This post follows Janet Lagerloef’s Marilyn Lemak’s Trial and Punishment and Johanna Ryan’s Marilyn Lemak Then and Now. Jo was the first person I ever heard talk about this case. Janet has done more than anyone to get Marilyn’s case to a Clemency Hearing. She prevailed on several lawyers to pick up the case and got places when she persuaded Andy Vickery to take up the case, who got me involved and Jed Stone a Chicago lawyer with a track record of success at these Hearings.
On June 15, Marilyn’s was one of the cases put to a Clemency Hearing in Chicago. My contribution was Zoom recorded. The Text is Below and contains one important detail which the recording missed. The Clemency Recording is in the link and is better.
We will hear the outcome at the end of the Year.
You are about to hear things unprecedented in a Clemency Hearing.
I have a PhD in the serotonin system on which Zoloft acts – the drug Marilyn Lemak was taking. But you are not going to hear about serotonin.
I am a psychiatrist, but you are not going to hear about mental illness.
I am here because 32 years ago, two men I was treating became suicidal on Prozac, which also acts on the serotonin system. When I stopped Prozac, their problem cleared up. When put on another serotonin drug, each became suicidal again. The only way to explain these cases was that drugs like Prozac, clearly helpful for many others, made these two men suicidal.
I was working closely with all major pharmaceutical companies at this time and one of them Eli Lilly, the company who made Prozac, said their Clinical Trials showed no evidence that Prozac can make people suicidal.
So, I was faced with compelling evidence it did make people suicidal and apparently compelling evidence that it can’t make people suicidal.
I had seen industry practices at close hand. Pretty well all the whistleblowers who have told us about what can go wrong in company trials have worked in industry not in medicine. Arvid Carlsson who made the first SSRI and won a Nobel Prize says plainly that SSRIs can make people suicidal or homicidal.
How does this apply to Marilyn Lemak?
Marilyn Lemak did not have a mental illness. She had relatively minor problems in the early 1990s linked to childbirth. She was tired after the birth of her second child and had gained weight. She was put on a low dose of Prozac because of its reputation then as a weight loss drug, but a classic weight loss drug seems to have done more for her wellbeing than anything Prozac did.
Five years later, feeling the way many women with a job, 3 children and a busy husband feel, and possibly peri-menopausal, thinking about separation or divorce, she consulted Dr Hubbard. He initially prescribed nothing. Two months later he put her on a low dose of Zoloft.
This dose was increased over 3 months from 50 to 150 mg and she began to show clear signs of Zoloft toxicity like jaw clenching.
Dr Hubbard threw a tranquilizer, Ativan, into the mix. Lilly and Pfizer used drugs like this in their clinical trials to hide the problems Zoloft and Prozac cause. In Marilyn’s case, Ativan helped with some things but caused its own problems.
So, in early 1999, Marilyn had no mental illness, but she had two sets of drug induced toxicity.
Less than two months before the homicide, her Zoloft was increased to 200 mg per day. On this high dose, she was fatigued, losing weight, sleeping poorly but she never said depressed.
In 1982, 16 years before the homicide, Pfizer gave 200 mg of Zoloft to a set of healthy volunteers, all women. All of them dropped out within a week because they had become fatigued, agitated, suicidal and aggressive. In a report on this study, no doctor ever saw, Pfizer said our drug caused this and other drugs like Zoloft are known to do the same.
I know the doctor who wrote this report – its Attached Here. The full details of this trial are also available.
One of the volunteers was 40, slightly younger than Marilyn. Here is an entry in her diary on Day Four.
Where is Dr Hubbard in this? Well Marilyn tied his hands when she said, or at least his notes say she said, that Zoloft is working for her. So, our problem is not just where is Dr Hubbard, but where is Marilyn?
No one can look at this record and say Zoloft is working for Marilyn. Some doctors might say Dr Hubbard should have put the dose up higher or added other drugs into the mix.
But she was not depressed to begin with. With every increase she gets worse. Over 6 months there is no improvement. There is a good case to reduce and maybe stop Zoloft.
This is not Dr Hubbard’s area. He didn’t push to give Marilyn drugs as quickly as some doctors might. Now faced with a woman who seems to be getting worse it is difficult for him to stop digging in this hole especially when no-one has told him these drugs can become the problem rather than the answer to the problem. No one has shown him the Pfizer 1982 report on what this dose of Zoloft can do.
I have read the transcripts of the trial and think Mr Ruggiero handled the witnesses very skillfully – asking if they saw any features of mental illness in this woman in the days leading up to the deaths. And nobody did.
Mr Ruggiero and I agree Marilyn wasn’t crazy. But the killings made no sense. It is not plausible they were a revenge on her husband.
The killings do make sense when you bring Zoloft into the frame. This is a drug that makes you care less. Making you care less is central to what it does. There never was an abnormality in the serotonin system that it corrects.
When Marilyn said to Dr Hubbard she cared less about the divorce now, he appears to have read this as a good sign. Was Marilyn really there when she said that?
If Zoloft makes you care less to just the right extent when you are stressed, this can help you cope. But chill you out too much so you care less about important things, and you can end up with problems.
When healthy volunteers are put on these drugs, some start having thoughts they never had before – like killing themselves and their children – malignant thoughts like skinning themselves or jumping out a 44th floor window, way beyond the thoughts that you and I might have, which might include thoughts like it would be better for my husband if the children and I whom he doesn’t really want were out of the way.
And in the case of either malignant thoughts or normal ones, Zoloft removes the anxiety that inhibits us from acting on them. Healthy volunteers, women, have committed suicide on these drugs. In 2004, Traci Johnson, below, a nineteen year old committed suicide while tapering from duloxetine in a healthy volunteer study.
Women with no mental illness being treated for urinary incontinence have committed suicide on these drugs. Duloxetine branded as Yentreve is use for this purpose in Europe. FDA rejected it because normal women were committing suicide on it. See In the Firing Line.
A famous 1991 paper described a wealthy Baltimore hostess, who brought drinks to her guests – topless. Other than this she appeared perfectly normal to people who knew her. She was on an SSRI. This gives you a feeling for the frontal-lobe like disinhibition Zoloft can cause.
People with a frontal lobe disorder caused by a brain tumor, whose behaviour returns to normal after a tumor is removed, have walked free from criminal charges because it is recognized that, when our frontal lobe is disturbed, we may not be able to conform our behaviour to social norms. Fix it and we are not guilty.
Dopamine agonist drugs are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, which affects judges, senior lawyers and politicians. Members of the judiciary who otherwise seemed quite normal to colleagues have walked free from charges of prostitution, gambling, and other deviant behaviour. Why? When the drug is removed, their impulses clearly come back under control.
The legal principle here was enunciated in 1676 by Lord Chief Justice Matthew Hale:
“If a person by the unskilfulness of his physician or the contrivance of his enemies, eat or drinks such a thing as causes such a temporary or permanent delirium (frenzy), as aconitum or nux vomica, this puts him into the same condition, in reference to crimes as any other delirium, and equally excuses him”.
Ever since then, the legal system in the UK and US recognized that a person, delirious from an illness, a fever, or a drug, might have an absolute defense against murder. This is not a mental illness defense. Our problems with the insanity defense began a century later, when Philippe Pinel described mental disorders without delirium.
There is a huge gulf between Can Zoloft play a part and Did Zoloft play a part.
None of us are now in an ideal position to say for certain that Zoloft Did play a part in Marilyn Lemak’s case. We would need to have been able to interview her then on and off these drugs.
Before agreeing to interview her, I would review her medical record to see what effect Zoloft had on her. If it was clearly helping, I would not get involved.
But that’s not the record we have. There are Zoloft fingerprints all over Marilyn Lemak’s record.
If the case was happening now, and I interviewed Mrs Lemak and thought the drug played a part, Mr Ruggiero and I would have had a conversation about – Did Zoloft cause her problem.
But we would also have talked about Can Zoloft cause homicide. Talked about the fact there is no access to the data from Zoloft trials, not even FDA have seen it. We would have talked about the ghostwriting of all Zoloft trials. Talked about publications of trials claiming Zoloft worked well and was safe – trials that FDA viewed as negative. Talked about FDA not even hinting to doctors that maybe they should not trust all that is printed in the academic literature.
We would have talked about coding adverse events. About the man made delirious by another of Pfizer’s drugs in a trial who poured petrol on himself and set fire to it but only died 5 days later – he was coded as death by burns rather than suicide.
This conversation would have shocked the jury. Bringing these points into a Clemency Hearing is unprecedented.
Marilyn Lemak did not get a fair trial. She did not get a fair trial because the toxicity of the drug she was on was not brought into the frame.
A few months before Marilyn was found guilty, a Jury in Cheyenne Wyoming in the Tobin Case were faced with a choice between Did Paxil cause a man to kill his wife, daughter, grand-daughter and himself and GlaxoSmithKline’s argument that our clinical trials show this can’t happen. The Jury found GSK guilty. See Let Them Prozac for this and the Hawkins case.
A few months before Marilyn was found guilty, in an Australian court David Hawkins, who had murdered his wife, faced Judge O’Keefe. With the agreement of the prosecutor, Judge O’Keefe let Hawkins walk free, stating he would not have murdered his wife had he not been on – Zoloft.
The Hawkins and Tobin cases were more straightforward than Lemak. Despite its complexities, my view is that if evidence Marilyn Lemak was entitled to rely on had been brought into the frame, she would not have had the sentence she had – and perhaps not even the verdict.
To Be Continued next week.
We could almost write the script for this type of reporting.
