Medicate less and meditate more > So said a wise healer and it is certainly a philosophy worth considering at a time when doctors are failing to warn millions on antidepressants about their potential side-effects. These include nausea, anxiety and insomnia.
This nationwide alert follows a study* which found that the majority of those on these pills are never warned about the harm they can cause.
As this Blog has been warning for years, antidepressants potentially have hidden side-effects, can be addictive and there is no guarantee they work. This undermines the principle of informed consent, which is essential if patients are to make a proper assessment of the harms and benefits.
The chairman of the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence, said: “Doctors are unaware of the potential harms of antidepressants and fail to communicate the risks to their patients“.
No help for antidepressant addiction
Shockingly there is no specific support for people dependent on prescription drugs, despite the resources spent on those who abuse illegal drugs.
If you don’t want to take antidepressants, there are many alternative treatments you can try. In fact, unless your depression is very severe, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that antidepressants should not be your main treatment.
NICE suggests that before prescribing you medication, your doctor should recommend exercise or a talking treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and Tonic’s style of hypnotherapy. Also don’t dismiss simple ideas such as laughing and hugging
Clutching at straws?
However, dumping your pills as an act of faith in favour of talking therapies is unwise. According to a study by researchers at Sheffield University, talking therapies – hailed for the best part of a decade as the solution to the over-medication of depression and anxiety – can do more harm than good for some patients if they’re misapplied, or of poor quality.
The fact is doctors do not know if the different types of treatment are better or worse for different disorders. In the world of evidence-based medicine, researchers are increasingly trying to move beyond just ‘what works’ to ‘what works, for whom?
“Here is a scary thought. The British use more antidepressants than almost every other country in the Western world“, says a Tonic therapist. “Safer alternatives are needed. But talking therapies are far from an exact science and it is only recently that the phrase ‘evidence-based therapies’ has entered common parlance. In other words … if it works, prove it!
“From Tonic’s perspective we make two points. Even if they fail to work, there is no evidence that talking therapies can cause harm if implemented as complementary treatments. Secondly, whatever the arguments, we believe treating the cause rather than the symptoms is far better than any pill. That is why talking therapies are proving so effective“.
Footnote > * The report was carried out by the University of Roehampton. It was carried out on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence.