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Medicine United States

Are Psychiatric Medications Hurting More Patients Than They Help? (scientificamerican.com) 432

An anonymous reader quotes Scientific American's Cross-Check blog: Two new posts on this website have me contemplating, once again, the terrible possibility that psychiatry is hurting more people than it helps. Reporter Sarah G. Miller notes in "1 in 6 Americans Takes a Psychiatric Drug" that prescriptions for mental illness keep surging. As of 2013, almost 17 percent of Americans were taking at least one psychiatric drug, up from 10 percent in 2011, according to a new study. "Antidepressants were the most common type of psychiatric drug in the survey, with 12 percent of adults reporting that they filled prescriptions for these drugs..."

This increase in medications must be boosting our mental health, right? Wrong. In "Is Mental Health Declining in the U.S.?," Edmund S. Higgins, professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, acknowledges the "inconvenient truth" that Americans' mental health has, according to some measures, deteriorated...

It's all more evidence of something their blogger wrote in 2012. "American psychiatry, in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry, may be perpetrating the biggest case of iatrogenesis -- harmful medical treatment -- in history."
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Are Psychiatric Medications Hurting More Patients Than They Help?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:39PM (#53508783)

    Let's ask APK...

    • The headline, as is far too comon for /., is incorrect/misleading/clickbait. If it was corrected to read:

      Is overprescription of psychiatric medication as is done in the US harmful?

      then the answer is a pretty obvious "yes". Many (most?) other countries use therapy first and medication only as a last resort. In the US its medication, medication, money, medication, money... sorry, got the two a bit mixed up there.

  • by Alsn ( 911813 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:41PM (#53508805)
    In happiness charts, Denmark continues to score the highest while they also have the highest prescription rate of antidepressants in the world.

    Not saying Denmark is some shining beacon of mental health but the problem is quite simply harder to diagnose than to correlate psychiatric drug prescriptions and mental health stats. More serious studies are definitely needed.
    • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:50PM (#53508881)

      Maybe it's because in Denmark, you can go to school and get a stipend on top of it. Also, there isn't a race-to-the-bottom with wages. Also, there is a social and medical safety net.

      And bars don't close at 1am like they do here.


      "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

      • by Alsn ( 911813 )
        You're on to something, of course. However, my point was that things like these are way more complicated than what the title/summary suggests. You can't just take two articles that *seem* to contradict each other and conclude that the contradiction must be true. It is entirely possible (and I'd argue likely) that the problem is much more complicated than that.
      • Maybe it's because in Denmark, you can go to school and get a stipend on top of it. Also, there isn't a race-to-the-bottom with wages. Also, there is a social and medical safety net.

        And bars don't close at 1am like they do here.


        "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

        This shows again a COMPLETE lack of understanding mental health. Sure there is a social component. But the drugs are not meant to deal with that. That's what therapy is for. Drugs are used to mitigate a lack of certain neurochemicals in the brain, a PHYSICAL condition. Without a proper balance of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc., normal everyday functioning can become impossible. The main issue is when MD's without psychiatric training started prescribing these drugs. "Try this and come back in two weeks" can work with a rash, but not with mental health. Finding the right drugs titrated at the right dosages requires direct interaction between patient and doctor, and probably therapy to understand the social and mental effects of the underlying physical issues.

        • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @04:58PM (#53509613) Homepage

          Sorry to burst your bubble but neurochemistry is really at the 'try this for two weeks and come back to see me'. Even if you are a Board Certified (TM) psychiatrist. We really are at the very beginning of understanding what the brain is doing and how to modify it.

          The situation is much more complex than TFAs suggest - 'psychiatric health' is a pretty vague and shifting target. Depends on your culture, your role in society, your age, your financial situation, your sex, the sex of the idiot sitting next to you, who is president and much more - including your genetic and epigentic makeup. If you are a creative type, you might want to feel a wider breadth of emotions than if you are flying 747's. This doesn't even begin to approach the questions of what goal does 'psychiatric health' have for the society. The powers that be might want everyone on an emotional zombie program. The hoi polloi not so much.

          G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate anyone?

