‘No plan’ for those who want to come off anti-depressants

Mainstream medicine is “vehemently defending” anti-depressants which may in time been seen as addictive and troublesome drugs and will not have the same level of use as they have now.

Limerick-based Dr Terry Lynch, author of the controversial book Beyond Prozac, told the Irish Examiner that just as the medical profession had admitted that benzodiazepines were addictive and harmful in some cases, he believed the same could happen with commonly used anti-depressants known as SSRIs.

Dr Lynch said he had dealt with several cases where people were trying to withdraw from the tablets.

“It is common for people to experience withdrawal symptoms. People find it very difficult to come off the drugs and it is not supported in society. Doctors don’t support. They don’t want people to come off them and there is no plan for people who do.”

Dr Lynch, who also trained as a psychotherapist, said he only took people off medication when he was satisfied they could cope.

“I put a plan in place and they feel supported and I only do it when I am certain the person is ready.”

Dr Lynch said, because of the medical approach to mental health problems, there was “huge enthusiasm” for drugs, but when major problems in terms of addiction ensued later, there was no safety net for people who were stuck with it.

“It happened with barbiturates years ago and with amphetamines and now particularly with benzos. Because the addiction was initiated by the professionals through prescribing, I think there may be a certain amount of guilt and avoidance of the issue within the profession because of it.”

Dr Lynch said the core problem at the heart of the mental health system was the way people’s problems were interpreted.

“If doctors are convinced that the problem is biological, they are going to continue looking for a biological solution.

“It would not be uncommon for a psychiatrist not to recommend counselling or psychotherapy because they feel the person is not ready for it. The long-term use of medication without a focus on recovery is highly questionable.

“There is clear evidence people can recover and this should be the focus — instead the focus is on maintenance.”

Dr Lynch said the theory of a “chemical imbalance” was simply a lie, and a reason given to legitimise the widespread prescribing of pills.

“Drug companies learned a long time ago the way to sell their drugs is to persuade the medical profession there is something wrong.

“The only thing SSRIs have been demonstrated to do is to interfere with the uptake of serotonin between brain nerve cells.

“We have no idea if that is a good thing or a bad thing, what normal levels should be in the first place, so no idea what abnormal levels are. It’s a great story and a great way to sell the idea.”

Dr Lynch said that although it was difficult to speak out against the medical “brotherhood”, his only interest was the truth.

“If you do speak out you become quite alienated, but I am OK with that— I know I am very unpopular in certain circles but I don’t care.”


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