Feminism and mental health - The drugs don't work

(442 Posts)
dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:13:12

Two articles in the New York Review of Books, reviewing a number of new books, which argue variously that SSRIs are almost no more effective than placebos (a fact that drug companies have covered up) and more worryingly that the marked increase of disabling mental illness being recorded may in fact be caused by the drugs being prescribed:



"The number of disabled mentally ill has risen dramatically since 1955, and during the past two decades, a period when the prescribing of psychiatric medications has exploded, the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness has risen at a mind-boggling rate. Thus we arrive at an obvious question, even though it is heretical in kind: Could our drug-based paradigm of care, in some unforeseen way, be fueling this modern-day plague?"

I was aware that the so-called chemical imbalance that supposedly causes depression was a piece of made up speculation by unscientific doctors, but these articles and the books they are reviewing spell it out clearly.

This is a feminist issue how? Well women are the majority of people who are diagnosed with depression, so if the drugs that are being used on us are ineffective or even damaging, that is extremely concerning.

There's also plenty to say about the sexism of the psychiatric profession which I'll come back to tomorrow. I also think the profession's incompetence and their misogyny are linked.

snowiceslush Tue 22-Jan-13 18:01:19

I was prescribed seroxat for my depression. I often queried a placebo effect. I decided that I no longer wanted to take AD's and came off them. I did not do it gradually and it was hellish. (Cold turkey effect I guess). I felt quite ill because of that but was determined that I no longer wanted the medication in my system. I now refuse all medication and have learnt to live with my depression.

"This is a feminist issue how? Well women are the majority of people who are diagnosed with depression, so if the drugs that are being used on us are ineffective or even damaging, that is extremely concerning." --- I agree totally. It is extremely concerning.

Seabright Sun 20-Jan-13 23:07:56

Yes, but Xenia's answer to any problem on any topic is "go to work and earn a fortune". Because there are stacks of enormously well paid jobs out there for anyone who wants them.

Or maybe there aren't, and that's a bit depressing too.

strawberry17 Sun 20-Jan-13 19:27:29

From my own experience, I wouldn't say the drugs are "addictive" as in you don't crave more and more, but, they are bloody hard to get off of, and the withdrawals are debiliating, and the medical and psychiatric professions have no clue, and I think the chemical imbalance theory and is a myth, no one has ever measured any chemicals in my brain before prescribing a drug. It's all very well dishing them out so readily but where is the help to get off them?

abitcoldupnorth Wed 16-Jan-13 18:40:35

and I have children and also work.

but I agree with a lot of what Xenia says about diet/being outside.

Sunnywithshowers Wed 16-Jan-13 17:53:41

Xenia I've been seriously depressed and have never had children. It's not exclusively the preserve of SAHMs.

Xenia Wed 16-Jan-13 16:47:50

1. For some people they do save lives. Don't come off them without medical

2. Depression is caused by balance of chemicals in the brain. All that stuff about dopamine and seratonin levels was not made up by some m ade scientist.

3. However those things can get to stable levels through eating good foods, exercising, being outside. Now the increase in depression rates has mirrored people moving to very processed diets full of sugar and not exercising. That is as likely to have caused the rise than prescriptions to people who are not really properly depressed.

4,. i take nothing ever just about. Never even been on the pill. Never just about have a head ache pill and I think the more people who can manage without any drugs of any kind the better.

5. I always advise a quick return to full time work as I went back in 2 weeks each time full time and it has been an absolutely wonderful balanced life just like men have. Chain yourself to the sink and babies bottoms and of course you're depressed.It's dull unpaid and boring which is why men with more sense don't want to do it. Housewievs were on the gin in the 50s, then poppers (?) or various drugs, sometimes now cocaine and still a load of alcohol and many the more modern anti depressants. Go to work, earn a forutne, have a good life and leave men to clean the loos at home.

ecclesvet Wed 16-Jan-13 16:01:00

I had a bit of a shock when I saw that dittany had posted a new thread! This is an old thread!

abitcoldupnorth Wed 16-Jan-13 15:38:58

I think it is relevant. I've been on and off ADs since having children, and think that to some degree having my children has caused my depression.

I think one of the feminist angles is how ADs keep women 'in their place', ie happy to serve/nurture, when perhaps they'd be happier doing something different.

Back2Two Wed 16-Jan-13 15:04:04

Guilty of not having read the entire thread (especially the bit where it went weird!) but still wanted to comment:

Firstly, from ages up thread:
I have to say that regardless of 'effectiveness' these drugs are addictive. I had been on them for most of 15 years, and 'crash' horribly into severe depression whenever I come off them. I have heard of the same reaction from countless other people, yet the medical and psychiatric professions maintain that these drugs are completely non-addictive.

