Lynch to meet group to discuss anti-depressants

The minister with responsibility for mental health will meet a delegation concerned about serious side-effects of anti-depressants.

Kathleen Lynch has agreed to meet with former state pathologist Declan Gilsenan, the mother of Shane Clancy, who killed a man and took his own life, psychiatrist Prof David Healy, and a former government minister.

Earlier this month, Dr Gilsenan raised concern about the number of suicides he had seen where the person had recently started taking SSRI anti-depressants. He said in his 30-year experience carrying out postmortems, he had seen “too many suicides” after people had recently started taking the drugs. At Mr Clancy’s inquest, Dr Gilsenan testified there were “toxic” levels of citalopram (brand name Celexa or Cipramil) in Mr Clancy’s blood.

Mr Clancy’s mother Leonie Fennell has been campaigning on the issue since her son’s death. While she said she is aware she may come across as simply “a grieving mother”, she said experts such as Dr Gilsenan and Prof Healy cannot be ignored.

Prof Healy believes there should be compulsory monitoring of patients in the initial period after starting to take the drugs.

He maintains the danger period is generally within the first two weeks.

The Irish-born psychopharmacologist has been involved as an expert witness in homicide and suicide trials involving psychotropic drugs, and in bringing problems with these drugs to the attention of American and British regulators.

He works to raise awareness of how pharmaceutical companies sell drugs by marketing diseases and co-opting academic opinion-leaders, ghostwriting their articles.

Dr Terry Lynch, author of Beyond Prozac, says there is a role for medication for people, but drugs should not be seen as a long-term solution to emotional problems. Dr Lynch said no one should stop taking medication without professional assistance.

The College of Psychiatry of Ireland and the Irish Medicine’s Board recommend monitoring of all individuals who have started on antidepressant therapy.

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