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Happy Pills

Lives destroyed by happy pills: As our use of antidepressants DOUBLES in a decade, experts say thousands are being given dangerous drugs they don't need

By Jerome Burne
UPDATED: September, 2012

 

Clare Morgan was going through a rocky patch: her long-standing relationship had hit difficulties and she was struggling financially. But the self-described 'optimist' felt she was managing to cope.

Then the 35-year-old biologist started experiencing unusual symptoms. 'Out of the blue, I felt really agitated - I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't sleep, and I felt very shaky,' she recalls. 'I'd been under some stress. But my symptoms seemed too odd for that to be the whole explanation.'

 

 

After about six weeks she went to see her doctor, who diagnosed depression and anxiety. 'I asked him if he was sure, because there were other symptoms such as diarrhoea, weight-loss and vomiting. But he confirmed his diagnosis and prescribed an antidepressant.' Unfortunately this only made her feel worse; she developed the shakes as well as suicidal thoughts. In an attempt to remedy this, her GP changed the medication three weeks later. But nothing changed. And after mentioning her suicidal thoughts to her doctor, she was put under the supervision of a mental health team.

Six weeks later, Clare was put on yet another antidepressant, along with a tranquilliser and an anti-psychotic drug. She was now sleeping 14 hours a day; unable to work, she had to rely on her boyfriend for support. 'I was zombified, but still felt the anxiety and the terror, and that didn't seem right. However, my doctor simply increased my dose.'

After six miserable months, Clare's doctor admitted the drug treatment wasn't working and suggested electric shock treatment. 'I said "no way" and decided to come off the antidepressants,' she says. This proved 'fantastically hard - worse, actually, than being on them'.

'The only good part was a brilliant nurse, who took me seriously when I said I'd always felt that something physical had caused my symptoms and put me in touch with a sympathetic private doctor,' she says.A year-and-a-half after her symptoms began, Clare was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and a problem with her adrenal glands. 'That was why I had been so bizarrely agitated, had diarrhoea and had lost weight.'

Clare's story is extreme, but it is far from unique. Increasing numbers of Britons are taking antidepressant drugs, with prescriptions doubling over the past ten years, according to a report. In 2000, there were 20 million prescriptions. This has risen to over 40 million.

While this rise is partly being blamed on the recession, experts are concerned that misdiagnosis is a major factor. Indeed, a study published in The Lancet found that the average GP will wrongly diagnose 16 out of every 100 patients they see with depression and anxiety.

As Dr Alex Mitchell, consultant psychiatrist at Leicester General Hospital, explains: 'A busy GP sees about 100 patients a week. Out of those, 20 will be suffering from depression, but he will spot only ten of them and treat five, usually with drugs.'

Not only are the depressed missing out on treatment, 16 of those 100 patients will be told they are suffering from depression when they aren't. One of the reasons this happens is because the official test GPs use to check if you're depressed involves two very basic questions: During the past month, have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

SIX TYPES OF UNHAPPINESS (DEPRESSION)

1. BAD NEWS ADDICT

SYMPTOMS: Feeling the world is coming to an end.

CAUSES: TV and internet conspiracy news

CHANCE OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: Excellent

SOLUTION: Cancel your cable TV. Destroy your TV. Stop watching doom and gloom maintream and conspiracy news. Catch and change your "critical","perfectionist", "worrying" and "victim" self talk. Stop re-living the past which no longer exists. Stop living in the imagined future and predicting World War III.

2. REACTIVE

SYMPTOMS: Inability to face the day and cope with routine situations. You feel tearful, overwhelmed, angry and lacking in any options to make things better. For example, you're convinced you'll never get another job and that your life is over.

CAUSES: Major life events such as divorce, death of a loved one, or losing your job.

CHANCES OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: Feeling this way after a major event is normal and the unhappiness should start to dissipate after several weeks.

But a single trauma can also be the straw that breaks the camel's back if you have other things in your life that are causing agitation, such as stress at work. This can lead to long-term depression. If you've been down for several weeks with no improvement, seek help.