From the ‘experts say’ to the diabolical exaggeration of the personal life to the ‘invisible inner conflict’ …
I have read many newspaper reports about Marilyn but this one takes the biscuit for drama and pettifogging.
‘In fact, experts say depression, even the most severe and debilitating cases, rarely prompts homicidal tendencies.’
‘Disorders, such as borderline personality disorder or anti-social personality disorder, are more likely than depression to precipitate murder.’
MOTHER’S PATH FROM DESPAIR TO TRAGEDY
Divorce records reveal inner conflict preceding slayings
About two months ago, Marilyn Lemak began attending New Beginnings, a weekly support group for separated, divorced and widowed people.
“If she had problems, she hid ’em pretty well,” said widower Rich Babjak, a member of the group.
Her attorneys have cautioned against oversimplifying the case or leaping to a diagnosis about her condition.
In fact, experts say depression, even the most severe and debilitating cases, rarely prompts homicidal tendencies.
Disorders, such as borderline personality disorder or anti-social personality disorder, are more likely than depression to precipitate murder.
Marilyn Lemak’s current mental state, more than that leading up to the killings, will determine the outcome of the effort to have her moved from DuPage County Jail.
By all accounts, she is subdued and lethargic.
“She seemed truly brokenhearted,” Kuhn said. “I know she understands that the children are gone.
“I asked her if she was eating properly and she said she was having trouble because some of the foods were foods her children liked, and she couldn’t bear looking at it.”
It is with certainty that widower Rich Babjak did not kill his children or ingest the amount of flannel and Zoloft that Marilyn took…
I first met Dr. Healy ten years ago at a lecture he gave at a law school in Chicago. Although I’m not an attorney, I managed to get in. He explained akathisia, the link between SSRI’s and violence, and he presented stories just like Marilyn’s. I took a pile of notes. I scrambled to introduce myself afterward and told him all about Marilyn. He listened.
I’ve stayed in touch with him ever since. He always replies to my emails and answers my questions. It’s not a bit surprising that he was willing to participate in Marilyn’s clemency hearing.
You’re right, Annie, this article does not shed much light on Marilyn’s story. To put it mildly. Mainly gossip and third-hand “expert opinion.” But one small bit of it struck me: her request, during divorce proceedings, that her husband leave the house because he was causing her so much stress:
“She said she was suffering physical symptoms due to the stress of the household: severe headaches, neck and back tension, and jaw clenching, which was causing pain in her face.”
All three problems are documented side effects of Zoloft. She never knew; she thought it was the stress of her divorce. Worse yet, she never knew that her “mad” thoughts and impulses might be tied to Zoloft as well. She must have thought they were “the products of her own sick mind.” That must have been unbearable.
“She said she was suffering physical symptoms due to the stress of the household: severe headaches, neck and back tension, and jaw clenching, which was causing pain in her face.”
All three problems are documented side effects of Zoloft. She never knew; she thought it was the stress of her divorce. Worse yet, she never knew that her “mad” thoughts and impulses might be tied to Zoloft as well. She must have thought they were “the products of her own sick mind.” That must have been unbearable.”
What I find difficult – that so few people are even interested in all this, let alone take any action. You would think the vaccine harm people would take it up as well, but it doesn’t seem so.
A relative of mine is going through the same, passed the information to his mother – he has moved out of his house back to his fathers which was the best we could do, but clearly has dissociation, insomnia, disinhibition and emotional liability. Any attempt at more help from his mother is met with a dismissive – you’re not my doctor. He has now been on Sertraline 50mg for six months.
When you actually do come out of akathisia people family, friends – if you still have any – refuse to accept or admit you are now well and normal – they don’t wish to know about akathisia. It takes sophistication, research, listening and observational skills to get a grasp, read the signs and realise it’s the drug and not the person, even if the patient thinks the drug is the best thing ever.
And there is also what the other will counter with – bruxism does trigger severe headaches and stress causes bruxism which causes neck and back tension and face pain. How would you pin it down.. that the drug was behind the stress causing family situations such as – dissociation, insomnia, disinhibition and emotional liability when almost no one wants to know about this stuff.
“What I find difficult – that so few people are even interested in all this, let alone take any action. You would think the vaccine harm people would take it up as well, but it doesn’t seem so.”
Chris, your point hits home. While some close to Marilyn are able to conceive that Zoloft was the likely culprit, I see it as a very hard sell in her community and most of Chicagoland.
Many people in my life support what I’m trying to do. But I’ve also sensed that many don’t. It’s hard for people to believe that a “mere pill” could cause a mother to kill her own. But sadly, it can.
Seems to me – it’s only when people experience akathisia for themselves that they grasp this horrific nettle, then it’s blindingly clear and shocking. I do not suggest people try – it’s a incredibly dangerous state to be in and get out of.
There is far more that can be done to help people would are in an akathisia state – one such is avoiding foods, herbs and spices that inhibit Cytochrome P450 metabolising enzymes which can be as common as black tea.
20 July 2022 • 6:00am
Depression is not a chemical imbalance in the brain and scientists have no idea how antidepressants work, a review by University College London has concluded.
Although one in six adults in England are currently prescribed antidepressants – most of which act by maintaining serotonin levels – the new analysis suggests depression is not actually caused by low levels of serotonin.
Instead, depression may be more strongly equated with negative life events which lower mood, the review found.
Since the 1990s, antidepressant use has grown alongside the theory that the drugs establish correct levels of chemicals in the brain but researchers say that is unfounded.
“I think we can safely say that after a vast amount of research conducted over several decades, there is no convincing evidence that depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities, particularly by lower levels or reduced activity of serotonin,” said lead author Joanna Moncrieff, a professor of psychiatry at UCL.
“Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe their depression has a biochemical cause, but this research suggests this belief is not grounded in evidence.”
Important for mood and sleep
Most antidepressants are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which prevent the loss of a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain, and is important for mood and sleep.
For the new review, researchers looked again at studies into serotonin and depression and found no difference in levels between thousands of people diagnosed with the condition and healthy control participants.
The authors also looked at studies where serotonin levels were artificially lowered in hundreds of people by depriving their diets of the amino acid required to make serotonin, and found that it did not make them depressed.
People with variations in the gene governing the transportation of serotonin also showed no difference in depression levels.
In contrast, stressful life events were found to exert a strong effect on people’s risk of becoming depressed – the more stressful life events a person had experienced, the more likely they were to be depressed.
The researchers say their findings are important as studies show that as many as 85 to 90 per cent of the public believes that depression is caused by low serotonin or a chemical imbalance.
There is also evidence that believing that low mood is caused by a chemical imbalance leads people to have a pessimistic outlook on the likelihood of recovery, and the possibility of managing moods without medical help.
Co-author Dr Mark Horowitz, a training psychiatrist and clinical research fellow in psychiatry at UCL said: “I had been taught that depression was caused by low serotonin in my psychiatry training and had even taught this to students in my own lectures.
“Being involved in this research was eye-opening and feels like everything I thought I knew has been flipped upside down.
“One interesting aspect in the studies we examined was how strong an effect adverse life events played in depression, suggesting low mood is a response to people’s lives and cannot be boiled down to a simple chemical equation.”
A different route
The researchers say that patients should not be told depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, or informed that the SSRIs can correct the problem. Although it is clear the antidepressants can work, they must be doing so through a different route, the paper concludes.
Commenting on the research, experts warned people against stopping their medication.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “Antidepressants will vary in effectiveness for different people, and the reasons for this are complex, which is why it’s important that patient care is based on each individual’s needs and reviewed regularly.
“Continued research into treatments for depression is important to help us better understand how medications work as well as their effectiveness. Medication should be available for anyone who needs it.
“We would not recommend for anyone to stop taking their antidepressants based on this review, and encourage anyone with concerns about their medication to contact their GP.”
Prof Allan Young, director at the Centre for Affective Disorders at King’s College London, said: “The elephant in the room is the good evidence of the efficacy and acceptability of serotonergic antidepressants.
“The use of these medicines is based on clinical trial evidence which informs their use for patients. This review does not change that.”
The review was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Depression should not be tackled as if it is a single disorder
Dr Michael Bloomfield, consultant psychiatrist at University College London
Up to one in seven of us will experience depression during our lives. Different people experience different symptoms of depression. While many people experience a mild episode, depression remains a leading global cause of morbidity. Sadly, depression can be potentially life-threatening for some due to an increased risk of suicide. Existing treatments, including several types of antidepressant medicines and psychotherapies (talking therapies), are effective, safe, and not addictive. However, beneficial treatment effects can take weeks to build up and each treatment does not work for everyone. It is therefore essential that we can understand what happens in our brains when we experience depression so that treatments can be improved and targeted.
In the middle of the 20th century, the theory that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in serotonin represented a really important step forward in the history of medicine. Since then there’s been a huge of amount of research which tells us that the brain’s serotonin system plays very important roles in how our brains process emotions. As depression involves changes in how our brains process emotions, changes in the serotonin system are likely to be important in the development and/or treatment of depression.
The findings from this review are not surprising. Depression has numerous symptom patterns such that two people with depression can have seemingly opposite types of symptoms. For example, some sleep more when they are depressed while others suffer from insomnia. As such, having met scientists and psychiatrists from all over the world, I have yet to meet a colleague who thinks that all cases of depression are caused by a simple “chemical imbalance” in serotonin. Indeed, the serotonin system is complex. What remains likely is that changes in the serotonin system are contributing to certain symptoms in certain people. The challenge with this review is that it isn’t able to address this point because it has grouped together depression as if it is a single disorder which, from a biological perspective, does not make sense.
