I came upon a friend’s posting of someone else’s rants against prozac.  Fluoride was the work of the Nazi’s and Bush is behind all sorts of bad things.  It was, in essense, a variation of a sentiment against medicine.  There are neoluddites, people who are against modern technology, and there are people who are against modern medicine.  No matter what the medicine is, they have a problem with it somehow, and it stems from a luddite basis.  As I read the rant, I was exposed to poor reasoning, poor research, and all sorts of problems.  I had to say something back.  Problem is, I’ve had no sleep, just got off work, and am on my second big glass of beer.

I can’t remember the stats, but about fifteen years ago I was told by a professor that something like 80% of kids said to have ADHD are misdiagnosed. At the time the manual was the DSM-III.  Not the topic of your post, but the point he made was one in responsibility in parenting.  They, the parents, didnt’ want to be told to pay attention to their kids, but demanded a pill to fix things.

Prozac’s history isn’t as neat as the post describes.  I’ve read the history of Prozac, though some years ago, and have it different than what is written here.  The DSM-IV-TR is years ahead of the last revision, and a new revsion is in the works now that is making more changes.  Big improvements from the last to the current edition is much more empirical research on varsious clustering of disorders and the presentations thereof instead of arbitrarily assigning values to conditions.  Many major criiticisms by some in the anti-pharmacology camp stem from the many weakness of the ‘medical model’ of psychology predominant in the DSM-1, the DSM-II, and the less so in the DSM-III.  Current psychopathology incorprates a more ecological approach and so much has been learned in the past ten years on a variety of fronts.  Nobody sitting in a cafe will know these advances unless they were reading current research.  I am very excited about the upcoming DSM-V.

When depression is spoke of it is important to classify which type.  As everyone knows, humans get sad and in the dumps and so forth.  But when speaking of a disorder, one must say whether it is dystymia, an abnormal affect, major depression, major depression recuring, bi-polar (which so many people believe themselves to have but are sorely wrong… manic episodes are truly scary), and etc.  When dealing with depression one has to take into account a lot of things.  Unfortunately, the prognosis for major depression is so so… with medication being a big help for severe cases.  For bipolar disorder (and I mean true bipolar and not someone who merely thinks he has it) it is unlikely that recovery will happen save for medical treatment.  We aren’t talking about people with bad days or a mood… we are talking about people with severe shifts in brain activity, from the affective disorder of a full scale depression to a full blown mania. 

There are many factors involved in these (and other) disorders, among them genetics, social, personality, and environmental cues.  Take two people with equal genes (twins) and equal settings (a beer party) but with different personalities and one might have a higher RISK of developing into an alcoholic.  A simple example.  When looking at twins studies there is a big link, genetically, in the predisposition to depression.  Take two people with same social setting and same general personality traits, but give one with a family history of Major Depression Disorder, and this person is at a higher RISK of developing depression.

As to medical companies making a dollar.  Yeah, they do it.  It’s a touch ethics question to crack and one for people to wrangle over.  However, I dispute pretty much everything listed in the post.  The videos were ent4ertaining, but if you were to summarize it all into a paper and turn it in, the professor would look at you and ask for some sort of references of a credible scientific sort.  Whereas there are plenty of counselors who use other methods before drug treatments, such as Cogntive Behavioral Therapty, for treatments, therea re many many studies that show prozac as good for some instances, bad for others, and no effect on others.  The research is out there, tons of it.

I am not defending prozac.  I am defending science.  Whether prozac lives or dies I could care less.  But current psychology is science and it is impartial to the political whims of various constituents, some of who want medical marijuana, some who don’t, some who are for drug treatments (for what is the difference between a pill and a cup of coffee?) and some who are against it.  Yet first and foremost is the guidelines that direct sceintific inquiry.  While I am sympathetic with the theories stateed, I must disagree with the entire method, logic (finding the premises lacking and not necessarily leading to the conslusion), and the academic backign dubious at best.

We overmedicate in all areas of life today.  First, what is wrong with medication.  What if there was a wonder pill (bear with me here) that gave people calmness, clarity of thought, and the ability to behave more humanely.  Good idea right?  This is an ethics question.  Second. Just as we, the western world, is possibly overmedicated, we are also on average overweight.  Who’s fault?  Some blame to the pushers of burgers, or pills, but some to the people who eat them, or dont want to hear that they have to live life and grow, but instead want a pill to make them happy.

Not all mental disorders are just moods.  What of schizophrenia?  Autism?  and others?  If we can find a pill to help these be more ‘normal’…. AND if, as many people on the anti-drug bandwagon say, are our mental health is a matter of degrees… what is wrong with a ‘normal’ person taking a pill to be a ‘better person’?  If there is something wrong with it, but not wrong with the autistic taking a pill to lead  normal life… and the person subscribes to the degrees view of mental health… then there is a problem here somewhere.

Good night… and good luck.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s