The images, which are a wonderful metaphor for the coming back to life, the restoration of emotions and senses that stopping an antidepressant can bring, comes from this news item – its worth clicking on the video link
There have probably been more posts about withdrawal from antidepressants – especially if PSSD is included as a legacy effect of these drugs – and certainly more comments on these posts about withdrawal from hundreds, perhaps thousands who are affected, than there are about anything else on RxISK. See Complex Withdrawal.
Trouble is while some come back to life, finding their emotions and senses restored, which can bring its own problems, many others, maybe even most have a terrible time with withdrawal.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, NICE and the NHS are now falling over themselves to acknowledge the issue of dependence on and withdrawal from antidepressants. See An Enemy of the People.
But it’s still a minor problem you realise. Most people can get off these drugs no problem – and will have the wonder of having a hearing aid turned on for the first time – but there might just perhaps be a very few people who end up having more problems than we figured. You can’t blame us though for missing these if most people don’t have much of a problem. And it would have been a mistake to put a lot of people off good treatments just because a small minority have problems.
Let’s not mention the fact that we had no problem putting a lot of people off good treatments when a small minority had problems coming off benzodiazepines – and the patents on these drugs had coincidentally run out – and there was no risk of a legal actions from pharmaceutical companies desperate to replace the now to them worthless benzodiazepines with a set of SSRI goldmines.
Right at the front of the campaign were the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK and the American Psychiatric Association in the US running campaigns for industry like the Defeat Depression campaign telling doctors they really needed to stop treating the superficial symptoms of anxiety with dependence producing benzodiazepines and treat the real disorder, depression, with antidepressants which didn’t cause dependence.
Malcolm Lader was to the forefront of these campaigns – telling doctors that benzodiazepines were a worse problem than almost anything else, while Buspar and later SSRIs were wonderful. His platforms were provided by the makers of Buspar – very similar to the SSRIs – and later the makers of the SSRIs.
It was easy to get youngsters like me swearing that, unlike the benzodiazepines, there was no risk of addiction from antidepressants when we put people on them.
Neither I nor any of the other youngsters knew that within 3 years of being on the market, there were more reports of dependence on or withdrawal from paroxetine than there had been in the previous 20 years from all benzodiazepines combined. We didn’t have the gumption or interest to check.
If I had known then what I know about regulators now, I’d have been rightly alarmed at the British regulator’s circulars noting they were getting reports of dependence on paroxetine – which SmithKline were later able to pass off as the cause of the reports. Yes you read that right.
It took a non-doctor, Charles Medawar, to outline the scale of the problem in The Antidepressant Web. In 1997, the other people trying hard to raise the profile of the problem – when doctors weren’t – were those good folk in Eli Lilly who were running adverts about the dependence producing effects of paroxetine and sertraline – citalopram and venlafaxine were not much competition at that point.
Still Guideline Bodies and professional organisations denied there was a problem.
By 2004 there had been a class action about dependence on paroxetine – in the United States – that GlaxoSmithKline “resolved”.
The Guideline Bodies and professional organisations continued to deny there was a problem.
There were regulatory hearings in the UK triggered by a series of Panorama programs and the US legal actions. The language in the labelling of the SSRIs changed from claiming these drugs were not addictive to mentioning discontinuation reactions.
The Guideline Bodies and professional organisations insisted there was a problem.
Back in 2005, a man with no background in health, Graham Aldred produced a model that made it clear that by then 90% of those taking antidepressants were taking them chronically. This had to be primarily because those who stay on antidepressants over a month or so can’t get off them,
The only thing that has changed since then is that a growing proportion of people are on antidepressants – close to 15% of the population now. This is not because we are putting more and more people on these drugs – we aren’t. The same number go on them each year. The figures come from the fact that a growing number of the population can’t stop the medicines they are on.
When they try they feel terrible and for years they ended up being quoted in newspapers as people who believe that antidepressants have saved their lives.
We now have young people seeking assisted dying for Treatment Resistant Depression – see Do not go Gently – which is code for dependence on antidepressants.
By 2019, the BMJ were featuring studies about Declining Sex in Britain – and blaming depression for this. Severe depression does get in the way of us making love but this is a rare condition and very few of the people put on SSRIs should be having any problem making love – if it weren’t for the SSRI. This group of people never had any problems when they were on Benzodiazepines. If over 10% of the population are taking SSRIs, then 20% are likely not making love the way they would like to.
