Psychiatry – Friend or Foe?



“Psychiatry : Friend or Foe – The Untold Story of Australian Psychiatry”,  was premiered last night at the Sydney Opera House, hosted by CCHR Australia. It was indeed an eye-opening and compelling documentary. The statistics and reality of the situation are disturbing to say the least. And there is a similar story globally, not just in Australia.

Just a few disturbing facts:

10% of Australians are on anti-depressants.
There are 42,000 deaths from psychotropic drugs- this is 173 times the murder rate!
35 million prescriptions are written annually for psychotropic drugs and $564 million is spent on psychotropic drugs (PBS/RPBS)
$8 billion dollars of tax payers money is spent annually on mental health

No anti depressant is approved for use in kids under 18 for depression. 
358,242 prescriptions for anti depressant drugs are for 3-19 year olds and
21,652 prescriptions are for 3- 9 year olds (both 2012 figures).

In Australia, 49,000 children under 16 are on anti-depressants and of those, 1459 children are between the ages of 2-6 years.

Since 2004, there have been TGA warnings that SSRI’s (the most common type of anti-depressants e.g Prozac, Zoloft, Aropax) can increase the risk of suicide, self -harm and suicidal ideation – but despite this, prescription rates are soaring…

And as reiterated by some great speakers from last night –
There is NO evidence that depression is due to a chemical imbalance or serotonin deficiency. Indeed, the only chemical imbalance is the one that is CAUSED by the drugs! This contributes to the side effects of the drugs and makes it difficult trying to come off the drugs – which for some patients can take years- or indeed, never and for the less fortunate result in dire consequences. As a GP, it can certainly be challenging dealing with mental health issues, especially in the context of 10-15 minute consultations. It is accepted that medications are prescribed to help during a crisis, sometimes to be taken  only for a few months. However, the reality is that they don’t work instantly and then trying to come off the medications can potentially be challenging for many patients .

Sadly, children are the target in current times. There are even Psychiatrists who are starting kids they deem to be at risk (based on what?!) on psychotropic drugs as “prevention”. The power of marketing has and continues to create nothing short of tragedy. If a chemical such as a food additive had such adverse effects, it surely would have been withdrawn by now and made headlines in the media.

So, what is the point of writing about this? Well – if you , or anyone you know is on psychotropic medication, this documentary is definitely worth a watch. Details are on the CCHR website for free online viewing and the DVD’s are also available.

There are other many other evidence – based approaches to improving “mental health” that are safe and  effective- which include  lifestyle factors ( e.g. diet, movement, mindfulness, meditation), numerous therapies addressing emotional/mental/spiritual health and  nutritional and herbal treatments.  Coming off any medications should always be supervised as it can potentially be a very tricky process. But it can be done. Patients should never be bullied into taking drugs by GP’s or Psychiatrists. It is important to trust your intuition– indeed, this is the greatest survival mechanism we have and has enabled our survival on the planet. A mother’s intuition is powerful beyond belief. Emotions are not meant to be suppressed and numbed- but to be worked through. These human experiences, however seemingly positive or negative,  are part of our growth and transformation as a human being.

“There is absolutely nothing to suggest that the standards of health in Australia are being improved by widening rates of prescription of psychotropic drugs” – Dr Niall McLaren, Psychiatrist.