Friday, March 07, 2008

Psychopharmacology

Another story alerting people to the potential dangers of drug treatments in psychological disorders can be read here. It is also due to be aired on television this weekend.

I won't go through all the details as you can follow the link to the article yourself but the basic premise is that adverse effects from anti-depressant treatments can actually worsen the situation. The article claims support from leading doctors and medical researchers but fails to provide any details which makes it hard to give any serious consideration to. It will be interesting to see what the television report covers.

For any readers, there are two important things to take from this article.

Firstly, the words of Professor Gordon Parker of The Black Dog Institute:

"The key thing when a clinician is managing
a patient is to do a cost benefit analysis: is this
drug helping, does this drug have side effects?"

Absolutely. If you're being prescribed medication, any medication, you should be asking this question for yourself.

Secondly, the fact that Australia has typically relied heavily on pharmaceutical interventions in mental illness because psychological assistance has been typically been largely available only to those who can afford to pay for it. Thankfully, recent changes to Medicare have changed that. If you're experiencing problems, make sure you ask your GP about the new psychological initiatives covered by Medicare.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As far as I can make out from the news item, the main academic reference is a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. For anyone interested to read more, it's: 'Selective publication of antidepressant trials and its influence on apparent efficacy', Turner et al, NEJM 2008, vol. 358 pp 252-260. And there was another recent article that got a lot of media attention, 'Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the food and drug administration', Kirsch et al, PLoS Medicine 2008 vol. 5 issue 2.

Health Psych said...

Thank you Anonymous for providing the details. I think the first journal relates to the number of studies left unpublished by pharmaceutical companies because the studies didn't produce positive results for antidepressant therapy.