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Are Psychiatric Medications Making Us Sicker?
By John Horgan , Scientific American

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Crown 2010), by the journalist Robert Whitaker, is one of the most disturbing, consequential works of investigative journalism I’ve read in a long time. Perhaps ever. Whitaker has persuaded me that American psychiatry, in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry, may be perpetrating the biggest case of iatrogenesis—harmful medical treatment–in history. I’m even more impressed by Whitaker’s research and reasoning after hearing him speak at my school, Stevens Institute of Technology, on February 29. He is the kind of science journalist who makes me proud to be a science journalist. I’m thus printing here a modified version of an article I wrote about Anatomy last fall for The Chronicle of Higher Education. I also urge you to check out Whitaker’s Psychology Today blog, where he addresses his critics.

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6 comments
 
My opinion is yes they are! They are a Suppression to our conviction's that we must face in life. Or for the layman, the situations that are presented to us that we must deal with and face, in order to understand ourselves and live a fruitful life?
 
We can expand this question (in my opinion) to the world of Big Pharm
 
Yes the psychiatric medications are making us sicker and we have a culture that increasingly triggers mental illness. Without some proposal for caring for people the author of the article appears to be advocating a "kick-em-to-the-curb" policy. The frequent references to the "taxpayer" in an article purportedly about psychiatric care might suggest a different agenda than patient well-being.
 
+Andrew Toskin Good points. I also have concerns about a study that tracks "newly diagnosed" mental health patients of any stripe. Anybody familiar with mental health treatment in practice as vs. paper can tell you that the first diagnosis is frequently followed by a second, third and fourth.

Short term observational studies are suspect in my book.
 
I'm currently using parts of 'Anatomy of an Epidemic' for a paper I'm writing & in that process backtracking Whittaker's references to scientific research. The study of 64 newly-diagnosed patiens referred to by Hogan in his article, is actually a fifteen year long study, published in 'The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease' [ 2007].

It is not just Whittaker who suggests 'that the medications may be making some patients sicker', the study shows that during the fifteen year period, the recovery rate for patients on antipsychotics was between 5-7% & 20-40% for patients off antipsychotics.

Although Harrow is reluctant to conclude that drugs worsen long-term outcomes, he admits it is a possibility. He also says that the data from the study is overwhelming & that not all shizophrenics patients need to be on antipsychotics all their lives.

Whittaker then procedes to double-check Harrows findings with a number of other studies conducted since the 60'es. [p.115-120 - A paradox revealed]. Source documents on shizophrenia are listed here: www.madinamerica.com/2010/04/schizophrenia/
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