There is consistent evidence that antidepressant medicines can be helpful in the treatment of depression and even life-saving. This latest paper does not change this. Patients must have access to treatments for depression. Many of us know that taking paracetamol can be helpful for headaches and no one believes that headaches are caused by not enough paracetamol in the brain. The same logic applies to depression and medicines used in its treatment. All medicines can have side-effects and suddenly stopping any treatment can be potentially harmful. Anyone taking a medicine for depression who is thinking of stopping treatment should discuss this with their doctor first.
The public and the law enforcement just doesn’t want to believe how dangerous and homicidal these drugs could be. Like in the case of Umar Dutt who stabbed his psychiatrist 165 times and run over him with a car. No motive was established yet he was declared sane. Who sane or without motive would present with such an aggression ? He wasn’t a serial murderer but seemingly a normal person who has been medicated
Not just psych drugs and over a 100 others. Drug toxicity induced behavioral issues from minor to extreme are way way more common than almost anyone wishes to admit to.
today several media articles ( thetimes.co.uk, independent.co.uk, neurosciencenews.com, news.sky.com, theconversation.com, newscientist.com, scotsman.com, telegraph.co.uk, psychologytoday.com, dailymail.co.uk, walesonline.co.uk, hulldailymail.co.uk, etc. ) about this study that reaffirms that there is no evidence on the link low serotonin and depression.
Systematic Review Open Access
Published: 20 July 2022 Molecular Psychiatry
The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence
Joanna Moncrieff, Ruth E. Cooper, Tom Stockmann, Simone Amendola, Michael P. Hengartner & Mark A. Horowitz
This ‘BIG BIG THEORY’ is everywhere – adding to S and L
Hint: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Clue: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Depression ‘is NOT caused by low serotonin levels’: Study casts doubt over widespread use of potent drugs designed to treat chemical imbalance in brain
‘Many of us know that taking paracetamol can be helpful for headaches and I don’t think anyone believes that headaches are caused by not enough paracetamol in the brain,’ he said.
‘The same logic applies to depression and medicines used to treat depression.
‘There is consistent evidence that antidepressants can be helpful in the treatment of depression and can be life-saving.’
Professor Allan Young, director of the Centre for Affective Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, said the review ‘does not change’ the evidence that antidepressants work.
Although it is apparently not news to most academics/psychiatrists it is news to the public because our paper is now the top trending story on many newspapers. Perhaps someone forgot to inform the public?
The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence
Michael P. Hengartner, PhD
The wide-spread belief, also supported by many prescriber, that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin is not grounded in science. In fact it‘s an unsubstantiated claim that must be abandoned
Replying to @DuthieAlyne
Look at the ads that @pfizer used to run for Zoloft. These were running at time of Woody’s death.
Carmine Pariante’s reply on behalf of the Royal College. He said, “The old idea that ADs (antidepressants) correct a chemical imbalance in the brain is an over-simplification and we do not support this view.”
Wendy Burn CBE (She/her)
I’m very careful what I say to patients but it still may turn out to be a “chemical imbalance” in the end. We just don’t know yet. One of my favourite papers last year was the one demonstrating serotonin transporter levels increasing after CBT.
Patrick D Hahn – in conversation
JULY 20, 2022
expert reaction to a review paper on the ‘serotonin theory of depression’
“the theory that never was” …
Part Two – The Daily Mail Delves Deeper…
With Campaigner Stevie Lewis…
‘The Royal College of Psychiatrists said: ‘Antidepressants are an effective, NICE-recommended treatment for depression. We would not recommend for anyone to stop taking their antidepressants based on this review.’
Professor Marshall of the RCGP said: ‘This research is challenging, and it’s important it is taken into account as clinical guidelines are developed and updated.
‘Patients should not be concerned about taking antidepressants as a result, but if they are, they should continue to take them as prescribed and discuss this with their doctor at their next appointment.’
As Stevie says:
Stevie Lewis, 66, a former business consultant was prescribed antidepressants after being told she had developed a chemical imbalance.
Now a campaigner against the overuse of antidepressants and a board member of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, Stevie was on an SSRI for 17 years, most of which she spent ‘trying and failing to stop’ because the withdrawal effects were so severe.
‘I am outraged that I and so many other people have been persuaded to take a drug based on unproven science,’ says Stevie, from Catbrook, Monmouthshire.
Patients should be very ‘concerned as a result of this review’ and ‘discussing this with their doctor’ is a hiding-to-nothing as so many know to their cost.
Marshall, as those before him, Gerada, and the cult-infused RCP members, Wessely and Burn, have done their dam-nest to hold back progress.
As Michael says:
Michael P. Hengartner, PhD
In the Science Media Centre experts comment (mostly critical) on our umbrella review of the serotonin hypothesis of depression.
But the best thing is how these experts directly contradict each other.