          Any mental health professional will tell you that the meds don't work all that well. But they do work. People who really did need to be institutionalized before the advent of antipsychotics are out in the community. It's not entirely clear that this helps them or the community but the drugs are arguably doing something useful.

          Using broad brush numbers like the amount of antidepressant prescriptions and trying to correlate them with other broad brushed studies using vague and varied methodologies and trying to say anything intelligent is a fool's errand.

          • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @06:39PM (#53510167)

            I have the Harvard Guide to Psychiatry DSM IV (I need to get V). I had to get it for some sort of bearing on peculiar grad students I kept running into. For awhile, I thought I was a strange attractor. Then I came to the conclusion that academia is simply more accommodating to oddness than business world, so it accumulates a wider variety of "clientele".

            Anyhow, it quickly becomes clear that one person with symptoms doesn't have entirely this condition or that condition. Rather, they pick from a smorgasbord of conditions. So each case is different. Add a bit of time for them to water and feed their conditions (and they do), then they get rather full-blown oddness. Some have learned to do bank shots off the reactions they generate in other people. These are difficult cases to handle because they are working you but you still feel sorry for them.

            The best psychiatry can do with drugs is try this or that combination in the hopes of hitting the magic one for the oddball in their office. And then the oddball's physiology is changing over time due to age, diet, or just general physical drift. So what works one year might not work the next. The easiest to deal with are those with an identifiable condition like hyper or hypo thyroid. Few are ever this simple.

          • 'try this for two weeks and come back to see me'

            100% true. My wife has been diagnosed with postpartum psychosis 5 years ago.
            She spent 2.5 years in a clinic, trying new medication every 3 weeks or so. I've seen dozens of symptom you don't want to see, especially not on a young woman who happens to be the mother of your child.
            Somehow, her 4th psychiatrist managed to find the right combination, very possibly thanks to sheer luck. My wife's now perfectly healthy and we're a happy family.
            I still cannot believe i

        • Drugs are used to mitigate a lack of certain neurochemicals in the brain

          The effect of drugs in treating depression is part of the evidence used to support the neurochemical imbalance theory of depression. However, there is some debate as to whether the success of drugs in treating depression is the result, primarily, of the placebo effect. [nih.gov]

          Yes, some of this is probably the result of poor matching of patient to drug/dosage and/or over prescription by under qualified GPs.

      • 1AM?! Dear god I'm sorry. I haven't even been to a bar in years, but I can still REMEMBER my twenties and bars that stayed open past 4.
      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Yup, alcoholism is surely the path of sanity.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:19PM (#53509031)

      More serious studies are definitely needed.

      No more studies are necessary. The answer is perfectly clear: Bacon. Those Danes produce lots of it! Even the venerable "The Economist" takes note of that:

      "Denmark is a tiny country, with 5.6m people and wallet-draining labour costs. But it is an agricultural giant, home to 30m pigs and a quiverful of global brands. In 2011 farm products made up 20% of its goods exports. The value of food exports grew from €4 billion ($5.5 billion) in 2001 to €16.1 billion in 2011. The government expects it to rise by a further €6.7 billion by 2020." http://www.economist.com/news/... [economist.com]

      All that happiness-bringing bacon cancels out all those depressing, but brilliant, Lars Von Trier films.

      Not saying Denmark is some shining beacon of mental health

      Not saying Denmark is some shining bacon of mental health


    • by jemmyw ( 624065 )
      Denmark also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

      I lived in Denmark. It's a nice place, but it's not filled with overly happy people. My belief is that they've used their tax and welfare system to bring up the happiness of the worst off. That's probably a good thing. But in your socioeconomic strata the people there aren't experiencing a greater daily joy. There were some quite negative aspects too, definitely some racism and superiority problems.

      I also had anxiety while I was living in Denmar
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:52PM (#53508887)

    “From a pathological standpoint, the incipient twenty-first century is determined neither by bacteria nor by viruses, but by neurons. Neurological illnesses such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and burnout syndrome mark the landscape of pathology at the beginning of the twenty-first century. They are not infections, but infarctions; they do not follow from the negativity of what is immunologically foreign, but from an excess of positivity. Therefore, they elude all technologies and techniques that seek to combat what is alien.” Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society

    • Oh stop. That's almost a word salad obfuscating as insight.

