Thursday, September 20, 2012

As an aside.

It's all in your head?

It's probably obvious by now that I studied Psychology during my time with the Ivory Tower. Over the last five years, partly as a byproduct of my having dropped out, I've becoming increasingly critical of how the Psychological and Psychiatric professions treat drugs.* The more research you do on chemicals we routinely see prescribed to teenage and child patients, the more you will discover that something absolutely horrible is going on.

As a culture, we pretty routinely place our trust in the corporate drug companies that manufacture and synthesize the compounds that given out to aid others. The only problem with this is that some of these massive corporations are not to be trusted. Gordon, in his What the Duck Saw post in the Apocalypse Pharmakos series quotes the Science Delusion on Prozac, for example:
For example, in several clinical trials, the antidepressant drug Prozac had slightly more effect than the placebo, and was licensed for use, resulting in annual revenues to the manufacturers of more than $2 billion. But was it really better than a placebo? Perhaps not. Although the trials were double-blind, Prozac has some well-known side effects, such as nausea and insomnia. Both patients and clinicians might have realised who had received the Prozac and who the placebo by noticing these side effects, or their absence.
This is called ‘breaking the blind’. Once some people realised they were receiving the real drug and others realised they were getting the placebo, the placebo would have become less effective, and hence Prozac would have seemed more effective by comparison.
In a study in which doctors and patients were asked to say whether they had received the real drug or the placebo, 80 per cent of the patients and 87 per cent of the doctors were right, as opposed to the 50 per cent that would be expected by random guessing.
However, in several other clinical trials, Prozac was no better than the placebo. One reason could be that in these trials the patients had less experience with antidepressants and were less able to recognise the side effects.
However, the drug company, Eli Lilly, did not publish the results of unsuccessful trials, which were revealed only because an independently minded researcher, Irving Kirsch, managed to obtain the data using the US Freedom of Information Act.
He found that when all the data were taken into account, not just the positive results published by the manufacturers, Prozac and several other antidepressants turned out to be no more effective than placebos, or than a herbal remedy, St John’s wort, which is far cheaper.
Ironically, the suppression of the data showing that Prozac was no better than a placebo probably helped to increase its effectiveness as a prescription drug, because doctors and patients had more belief in it, thus enhancing the placebo response.
This situation is spread across multiple companies and multiple drugs. Some of these drugs work and some of them, quite simply, do not work. Further complicating these matters is the fact that some of these drugs share more than a bit of similarity (e.g. they have only a few differences in the their atomic structure) from drugs which are illegal. More and more anti-depressants, hypnotics, etc., are “buffered” to make them a non-addictive form of a drug that remains illegal. Plenty of them, incidentally, also remain addictive.

Thus we end up giving buffered cocaine, altered amphetamines, and a ton of other crap to teens and kids whose neurological pathways are still being formed. To suggest that this might have long-term side effects on their cognitive abilities and thought processes is not understating matters.

If you're mentally ill, and you have average or above average intelligence, it is very advisable that you learn the basics of neuro-chemistry. Why? So when you're prescribed a drug, you can ask precisely what it is doing to your brain and its attendant biological chemicals, and make sure that you're not about to be turned into a social zombie by a high-powered hypnotic.** Sure, it may ease your anxiety or whatever, but it's hardly conductive to healthy living. Or, you know, living at all.

It's not just smart: with the way the current Psychological and Psychiatric fields are going (we'll probably see a repeat of the problems they felt in the 1960s and 1970s in the next two decades) and their dependence on the legal drug corps, it's pretty much necessary.

* It's also probably a byproduct of having read too much of the works of the anti-Psychiatry movement, and way, way too much Foucault. I began doing that while still in school, however.
** Asking these questions may also annoy your Psychiatrist or prescribing doctor (in the event your GE is responsible for prescriptions versus a Psychiatrist. I won't get into my complaints there. Paxil given to kids by GEs and shit. Fuck. My brain explodes with rage). Plenty of medicinal practitioners become annoyed when people start telling them about what they read on the Internet, etc. When I worked for a doctor's office, it was a constant complaint. So, be warned.

1 comment:

Rose Weaver said...

Excellent post! Asking what you are being prescribed is wise. Further, asking about any possible interactions with any other medications you are currently taking, as well as herbal supplements, etc, is also highly encouraged.

I wrote my blog about Serotonin Syndrome for this very reason. What you state about the drug pushers within psychology today (to paraphrase) is incredibly true, and most don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, the issues of these drugs when used with other medications which also act on similar chemicals and receptors in the brain.

Serious problems can arise. To say permanent problems can be caused with cognitive functioning is an understatement. It is highly likely, especially if other medications are currently being taken.

What is worse is the prospect of losing one's cognitive ability to recognize what is happening all together, therefore increasing the possibility for causing harm to self, or others.

While you are correct many are ineffective taken alone (for many individuals), taken in tandem with other medications, it's like playing Russian Roulette.