Sadly I no longer have any sort of love for the NHS and I cannot see how it is sustainable. The corruption by the pharmaceutical industry is, I believe, causing more harm than good and in the case of antidepressants, the medical establishment turns a blind eye and has done for many years, with absolutely no thought or concern for the unknown numbers of patients thus harmed.
I don’t often cry, but I am crying now. I wrote this on David Healy’s blog.
It has been the deepest sense of betrayal I have ever in my life experienced, the betrayal by the medical profession, the profession I worked with for 20 years. I understand why I was prescribed drugs, I even understand why they were prescribed for many years unnecessarily, though that does not make it right or acceptable. What I will never accept is the fact that a succession of doctors have sat opposite me, lying to my face, knowing full well that my health has been destroyed by drug withdrawal, not from antidepressants but from a benzodiazepine, that well known horrendous phenomenon of benzodiazepine withdrawal. GPs, psychiatrist, neurologist .. they lied to me or pretended not to know .. after years of training at public expense they pretended not to know. I will never trust a doctor again as long as I live, I will avoid doctors now as far as is humanly possible, I will dissect their every word and will probably disbelieve every one. I no longer expect them to protect me, in fact I fully expect them to harm me at the earliest opportunity. The hell and torture I endured for three years, never seeing a doctor, will stay with me forever. It was beyond imagination. I have been offered no empathy, no apology, no concern. I have finally been given a full acknowledgement that I have been harmed but I had to fight for four years to get it. I campaign every day and I witness the appalling behaviour of leading psychiatrists in this country. They have deliberately set out to mislead the public in the press, no apology for or retraction of the letter in the Times. I watch RCPsych churn out their biased slogans on Twitter refusing to engage with harmed patients. I witness the silence from RCGP who has now blocked me. With every week that passes it becomes more intolerable. But what is certain is that patients know exactly what is going on, we are not fools, far from it. Our politicians now know exactly what is going on. The online community knows, the press knows, the information is being circulated to the US, Canada, Australia, and yes I have been in touch with the New York Times, two years ago. And we will keep spreading the word about British psychiatry wherever we possibly can until we are heard and patients are given the help and support they need to recover from the devastation and destruction of their health and their lives. I have nothing better to do, my life is already destroyed, I have plenty of time, I can do this every hour of every day, until something is done. My life is over …and those who could have helped did nothing. It was not how I had planned to spend my retirement, far from it but every day I spend my time helping distressed and suicidal patients, suffering from drug damage, whilst those with the power to help and who pretend to be concerned about patients do absolutely nothing to end this appalling devastation of human life. I make no apology for my passion or my mission. But it is not I who should be doing this, it is not the prescribed harmed community who should be doing this. I speak for the very many patients who have no voice so badly damaged they dare not, they cannot speak, they remain in the shadows, silent, suffering. This is what has been done. How utterly shameful.
Benoit Mulsant (Toronto, Canada) Roy Perlis (Harvard, USA) Erick Turner (Oregon, USA) Andrea Cipriani (Oxford, UK) Michael Ostacher (Stanford, USA)
Last night, I listened with interest to the discussion of the Lancet meta-analysis being broadcast live. I was very keen to understand the perspectives of the psychiatrists involved, however, I doubt they will be wiling offer the same courtesy to the many members of the prescribed harmed community, those patients damaged by the very drugs being discussed. I was first struck by the complicated graphs that were presented on the slides, and then by the discussion of statistical significance versus clinical significance, numbers needed to treat, the arbitrary nature of some of the categories used, how these would be used in clinical guidelines and so on and so forth. It all seemed so very cold and detached as these highly paid academics, and clinicians, all male and white, debated the pros and cons of this extensive study of clinical trial data. Yet as a former researcher myself and someone who would spend days, weeks or months also poring over statistical data, I can appreciate their single-minded approach to their work. I however was cut off from my own emotions due to the drugs I was being prescribed. And so, I studied the medical profession for many years, the nature of their work, their contractual arrangements, their job satisfaction, the stress they had to endure and so on and so forth. I did however interview them to try to understand better their points of view. But at the end of the day, what did I really understand about the nature of their work .. very little it would seem given what I have learned over the past few years. But I am not a doctor, so perhaps it is not all that surprising that I could not quite grasp the nature of their professional world. I knew it in theory of course, but that is very different from lived experienced and authentic understanding.
As I continued to listen to Cipriani and his guests, I noted the contrast with the discussions in the online withdrawal support and campaigning groups and the differences could not have been more stark. There, the discussions are full of emotion as we share our feelings of betrayal, the destruction of our lives, the loss of hope and the duplicity of the pharmaceutical companies, the medical establishment and indeed individual doctors. At the end, I felt that the gulf between these leading academics on YouTube and the online patient community is probably so great that we have little common understanding whereby we might bridge the gap. We quite simply live in completely different worlds, however much we might strive to find a way to bridge the gap. Indeed, the prescribed dependent and harmed community was not once mentioned in this lengthy YouTube discussion despite all the publicity, controversy and interaction on Twitter, following the publication of the Lancet paper. Perhaps these issues do not impinge to any great extent on those in the cloistered world of academia.
