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While a lot has been said about the influence of big pharma on our lives, the entertainment industry (and I include broadsheets, tabloids and the audiovisual media equally under this category) has a vested commercial interest in selling stories. It is upsetting to see that in the process thoroughly unpleasant messages are sent out to patients, who are accused of taking 'shortcuts' and avoiding the work necessary to eradicate the noxious 'roots' of their disorder. While making an entertaining and controversial story, there is absolutely no evidence that we know what these roots are, or even that 'working through root causes' results in improvement of symptoms. What every consumer of such articles needs to know is that they are shaped at least as much by what the writers think will entertain the majority of their readers, as by actual facts. Every person who has witnessed or experienced a depressive episode knows, side effects have to be weighed up against real benefits. There are many patients who have made this personal calculation in favour of antidepressant medication, and who have no financial incentive to spread this knowledge amongst the public. Klaus Ebmeier (Editor)

Fighting the entertainment industry

Published in The Times at 12:01AM, May 2 2014

While the drugs’ effects are debatable in mild cases, they are more effective as severity increases

Sir, Depression can be a debilitating and lethal illness. Medication is a vital part of the treatment of the severest cases. Successful treatment with antidepressants definitely does not do “more harm than good” as you report (Apr 30).

We do not dispute that these drugs are of potentially less value for mild depression, but their effectiveness is maintained as the severity of the depression increases. Is that true of psychological treatment or exercise?

Depression is serious: 6,500 people commit suicide each year in the UK. Many of them are never offered antidepressants, and the blanket condemnation of antidepressants by Professor Peter Gøtzsche and colleagues will increase that proportion.

  • Professor David Nutt (Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, ICL)
  • Professor Stephen Lawrie (Division of Psychiatry, Edinburgh)
  • Professor Sir Simon Wessely (Royal College of Psychiatrists)
  • Dr Seena Fazel (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Guy Goodwin (European College of Neuropsychopharmacology)
  • Professor Dinesh Bhugra (World Psychiatric Association)