SOLUTION: Talking with friends, family or a counsellor is very important to give an outlet. In the morning and before bed, practice 20 minutes of deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to empty your mind and calm our body. http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation

Buy this book, study it, practice it - then withdraw from your anti-depressants and other pharmaceutical drugs. This book cures depression, stress and anxiety naturally!

http://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Phobia-Workbook-Edmund-Bourne/dp/1572248912

3. PHYSIOLOGICAL

SYMPTOMS: Fatigue, feeling weak, overwhelmed and exhausted even if you have had a good night's sleep.

CAUSES: Health issues such as thyroid problems or symptoms relating to menopause and ageing.

CHANCES OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: This is a situation where health changes can affect mood, and therefore mimic depression. an under or overactive thyroid can, for example, produce symptoms that are very similar to depression, such as low spirits and excess fatigue.

SOLUTION: To rule out an underlying health problem, see your gp, who can carry out blood tests to see if a cause can be identified.

4. STRESS-RELATED

SYMPTOMS: Feeling agitated, uptight and wound-up all the time, unable to focus or remember simple things. Finding even normal actions irritating. A constant feeling of being under pressure.

CAUSES: Taking on too much at work, moving house, caring for parents or children, relationship break-up.

CHANCES OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: Stress is a normal part of life and there is research to suggest that limited amounts can be beneficial. However, cumulative stress can lead to long-term depression.

SOLUTION: Acknowledging the problem is part of the issue and may help identify what is triggering your stress. It will also be a chance to examine ways to relax and take on more exercise to help you cope with stress.

Talking with friends, family or a counsellor is very important to give an outlet. In the morning and before bed, practice 20 minutes of deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to empty your mind and calm our body. http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation

Buy this book, study it, practice it - then withdraw from your anti-depressants and other pharmaceutical drugs. This book cures depression, stress and anxiety naturally!

http://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Phobia-Workbook-Edmund-Bourne/dp/1572248912

5. EXISTENTIAL

SYMPTOMS: You are tearful, restless and perhaps sleeping badly. nothing seems to give you any pleasure. There is also a sense of feeling you aren't good at what you do.

CAUSES: Feeling rootless, directionless, empty or even trapped, as well as unsure of your place in the world. often triggered when between relationships or jobs.

CHANCES OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: We all have phases when we feel negative and worthless, but if this goes on for more than two weeks, then such feelings can lead to chronic depression. Insomnia can worsen or you can suffer with hypersomnia - a desire to sleep all the time to avoid confronting reality.

SOLUTION: Counselling will help you get to the root of your problem and feelings. Talking with friends, family or a counsellor is very important to give an outlet. In the morning and before bed, practice 20 minutes of deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to empty your mind and calm our body. http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation

Buy this book, study it, practice it - then withdraw from your anti-depressants and other pharmaceutical drugs. This book cures depression, stress and anxiety naturally!

http://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Phobia-Workbook-Edmund-Bourne/dp/1572248912

6. DYSTHYMIC

SYMPTOMS: Feeling burnt out, hopeless, as if nothing has any point. A feeling of being numb.

CAUSES: No particular trigger - many people say they feel born this way. They constantly feel negative and gloomy.

CHANCE OF BECOMING LONG-TERM DEPRESSION: People who feel this way say it has been going on since they were young, but it can get out of control. If you feel yourself having thoughts such as 'I'd be better off dead', seek help immediately.

SOLUTION: Cognitive behavioural therapy activates the mind to change thought processes and patterns of behaviour. Sessions involve encouraging you to get out and do more for yourself and become more involved with other people.

Talking with friends, family or a counsellor is very important to give an outlet. In the morning and before bed, practice 20 minutes of deep abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to empty your mind and calm our body. http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation

Buy this book, study it, practice it - then withdraw from your anti-depressants and other pharmaceutical drugs. This book cures depression, stress and anxiety naturally!

http://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Phobia-Workbook-Edmund-Bourne/dp/1572248912

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