Do antidepressants really work?
The jury is still out on this, yet that very question is like asking if blacks commit more violent crimes than whites—regardless of the evidence, it’s offensive. How can you possibly shame and stigmatize someone for trying to help themselves, you sick fuck?
You can’t. By nature, questioning the effectiveness of antidepressants will result in the most voracious emotional rebuttal possible, but while the shame-game goes back and forth, the DSM-V adds another two hundred pages in its attempt to pathologize life’s every whim.
Quoting this statistics-nerd’s antidepressant breakdown:
Saying “Serotonin treats depression, therefore depression is, at root, a serotonin deficiency” is about as scientifically grounded as saying “Playing with puppies makes depressed people feel better, therefore depression is, at root, a puppy deficiency”.
Despite that, and despite antidepressants barely beating a placebo in studies, if you’re an adult and you’re informed, go for it I guess. But what if your 12-year-old son or daughter came home with a bottle of antidepressants?
Yes, 12-year-olds can be put on antidepressants, and even younger children can be put on amphetamines.
They can also be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 12, a disorder previously diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 25, and put on antipsychotics.
When I was 12, my friends and I tied a dead lizard to a bottle rocket and threw water-balloons at cars. I’m sure there’s a drug to stop kids from doing that, but the point is that without a strong diagnostic, there’s a drug for everything, and the side effects are devastating:
The charmingly named Cascade, Kalali, and Kennedy (2009) investigated side effect frequency in a set of 700 patients on SSRIs and found the following:
56% decreased sexual functioning
49% weight gain
19% dry mouth
The first and most staggering statistic is 56% decreased sexual functioning, and I’m tempted to call that 'birth control'.
In fact, I was sent down this pharma rabbit hole because of it. Four years ago I took an antidepressant for a week and couldn’t ejaculate no matter how hard I tried; what was probably the best 30 minutes of my girlfriend’s life was the worst and truly most depressing three days of mine. I haven’t taken them since, and I got out early, because there are reports of people losing their ability to orgasm indefinitely.
So who’s being diagnosed? According to this graph, about 1 in 10 Americans are taking an antidepressant:
Broken down, non-Hispanic whites are three-times more likely to take one than the next demographic:
Let’s get back to that thing about 12-year-olds having bipolar disorder.
Enter [Dr. Joseph Biederman]: a full professor at Harvard University and child psychiatrist who earned his residency at the Hadassah Medical center in Jerusalem (cough), whose work spearheaded the 4000% increase in the diagnosis of Bipolar from 1994 – 2003, and according to this New York Times article, pushed ADHD down our throats as well:
Dr. Conners called Dr. Biederman “unequivocally the most published psychopharmacology maven for A.D.H.D.,” one who is well known for embracing stimulants and dismissing detractors. Findings from Dr. Biederman’s dozens of studies on the disorder and specific brands of stimulants have filled the posters and pamphlets of pharmaceutical companies that financed the work.
Those findings typically delivered three messages: The disorder was underdiagnosed; stimulants were effective and safe; and unmedicated AD/HD led to significant risks for academic failure, drug dependence, car accidents and brushes with the law.
It’s extra ironic that JoBieds seems to think prescribing amphetamines will reduce the risk of drug dependence…
Moving on, Old Biederman got caught when failed to disclose the $1.6 million he received in consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies, but that didn’t take the wind out of his sails. This is from a followup New York Times article:
In a contentious Feb. 26 deposition between Dr. Biederman and lawyers for the states, he was asked what rank he held at Harvard. “Full professor,” he answered.
“What’s after that?” asked a lawyer, Fletch Trammell.
“God,” Dr. Biederman responded.
“Did you say God?” Mr. Trammell asked.
Shut… It… Down.