      Mental issues - depression, anxiety, what we know call PTSD, psychosis, personality disorders have been carefully characterized as long as humans have been scratching things down in writing. Much of our history really is a testament to how screwed up humans really are.

      Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.
          - George Santayana

  • What will it take (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Allsup ( 987 ) <.oc.puslla. .ta. ... aitram.elytsoom.> on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:52PM (#53508891) Homepage Journal

    The truth the medical fraternity face is that many have had their lives ruined by the drugs they religiously believe in. The 'evidence' rests on a mire of untested and flawed assumptions (in particular the premises of the statistical methods used to relate data to conclusions: many of which cannot be justified unless the possibility of and influence of complex brain behaviour can be safely ignored). The clinical psychology fraternity, and a number of 'maverick' psychiatrists are, more and more, putting across why mainstream 'medical psychiatry' has much wrong. But this is all too easily swamped by billion dollar marketing machines, lobbying and selective sponsored trials which have a habit, like 'proven by science' infomercials, of showing the sponsoring company's products as better than others.

    • by Shane_Optima ( 4414539 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:32PM (#53509109) Homepage Journal
      The single biggest influence on the state of psychiatry today is moral conservativism and other assorted panderings to popular culture and the law. Their desire to stay profitable and respectable in mainstream society long ago destroyed any real credibility they had as a serious hard science.

      Pretty much every highly effective anti-depressant ever made (including but certainly not limited to opioids and dopaminergics) is a scheduled substance and almost never prescribed for depression, because apparently every single human being alive is just a helpless addict just waiting for the chance to swallow twenty pills at a time chasing a high. SSRIs have abysmal efficacies, but that didn't stop them from pushing the placebo revolutionary drug Prozac to being one of the most prescribed drugs in the country. A lot of people are still under this weird impression that antidepressants work by re-establishing some natural balance of neurotransmitters present in "normal" people, when there's every indication that this is not the case. (FDA is partially at fault here allowed pharma companies to put out some ads that strongly implied this was how SSRIs worked.)

      And it's not as if modern antidepressants aren't addictive; like many psychotropic drugs, SSRIs and SNRIs induce physical dependency with potentially severe withdrawal symptoms [wikipedia.org] if abruptly terminated.

      No, the actual difference between modern antidepressants and "addictive" drugs that actually make you feel good is... the latter actually work. Consistently and compellingly. And it's for that very reason that they are deemed dangerous. Drugs that are highly effective in enabling human happiness work better at higher dosages (which is how dosage increase works among most drugs that are actually effective, if you think about)... which of course leads to massive problems among the subpopulations of people who have poor impulse control or are overly euphoria-craving.

      And all of this plays directly into the hands of religious and social conservatives who have for millenia made careers out of claiming that anything that people like too much must be bad. You'd think that more people would be suspicious of a profession claiming to be a science that was, just a couple generations ago, trying to chemically castrate people against their will to cure them of their homosexuality... ah well.
      • One other thing interesting to note about modern psychiatric medicines: they generally insist that you take it daily, instead of taking it only when one's symptoms are especially severe. This aversion to symptom management and emphasis on sustained chemical dependency as the best approach to managing even psychiatric illnesses that have infrequent, transient symptoms is... interesting to behold.

        The main exception here is probably for panic attacks among those suffering from anxiety disorders, and these
        • It's not like you can take the medication and build up to the desired level in one day.

          BTW, antidepressants such as Wellbutrin [addictionblog.org] are not controlled substances, not even schedule 5 (lowest classification).

          • It's not like you can take the medication and build up to the desired level in one day.

            Apply that sentence and its implicit logic to literally any other medical condition we prescribe drugs for and I think you might detect a bit of absurdity there.

            BTW, antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are not controlled substances, not even schedule 5 (lowest classification).

            Did you mention that because I didn't exhaustively cover all of the non-SSRI/SNRI drugs? Most of my criticisms apply to other classes of drug as well, with sometimes the caveat of "semi-effective, but with horrible side effects (...that discourage "abuse", and thus result in it remaining unscheduled.)"

