaded (flat-line no emotion ) pills without success , If I don’t take them now I am a mess . I wish I had never started taking them . Good on you for breaking free Cam .

  • Patrick

    There are loads and loads of people out there who have been on these pills for 10 or 20 years and never overcome their depression.

    I decided a long time ago that I would not take these pills, and eventually my depression which had been with me on and off for half my life, was solved. I don’t think the pills solve anything.

  • Patrick

    There are loads and loads of people out there who have been on these pills for 10 or 20 years and never overcome their depression.

    I decided a long time ago that I would not take these pills, and eventually my depression which had been with me on and off for half my life, was solved. I don’t think the pills solve anything.

    P.S. Please make this submission form work on Chrome, no message about needing to enable Javascript in your browser.

  • Richard

    Taking ownership of oneself is the standard we all strive for. There is no higher nor more worthy goal. All the best Whale. Keep reminding the moral cowards of what they are and please continue to do so without remorse.

  • TJ

    inspirational Cam, there are a number of people dear to me who I will pass this on to. Thanks. TJ

  • reid

    Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.

    Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

    James Allen

    Tak­ing own­er­ship of one­self is the stan­dard we all strive for.

    It is Richard and one way to do that is by the above. If all people took that as read and acted accordingly, what would the world be like.

  • jonno1

    A unique and great counselling approach is Refocussing Therapy:

    Well worth a look.

    PS The javascript thingy comes up on IE9 too.

  • Spanishbride

    We have been very blessed in our friends. One friend in particular provided Wo with a place to stay on his own when he was going through the worst of the withdrawal to spare the kids and I. I cannot over state what a terrible time it was. I backed WO 100% however because I said to him that we had no future while he was on the drugs. He felt no highs or lows on them. He was never happy, he was almost always negative. He was not the person I had married but an often angry stranger. The physical side effects were many, including trouble sleeping and a very high body temperature amongst other even worse issues.
    I have my husband back now and the difference is so great that I sincerely feel that the majority of the problems were CAUSED by the drugs. If only they had let him do what his Psychologist had wanted to do at the start which was to combine visits with him and HARD physical exercise. The drugs sapped all motivation and hope. I am just glad that I was put on them for almost a year and a half because it gave me enough understanding to realise that his behaviour was drug related. I myself hated the flatline feeling of being on them. It was hard getting off but I only had to come off one. WO had been put on a number of different medications and had been on them for years.
    We both now value exercise highly and our regular 10km walks give us time together to work on our relationship as well. Life is good, good good:)

    • Gazzaw

      Good on you both SB. I could not have recovered without huge support from my wife & kids. I forgot to mention exercise, you are oh so right, it plays a huge part in recovery & ongoing health.

  • Gazzaw

    Cam, well done.

    My business partner of 19 years suffered from depression & he’s been doing meditation daily for years. Works like a dream for him & I haven’t seen him swallow a pill in a long time. Same for me – I had a severe addiction problem a few years back that hospitalised me & I beat that without any medication at all. I swear by regular meditation as well. It works like a dream & helps the work/life balance immeasurably.

    I am not anti-medication by any stretch of the imagination and am as quick as the next person to toss down a couple of panadol when needed but the benefits of the mindbending stuff have to be severely questioned..

  • Navyman

    Mate , I lived with a big black dog on my shoulder, thats what it felt like , for 12 years.After an attempted suicide, they tried allsorts , nortryptaline then serzone….etc. .etc.One day I decided I wasnt going to pop pills anymore as they hadnt made a bit of difference anyway. I stopped taking them . I thought to myself ” tommorow i may be dead but I may be better . That was 4 years ago.
    The best thing for me was exactly what we are doing here. Talk about it. It helps.
    Hang in there WO , It does get better

  • oldlogger

    Good on you WO. Rapt for you.

  • arnuxii

    Ritalin is a stimulant, it certainly does not turn anybody into a zombie.
    In ADHD the patient can’t focus or concentrate on anything because that part of the brain doesn’t work very well.
    Ritalin gives the patient the ability to focus because it stimulates that part of the brain. They can sit still can look at something and really take it in.
    I am really dependent on medications for ADHD but ritalin isn’t really safe imho. I prefer reboxetine.
    It is fashionable to knock anti-depressants but they work for a lot of people.

  • John McNeil

    I have been through two moderately severe bouts of depression, and from time to time still find myself on the edge looking down into the hole wondering if it’s going to happen again. Each time, the main thing that has brought me back to a whole life has been the unconditional love of God and his goodness. Throwing away the pills and having the support of a wonderful wife have also been major factors, but without God I fear that I would still be in the pit.

  • Richard McGrath

    As a prescriber of these pills I can relate to many of the comments above. The antidepressants don’t work for everyone, and other non-drug treatments should be tried. Family and partner support can make a huge difference. Physical exercise does help and I have had number of patients respond well to that alone. However, so many others take the attitude that it’s so much easier to take a pill, so they do.

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