Tag Archives | Anti-Depressants

Ketamine (Special K) May Be Best Medicine For Depression

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Photo: Psychonaught (CC)

Amazingly enough the powerful hallucinogen ketamine (the horse tranquilizer sometimes known as Special K) is being touted as a serious and better alternative to the SSRIs like Prozac. Report from the New York Times:

It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.

It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.

While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.

And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.

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Eleven Percent Of Americans On Antidepressants

Prozac PillsGiven the established link between SSRIs and suicide, should we expect suicide rates to spike similarly? From USA Today:

The rate of antidepressant use among Americans of all ages increased nearly 400 percent over the last two decades, and 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older now take antidepressant drugs, according to a federal government report released Wednesday.

The analysis of 2005-2008 data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys also showed that antidepressants are the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages and the most frequently used by those aged 18 to 44.

Of people with severe depression, about one-third takes antidepressant medication. More than 60 percent of Americans taking an antidepressant drug have taken it for two years or longer and nearly 14 percent have taken the medication for 10 years or more, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

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Anti-Depressant Patients Are More Likely to Suffer Depression Relapse

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Photo: Tom Varco (CC)

From ScienceDaily:

In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression.

Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant.

Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.

They analyzed research on subjects who started on medications and were switched to placebos, subjects who were administered placebos throughout their treatment, and subjects who continued to take medication throughout their course of treatment.

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Head Case: Can Psychiatry Be A Science?

DSM-IVLouis Menand writes in the New Yorker:

You arrive for work and someone informs you that you have until five o’clock to clean out your office. You have been laid off. At first, your family is brave and supportive, and although you’re in shock, you convince yourself that you were ready for something new.

Then you start waking up at 3 A.M., apparently in order to stare at the ceiling. You can’t stop picturing the face of the employee who was deputized to give you the bad news. He does not look like George Clooney. You have fantasies of terrible things happening to him, to your boss, to George Clooney.

You find — a novel recognition — not only that you have no sex drive but that you don’t care. You react irritably when friends advise you to let go and move on. After a week, you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

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Antidepressants: The Emperor’s New Drugs?

By Irving Kirsch, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hull in the UK and author of The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, writing for the Huffington Post:
Antidepressants are supposed to be the magic bullet for curing depression. But are they? I used to think so. As a clinical psychologist, I used to refer depressed clients to psychiatric colleagues to have them prescribed. But over the past decade, researchers have uncovered mounting evidence that they are not. It seems that we have been misled. Depression is not a brain disease, and chemicals don't cure it. My awareness that the chemical cure of depression is a myth began in 1998, when Guy Sapirstein and I set out to assess the placebo effect in the treatment of depression. Instead of doing a brand new study, we decided to pool the results of previous studies in which placebos had been used to treat depression and analyze them together. What we did is called a meta-analysis, and it is a common technique for making sense of the data when a large number of studies have been done to answer a particular question...
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