Loose Screws Mental Health News

Surprise, surprise — the likelihood of suicide attempts increases with antidepressants.

     “Suicidal patients taking antidepressants have a ‘markedly increased’ risk of additional suicide attempts but a "markedly decreased" risk of dying from suicide, a large Finnish study has found.
     “The research into nearly 15,400 patients hospitalized for suicide attempts between 1997 and 2003 showed that ‘current antidepressant use was associated with a 39 percent increase in risk of attempted suicide, but a 32 percent decrease in risk of completed suicide and a 49 percent reduced risk of death from any cause,’ the authors wrote in a report published in the Dec. 4 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
      “The Finnish study analyzed 15,390 suicidal patients of all ages for an average of 3.4 years. The authors said they did this ‘because previous suicide attempts are the most important risk factor for predicting suicide.’”

I think 15,390 patients is a sizeable, significant study that could probably yield semi-accurate statistics.

      “Among the 7,466 males and 7,924 females examined, there were 602 suicides, 7,136 suicide attempts requiring hospitalization and 1,583 deaths recorded during follow-up. The risk of completed suicide was 9 percent lower among those taking any antidepressants than among those not taking antidepressants.
     “But the picture was not so bright for all those who took SSRIs. It was for those taking fluoxetine (Prozac), who had a 48 percent lower risk of suicide than those not taking medication. But the study found that those taking another SSRI, venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor XR), had a 61 percent increased risk.”

So Prozac is better than Effexor XR in terms of suicidal risk. Nice, considering that I've had a 10-year history of suicidal attempts and this study seems to show that venlafaxine increases the risk of suicide attempts. Perhaps Effexor should be prescribed to those who aren't/have never been suicidal?

     “The drug companies would like us all to believe that they hold the ‘cure’ to psychiatric problems.
     “Don't believe them.
     “Psychiatric meds are… not [the] “cure all that ails you.” As with other chronic conditions… one frequently needs to learn how to cope with psychiatric issues in order to maximize function. … I—along with most of my colleagues—aim for optimal quality of life, not ‘cure.’”

Amen and amen.

  • An article by the NYT highlights the importance of checking — and double-checking — medication received from a pharmacy. The article cites the following information from the Institute of Medicine:

“Medication errors are among the most common medical mistakes, injuring or killing at least 1.5 million people a year and incurring at least $3.5 billion a year in extra hospital costs alone.”

Yeah, um, I'd suggest making sure that you know what you've got before you head home.

     “Perhaps most worrisome is the medicalization of childhood.
     “The real problem with the epidemic of diagnoses is that it leads to an epidemic of treatments. Not all treatments have important benefits, but almost all can have harms.
     “More diagnoses mean more money for drug manufacturers, hospitals, physicians and disease advocacy groups. Researchers, and even the disease-based organization of the NIMH, secure their stature (and financing) by promoting the detection of ‘their’ disease.
     “As more of us are being told we are sick, fewer of us are being told we are well. … Perhaps someone should start monitoring a new health metric: the proportion of the population not requiring medical care. And the National Institutes of Health could propose a new goal for medical researchers: reduce the need for medical services, not increase it.”

Reduce the need for medical services? Like a utopian society, it's a lovely concept, but not likely.

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