Margaret’s story

(The story outlined below is authored by 'Margaret'.  Since this was first written there have been a number of developments and an update to 'Margaret's Story' will follow - DH). Our son went to his GP with poor sleep because of worries at work. His doctor said he was depressed and put him on a combination of Cipramil (SSRI antidepressant) and Temazepam (a sleeping pill). A week later he took his … [Read more...]

If Pharma made cars

If Pharma made cars, the seat-belt warning signs would be removed, and the beeping noise if you moved without a seat-belt on would be silenced, as the start of a gradual process that would result in seat-belts being removed or made non-functional. The safety-bags would be removed or made ornamental. The car would be turbo-charged. The accelerator would be re-engineered so that the only options … [Read more...]

Odysseus come home

Odysseus was in his 70s. Coming up to the 50th anniversary of a very happy marriage. He had formerly been a respected professional, a longtime member of the bowling and social clubs – a pillar of the community. He had had minor episodes of anxiety primarily since retirement but no diagnosis of nervous problems. He went to his primary care doctor and was given a sleeping pill for poor sleep but … [Read more...]

The Dram of Eale

They told me the 80 year old man who'd had a stroke must be depressed – he wasn’t rehabilitating properly. Could I see him and look at whether the citalopram he’d been started on a week before needed tweaking? Jeff was solidly middle class, professional. He had never been ill before his stroke and never ever been mentally ill. He had a large loving close-knit family who came to see him every day. … [Read more...]

Homeland security

In the latest hit series Homeland Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison a CIA agent with bipolar disorder taking Clozapine. She takes the drug to prevent herself tipping over into frank paranoia in a world where being paranoid is necessary for survival. Anyone who knows anything about Clozapine knows Claire Danes is definitely not on it – she would not be as slim and svelte as she is if she were … [Read more...]

We need to talk about doctors

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) came into favor in the wake of thalidomide as a method to evaluate drugs and their risks. They were supposed to keep ineffective drugs off the market, but companies have learned that you can do any number of trials and if even some show a marginal benefit they can get their drug on the market and the others can be suppressed so no one has a true picture of the … [Read more...]

Out of my mind. Driven to drink

Author: Anne-Marie (This story epitomizes what is all about. It shows one woman extraordinarily getting to grips with a problem she has on treatment. The hope when is up and running is that we will be able to make it easier for people like Anne-Marie to engage with their doctors to solve problems like this. Unfortunately even though clearly a drug-induced problem Anne-Marie … [Read more...]

Watch where you wave that wand

It was a white wand — the kind a little girl might have. White ribbon wound round a long straw, at the top of which a double pair of white wings was set. Another more delicate white ribbon looped around the wings, to the front of which was fixed a downy feather, and behind which the ribbon was tied in a bow. Crusoe was facing her most difficult patient. A man with manic-depressive illness who, … [Read more...]

Notes on a scandal

In 1996 Zoe Heller, the author of Notes on a Scandal, took part in a widely reported debate with Roy Porter about Prozac. She defended the drug. It had restored her to life. He said today’s miracle invariably ended up in tomorrow’s tragedy and asked, Why is it that we never learn? The story of a schoolteacher who seduced one of her male pupils. In 2003, Notes on a Scandal came out. It was made … [Read more...]

Model doctors?

Another inquest may bring out the risks to doctors from their professional associations behaving as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) or the Irish College of Psychiatry has done (see Professional suicide – the Clancy case). She posed no suicide risk. She was put on citalopram. Yvonne Woodley, a 42-year-old woman with two young daughters, ran into difficulties with her husband. They began … [Read more...]

Professional suicide – the Clancy case

Shane Clancy, a 22-year-old going to University in Dublin, broke up with his girlfriend, Jennifer Hannigan, in April 2009. Despite his having broken the relationship off, he found it difficult without her. She, meanwhile, had found someone new: Sebastian Creane. Shane took a trip to Thailand and Australia, but aborted his travel and came home unhappy. His mother took him to his doctor on July 18. … [Read more...]

Professional suicide

On October 15, 2004, after FDA had put a Black Box Warning on antidepressants to draw attention to the risk that they can cause suicide, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) came out with a news release whose key statement was:    ‘The American Psychiatric Association believes that Antidepressants save lives.” This was perhaps the first professional suicide note in history, but there have … [Read more...]