So is the recent turnaround because of some marvellous campaigning efforts? Is it because someone up there has realised we have a public health crisis or that when youngsters seek assisted dying that something needs to be done? Nope and nope.
There is nothing being done now by anyone that is better or more effective than what was being done 20 years ago. The difference now may be that the companies want to get rid of the SSRIs the way they once wanted to get rid of the benzodiazepines.
The worry is that the SSRIs will end up so effectively demonised, that just as with the benzodiazepines it will become difficult to give them to the (few) people who may be helped by then. Not much of a worry to those who have been injured by them – except if we don’t get to grips with this dynamic we are just going to repeat it.
Trust may be the most important thing in healthcare. While we have grounds to distrust individual doctors or others we meet in a hospital, and might end up distrusting doctors as a body when faced with White Coats closing ranks, we are in a very difficult situation if we end up distrusting the system completely.
One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that right to the end we get on the trains, figuring that someone somewhere in the system will recognise that a mistake has been made and will put things right. Life wouldn’t be possible if the System were completely out of control.
Rather than face the truth about SSRIs, for the most part over the last 30 years people have accepted there must be something wrong with them as people, they must need antidepressants the way a person with diabetes needs insulin. The media have forced us into these corners by spinning myths and refusing to acknowledge problems and on this front the media are getting worse not better – being increasingly willing to brand any talk of treatment hazards as Fake News.
In Germany and Poland and Ukraine in the 1940s it was still possible to take to the woods. There are no woods to take to now when something goes wrong after you’ve been injured by a drug or a vaccine – when you need help from some part of the System. There are few options other than staying on the train. Once put on a drug and things go wrong, particularly an antidepressant, your medical records are marked and anything you say will be viewed through the prism of the number tatooed there – it might as well be on your wrist.
The only answer to this problem has to come from the people who have a duty to be trustworthy but who have been anything but. Its pointless to insist on our rights. The Schindler question is whether they can still be shamed by their duties to us or will they figure their duties to the System come first.
As Behind the Scenes lays out, most decent doctors are simply not aware how utterly compromised is the evidence they depend on and so are unlikely to take our side. Medical Schindlers are probably just as rare as they were Schindlers were in the 1940s.
When a youngster, likely a decent one, who has knowledge born from experience, Thomas Stockman, thanks the Royal College and NICE and others for all they have done to raise awareness of the hazards of dependence on antidepressants, it really does feel as there is little to be gained from working with the system. The next generation of decent young medics are as likely to be hoodwinked as we were 30 years ago.
Last week I got given out to by someone for not jumping to and writing a legal report on a nasty adverse event on treatment this person had – one that can definitely be caused by the drug in question and likely was in this person’s case but there was no input from a lawyer telling me what the case was and even if there had been in this case a legal action would be almost impossible to win. A lawyer’s input is critical to know if there is any realistic legal avenue and also to assess whether they are one of the 9 out of 10 lawyers who are just in the business of taking someone’s money rather then actually getting somewhere – in which case my time would be better spent with people wondering about seeking referrals to Dignitas.
The person ended up accusing me of a lack of empathy and asked whether I was advocating they go down an illegal rather than a legal route.
An illegal route is definitely the way forward. English was not this person’s first language – by illegal I do not mean breaking the law but rather taking a route other than the legal one.
John Gill came to the same conclusion a while ago after a bad encounter with the health services in California. He seems to have known from the start that a legal action was pointless – other than to provide material for a book that would be a very public shame to all those involved. The book is overlong partly because he tries to explain the lunacies of the mental health system to people who’ve never encountered it. But it does provide some very satisfying moments that readers of these posts will enjoy – probably feeling a touch guilty at the enjoyment.
Medicine is supposed to be about providing hearing aids to a baby like the one who opened this post. Supposed to be about bringing as much joy out of difficult situations as possible.
It shouldn’t have to be about the Black Joy that comes from reading The Mind Doctor or another book that featured here some time back This Present Madness.
We will soon be opening up Samizdat Health Writers Co-operative for anyone who wants to turn to illegality or illicit joy.