Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.
I didn’t know my life as a sleep researcher would change dramatically when I read Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.
I finished the book, in spite of putting it down a number of times because it was just too scary. Wanting to believe that what I was reading couldn’t possibly be true, I checked the guy’s credentials, checked his background and made futile attempts to prove the book a fraud. Was the author some radical, anti-drug evangelist, nut-job? Not being much of a fiction reader, it was the closest thing I’d come to a thriller … not in a good way.
Not knowing what to do, I put the book away and made a few references to it. My opinion is often ignored or questioned because I’m not a doctor/psychologist/psychiatrist – and here was a guy saying this stuff who was a journalist and researcher. Not a doctor either.
At least his research supported my ‘natural solutions to insomnia’ advocacy.
Mental Health. Overdiagnosed and Overmedicated.
In February 2015 I was invited by a friend to a lecture given by Professor Peter Gotzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaborative.
So I went, not really knowing what to expect, but anyone who’s serious knows about Cochrane, right?
The presentation “Mental Health. Overdiagnosed and Overmedicated” highlighted the problems with medical practice in Australia (and elsewhere). What’s more, Robert Whitaker’s research was being quoted and ratified. (Ref 1 below.)
Oh, so I haven’t been researching the wrong stuff? And there ARE real problems with how people are being treated with insomnia, mental health problems, anxiety, grief, etc.
I waited for the whole presentation to be posted up to YouTube expecting it to go viral, with policy change in Australia… but no!
Seems like no-one much cares about the REAL evidence-base after all.
Restoring Study 329.
Then came Restoring Study 329, published in the British Medical Journal September 2015. (Ref 2 below.)
This study looked again at the original evidence around the Paroxetine group of SSRIs and found quite different results from the original clinical studies that formed the basis for so-called-evidence-based mental health care.
That this class of drugs performed no better than placebo, but that the side effects were significantly increased, and understated in the original study.
The side effects include suicide and suicidal ideation.
What? Drugs that are being prescribed to students, children, friends? Kids who need help?
Legal Class Action – Antidepressants in Australia
Following on from this latest evidence, a class action is now being planned in Australia.
If you wish to contact the legal firm involved with the case contact Drayton Sher Lawyers. (Ref 3 below.)
Perhaps there might eventually be some justice in this matter.
Many things can never be reversed.
We need real and immediate changes to the medical and psychological care of children and adults who are having mental health and sleep difficulties.
There are significant changes that need to be made.
Problems will not be solved simply with the mention of a class action.
There are many examples where medical guidelines do not follow the latest evidence base.
In fact, most people actually think that “evidence based” means that a drug or procedures is on the MBS, PBS, approved by the TGA, has been the subject of a successful clinical trial… etc, etc.
What is your definition of “evidence based”?
Many people think it’s OK because their doctor or psychiatrist gave it to them.
The recent Wasted program on Four Corners covered some of this story in relation to the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) and listed procedures.
A further study is needed into the discrepancies that exist in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This, of course, should not be left to the media.
And a media study is not enough. We need a Royal Commission.
There are hundreds (even thousands) of medical professionals and academics leading medical research institutions, university departments, health providers, medical centres, clinics, community health organisations, etc who are obliged to review the latest evidence, and act in the best interest of patients.
This responsibility falls on federal and state health ministers who make the policy, the National Prescribing Service (NPS), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), medical training organisations, doctors and psychiatrists, hospital administrators, and more.
Clinical governance is a medical obligation.
At all levels.
The class action in Australia is a move in the right direction.
Medical professionals will watch with interest the development of this case.
Or will they?
Our health system is so broken that individuals themselves need to take full control of their health outcomes, and get informed about the latest evidence.
Especially when it comes to SSRIs, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and drugs.
Sad and Mad.