Will They Never Learn, with the constant Buck-Passing…
Yeah the link says it all –
“oops, something not very
Unfortunately it seems this page no longer exists it may be that the link was to our old website or just that the link was incorrect.
You may wish to go back to the Home Page and try finding what you need from there.”
Let’s see if they get on to the devastation akathisia has caused…
It was the 3 periods added to the end of the URL that broke the link. This should work:
Part Three – Peter Is Back In The Game…
Our media and the medical profession simply don’t know what to do about yesterday’s emphatic news that supposed ‘antidepressant’ pills do not in fact do what it says on the packet.
It could hardly be clearer. Yet the Times, which published this news prominently, also printed an astonishing editorial under the headline: ‘Antidepressant medication works, even if the mechanism is not yet clear.’
It might as well have said: ‘It’s time to stop paying so much attention to scientists.’ It suggested that, despite this devastating study, SSRIs still worked better for most people than sugar-pill placebos. This is a poor argument.
PETER HITCHENS: As a major study overturns decades of received wisdom that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain, the verdict of science is now clear – our unhealthy obsession with antidepressants must end
As Huxley described it: ‘All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects . . . the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of Soma-holiday. There is always Soma, delicious Soma, half a gram for a half-holiday, a gram for a weekend, two grams for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon.’
Huxley meant it as a warning against a kind of willing, self-imposed slavery. We seem to have taken it not as a threat but as a promise.
‘Doctor, please! Some more of these! Outside the door, she took four more.’ …
‘It’s a Sellers Market’ and we who pay for the NHS are more and more blatantly -being sold a service which is too often causing more harm than good.
The advice is ‘Discuss it with ‘your’ doctor. How cynical not only because the message conveyed by the review is deliberately confusing giving prescribers huge loopholes to carry on as usual and leaving thousands of people at rxisk In addition where in the NHS do people find ‘their’ GP. these days. Many GPs are taking advantage to leave in droves then work part time as locums often traipsing around from practice to practice where obviously they have no ‘doctor-patient’ relationship , no continuation of ‘care’ and actually in many cases GPs don’t want one. What they do want is the money
Locum GPs offered £1,000 per day to fill shifts at ‘desperate’ practices
Locum GPs offered £1k/day rates
19 July 2022
Exclusive Locum GPs are being offered shifts with day rates of ‘in excess of’ £1,000,
Locum agency Primary Care Medical Chambers (PCM Chambers) claimed these are the ‘highest locum rates in the country’.
In an email sent to GPs last month and seen by Pulse, PCM Chambers said it has ‘in the last few days secured exclusive lucrative contracts to supply GPs to a number of practices across various locations in the UK’.
It is ‘looking to identify GPs willing and interested in earning in excess of £1,000 per day’, giving them the opportunity to ‘become one of the highest earning GPs in the country’, it added.
It said: ‘Naturally, this may require you to travel and work slightly further afield so contribution towards travel expense can be organised.’
All the participating GP practices can offer ‘anything from ad hoc sessions to three-month block bookings at the enhanced rate’, it added.
She said: ‘From a practice perspective, we find it really difficult to recruit locums and obviously there’s a shortage of GPs so I guess it’s a sign of the times and it’s a sellers’ market.
Dr Thorpe said: ‘The trouble is with the locum rate being so high, nobody’s really committing to joining a practice full-time, so it accentuates the problems that we have in general practice, which then makes the locum rates higher and we’re in a vicious circle.’
Rates of £1,000 per day have also been reported in Northern Ireland.
The Irish News reported that the Northern Ireland Department of Health offered GPs the fee to provide cover for two daily sessions on dates in July and August at a rural Co Tyrone practice facing a staffing ‘crisis’.
In 2018, an investigation from Scottish Labour found that locum GPs in Scotland were paid up to £1,400 a day in rural isles the previous year.
Spreading the Good News, Simon Wessely – True to Form…
Simon Wessely Retweeted
I feel like I also have to comment on today’s paper, as I have not yet read a good take on it, including from the authors.
PhD in psychopharmacology, University of Gothenburg. Medical intern, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Surely there is a connection, but at the same time most negative life events do not seem to lead to depression, and some get depression also in the absence of negative life events. Why so quick to replace one simplistic theory with another? Can we not do better? /End.
Simon Wessely Retweeted
Prof Linda Gask
The orchestrated message against antidepressants is so very loud at the moment, I’m really wondering who are the beneficiaries. It’s certainly not helping those of us who suffer from it and have benefited from medication. We are just to the placebo effects. Fools.
Prof Linda Gask
It’s so well organised, it could almost be a #BigPharma advertising campaign.
The study that shatters explanations about the causes of depression. And shake the pharmaceutical industry
Very strange Company, Wessely associates himself with…
“Wessely by Name, Wessely by Nature” …
“starring Zoloft’s miserably depressed ovoid creature” …
Psychotherapist⎮Writer⎮Visiting Lecturer Mental health, relational psychotherapy & philosophy Lived experience. He/him. Views my own.
