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Psychologist believes antidepressants overprescribed

In an interview with Ohio newspaper The Plain Dealer, psychologist Eric Maisel, author of “Rethinking Depression,” questions whether antidepressants are overprescribed.

Maisel points out that all diagnoses of depression are based on self-reporting. He questions whether much of what many medical providers now diagnose as depression requiring medication is, in fact, a natural reaction to some of life’s inevitable disappointments and losses.

In an introduction to the interview, Plain Dealer medical writer Evelyn Theiss points out that more than one in 10 Americans, amounting to about 20 million people, take antidepressants.

The most commonly prescribed type of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which include Prozac and Zoloft.

But Theiss points out that some recent published studies have questioned the effectiveness of SSRIs.

She mentions research reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, indicating that placebos work much the same as SSRIs in cases of mild-to-moderate depression. And The New England Journal of Medicine reported that one-third of the SSRI scientific trials submitted by drug companies to the Food and Drug Administration were never published — specifically those that showed a lack of effectiveness by the drugs.

Other research has suggested that use of SSRIs can actually be harmful in some circumstances. Several studies have linked SSRIs including Zoloft and Prozac with potentially dangerous heart and lung defects in babies born to women who take the drugs while pregnant.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.

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