            Wellbutrin is, incidentally, vulnerable to be

        • Little issue of metabolism of drugs requiring consistent dosing schedules to get consistent drug levels. Yep, Xanax is an outlyer - most psychotropic drugs have a longer half life and slower onset of effect. Thus, you take them for a while on a regular basis.

          Physics can be a bitch sometimes.

          • Little issue of metabolism of drugs requiring consistent dosing schedules to get consistent drug levels.

            This is almost exactly what Barbara just said. Weird. Uh, well, this is just restating the issue, and not responding at all to my point.

            Even with a transient anxiety problem a psych will generally recommend that someone develop a daily SSRI dependency rather than treat it episodically with the drugs we have that *do* work episodically. Because those drugs are the big, bad scheduled ones. (Well, schedule 4.)

            • And those SSRIs have *horrible* efficacy vs. moderate to severe anxiety, whereas the immediate action drugs have excellent efficacy.
        • One problem with taking them when things are especially bad is that when you're depressed you may not have the motivation to get out of bed and take your pills.
          • That doesn't seem be a good argument for a daily pill, particularly not if the withdrawal effects are (as they often are) anxiety or depression.
            • "If you don't take it regularly you may not be physically able to take it when you need it." isn't a good argument?
      • Explain then, please, the little problem that most of the scheduled "mood altering agents' require higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Escalation in doses that eventually run into the deleterious side effects of the drugs. Remember ALL drugs are poisons.

        While you post has some measure of truth - there is certainly way too much moralizing being done at the governmental regulatory level for drugs - the FDA didn't just pop out of no where. In the early 1900's you could get heroin, cocaine and a

        • Explain then, please, the little problem that most of the scheduled "mood altering agents' require higher and higher doses to get the same effect.

          Only when that "same effect" is a rush. They give Ritalin and Adderall (very similar to meth, btw) to millions of kids at a constant dose, without escalation.

          Remember ALL drugs are poisons.

          Along with salt [wikipedia.org], water [wikipedia.org] and oxygen [wikipedia.org]. Yawn.

          Drug addiction is a truly awful disease.

          While it's not an easy habit to kick, it's precisely this medicalization as "a disease" is a major problem. And even if it were a disease, the cure we're currently peddling is surely worse.

          Give all those poor opioid addicts buprenorphine tablets. Not just for detox, but for life. (Buprenorphine displaces a

    • Other than marketing and lobbying, you described how science works. Results gradually get accepted, and are hard to replace. Marketing and lobbying are part of Capitalism, take it or leave it. And poorly selected study groups are common to both incompetence and greed. No surprises there.

      Prozac set back depression studies by 20 years, because it seemed to be a solved problem. Mavericky researchers had an uphill battle to prove it wasn't.

      Currently, deep brain stimulation is laughed at, while researchers can t

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:53PM (#53508895)

    This story only made it to Slashdot's front page in order to out the members of Scientology on the board! They're coming to get you!

    Ok maybe not.

    For the first time in ages, the related links beneath the summary are actually... related.

    The ones at the bottom of the comments still aren't though...

  • I don't know a single person who has taken these drugs and come out better in the end. Usually they feel better short term, then go off the deep end along with their personality completely changing.

    • I know a single person who is much better off taking drugs

      She has bi-polar II, which can ruin people's lives if not treated. While some of the drugs have awful side effects, the alternative is much, much worse.

      • I am a single person who says otherwise.

        I had mild depression and bad OCD and other issues like fatigue or rather narcolepsy. After a bad breakup with an exgf and stuck in a job I was not too found of a doctor prescribed me Celexia or Citaprolom.

        My genitals became numb within 72 hours. I was told it takes a few weeks don't worry side effects. So I continued. I became forgetful at work and couldn't remember simple things. I started drinking and spending thousands on my credit card. I quit excersizing and dev

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      I do know of one, my sister. There, ironclad anecdotal evidence.

  • Is there any study showing that life today is more -- or less -- stressful than life decades ago? These days, it seems like both parents need to work in order to have enough money to raise kids. Further, the kids need to do more extracurricular activity to get into a good college, which means the parents spend more time driving around.