Professor of Psychiatry
share their differing perspectives on serotonin’s role in depression & antidepressants in light of the recent ‘chemical imbalance’ review. — aired on
Paul John Scott
Watching the UK engage with the serotonin myth today I hope my old friend Jonathan Leo is taking a bow somewhere. It’s been 17 years since he wrote this with Jeff LaCasse.
Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature
In the United States, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are advertised directly to consumers . These highly successful direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) campaigns have largely revolved around the claim that SSRIs correct a chemical imbalance caused by a lack of serotonin (see Tables 1 and 2). For instance, sertraline (Zoloft) was the sixth best-selling medication in the US in 2004, with over $3 billion in sales  likely due, at least in part, to the widely disseminated advertising campaign starring Zoloft’s miserably depressed ovoid creature. Research has demonstrated that class-wide SSRI advertising has expanded the size of the antidepressant market , and SSRIs are now among the best-selling drugs in medical practice .
Pfizer’s television advertisement for the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft) stated that depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and that “Zoloft works to correct this imbalance” . Other SSRI advertising campaigns have also claimed that depression is linked with an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and that SSRIs can correct this imbalance (see Table 2). The pertinent question is: are the claims made in SSRI advertising congruent with the scientific evidence?
The incongruence between the scientific literature and the claims made in FDA-regulated SSRI advertisements is remarkable, and possibly unparalleled.
Paul John Scott
Fun fact: “SSRI” designation was developed by the marketing people for Paxil. Drug is not especially selective. (Healy, 2003)
Malcharist – taut, racy thriller…
I am struck by the media impact that the publication in Nature about low serotonin & depression is having in these few days. Many popular sites and magazines have been talking about it in articles that are then shared on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others, where people comment. On a quick and limited look I have seen that psychotherapists and alternative therapists are particularly happy, while institutes of psychiatry are relaunching with articles and studies saying that in any case antidepressants work, some psychiatrists point out that one of the authors is “anti-psychiatry”. Patients tell their stories between drugs that saved their lives, drugs that were ineffective, serious adverse effects (such as PSSD); many are surprised, many feel deceived or mocked by doctors; others blame Big Pharma; others say it was known; many reflect and philosophize about the causes of depression in today’s times. It would be nice to have an investigative report on this web reaction by some famous TV show!
I see this Prof Sam Vaknin fella has picked up the latest research from UCL as have others which is good. I’m used to feeling rather frazzled every day now he looks alot more focused than I am. I tend to lose my train of thought quite a bit these days. I have to be careful that I don’t put dishes in the washing machine and silly stuff like that. It’s a bit like the phenomenon when you go upstairs to get something and when you get there you forget what it was, only all the time.
“This profession has misled people for so long about the need for antidepressants and now doctors don’t want to admit they got it wrong.”
How can this woman completely miss the points raised in the study…
My verdict on the great antidepressant debate
Like many GPs, I was concern by claims last week that antidepressants don’t work. It followed the publication of a review that concluded that depression isn’t caused by an imbalance in mood-boosting serotonin after all. Commentators leapt to say this was proof that common antidepressants – which boost serotonin – are useless.
I appeared on ITV’s This Morning, alongside the review’s author Professor Joanna Moncrieff, to argue that people were jumping to the wrong conclusion.
The fact that a lack of serotonin might not be the sole cause of depression doesn’t mean topping up levels can’t help treat it. I take paracetamol to help my headache – but headaches aren’t caused by a lack of paracetamol.
We GPs are on the front line, treating mental illness in our clinics, day in day out.
We see life-changing benefits in our patients who take the medicines. They don’t care how it works, as long as it does. And as long as clinical trials show they are safe and effective – which many do – I will keep prescribing them.
Antidepressants do work, insist top doctors as they hit back at bombshell study
Top psychiatrists have rounded on the authors of a bombshell study which cast doubts on the effectiveness of antidepressants, labelling the findings ‘absurd’ and ‘grossly exaggerated.’
Last week, researchers at University College London said they had disproved a theory dating back to the 1960s that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain believed to control mood.
‘Through years of research we know that antidepressants work and save lives,’ says Professor David Nutt, head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.
‘This paper’s conclusions are absurd. The authors have grossly exaggerated the importance of serotonin levels. No one has ever said a serotonin imbalance is the sole cause of depression.’
He adds that newer studies, not included in Prof Moncrieff’s review, that used more accurate testing methods, had found ‘decreased serotonin release capacity’ in people with depression. ‘To dismiss the serotonin hypothesis of depression at this point is premature,’ he said.
Responding to the criticism, Prof Moncrieff said the aim of the study was not to argue that antidepressants don’t work but to question whether the pills should be prescribed in the first place.