To me that sentence doesn't make sense as, if you look at it conversely it means that the drugs DO work. The pattern described does not necessarily reflect an addiction or dependence for the medication... It may just as well prove the efficacy of the medication. There is no claim that ADs "cure" depression/anxiety etc. they are a treatment.

I also think that research into the effects of use/long term use/age of starting hormonal contraceptives is really worthy looking into. Especially within the context of mental health issues. After all, some of them "kid" your body into thinking it's pregnant all the time. And, messing with hormones is messing with personality.

ADs saved my life. Placebo effect? No way on the planet? But...what messed it up in the first place? Dysfunctional family, mother's alcohol use, familial abuse, my own alcohol use, my own drug use or being put on the pill as a teenager.... .Or having children?

If I am addicted to ADs it is managed well, stable and safe. My children have a happy "present" mother and I am happy and living my life. I am grateful for what the medication has done for me, but I can still question the events that led to me being depressed in the first place.

Sorry, i'm just thinking that my post isn't massively relevant within the feminist perspective debate but I do find the thread very interesting.

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 12:21:56

*This is a feminist issue how? Well women are the majority of people who are diagnosed with depression, so if the drugs that are being used on us are ineffective or even damaging, that is extremely concerning.

There's also plenty to say about the sexism of the psychiatric profession which I'll come back to tomorrow. I also think the profession's incompetence and their misogyny are linked.*

Wow, interesting thread. Coming back later to have a proper read.

Message withdrawn

sparky246 Thu 30-Jun-11 20:51:37

this is a very interesting thread-i wanted to join in before but i felt too ill.
anyway-i have a question-
its been mentioned about councellors/therepists who are feminists but-
im wondering how would this work?
im thinking this because since there is a lot of wrongness round us-how could this better things?
yeah ok-it might make us feel better about ourselves or understand ourselves better but i feel that its other things that need changing not us.
maybe when someone feels better about themselves ect-the problems are still around arent they!so how could this work?

queenbathsheba Wed 29-Jun-11 16:42:50

I was on the pill from 17 to 26 yrs. During that time I probably visited the GP more than at any other time in my life. For stress, felt low and tired. Just been reading that there is evidence to suggest that the pill can cause fatigue.

Message withdrawn

Stropperella Wed 29-Jun-11 13:38:54

I certainly wish there was more investigation of the negative side-effects of hormonal contraception. The increased use of the IUS has a lot to answer for, I reckon. There are certainly many women who have had very unpleasant MH experiences after having a Mirena inserted and doctors often do not want to even consider the idea that the Mirena might be the cause of depression and anxiety. There is also (IME) a certain amount of pressure put on women to have an IUS put in during a termination.

Ormirian Wed 29-Jun-11 10:59:21

BTW my last post was with ref to surviving abusive relationship versus stopping them happening.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Jun-11 10:57:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kalidasa Wed 29-Jun-11 10:49:03

I'm new on here - excellent thread and very interesting articles. (I had already read a review of one of the books, and have seen similar summaries elsewhere, but the combination was interesting.) To return to the point about hormonal contraception and the possible link to increased rates of depression - does anyone know of any studies on this? I feel quite strongly that although the pill evidently remains an emblem of liberation for women of my mothers' generation, the negative side-effects of hormonal contraception is a major feminist issue, much neglected.

SardineQueen Wed 29-Jun-11 10:02:43

electra "I know for certain that they make me feel incredible, warm, fuzzy and so confident"

Well on day 8 of my first ever round of SSRIs I can confidently say that I know what this feeling is - I feel as if I am on a low dose of Ecstacy all the time. I looked at the possible side effects and they include all the things that can happen when you take pills.

Seratonin is seratonin I guess and having more of it in your brain whether through illegal drugs or prescribed ones is all the same.

It feels very odd to think that a vast amount of the adult population in the UK is "feeling better" in the same way a person would if they took a very small amount of an illegal drug. Weird. And surely not good for you confused

Ormirian Wed 29-Jun-11 09:52:54

I have athsma. I mostly control it with medication and exercise. But I would rather not have to. Perhaps research into prevention isn't neccessary because people manage to live with it?

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 23:06:54

I'd say thunder and lightning but I'm blaming bad weather on the patriarchy right now ...

You people are amazing. grin

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 23:03:30

When shall we three or four hundred meet again?

Message withdrawn

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 23:00:47

I'm off on my broomstick, good night everyone

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