    To be clear, that is just my observation. I have not done an objective study to measure stress. I just don't think we should blame the medical industry until we've ruled ou
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @02:59PM (#53508939) Homepage Journal

    (1) Suicide rates -- In the US I think the increase in suicide rate is likely attributable to increased firearm ownership. There is no evidence that I know of that indicates that the increased level of gun ownership presents an increased risk to others -- in fact the rate of firearm homicide has gone down (along with most other violent crimes). But suicidal impulses -- which are very common -- plus a handgun in your pocket... that is a very dangerous combination.

    (2) Rate of DoD PTSD rising -- likely to have to do with the influx of veterans from three wars (Gulf 1 & 2 + Afghanistan), plus a higher survival rate from severe physical trauma.

    (3) Rise of opiate abuse -- coincides with the appearance of new prescription drugs and more aggressive prescribing of pain medication.

    (4) Rise in disability awards -- conflated with a drive to recognize mental disabilities as on a par with physical ones.

    At my age I've lived through many a moral panic, and this feels like the beginnings of one. Which is not to say mental illness doesn't cause real suffering, or that we shouldn't make it more of a priority. But what we need are more evidence-based approaches. Unfortunately we seem to be headed in the opposite direction. [npr.org]

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @04:26PM (#53509415)

      (1) Suicide rates -- In the US I think the increase in suicide rate is likely attributable to increased firearm ownership.

      Suicide rates are up in many OECD countries [static-economist.com] over the last 10 years, many of whom have strict restrictions on firearm ownership. Several countries which ban or restrict guns have higher suicide rates than the U.S. [oecd.org]. Also, it's predominantly males in the U.S. who opt for suicide by gun; females usually try to overdose or slit their wrists. Yet the ratio of male to female suicide rate [wikipedia.org] is practically the same for the U.S. (3.73), UK (3.77), Germany (3.54), France (3.22), Spain (3.73), and Italy (4.0). Suggesting that guns are merely a tool of choice among male U.S. suicides, not an enabler of higher suicide success rates.

      The U.S. is more diligent about collecting this sort of data and making it available to the public. So global trends tend to show up sooner in U.S. data sets. Not because the U.S. is special or atypical. Most of the OECD suicide stats I was able to find still date from 2011. It took quite a bit of searching to find that chart of suicide rates in non-U.S. countries up to 2013.

    • In the US I think the increase in suicide rate is likely attributable to increased firearm ownership

      The number of households with at least one gun is down. The number of guns in the average gun-owning-household is way up.

      So in terms of causing suicide, access to firearms is down because there are fewer households with a gun. However, the suicidal person with access to a firearm has more to choose from.

  • "The Church of Scientology - brains washed 24/7. Don't forget to ask for your rundown purification coupon book - of $50 value!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:18PM (#53509021)

    Whereas once upon a time it was quite normal in society for everybody to drink alcohol regularly, nowadays it is unfashionable to be an alcoholic so psychiatric medications have taken over.

    A hundred years ago, if I had anxiety I would just drink booze to get over it. Now I take Paxil. Not only am I spending a lot less money (because a single pill costs less than a bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer), but I can safely drive a car, and I'm not an asshole to my family.

    You may also notice that it seems every other kid is on some medication for ADD/ADHD. Why? My guess is that it's because we can't beat them anymore. Now that it's no longer socially acceptable to hit children who act out we have to medicate them instead.


  • by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:18PM (#53509023)

    This piece is written by a kook who frequently writes [scientificamerican.com] on various "spiritual" and pseudoscientific topics. Among his recent posts:

    Seeing the Miracle of Existence in the Darkest of Times
    Does Evolution Have a "Higher Purpose"?
    Astrophysicist Says Experiments Might Soon Reveal Dark Matter's "True Nature"
    What Would a Machine as Smart as God Want?
    My Doubts about Deepak Chopra and the Monetization of Meditation
    World's Smartest Physicist Thinks Science Can't Crack Consciousness
    The Mind–Body Problem, Scientific Regress and "Woo"
    Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More

    True to form, this article's point is a passive-agressive claim based on absence of evidence:
    "Like most psychiatrists, Higgins does not consider the possibility that medications might be contributing to the decline of mental health."

    Actually, I'm sure most psychiatrists HAVE considered this possibility, and they follow the peer-reviewed evidence which concludes the opposite.

