A new assault by a leading psychologist on Prozac-style antidepressants claims they are worse than useless. Try telling that to the many people who believe they are life-savingby John Cornwell / September 23, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
I once saw my friend Stuart banging his head on the floor, weeping, threatening to kill himself. He was severely depressed, incapable of working, sleeping or eating. Yet within three weeks of being prescribed a course of a Prozac-type antidepressant drug, he was beginning to cope again and was back at work. As he got better he made this shocking remark: “If I was offered a choice between cancer and depression, I’d take the cancer.”
Stuart swears by his antidepressant medication, which he took for two years. “It saved my life,” he says. But the effectiveness of such drugs, known as SSRIs (of which more later), has been challenged for two decades. The latest anti-antidepressant blast is one of the most meticulously researched. In The Emperor’s New Drugs (Bodley Head) Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull, claims that SSRIs are worse than useless.
Depression is a devastating illness, causing great suffering in the afflicted and anxiety to their nearest and dearest: it can hit at any age. One in three of us will suffer a form of depression, from mild to severe, at some time in our lives. According to the EU’s public health committee, it is set to become the single most frequently suffered illness in Europe by 2020.