Patients have tried extremely hard to engage with leading psychiatrists via Twitter with little or no success. How else are we supposed to engage? I have asked Prof Cipriani to answer a fairly simple and straightforward question re figures quoted in The Times newspaper on 22 March, just as I have asked some of his influential colleagues at RCPsych but I have received no response. The article stated:
“More than a million extra people should be offered antidepressants after the largest study of its kind concluded that they worked, experts have said. Patients and GPs must not be squeamish about treating mental health problems with drugs, according to scientists who found that every one of 21 common antidepressants was better than a placebo.”
“About two million people in Britain are thought to suffer from depression, yet studies suggest that only a sixth get the help they need. About 65 million antidepressant prescriptions are written in England each year, a figure that has doubled in a decade. This has led to concern about use of the drugs, which cost the NHS £267 million in 2016. Andrea Cipriani, who led the latest study, said: “Undertreated depression is a huge problem and we need to be aware of that. We tend to focus on overtreatment but we need to focus on this.”
It would seem therefore that only 333,330 patients are receiving the treatment they need for depression. Yet, official statistics show that over seven million patients are being prescribed antidepressants in England alone and almost one million in Scotland. If Wales is included, the total figure must be around nine million. So why are all these patients taking antidepressants if only 333,330 patients are receiving treatment?
Perhaps the two million refers to people who are suffering from moderate to severe depression as this was the focus of the Lancet paper. Are most patients on antidepressants for mild depression perhaps or for other mental health conditions or pain? It just seems odd that antidepressants are so widely prescribed, yet it is thought that GPs and patients are “squeamish” about treating mental health issues with drugs. If in fact patients are willing to seek help and to consume drugs for milder depression why would they be so very reluctant to do the same for moderate to severe depression?
I am still hoping someone might be able to enlighten me but I doubt they have paid the slightest attention to my questions, after all I am only a patient whose life has been entirely destroyed by a lifetime on prescription drugs of dependence, including almost every antidepressant ever brought to market including tricyclics, MAOIs as well as the more modern SSRIs., with no informed consent.
The Psychiatric Times has published a very welcome article which recognises the value of the online prescribed dependent, withdrawal and harmed community which offers extensive support to sufferers in the absence of appropriate help from the medical and other health care professionals. The online community is in fact doing the job that should have been done by the professionals who prescribe drugs of dependence but they seem to be largely unaware of the immense difficulties associated with drug withdrawal or perhaps they simply wish to turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by the drugs they are so willing to prescribe. There is nothing new in this, after all it was patients who raised the alarm about benzodiazepines here in the UK, many decades ago and it is now widely accepted that the patients were in fact correct.
I cannot put into words the immense pain and suffering I have endured because of the denial by various doctors, GPs and consultants, that I have suffered iatrogenic harm, having consumed a benzodiazepine and various antidepressants for nearly 40 years and tapered too rapidly off the benzodiazepine. In my case, there is no doubt, it became obvious fairly quickly that this was indeed what had happened. I had not been hit from outer space by some mysterious bolt of lightning, I had merely tapered too quickly from a highly addictive prescription drug which I had consumed for nearly 40 years. Indeed, prescribing guidelines state that these drugs should be prescribed for no more than a few weeks, because of the well-known adverse effects.
Yesterday, I read about yet another young woman, Amy Dynan, age 19, now disabled after being given the HPV vaccine, I have read many similar accounts. The disabilities often include having to use a wheelchair. Reading the small number of readers’ comments at the end of the article made me wince with pain, dismissing the potential link between the vaccine and the resulting disabilities as if it was too outrageous even to contemplate. The Daily Mail was criticised for publishing such rubbish. I too posted a comment outlining what has happened to me, it seems that many readers did not like it and gave it the thumbs down. This is the level of cruelty that those of us damaged by pharmaceutical products have to contend with. Families and friends turn against the damaged person, disbelieving them, after all the doctors, the professionals, say it isn’t true, they cannot possibly be wrong, can they?. In fact, they say it is chronic fatigue syndrome or some such other manufactured diagnostic label. If only we, the patients, tried harder, we would recover, it is really all in the mind of course. And many of us are extremely vulnerable and we may well start to wonder if really, after all, it is our own lack of morale fibre and willpower that is keeping us ill and so the psychological and emotional torture is once again intensified. Meantime all those who point the finger of blame can carry on with their lives, self-satisfied that they are so much stronger … until maybe it just happens to them, and yes it can even happen to the very professionals who inflict the cruelty in the first place, knowing full well that the patient, the person in their professional care, is indeed pharmaceutically damaged but far better to focus on their lack of willpower and motivation, or imaginary psychological/emotional problems than to admit that this is actually the case.
“Some 25 million Americans have taken antidepressants for a decade or more, and withdrawals from the popular drugs may be keeping many of them from weaning off. ”
“Withdrawal symptoms closely mimic depression itself, meaning that few many Americans who struggle after quitting antidepressants wind up back on them and in an endless cycle of drugs and depression symptoms.”
“In February, a large UK study proclaimed that the drugs work, with 60 percent of its respondents reporting that they saw a 50 percent improvement in their symptoms within two months of taking the drugs. Yet, even that overwhelmingly positive study found that 80 percent of people who were prescribed antidepressants stopped taking them after a month.”
‘Instead, there needs to be a much more even-handed approach to the effects of the drugs, not just antidepressants, which often harm people more and are real difficult to get off of, more than any illicit drug,’ says Dr Cohen, ‘and the effects can last a year, or two, and sometimes even appear to be permanent.’