    If anyone wants to argue with this scientific consensus, they are welcome to do their own peer-reviewed studies. But this article and its sources haven't.

    • by Phics ( 934282 )

      Psychiatric medicine seems to rely on a lot of trial and error, to see what works and what doesn't. The problem compounds as soon as multiple medications are used. Differences in physiology and the nature of the disorder, including factors such as incorrect or incomplete diagnosis seem to lead some unfortunates down the wrong paths, where the presumed illness is incorrectly treated. For example, some personality disorders, such as BPD, can't be effectively treated with medication at all, and must be tack

    • Um doctors get their information from drug salesmen. There are psychiatrists who do not like SSRIs as no one really knows for sure how they work.

    • FWIW, I'm a linguist (more in computational linguistics these days, but reasonably well based in several theories of linguistics). So I read his two articles about Chomsky. I can't speak to the other articles, but his articles on Chomsky make a lot of sense, and seem accurate enough.

      I'm not qualified to pass judgment on most of his other articles (and I've only read a handful), but his article about the consciousness problem seems reasonable: https://blogs.scientificameric... [scientificamerican.com]

      So I'm not sure it's justifiabl

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:19PM (#53509033)

    "Antidepressants were the most common type of psychiatric drug in the survey..."

    Last two times I've visited my general practitioner I was given a "new" form to fill out that essentially tried to convince me I was depressed; I was visiting for a cough and my yearly physical, neither of which had fuck-all to do with depression, but they sure as shit were trying like hell to get me on medication for it.

    We have the same industry to thank for the opiate/heroin epidemic as well. How fucking ironic the drug pimps addicting America are marketed to "help" us. Perhaps it's time we actually start putting health over profits.

  • In the past, most mental health issues went unreported and untreated. The availability of medication is one of the many factors increasing the number of people who come in for diagnosis. If you're schizophrenic but there are no meds for it, who's going to bother taking you in to a doctor? People used to just seal up their mentally ill relatives in a back room of the house for life and try to forget about them. But when there are meds, that drives people to seek treatment and be measured.

    We've also increased

  • And my financial advice from vines.
  • Series of tubes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjukfan ( 2730687 ) on Sunday December 18, 2016 @03:54PM (#53509225)
    You know when a non techie talk about the Internet as a series of tubes? This is one of those times but about psychiatric meds.

    First off, of course it's wrong if you take meds so you can handle the stress of two full time jobs or assume you can just take a couple of pills and your depression will be gone.

    But for most people out there with a psychiatric condition meds and therapy (and some more therapy) is a life saver. The meds will remove some of the symptoms so you can live an almost normal life while therapy helps with the cause for them. A depression is nothing like feeling a bit under the weather, a panic disorder does not go away with a gluten free diet, and grave OCD is as easy to just hold in as Ipecac [youtube.com]
  • It's rare these days that Tom Cruise doesn't get a listing in the credits..... except on /. apparently.
  • by scourfish ( 573542 ) <scourfishNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday December 19, 2016 @10:30AM (#53513393)
    I suffer from anxiety and depression that runs in my family. I used to be afraid to enter a building if there were other people in it, this invisible wall kept me from doing things I enjoyed, and I would often feel worthless, despite having a decent lifestyle with what could only be described as first world problems. Anxiety attacks that felt like either a heart attack or this sense of impending death occured almost every day. These do not occur due to some sort of emotional trigger. I tried exercise, eating healthy, and relaxing. There was some benefit, but nothing that stopped the anxiety attacks. Sertraline has been life changing for me. I'm able to go outside, I'm less nervous in large groups or around strangers, and I'm more accepting of both my gifts and my shortcoming. I haven't had an anxiety attack for years. I don't miss having one. The only major side effect is that I have to pee a lot, and I get nauseous if I miss a dose, but I'm willing to make that trade off. I wish I could go back in time and reclaim 10 more years prior to starting zoloft. I recommend that critics of psychiatric medication watch Stephen Fry's "The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive" or listen to the experiences of people who rely on those medications before making blanket statements of "useless" or some conspiratorial claim.

Of course there's no reason for it, it's just our policy.