‘People are told the reason they feel depressed is that there is something wrong with the chemistry in their brain and antidepressants could put it right. But if there’s no evidence there’s anything wrong with the brain’s chemistry, then that doesn’t sound like a sensible solution. This profession has misled people for so long about the need for antidepressants and now doctors don’t want to admit they got it wrong.’
A Decisive Blow to the Serotonin Hypothesis of Depression
Moncrieff explained in the press release:
‘Patients should not be told that depression is caused by low serotonin or by a chemical imbalance and they should not be led to believe that antidepressants work by targeting these hypothetical and unproven abnormalities. In particular, the idea that antidepressants work in the same way as insulin for diabetes is completely misleading. We do not understand what antidepressants are doing to the brain exactly, and giving people this sort of misinformation prevents them from making an informed decision about whether to take antidepressants or not.’
Invited to extrapolate the review’s findings for Psychology Today, Moncrieff added:
‘Antidepressant use has reached epidemic proportions across the world and is still rising, especially among young people. Many people who take them suffer side effects and withdrawal problems that can be really severe and debilitating. A major driver of this situation is the false belief that depression is due to a chemical imbalance. It is high time to inform the public that this belief is not grounded in science.’”
“They don’t care how it works, as long as it does.”
Excuse me, we don’t like false representation…
“But really this is irrelevant.”
“It’s important to note that several of the academics involved in this latest research are so-called ‘critical- psychiatrists’.”
“In other words, they are academics who disagree with the idea of prescribing medication for mental illness, so their conclusions are, perhaps, unsurprising.”
I would also like to discuss your stance on whether or not depression is caused by a lack of the brain chemical serotonin, if not, then what is depression caused by?
You also claim that, “As an academic, Professor Healy doesn’t have to pick up the pieces. As a psychiatrist working in the NHS, I do.”
Monday, May 04, 2015
An Open Request For Dr Max Pemberton (TV Doctor)
THE MIND DOCTOR MAX PEMBERTON: The REAL scandal about happy pills
By DR MAX PEMBERTON FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 00:23, 2 May 2015 | UPDATED: 00:36, 2 May 2015
The other day it was the turn of renowned psychiatrist Professor David Healy to stick his oar in.
In a scathing attack, he claimed that the scientific theory underpinning antidepressants — that depression is caused by a lack of the brain chemical serotonin — has no evidence to support it.
The logical conclusion to his argument is that we shouldn’t be prescribing antidepressants at all.
No, Max Pemberton, the logical conclusion is that you are as ignorant about antidepressants now as you were when you wrote this in 2015.
Bob wrote the stunning post above showing some of those who died from antidepressants.
Sticking Our Oar In, has become a necessity if only to ward off people like yourself.
David, Bob and Oars have rather more experience to stick in…
“As an academic, Professor Healy doesn’t have to pick up the pieces. As a psychiatrist working in the NHS, I do” – really? When he was here in North Wales, Dr Healy was the very one who “picked up the pieces” left by the unsuccessful prescribing of others in the NHS!
I remember one saying to our son ” Dr Healy? ah, yes, – he seems to be handed all the tricky cases that noone else understands doesn’t he!”
An academic – yes, but one who practices what he preaches.
FoxNews July 25, 2022: article on antidepressants with brief mention at PSSD and opportunity to comment
In the same journal in 2020, researchers found that “post-SSRI sexual dysfunction is underrecognized and can be debilitating both psychologically and physically.” Well, that’s kind of a problem, too. If it steals your sex drive, maybe it’s stealing your soul. No, ignore it. Only cult members care.
So, even after you stop taking the drugs, you may be impotent, infertile, violent, but at least the drugs cure the chemical imbalance in your brain that causes your depression. That was the selling point. What a great piece of marketing. You’ve got a chemical imbalance in your brain. You need these drugs and so hundreds of millions of prescriptions every year for these drugs. Well, in what seemed like news to us, last week we learned that actually SSRIs don’t cure a chemical imbalance in your brain.
I became violent when taking and withdrawing from Seroxat. I also attempted suicide. With each pill I took I could hear my children in my head saying, ‘daddy, don’t do it’.
SSRIs like Seroxat do something that basically pauses your survival instinct, they also strip you of empathy.
This is so difficult to prove in homicide cases because a lot of leg work has to be done, a jury of lay people also have to be convinced.
Who could believe that a treatment prescribed by a GP could cause such a heinous act?
Luckily, there are some great law firms out there who will do the leg work. Sadly, they are few and far between.
This popped up in my feed about an hour ago. My first thoughts were obviously drawn to Marilyn’s case
I was introduced SSRI’S dangers while attending an alternative school for emotional disorders about four years before and only a few blocks away from this tragedy. This is the kind of tragedy that just didn’t happen in DuPage County but begins to make sense decades later in the context of our mental health system.