Antidepressants Being Handed Out Like Candy

There’s an interesting exposé in the London Daily Mail, September 29, titled Critics claim antidepressants are being handed out like sweets…  Thanks to Leonie and Antidepaware on Twitter for the link.

To find out how easily people could get prescriptions for antidepressants, the Mail sent

“…three women of differing ages — all of whom had no current mental health issues — to their doctors, reporting fictional symptoms of mild depression which had lasted for three to six weeks.”

Two of the three volunteers were given prescriptions for SSRI’s without difficulty.  The third was not offered a prescription, but instead was encouraged to exercise and make some dietary changes.

The article points out that there was a 7.5% increase in antidepressant prescriptions in the UK from 2011 to 2012.

The article contains two comments on its findings.

The first comments are from Dr. Des Spence, a General Practitioner from Glasgow, Scotland.  He writes and blogs about “… all the stupid and bad things that medicine does.”  His recent posts include: Saying “no” to Chemotherapy; The Power of Non Intervention; and Get Big Pharma out of Post Graduate Education!

He is quoted in the Mail article as follows:

“The growth rate of antidepressant use is a major concern…We need to acknowledge they are being overused.”  Dr Spence warns that our excessive use of antidepressants is turning us into a country of pill-poppers who are unable to tackle life’s routine challenges.


Dr Spence says Britain must break its dependency on antidepressants so that more people can beat the blues through self-help and therapy.  “People have always talked to others to make sense of their problems,” he says. “People’s sense of well-being isn’t in the gift of medicine — it’s in the support of friends and family.”

The second comment is by Dr. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.  Dr. Gerada was trained in psychiatry, and Wikipedia reports that she cites mental health and substance abuse as her main work interests.

In the Mail article she is quoted as saying:

“The rise in antidepressant use is not as high as people think, …GPs are prescribing them for longer because this has been shown to work better.”

This strikes me as typical of psychiatry’s response to any kind of criticism.  It is obvious that the use of antidepressants has been increasing, and that the increase is causing concern.  In addition, there is abundant evidence that antidepressants are nowhere near as effective as they are claimed to be (here, here, and here), and that long-term use of these drugs leads to a deteriorating long-term outcome.  It is also becoming increasingly clear that the side effects are more serious and more prevalent than pharma-psychiatry’s promotions portrayed.

Incidentally, a similar experiment was conducted in Ireland six months ago by a journalism student, with similar results.  The Irish Examiner covered the story in their article Depressing truth about treating depression in the young.

  • Francesca Allan

    I agree that SSRIs are way over-prescribed but I do think that voluntary patients have some responsibility to research a bit on their own to look into side effects and outcomes and put some careful thought into their decision whether or not to take them.
    As an aside, it was antidepressants that caused me to be mislabelled bipolar. You would think that with an obvious toxic reaction to SSRIs, that a rational physician would STOP the SSRIs. Oh, no, just add lithium and an antipsychotic.

  • Sweet63

    “It is known that modification of serotonergic neurotransmission alters arborization of the dendritic tree of sertonergic neurons. Mice that lack the seronin transport have fewer serotonergic neurons and reduced serotoninergic function and express more behaviors associated with anxiety and depression..”

    This..more needs to be written about this.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in. Perhaps you could give me the source of the quote.

  • Sweet63

    It was in one of your links, on tardive dysphoria.

  • Phil_Hickey


    I suppose we should all take responsibility for what we ingest. But people go to mental health centers and psychiatrists when they are
    at a low ebb, and it can be difficult to resist the pressures to take the pills.

    With regards to the SSRI’s precipitating a manic reaction, I suspect this is more common than is generally acknowledged.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Yes. The alteration of serotonergic function may be the neuronal underpinning for the chronic depression associated with long-term “antidepressant” use. I do plan to write more on tardive dysphoria in the coming months.