What on earth would ME/CFS, Gulf War Syndrome, benzodiazepines and antidepressants have in common? For many years, a group of UK psychiatrists has insisted that ME/CFS is largely psychological and patients can improve with psychological interventions. The ME/CFS community has strongly resisted this. It seems the patients were correct.
A similar argument was made about Gulf War Syndrome. Why would the Ministry of Defence not fund further research?
Patients like myself who have been damaged by benzodiazepines and/or antidepressants are being given spurious diagnoses such as medically unexplained physical symptoms, CFS, somatisation disorders (psychiatry) etc. Yet, we know we have sustained some sort of biochemical damage even if we cannot prove it. Just as ME/CFS patients know how they feel so do those of us with neurological damage from prescription drugs. Perhaps tests could be conducted on us. I doubt anyone will want to do that, at least not in the NHS anyway.
It is over 30 years since brain damage from benzodiazepines was suspected but strangely enough no further research was done to follow this up. The one dedicated benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic run by Professor Heather Ashton was closed down.
The BMA, RCGP, RCPsych and other medical bodies have called for a UK-wide helpline for prescribed drug dependence. The UK Dept of Health refuses to fund this because there is insufficient evidence of demand. Yet there are millions of patients being prescribed drugs of dependence. Would a helpline reveal the scale of the problem?
How many patients were taken off benzodiazepines and simply transferred onto antidepressants? We may never know. Just as we will never know how many patients have died or been seriously damaged because of benzodiazepines. Nor will we ever know how many patients have died or been seriously damaged because of antidepressants.
Perhaps successive UK Governments have made sure that we will never know.